IBAC will not investigate Morwell National Party branch forgery allegations
Victoria’s independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) will not investigate allegations of forgery within the National Party’s Morwell branch.
Earlier this year, Victorian Nationals Leader Peter Walsh asked police to investigate the withdrawal of $8,000 from the party’s Morwell branch bank accounts.
The Nationals said the alleged forgery occurred in May 2017 and the money had been repaid.
Victoria Police took a preliminary look at the case and then handed the matter to IBAC.
It took less than three weeks for IBAC to determine the case was not within its jurisdiction.
“IBAC recently received information from Victoria Police concerning allegations of possible corrupt conduct in relation to theft from National Party accounts in Morwell,” IBAC said in a statement.
“IBAC assessed this information and has determined the allegations do not fall within its jurisdiction, and has advised Victoria Police of this decision.”
It is not yet known whether Victoria Police will pursue the case, or drop it altogether.
Gutter politics accusation
Sitting independent member for Morwell Russell Northe quit the Nationals last year after the ABC revealed he had racked up more than $500,000 in personal debts partly linked to his gambling.
He is still receiving treatment for depression and is yet to announce if he will recontest the seat of Morwell at the November Victorian election.
“I have no further comment to make at this point in time,” Mr Northe said.
When the National Party made the forgery allegations earlier this year Mr Northe’s wife, Jenny, accused the party of gutter politics.
The National Party today declined to comment when asked by the ABC whether the party made the allegations in a bid to smear the sitting member’s reputation ahead of the November poll.
The seat of Morwell will be a key marginal battleground at November’s state election.