Red Shirt Shame
Daniel Andrews denies any knowledge of engineering public funds to influence voters in the lead up to Victoria’s 2014 State election – but like another politician who cries ‘Fake News’ to conceal his transgressions, Daniel and his tricky team will find they can’t hide from the law. The Fraud and Extortion Squad will now conduct a criminal investigation into the Labor Party’s misuse of almost $400,000 of parliamentary funds leading up to the election.
Labor’s well-orchestrated plan in the months leading up to the election was to use minister’s budgets to pay newly recruited volunteers to instigate ‘persuasion conversations’ amongst the community. The ‘volunteers’ were told not to speak about the pay arrangements and to leave their pre-filled time sheets undated. Electoral officers were also deployed to spread the word in their new red shirts, leaving their official roles behind.
In her report, Ombudsman Deborah Glass found “the primary objective was to assist ALP candidates to win government” and the scheme to pay field workers almost $400,000 “was an artifice to secure partial payment for the campaign out of parliamentary funds, and was wrong.”
When the whistles started blowing, Daniel Andrews and his team denied knowledge of any wrongdoing but they took extreme measures to cover up what they claimed not to know. The investigation stalled for over a year while they spent nearly a million dollars of public money in the courts to avoid the Ombudsman’s scrutiny. When the Supreme Court ruled against them; Labor’s Attorney General Martin Pakula, appealed to The High Court. When the decision was upheld, all but three of Andrew’s twenty-three ministers refused requests for information. In the Ombudsman’s ensuing report, twelve ministers were named as having taken part in, or benefited from the scheme – now it’s time to hear their answers under oath.
After noting this obstruction, Ms. Glass recorded in her report a need for an “independent body to be able to investigate allegations without fear of favour-and to give short shrift to the spurious – when its’ own members’ integrity is called into question.”
Red shirts or red faced? Premier Daniel Andrews faces increasing scrutiny around the scandal.
This new and far more serious police investigation must be impartial, and the Attorney General, Martin Pakula should be asked to stand down.
“It beggars belief that the Attorney General who appoints the DPP could seek to remain in his position while under active police investigation.” says Liberal leader Mathew Guy.
“There’s never been a case in Australian history where a minister under active police criminal investigation remains in their position.”
It’s been a long time coming but now the so-called “Fake News” is very real news. In 2014, while pledging to “clean up politics and preside over unimpeachable transparency”, the Andrews team employed devious means to win an election and used the public purse to conceal it. This time the ALP can’t hide behind parliamentary privilege and in Victoria they can’t plead ‘The Fifth’. When the Fraud Squad comes knocking, we may finally get to know – just who was in the know.