Premier Daniel Andrews has insisted he always acted with integrity and declared he would not stand down after it was revealed an anti-corruption probe was investigating his dealings with the firefighters union to broker a long-running industrial dispute.
“If you want to know what’s going on at IBAC [Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission], who they’re talking to, what they’re talking to them about, then you should go and have a chat to IBAC,” Mr Andrews said.
Premier Daniel Andrews outside Parliament House on Wednesday morning. Credit:Getty
“Even with around-the-back-door questions like that, [I won’t] be providing any other answer. And as for standards… I behave appropriately at all times. I’m focused always doing what is the appropriate thing to do.”
The Opposition called on the Premier to resign for being the subject of an IBAC investigation.
The Age on Wednesday revealed IBAC was examining the conduct of the Premier and a senior public servant over their role in controversial deals that benefited the United Firefighters Union and its boss, Peter Marshall.
While it has been known since 2019 that IBAC was investigating UFU matters, it was not previously known that investigators were scrutinising the Premier’s conduct as well.
Although several corruption investigations have probed the Labor government and its MPs, Mr Andrews said his government did not have an integrity problem.
Labor MPs were investigated by the Ombudsman last term over the so-called “red shirts” rort; while IBAC investigated allegedly corrupt land deals in Casey that engulfed some Labor and Liberal MPs, as well as the fire services reform and Labor MPs using taxpayer-funded electoral and ministerial staff to perform party-political activity.
Pressed if the government had a problem with integrity, the Premier said “no”.
He also refused to comment when asked if IBAC contacted him over its investigation into branch-stacking. In a statement last week, the independent commission said it was investigating Labor MPs and staffers, but did not name who they were.
“You’d need to speak to IBAC [about] who they have and have not contacted,” the Premier said.
“If you want to know who IBAC has called, please talk to IBAC, that’s the answer.”
When asked if he would stand down pending the outcome of an IBAC investigation, Mr Andrews said: “Absolutely not”.
Shadow Attorney-General Tim Smith called for Mr Andrews to follow Gladys Berejiklian’s lead after she stepped down as NSW Premier on Friday.
“The Premier of Victoria is under investigation by our anti-corruption commission, IBAC. Why hasn’t the Premier stood down? Why hasn’t the Premier tendered his resignation?” Mr Smith said.
“I’ll be very keen to hear what the Premier has to say about these matters today. Is he going to fob you off again, is he going to say no comment, or is he going to front up and actually explain his relationship with [firefighters’ union secretary] Peter Marshall?”
Ms Berejiklian’s resignation came after her state’s anti-corruption body confirmed it would conduct public hearings into her dealings with disgraced MP Daryl Maguire.
However, in contrast to in NSW, there is no suggestion Mr Andrews has not disclosed a personal interest. Unlike the case of the former NSW Premier, IBAC has given no indication it intends to hold public hearings or spelled out that it is probing adverse allegations involving Mr Andrews.
Sources with knowledge of the investigation who are not authorised to comment publicly have confirmed that one aspect of the IBAC investigation involved scrutiny of Mr Andrews’ actions.
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