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Greens act to defend Ombudsman and strengthen his position

Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown says he will move to give the Commonwealth Ombudsman the same access as the Auditor-General to the Public Accounts and Audit Committee to overcome the roadblock on the Ombudsman reporting back to Parliament on his office's performance.

"A similar facility is offered the Ombudsman under NSW and New Zealand law and it was a blunder for no report-back mechanism to be built into Australia's Commonwealth law," Senator Brown said today in Canberra.

"The current vendetta by the Government and Opposition on Ombudsman Asher is because he criticised handling of asylum seekers to Australia. The Minister tried to suppress this criticism and wants the Ombudsman silenced."

"The Hanson-Young questions amplified both the Ombudsman's effort to overcome the roadblocks of no available mechanism to report to a committee, as with other statutory offices, and the Government's attack on the Ombudsman."

"Mr Asher is a decent, hard-working Ombudsman being persecuted for not taking the Government and Opposition line in selectively punishing asylum seekers who come to Australia by boat," Senator Brown said.

Senator Brown said he would have a bill to amend the Public Accounts and Audit Committee Act ready when Parliament resumes in 12 days time.


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