The NSW government is seeking to avoid senior police answering direct questions in this week's budget estimates hearings about the police wiretapping scandal, by referring the matter to the NSW Ombudsman.
Greens NSW Justice spokesperson David Shoebridge said:
"The Premier was forced to play catchup over the weekend by first announcing the referral of the police wiretapping scandal to the Ombudsman and then only later agreeing to expand that office's powers to include oversight of the Crime Commission.
"Over the past decade the Ombudsman has repeatedly had the question of Task Force Emblems raised with it, but to date has not investigated the matter nor requested any additional powers to undertake a thorough investigation.
"This office raised the issue with the Ombudsman as recently as last month and was told emphatically that the Ombudsman's powers were limited to police oversight and did not extend to the Crime Commission.
"We now have the government referring the matter to the Ombudsman on the weekend before budget estimates hearings commence in NSW parliament where senior police will face direct questions on the wiretapping scandal.
"The government is scrambling to establish some form of inquiry before Thursday, but has yet to release any details of the Ombudsman's additional powers or resources that it has promised.
"Without fresh legislation the Ombudsman remains constrained by the secrecy provisions in the Crime Commission Act despite the Premier's announcement.
"Even if the Ombudsman's powers are expanded this will not provide the full judicial inquiry with public hearings that many senior police and the public deserve to get to the truth in this matter.
"The Greens will continue to pursue the matter in budget estimates this week in order to force some daylight on the continuing scandal surrounding these police wiretaps," Mr Shoebridge said.
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