News State Victoria Victorian Labor refers 18 Coalition MPs to police
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Victorian Labor refers 18 Coalition MPs to police

Victoria's deputy premier James Merlino reported 18 Coalition MPs to police. Photo: AAP
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The Victorian Labor Party has referred 18 Liberal and National MPs names to police to be investigated for allegedly using electorate staff for political campaigning during business hours.

Deputy Leader James Merlino put the names forward to police on Sunday which includes Member for Brighton Louise Asher, Member for Western Metropolitan Region Bernie Finn, Member for South Eastern Metropolitan Region Inga Peulich and Nationals MP Tim McCurdy.

Mr Merlino has also asked police to “investigate the leave status of ministerial staff employed by the former Napthine government during the 2014 Victorian election campaign”.

“It’s clear that a significant number of ministerial advisers did not take leave during the caretaker period and instead worked at the direction of then Liberal Party state director, and now convicted criminal, Damien Mantach,” Mr Merlino said in a statement on Sunday.

“This allowed the Liberal Party to access taxpayer-funded expenditure in the order of $2 million for the Liberals’ re-election campaign.”

Liberal MPs John Pesutto and Louise Staley, whose names have also been put forward to police, became ministers after the November 2014 election.

“This is a laughably desperate stunt from a desperate premier who has six ministers under police investigation,” a coalition spokesman told AAP on Sunday.

Victoria Police announced last week it would investigate Labor’s rorts-for-votes scandal during the party’s previous winning campaign, in which 21 past and present Labor MPs have been found to have misused $388,000 of taxpayer money.

Following the news, the Victorian opposition put forward a motion in the upper house calling for six government MPs identified in the ombudsman’s report to stand down.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy on Sunday called for the six ministers to abstain from Cabinet but Labor Health Minister Jill Hennessy told reporters such reports was “nonsensical”.

It comes after Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass in March found past and present Labor MPs systematically misused taxpayer funds during the party’s 2014 election campaign.

But Ms Glass told a parliamentary inquiry she did not believe MPs had deliberately rorted the system, rather they thought it was within the guidelines.

Mr Merlino says the Liberal and National parties refused to have the behaviour of their MPs investigated by the Victorian Ombudsman, so “they can no longer hide from that scrutiny”.

-AAP