Labor caught in election "rort"
Victorian Labor used $388,000 of public money to pay campaigners in its successful 2014 election campaign.
The state’s ombudsmen has found the party breached the politicians’ guidelines for staff by signing-off on payments to electorate officers who were working for the campaign purposes.
Electorate officers are not allowed to engage in “political" campaigning.
Ms Glass estimated the electorate officers working on the campaign were paid nearly $388,000.
Former state treasurer John Lenders, who retired at the 2014 election, was named as the architect of the scheme.
A total of 21 MPs were found to have breached the guidelines, including current ministers Jenny Mikakos, Martin Pakula, Lily D'Ambrosio, Gavin Jennings, John Eren and Gayle Tierney.
The report did not recommend any criminal charges or referral to the state's anti-corruption watchdog.
This was partly because the MPs who participated in the arrangement and signed timesheets genuinely believed the work was legitimate.
The report noted that guidelines for MPs and electorate officers were not enforceable, and that MPs rarely had to consult them.
“I make no criticism of the campaign or the field organisers,” ombudsmen Deborah Glass wrote.
“But while some electorate officer work was done for some Members of Parliament, the arrangement to employ field organisers as electorate officers was an artifice to secure partial payment for the campaign out of parliamentary funds, and was wrong.”
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says all the money has been repaid, but the opposition is not letting them off easily.
Opposition leader Matthew Guy has called on the Government to pay back the legal fees spent trying to block the investigation, and for all ministers and parliamentary secretaries involved in the “rort” to resign.