Vic Premier grilled in secret anti-corruption hearings

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An interim report from Victoria’s anti-corruption watchdog has found significant cultural reform is needed within the state’s Labor party.

The Age newspaper reports the Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission’s interim report, which is yet to be published, found there was a serious misuse of public resources in the Victorian ALP.

It reports that 26 witnesses, including Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, were interviewed by IBAC in private, while seven were grilled in public hearings.

When questioned by journalists earlier this year, Mr Andrews would not confirm whether he was interviewed by IBAC.

The inquiry was set up to investigate whether taxpayer funds and money intended for community associations were used for branch stacking.

Branch stacking involves recruiting, and usually paying for, new members to a political party and is done to boost a faction’s influence and ensure its preferred candidates are preselected.

Former Victorian government minister Adem Somyurek quit the ALP in 2020 following revelations he enlisted the help of electoral and ministerial staff to run a branch-stacking operation.

The practice is not illegal but it is against Labor Party rules to pay for others’ memberships.

The interim IBAC report found “unethical practices” extended further than Mr Somyurek’s moderate Labor faction, with it being “highly likely” the misuse of publicly funded staff and employment of family members and factional allies was more widespread across the party.

The anti-corruption watchdog will give accused parties an opportunity to refute the allegations before tabling the report to parliament.

Mr Andrew’s office and IBAC have been contacted for comment.

-AAP

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