Opposition push for new inquiry into Victorian Labor election staff scandal
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ Government could come under parliamentary scrutiny with the Opposition seeking support for a new investigation into rorts.
Mr Andrews’ Government is under immense pressure after Victorian ombudsman Deborah Glass found 21 Labor MPs had breached the rules by signing off on electorate officers payments, even though the staff were working as field organisers for the party’s election campaign.
The ALP paid back nearly $388,000 and Mr Andrews said he was sorry it occurred.
The Premier thanked Mr Lenders in his victory speech in November 2014. (Andrew Brownbill, file photo: AAP)
Ms Glass singled out former MP John Lenders — treasurer to former premier John Brumby — as the architect of the scheme, saying that he “crossed the line”.
In his 2014 election night victory speech, Mr Andrews singled out Mr Lenders for his hard work on the election campaign.
“Can I single out a very close friend, someone who I have always respected as a political professional without peer, someone who has been on the travelling party these past five weeks,” Mr Andrews said.
“Someone who we are sad to say goodbye from the Victorian parliamentary Labor party, but someone who leaves a great mark on our party and this state, John Lenders.”
Since leaving Parliament Mr Lenders has been a board member of VicTrack — the government body that owns the state’s transport land and assets— but two days before the released of Ms Glass’ report it emerged he was not seeking re-appointment.
The ombudsman did not make any recommendations for criminal charges or an anti-corruption commission investigation.
“The ombudsman has found that each and every person involved in this acted in good faith and acted on a reasonable assumption that this was an implied extension of long-standing parliamentary pooling arrangements,” Mr Andrews said.
‘Victorians deserve to know’
Mr Andrews dismissed claims that some Labor MPs had previously raised concerns with him about the scheme.
“I don’t comment on unnamed sources but I will be very clear with you — no such approaches were made,” he said.
A press conference to spruik further works on the construction of an extended Chandler Highway was interrupted by a passing motorist who yelled “give us back our f****ng-money” and also called him a “dodgy c***.”
Another passer-by yelled out “woo-hoo, go Dan.”
Labor faces the prospect of another probe into the rorts, with Opposition Leader Matthew Guy announcing the Coalition would move for a special inquiry into the scandal, citing concerns that Ms Glass could not get all the information she wanted for her inquiry.
“We will get to the bottom of how much money has been rorted from the taxpayer,” Mr Guy said.
“Victorians deserve to know and we will find out for them.
“Documents will be required to be produced from MPs and parliamentary services. External figures will be compelled to appear.”
The Coalition would need the support of the Greens or the crossbench to establish the inquiry.
The Greens are also proposing a motion to refer MPs found by the ombudsman to be in breach of the Members’ Guide to the parliament’s Privileges Committee as well as fines to paid.