4. Office of the Compliance Officer
The VIRTIPS Act establishes an Office of the Compliance Officer, which is ‘attached’ to the Tribunal, but does not formally constitute a part of the Tribunal.
The VIRTIPS Act and the Parliamentary Salaries, Allowances and Superannuation Act 1968 (Vic) specify the Compliance Officer’s functions and powers.
The Compliance Officer is responsible for independently hearing and determining appeals from current and former MPs in relation to the use of work-related 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 work-related parliamentary allowance or regarding their entitlement to receive the separation payment.
The Compliance Officer [reference - These functions are performed by the primary Compliance Officer or, if not available or otherwise unable to hear an appeal, by the secondary Compliance Officer (VIRTIPS Act, Part 4)]:
- 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.
4.1 Compliance Officers
Mr Lewinsky is the primary Compliance Officer, appointed to the role on 16 March 2022 for a period of five years.
Mr Lewinsky is an experienced Board and Audit Committee chair and member with a broad portfolio over 25 years covering private and ASX listed companies and the Government sector in a wide range of business areas and professional disciplines. He has extensive experience in financial management, internal and external audit, risk and compliance, governance, strategic decision making and the provision of advice to Board Chairs, Department Secretaries and leaders of a range of organisations.
Mr Lewinsky is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia and New Zealand and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He has a Bachelor of Economics (Monash University) with an accounting major and a Master of Business Administration degree (University of Melbourne) with a major in finance.
Ms Brockington is the secondary Compliance Officer, appointed to the role on 10 June 2020 for a period of five years.
Ms Brockington is an adviser and independent reviewer with a focus on regulation, integrity and governance. She is Principal of the consultancy Bridging Policy and Practice, and was previously a senior executive in the public sector. Ms Brockington holds several non-executive director positions and is a fellow of the Institute of Public Administration Australia (Victoria).
4.2 Report on the function of the Compliance Officer
In 2021-22, the Compliance Officer heard and determined two appeals (as shown in Table 1):
- Appeal 2021/01 – Appeal of a decision to reject a claim under the EO&C Budget
- Appeal 2022/01 – Appeal of a decision to reject a claim under the EO&C Budget.
Table 1: Summary information — appeals heard by the Compliance Officer, 2021-22
|VIRTIPS Act provision
|Number of MPs who have not complied with requests for further information about separation payments
|Number of appeals heard in relation to separation payments
|Work-related parliamentary allowances and the EO&C Budget
|Number of MPs who have not complied with requests for further information about work-related parliamentary allowances and the EO&C Budget
|Number of appeals heard in relation to work-related parliamentary allowances and the EO&C Budget
This appeal concerned a claim under the EO&C Budget for the following items:
- a marquee
- calico bags
- smart wallets
The claims were rejected by the Secretary of the Department of Parliamentary Services on the basis that a logo and wording proposed to be included on the items did not comply with the prohibitions ‘on party political activity’ in the MP Guidelines.
The appeal was upheld by the Compliance Officer with respect to the marquee, calico bags and smart wallets. The appeal was rejected by the Compliance Officer with respect to the t-shirts as the claim did not comply with the authorship requirement in the MP Guidelines.
This appeal concerned a claim under the EO&C Budget for a mobile phone car mount, which was rejected by the Secretary of the Department of Parliamentary Services on the basis that this was not a claimable item under the MP Guidelines. The Compliance Officer upheld the appeal, finding that it is reasonable that the purchase of a mobile phone car mount is within the scope of the relevant provisions of the MP Guidelines.
For both appeals, a Statement of Findings has been published and is available on the Compliance Officer’s website.