I reported yesterday that the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) are undertaking two separate probes into the Victorian Government.
The first probe concerns the alleged misuse of taxpayer funds whereby ministerial and electorate office staff have purportedly used public money to undertake party political work.
The second probe implicates Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, who is believed to be under scrutiny by IBAC as part of its investigation into the state government’s dealings with the United Firefighters’ Union. The investigation centres on a 2014 dispute between the UFU and the Country Fire Authority.
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Today, the Herald-Sun reports that IBAC will also investigate the state government’s possible misuse of funding for responsible gambling programs. A number of organisations with links to the state Labor Party received funding via the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation scheme, which was launched by former gaming minister Marlene Kairouz in 2017. Multicultural community groups that have ties with government ministers are among the organisations that received funding:
Tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars were distributed from responsible-gambling programs to multicultural community groups with ties to Labor ministers.
Party insiders say the grants are on the radar of the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission, ahead of five weeks of public hearings which start on Monday…
In three years, $140,000 was given to groups connected to the factional powerbase of Ms Kairouz and former ministerial colleague Adem Somyurek.
The pair departed Premier Daniel Andrews’ cabinet last year amid a branch-stacking scandal investigated by Victoria’s corruption watchdog.
IBAC has also been probing whether “public money granted to community associations by the Victorian government has been misused to fund party political activities or for other improper purposes”.
The public hearings will consider “whether the ministers or other public officers involved in granting the funds have dishonestly performed their functions as public officers or have knowingly or recklessly breached public trust”.
Meanwhile, The Australian reports that a spokeswoman for Victoria’s Police Minister Lisa Neville has declined to comment on speculation that she is one of the targets of the IBAC’s ongoing investigation into dealings between the state government and the United Firefighters’ Union:
Multiple sources have identified Ms Neville – who as emergency services minister from 2018-2021 managed the government’s relations with the UFU and its state secretary, Peter Marshall – as being of “fundamental” importance to the issues being probed by IBAC.
“Look beyond Daniel Andrews and look at people like Lisa Neville, she was very pivotal in much of what happened,” one source told The Australian.
The Australian has been told a high volume of phone calls between the veteran Labor MP and UFU officials, including Mr Marshall, has been noted.
Like I said yesterday, we should be grateful that Victoria (like NSW) has an IBAC. This is in stark contrast to the federal government where no such body exists.
At least there is some scrutiny and accountability at the state level, whereas corruption is allowed to run rampant at the federal level.