The Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) and Victoria’s Ombudsman are undertaking a joint investigation into alleged misuse of taxpayers’ funds.
The joint probe was initially established at the request of Premier Daniel Andrews to investigate allegations of branch stacking.
However, it is said to have been widened to include allegations that ministerial and electorate office staff had used public money to undertake party political work.
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At least six current or former government ministers are believed to have been interviewed as part of the investigation, which will shortly commence public hearings.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is also 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.
With public hearings to commence next week, many in the government are fearful it could have devastating consequences for Labor.
It also emerged this week Mr Andrews and his key staff were being investigated by an entirely separate IBAC probe into the government’s dealings with the United Firefighters Union and its chief, Peter Marshall.
Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said Mr Andrews should stand down, as NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian had done after being named as the focus of an anti-corruption probe. Mr Guy said that before being elected, Mr Andrews had repeatedly called for those investigated by IBAC to move aside. “Now he’s being investigated and he refuses to stand down,” he said.
“I hope that tells the whole state of Victoria about the state and strength of his integrity.”
In relation to the misuse of public funds probe, there are internal concerns that multiple staffers within the government have blown the lid on a history of party political work done out of ministers’ and MPs’ offices, with no one faction believed to be safe.
Some insiders speculated dozens of people had given evidence and that public hearings due next week would reveal the scale of the problem.
Disgruntled former party insiders were believed to have showed up to IBAC to “drop a bucket” – and in doing so, triggered a significant widening of the investigation.
A key issue to be explored by IBAC is whether employees working part-time or full-time for members of parliament were engaging in political work such as branch stacking…
Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass has previously investigated the Andrews government over the “red shirts” affair and found taxpayer money had been incorrectly used to fund electorate office staff to campaign for Labor.
The party eventually repaid almost $388,000 that was misused in 2014.
Bring it on. The Victorian Government has been embroiled in multiple scandals over its reign (e.g. here, here, and here). Although, these types of dodgy dealings have occurred on both sides of politics over many years.
Moreover, we should be grateful that Victoria (like NSW) has an IBAC. This is in stark contrast to the federal government where no such body currently exists.