LATEST: Damning ‘red shirts’ report implicates 21 MPs and points the finger
A damning Ombudsman’s report has found 21 Andrews Government MPs, including cabinet members, were embroiled in the so-called rorts for votes scandal.
In her report released Wednesday morning, Ombudsman Deborah Glass has found Labor breached parliamentary rules by using taxpayer money to pay for campaign staff in a controversial scheme that helped Premier Daniel Andrews win the 2014 election.
Also known as the red shirts scandal, it cost taxpayers almost $388,000.
“It was wrong,” Ms Glass said.
“The arrangement to employ field organisers as electorate officers was an artifice to secure partial payment for the campaign out of public funds.”
“The principal architect of the campaign was the former Leader of the Labor Party in the upper house, John Lenders.
“Mr Lenders crossed a line. Trust in our politicians is declining and diminishes further with allegations of misuse of public funds.”
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Parliament’s members guide prohibits parliamentary funds from being used for campaigning.
The Ombudsman’s investigation found a ‘well organised campaign by Labor to recruit and deploy full time field organisers’ in the run up to the Victorian 2014 state election.
Among 23 current and former MPs found to have breached the Members Guide are senior frontbenchers including Attorney-General Martin Pakula, Greg Jennings, Lily D’Ambrosio and Jenny Mikakos.
The money has been repaid by the Labor party.
The Premier today said no MPs would be punished.
“Look I would certainly have preferred this not have happened,” Mr Andrews said.
“You ask me whether I would apologise, absolutely we would have preferred this hadn’t happened.
“As the Ombudsman makes clear there are no recommendations of any actions against MPs.”
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When asked when he knew about the scandal he said they, “are not matters that I can specifically recall being discussed”.
Opposition leader Matthew Guy responded to the Premier’s press conference while speaking with Neil Mitchell.
“I thought his performance today was insincere,” he said.
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- Red shirts whistle-blower tells of personal toll for the “good of the state”
- FULL REPORT: Read it here