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Ombudsman says Premier Daniel Andrews's IBAC response 'speaks volumes for his views on integrity and corruption'

Victorian Obudsman Deborah Glass shared her views on ABC radio on Wednesday morning. (ABC News: Kyle Harley)

Victoria's ombudsman says the Premier's response to a damning report from the state's anti-corruption watchdog "speaks volumes" about his views on corruption, as she renewed calls for urgent action to improve integrity in politics.

The Operation Daintree report, put out by the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) last week, found Victorian government advisers pressured public servants to award a lucrative contract to a Labor ally before the 2018 election.

The report described the behaviour as "grey corruption" which falls short of criminal conduct but is still improper, prompting integrity experts to recommend doing more to tackle the issue.

Ombudsman Deborah Glass said the report's findings were "disturbing".

"Well there were no findings of corruption, but that has everything to do with the very high threshold for corruption findings that we have here in Victoria," she told ABC Radio Melbourne.

"It painted a very disturbing picture of the way a contract was entirely improperly signed up when it shouldn't have been.

"Procurement processes were not followed, there was clearly pressure coming from ministerial advisers and the ministers responsible for those advisers seem to be missing in action."

She compared IBAC's report with findings she made in relation to the Labor Party's "red shirts rorts" last year and the results of Operation Watts, a joint Ombudsman-IBAC probe that uncovered "extensive misconduct" by Victorian Labor MPs.

"There are multiple findings that we have seen in previous reports where conduct falls short of criminal but is wrong, it is unethical, it is improper, it breaches codes," Ms Glass said.

"The problem for me is not so much about the threshold or definition as what happens when behaviour falls short of that very high criminal threshold but is unethical, is wrong and there are no consequences."

Ms Glass said setting up a a non-government-controlled parliamentary ethics committee and appointing an independent parliamentary commissioner, as recommended by Operation Watts, would go some way to addressing integrity issues.

The government has committed to implementing those recommendations but has not set a timeline.

Ombudsman says Premier's response 'speaks volumes'

After Operation Daintree was handed down last week, Premier Daniel Andrews labelled the report "educational" and said the ministers and advisers named no longer worked in the government.

He noted there was no finding of corrupt conduct and rejected the report's finding that power in the government had become centralised in his private office.  

"We thank them for that report, there are 17 recommendations made in that important educational report," he said.

"I will lead, as the chair of the cabinet, a cabinet process to consider those issues and we will respond in due course."

Daniel Andrews responded to media questions hours after the report was tabled in parliament.

The Victorian Ombudsman hit out at the way the Premier responded to the report, saying his response was at odds with the contents.

"Describing it merely as an educational report that made no findings does not in any way describe that report," Ms Glass said.

"It's a damning report. I think that simply speaks volumes for his views on integrity and corruption.

"Not accepting that there are in fact damning findings within that report I think is disappointing.

"I think anybody reading that report would have drawn a very different set of conclusions."

When asked about Ms Glass's comments, Victorian Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes said her government would "respond appropriately" to the report in due course.

“The Premier’s been very clear that the contents of the report will be well considered in cabinet and we will make decisions and announcements in relation to that in due course,” she said.

“This isn’t a report that is being ignored.”

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