Adem Somyurek told the IBAC inquiry that Prime Minister Daniel Andrews had dismissed his concerns over the Red Shirt affair, which he called a “benchmark.”
In response to the concerns expressed, Mr Somyurek claimed that Mr Andrews told him: “Do you want to win an election or not?”
Victorian parliamentarians, including Labor and Liberal parties, were unwilling to prevent taxpayer-funded staff from carrying out factional activities during working hours, the former minister said at the hearing public.
Mr Somyurek said he was involved in discussions in the government caucus following the Victorian ombudsman in the red shirts report, and that they had “deliberately” not gone beyond it. campaigning ban, similar to this scandal.
He said Ombudsman Deborah Glass’s decision not to use harsher language or recommend charges gave the impression that staff were allowed to do faction work during their funded working hours. by taxpayers.
“Red shirts were the gold standard [for rorting taxpayer resources]”said Mr. Somyurek.
“When the ombudsman came back and basically admitted defeat and didn’t call the IBAC or any charges, we were all settled, that means you do whatever you want, you can get your election officers, you can determine the duties and responsibilities of your agents without limits.
“I would say the mediator didn’t use harsher language and referred the cases to charges, it made it feel like it was carte blanche, you could do whatever you wanted.”
Following the report, legislation was changed to ban political activities by parties around the campaign, but Mr Somyurek said the changes were too small.
“Is it fair to say that despite the mediator’s report, parliament, including all parties here that voted on this motion, were unwilling to tackle the factional activity of elected leaders?” Said Commissioner Robert Redlich.
“Spot on,” replied Mr. Somyurek.
Mr. Redlich: “What a terrible indictment … [given] Parliament is the first place to ensure that not only members, but also staff, limit their activities to respecting and performing their public duties.
There was a unity ticket in parliament for not properly tackling the ombudsperson’s report because every MP from every party was involved in leading their taxpayer-funded staff to carry out faction activities, Mr. Somyurek.
He said that because the ombudsperson did not come out stronger from the Red Shirt scandal, MPs believed the parliamentary administration law trumped the members’ guide, which barred election workers from getting involved. in the political activities of parties.
Section 30 (4) of the Act states: Despite subsection (2), the duties and responsibilities of a person employed as an election officer are determined by the member who appointed that person.
But Mr Redlich said the amendments to the law included a variety of provisions that defined the type of activities for which public resources could be used by MPs.
“I suggest to you that these amendments… make it very clear that you cannot use public resources for faction activities,” Redlich said.
The Red Shirts case was the name given to what became an ombudsman investigation that found Labor broke parliamentary rules by using $ 388,000 of public funds to pay campaign staff working on the 2014 election campaign.