The Nationals leader and Member for Murray Plains, Peter Walsh, says IBAC has laid bare the self-centred corruption that is the Victorian Labor Party.
Mr Walsh says this is not a government for the people, it is Daniel Andrews and his cabal of factions doing anything they can to deceive the Victorian public and hold onto power.
Power, he says, it uses for its own benefit, and the benefit of its shadowy supporters in the irretrievably tarnished branch-stacking business it has been running for years.
“This report by the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission and Victorian Ombudsman confirms Andrews government ministers and their staffers have blatantly abused their access to taxpayer money by preoccupying themselves with securing factional power and finding jobs for mates,” Mr Walsh says.
“This report lifts the lid on the narcissism at the heart of the Labor Party, painting what the Herald Sun has labelled “a shocking picture of a party with a toxic culture that failed to learn from the red shirts rorts fiasco”.
The report itself says “the evidence … painted a compelling picture of patronage: of jobs on the public purse according to factional loyalty and as a reward for bringing in ‘the numbers’, and widespread misuse of public resources for political purposes”
“They range from bullying to the hiring of unqualified people into publicly funded roles, using those roles to undertake factional work, rampant nepotism, forging signatures, and attempts to interfere with government grants to favour factionally aligned community organisations – who, in some cases, failed to use the funds as intended,” it reads.
“And once again our Premier suffered confused recall and short-term memory loss when pinned down about the appalling behaviour of his parliamentary colleagues, his party supporters and the staffers who are knowingly breaching so many laws and rules – year in and year out,” Mr Walsh says.
“If he is running this government and this state as he is so fond of telling us – over and over – he can’t suddenly step back and say he knew nothing about it. What a crock,” he says.
“If he is running this government and this state, he must know about it and must go. If he is running this government and this state and doesn’t know about it, he is too incompetent to be its leader and must go.”
Among a swag of serious allegations, the report found evidence of:
- Taxpayer-funded staff dedicating much of their day to signing up and maintaining members for Mr Somyurek’s faction.
- Allegations of signatures being forged by staffers for ALP membership forms, including for people who were already dead.
- Employees who barely sent an email for months at a time, while others had spreadsheets detailing Labor memberships and votes for internal party elections.
- Jobs for factional allies to reward them bringing in influence or for family members, along with family members.
- Factional operatives who tried to influence the award of taxpayer-funded community grants to benefit their allies.
IBAC and the Ombudsman found two Labor MPs had clearly breached the Ministerial Code of Conduct but also “disturbing practices” among staff who knew what they were doing was wrong.
IBAC Commissioner Robert Redlich said the behaviour by Andrews Labor government staff was of concern but that “primary responsibility rests with the MPs for whom they worked and their factional leaders”.
“The unethical culture that was such a feature of this investigation, whether as an explanation or excuse for bad conduct, lies at its heart.”
Mr Walsh says if Daniel Andrews had even the slightest sense of honour, he would publicly admit what everyone else in the state now knows – he has been at the helm of years of arrogance, abuse of power, corruption, and deceit.
He says the Premier is still facing other ongoing inquiries into his behaviour, his performance and, inevitably, his complete and utter lack of a moral compass.
“This Premier must resign, not just from his top dog role but from the Labor Party and the Parliament. Our state deserves a much more transparent system and a government that will work for the people and not abuse them and/or the system for its own benefit,” he added.
“That’s what Victoria will get if it elects the Liberals Nationals in November – a government working for the future by repairing the mess Labor has dumped on its people and restoring the state to its former glory as Australia’s premier state.”