The Nationals leader and Member for Murray Plains, Peter Walsh, is demanding an explanation surrounding millions of taxpayer dollars disappearing into the pockets of self-declared “Lefty”.
Mr Walsh said most recently John Armitage, of research firm QDOS, was handed a $1.12 million contract without even a semblance of a competitive tender, to run a highly classified project to monitor the views of Victorian – for Premier Daniel Andrews own office.
He said an exposé in The Australian has “revealed a very murky trail of cronyism and unexplained management of a lot of money that leads straight to the Premier’s office”.
“The $1.12 million was the second seven figure spend by the Andrews government with QDOS and John Armitage – the first time was $1.15 million for a contract running from May 2016 to June 2018 and then in December 2019 it got the $1.12 million for a contract running to October 2022, expiring just before the state election,” Mr Walsh said.
“The FoI searches also showed Armitage and QDOS received at least 12 other consultancies covering the environment, education, planning, local government, policing and the Premier’s signature level crossing removal project were awarded to QDOS.
“Most of those were valued between $30,000 and $80,000, but some of the agencies have refused to detail the value of the taxpayer-funded contracts. The cabinet-in-confidence stamp applied to the QDOS reports means they can be kept secret
“In typical fashion this secretive government did not want any of this to become public and it took The Australian pursuing freedom of information requests to get some of these details out from under the rock where they had been hidden,” he said.
The Australian reported “Armitage is more than a Labor loyalist – he doesn’t just wear his Labor heart on his sleeve, he wraps himself in a class-war battle flag as he goes about helping the Premier read, perhaps even steer, the mood of Victorians”.
“Along the way, the veteran Labor strategist pockets millions of dollars from taxpayers – half of it handed to him by the Premier’s department without a competitive tender – proving that left-wing activism can also be a nice earner.
“Asked to describe himself in an online post entitled ‘John on John’, the Labor pollster declares: ‘I’m a paid-up and proud union member – even though I’m self-employed. That’s ’cos I’m a lefty and fair dinkum about it’.”
Mr Walsh said getting the truth out of Daniel Andrews is all but impossible.
He said the Premier, “who prides himself as being the man in charge, and the man responsible” lost his famous memory when hauled before the Coate Inquiry into the failed hotel quarantine and contact tracing – a fiasco that cost hundreds of lives and devastated the Victorian economy.
“Mr Andrews and his inner Cabinet cronies had the gall to front, one after the other, the inquiry and the best any of them had to offer about who made the decisions was 57 varieties of ‘I can’t recall’.
“When asked to show the public of Victoria – after four lockdowns and another one looming – who comprised his ‘best medical advice’ panel and to show what that advice was, this Premier simply refused.
“The Andrews government is operating behind a farrago of misinformation, half truths – and lies.
“The government, any government, works for, and is answerable to, the people. In the world of Daniel Andrews – from his secret deals with China, his endorsement of infrastructure projects billions of dollars over budget to his failure to get relief money to the small businesses that need it – none of that needs to be explained.
“Because Daniel Andrews doesn’t care what you think, doesn’t care what he gets so badly wrong, he doesn’t care about anything or anyone so long as he and his army of spin doctors can keep him in power.”