The Victorian Government has rejected reports it misused taxpayer funds during the 2014 election campaign when Labor was in opposition.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said there was nothing irregular about Labor’s use of funds.
Mr Andrews was forced to defend his party’s use of taxpayer dollars after three unnamed ALP MPs and a senior party figure alleged “hundreds of thousands” had been diverted from electorate office funding, News Ltd reported.
One MP said the Premier was “responsible” for an order, according to News Ltd, to “divert part of their taxpayer-funded budgets, intended for electorate officers, to pay for campaign organisers instead”.
The campaigners were allegedly working with the Community Action Network, a grassroots project based targeting marginal seats.
But Mr Andrews told reporters on Wednesday they did nothing out of the ordinary for the 2014 election.
“The pooling of staff, these sorts of arrangements, have existed for decades,” Mr Andrews said.
“They’ve been approved by presiding officers, both Labor and Liberal. There are rules and they’ve been followed, strictly.”
However, Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said the rules changed in 2006, preventing parties from using taxpayer-funded electoral staff for political work.
“Labor tried to sack Geoff Shaw from parliament for supposedly rorting $1,500 from the same pool of money,” Mr Guy said.
“It now appears Labor has rorted hundreds of thousands from (it).”
Mr Guy said they would look at all options for investigating the allegations, including police involvement or referring it to anti-corruption watchdog IBAC.
No complaint made: Atkinson
The president of Parliament’s Upper House, Liberal MP Bruce Atkinson, said no complaint had been made to him or Lower House Speaker Telmo Languillier.
He said the Parliament would consider whether any rules were broken, but pointed out that the practice of pooling or re-deploying electorate office staff had been regular practice.
“Pooling arrangements have been in place for a long time; they continue to this day,” Mr Atkinson said.
“Pooling is seen as a means, particularly with regards to Opposition parties, of providing more significant resources and support to shadow ministers in particular, who have very little resources available to them in comparison to [the] government.
– with AAP and ABC