Victoria’s Premier refuses to comment on IBAC probe

Victoria’s Premier refuses to comment on IBAC probe

Victoria's premier Daniel Andrews has refused to comment on reports that he has been questioned by the state's anti-corruption watchdog over Labor party culture.

The Age newspaper reported that Victoria's Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission IBAC asked Mr Andrews about issues, including branch stacking and misuse of public resources.

In its coverage, the newspaper said that Victorian Labor had an unethical culture with respect to factional activity and that such behaviour was not limited to factional groups within the party.

It was also said that Mr Andrews was among a number of Labor MPs who acknowledged that significant cultural reform must be done within the ALP Branch because of the so-called red shirts scandal, which prompted a joint investigation between the Victorian Ombudsman and the IBAC.

The investigation, known as Operation Watts, held public hearings and private interviews.

Mr Andrews refused to confirm whether he had been questioned and said it would be grossly inappropriate for him to comment on a report that had not yet been released.

He did confirm that a draft report relating to Operation Watts had been sent to people involved in the investigation.

When you're not prepared to trample all over processes, you can be at a disadvantage, because you're not in a position to refute things that are plainly wrong. Labor MP Adem Somyurek tweeted that the disclosure of information in IBAC's draft report was a denial of procedural fairness. When an integrity body puts media strategy ahead of fact-finding, there is something rotten in the organisation, he said.

Mr Somyurek also questioned why Andrews was questioned by IBAC, but it wasn't publicly done.

IBAC would not confirm whether it had interviewed the Premier and said it did not comment on investigations before it.

The Victorian Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said the allegations were gravely worrying and called for the Premier to resign.

How can you trust Daniel Andrews to fix our state when the corruption watchdog has found Labor is rotten to the core? He said something.

In 2020, Somyurek was sacked after Channel Nine aired allegations that he was involved in industrial-scale branch stacking.

The upper house MP told an IBAC hearing in November 2021 that he engaged factional operatives as his office staff.

Mr Somyurek said he dismissed his concerns over Labor's red-shirts scandal in 2014, which he described as a gold-standard rort. He said he asked then-opposition leader Mr Andrews about the misuse of staff for political work ahead of the 2014 election, and that he claimed Mr Andrews was aware of the behaviour.

He said words to the effect of Do you want to win the election or not? Somyurek said something.

In 2018, Ombudsman Deborah Glass found that Labor had misused $388,000 of public money through the red-shirts arrangement.