Choosing an Ombudsman: Revelations from the 1987 NSW Cabinet Papers

The choice for New South Wales’ Ombudsman in 1987 came down to a senior Departmental head and a solicitor with a familiar name in Labor circles; the latter promising a less contested relationship between the government and the Ombudsman’s Office after years of strife between the two.

Cabinet papers for the NSW Government, recently released under the “30 year rule” still applicable in NSW, offer an insight into the appointment of David Landa as NSW’s third Ombudsman.

While the selection panel narrowed the eventual choice to Landa, a prominent solicitor with strong Labor connections, and Trevor Haines, the then Secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department, an impressive shortlist was interviewed, with gender and (relative) youth no bar to inclusion.

However, reducing the eventual choice to Landa and Haines seemingly reflected a desire to create a more harmonious relationship between government and watchdog than existed during the term of George Masterman, QC, who held the post between 1981 and 1987. Continue reading “Choosing an Ombudsman: Revelations from the 1987 NSW Cabinet Papers”

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Forty Year Ombudsman Tradition Trashed by Turnbull

Yesterday’s announcement that the vacant role of Commonwealth Ombudsman would be filled by the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP), Michael Manthorpe, brings to an end a forty year bipartisan tradition of appointments not being directly made from the ranks of frontline departmental management.

While the post was reportedly offered to several departmental heads in the early years of the Hawke Government, every previous appointee since the establishment of the Office in 1977 has held a post in academia, consumer advocacy, legal or judicial administration, or oversight and complaints handling immediately prior to appointment. Continue reading “Forty Year Ombudsman Tradition Trashed by Turnbull”

Ombudsman Flags Criminal Prosecutions from Police Internal Affairs Probe

The NSW Ombudsman has foreshadowed criminal prosecutions arising from its probe of the decade long controversy over an internal police investigation conducted by the NSW Police Special Crimes and Internal Affairs unit, the NSW Crime Commission and the Police Integrity Commission.

In legislation rushed through Parliament in a matter of hours last month, the Ombudsman secured the unprecedented authority to give evidence and produce documents in criminal proceedings arising from its Operation Prospect, overturning a four decades long bar on the Ombudsman and his officers giving evidence in such proceedings. Continue reading “Ombudsman Flags Criminal Prosecutions from Police Internal Affairs Probe”

Two Years, $3.5 Million for Ombudsman Police Internal Affairs Inquiry

The NSW Ombudsman, Bruce Barbour, has told a Parliamentary Committee that he anticipates an inquiry into potential serious misconduct in the NSW Police Force, the Crime Commission and the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) involving a 14 year old internal affairs operation will take at least two years and cost at least $3.5 million. Continue reading “Two Years, $3.5 Million for Ombudsman Police Internal Affairs Inquiry”