Establishment of the office of the Compliance Officer
The Primary and Secondary Compliance Officer were appointed during the 2019-20 financial year to perform the function of Compliance Officer established under the VIRTIPS Act. The Compliance Officer is ‘attached’ to the Tribunal but does not formally constitute part of the Tribunal.
The Compliance Officer is responsible for independently hearing and determining appeals from current and former MPs in relation to the use of parliamentary allowances, the EO&C Budget and the separation payment. MPs may appeal a decision made by a Clerk of the Parliament, or by the Secretary of the Department of Parliamentary Services, to reject a claim for a parliamentary allowance or regarding their entitlement to receive the separation payment.
The Compliance Officer:
- is not subject to the direction or control of any person
- is not bound by the rules of evidence
- may conduct proceedings with as little formality as considered appropriate
- may publish a statement of findings and any required actions on the Tribunal’s website, which is absolutely privileged
The Compliance Officer’s functions and powers are detailed in the VIRTIPS Act and the PSAS Act.
The Compliance Officer is supported by a Secretariat that sits within the Department of Premier and Cabinet.
The Compliance Officer’s functions are performed by a Primary Compliance Officer, or if they are unable to hear an appeal, by the Secondary Compliance Officer.
Under the VIRTIPS Act, Compliance Officers are required to be qualified for appointment as either a judge or have specialist knowledge, expertise or experience in areas such as government, law or public administration.
Stefanie Wilkinson is the Primary Compliance Officer and was appointed on 8 October 2019 for a term of five years.
Ms Wilkinson has significant experience in legal practice, specialising in corporate governance and market integrity. She is a partner at the law firm Herbert Smith Freehills and an independent member of the Audit Committee of the Parliament of Victoria. Ms Wilkinson is also a fellow of the Governance Institute of Australia.
Jane Brockington is the Secondary Compliance Officer and was appointed on 10 June 2020 for a term of five years.
Ms Brockington has more than 20 years’ experience in public administration working with boards, governance bodies and executive teams. She is Principal of the consultancy Bridging Policy and Practice and has led independent reviews for government. Ms Brockington holds several non-executive director positions and is a fellow of the Institute of Public Administration Australia (Victoria), and the Australia and New Zealand School of Government and Leadership Victoria.
Report on the function of the Compliance Officer
In the 2019-20 financial year, the Compliance Officer heard and determined one appeal, being the first appeal made by an MP, and published a Statement of Findings in relation to that appeal.
The appeal concerned a claim under the EO&C Budget that was rejected for improper use of a political party name and official parliamentary office title in communication materials. The Compliance Officer dismissed the appeal from the MP.
The Compliance Officer considered that MPs would be assisted by having access to the decision and reasons for this appeal and published a Statement of Findings on the Tribunal’s website.
In the Statement of Findings, the Compliance Officer recommended that the Tribunal consider amending its 02/2019 Guidelines to clarify the meaning of the terms “party political” and “party name”. This recommendation was supported with a submission by the Compliance Officer to the Tribunal’s current review of the 02/2019 Guidelines, and was noted by the Tribunal as an issue of concern for consideration in its review.
Summary information about appeals heard by the Compliance Officer
Number of MPs who have not complied with requests for further information by the Compliance Officer in the preceding year in relation to determinations about separation payments - zero appeals heard.
Number of appeals heard by the Compliance Officer in the preceding year in relation to separation payments and the outcome of the appeals - zero appeals heard.
Number of MPs who have not complied with requests for further information by the Compliance Officer in the preceding year in relation to appeals relating to work-related parliamentary allowances and the EO&C Budget - zero appeals heard.
Number of appeals heard by the Compliance Officer in the preceding year in relation to appeals relating to work-related parliamentary allowances and the EO&C Budget and the outcome of the appeals - 1 appeal heard, this appeal was dismissed.