15 May 2015
Fresh evidence has emerged into the ongoing delay of the Ombudsman’s police bugging inquiry, with his office now recruiting a fresh staff member to work on the investigation potentially up until December 2016. This is four and a half years after it started.
This follows the Ombudsman disclosing last week that his report on ‘Operation Prospect’ is unlikely to be tabled by June this year when his term of office expires. The job details are here.
A Parliamentary Committee on the Conduct and Progress of the Ombudsman’s Inquiry “Operation Prospect” was set up last year due to these delays and the damaging effect on NSW Police which criticised the delay in the Ombudsman’s report.
Greens MP and Police Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:
“It’s not good enough for the Ombudsman, who is answerable to the taxpayers of NSW, to continue to delay this report.
“It looks like the Ombudsman will now take well over three years to investigate this one matter.
“The Wood Royal Commission in the 1990’s reviewed the entire NSW police force and it only took three years, holding 419 hearings, examining 856 witnesses and considering 226 public submissions.
“No doubt the Ombudsman’s job is complex, but the extent of his delay is extraordinary and it is damaging to all involved.
“Delay of this length would not be tolerated anywhere else, whether in the private sector, executive government or the Courts.
“By any measure taking three plus years to deliver one report is a fail.
“The Ombudsman’s extended term of office expires at the end of June. The continuing failure to deliver his report is effectively forcing the Premier to keep extending his term.
“This places the Premier in an extremely uncomfortable position of either agreeing to the extension or seeing the entire project fall into further disarray.”
“Mr Barbour has already had one temporary extension from the government. Has he now requested Premier Baird to give him another extension and, if so, on what terms?
“The police bugging scandal has plagued the top ranks of NSW Police for over a decade, and the Parliamentary Inquiry’s report was emphatic that it needs to be finalised as a priority.
“This endless wait for the Ombudsman to deliver his report is prolonging the tension amongst senior police and delaying essential reform to the system of police oversight.
“If the Ombudsman’s continued delay demonstrates anything it is the utter failure of the existing mechanisms to oversight NSW Police,” Mr Shoebridge said.
Timeline of Ombudsman’s Delay:
- October 2012 – Police Bugging scandal referred to Ombudsman
- April 2013 – Initial expected report date expires
- September 2013 – Ombudsman’s term of office was to expire and is extended by 21 months to complete investigation
- November 2014 – Parliamentary inquiry into Ombudsman’s investigation established
- February 2015 – Parliamentary inquiry into Ombudsman’s investigation reports
- May 2015 – Ombudsman advises “unlikely to meet” extended June 2015 deadline for report
- May 2015 – Ombudsman recruiting further staff member for investigation for 6 to 18 months work on the matter
- June 2015 – Ombudsman’s extended term to expire
- December 2016 – new potential delivery date
Media contact: David Shoebridge 9230 3030