Ensuring independent checks and balances: Western Australia takes a backwards step

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Peter Van Onselen considers the implications of the WA government’s decision to downgrade several independent watchdog posts. The decision, affecting the Electoral Commissioner, the Commissioner for Public Sector Standards, and the Information Commissioner, has obvious implications for the standing of these posts within the public service and for the ability to recruit candidates of the highest calibre to them in the future. But the role of the WA government in the decision also raises serious questions about the independence of these watchdog bodies, responsible to parliament, from the government departments that they are supposed to scrutinise.

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