News State Victoria Daniel Andrews ‘too busy’ to look at his party’s evidence of alleged Coalition rorting
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Daniel Andrews ‘too busy’ to look at his party’s evidence of alleged Coalition rorting

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Premier Daniel Andrews said it was up to Victoria Police to deal with the allegations. Photo: AAP
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Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says he has been too busy to look at the evidence his party is using to allege Coalition MPs misused electorate staff.

Deputy Premier James Merlino has written to police asking for an investigation into claims 18 past and present Liberal and National MPs used electorate office staff for campaigning during normal business hours.

The government says it has significant evidence but refuses to release any details to back up its claims.

Mr Andrews on Tuesday told journalists he had not seen the evidence passed on to police and when asked why said: “I’m very busy … I’ve got lots of other things to do”.

“These matters have been referred to Victoria Police where they should be, and it’ll be up to Victoria Police to deal with them as they see fit,” the Premier added.

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Deputy Premier James Merlino is pictured on Monday after Labor referred 18 Liberal and National MPs to police. Photo: AAP

The government also alleges numerous ministerial advisers under the former Napthine government did not take leave during the 2014 caretaker period and instead worked for then-state Liberal director Damien Mantach.

It comes as the opposition steps up pressure on the government over a criminal probe into Labor MPs stemming from the infamous rort-for-votes scandal.

The decisions and appointments of six cabinet ministers found to have been involved in the 2014 election scheme, including Attorney-General Martin Pakula, will be reviewed if the Coalition wins power in November’s state poll, Liberal MP Tim Smith says.

Only decisions made after police announced the fraud and extortion probe on Friday would be reviewed, including the appointment of five new magistrates.

“They’re tainted in their appointment by an Attorney-General that’s under police investigation,” Mr Smith said.

In March, 21 past and present Labor MPs were found by Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass to have systematically misused $388,000 of taxpayer funds in the party’s 2014 winning election campaign.

Publicly paid electorate staff were directed to campaign for candidates, with the scandal also leading to a parliamentary inquiry.

The police declined to launch an investigation into the issue in 2016 but the fraud squad was later called in after Liberal MP Edward O’Donohue sent a letter of complaint.

-AAP

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