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Vic premier tight-lipped on inquiry claims

Daniel Andrews Vic branch stacking
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews would appear before an anti-corruption commission inquiry if asked. Photo: AAP
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Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says Labor is “deeply regretful” of the red shirts affair and that he will appear before an anti-corruption inquiry into branch-stacking if asked to.

Former government minister Adem Somyurek accused the premier of dismissing his concerns about red shirts, on his first day of evidence before an Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission inquiry on Monday.

He quit the Labor Party last year before he was expelled following a Nine Network investigation, which caught him handing over cash and using parliamentary staff to create fake branch members.

Mr Somyurek, who is appearing again on Tuesday, claimed he went to Mr Andrews with concerns about red shirts before the 2014 election, and the premier replied “words to the effect of ‘Do you want to win the election or not?'”

He described red shirts as “a gold standard rort” and criticised the Victorian Ombudsman for not coming down harder, saying she could have used “stronger language” to get the message across.

The scandal was a $388,000 scheme involving the misuse of parliamentary allowances to pay Labor’s political campaign staff ahead of the 2014 election.

Asked about the claims on Tuesday morning, Mr Andrews said Labor had made “a number of important rule changes” since the ombudsman’s investigation into the scheme.

“We’ve taken unprecedented action. I have indicated to you and I will again that if we have to go further, we absolutely will,” he told reporters.

He said the Labor Party was “deeply regretful” of red shirts affair and had already accepted responsibility for it.

Mr Andrews said he would appear before IBAC if he is asked to.

“Every Victorian should participate fully if they’re asked to. But as to who’s been asked, who’s been there, who’s going to go there – that’s a matter for IBAC,” the premier said.

Mr Somyurek is appearing as a witness over four days this week, as the inquiry before IBAC Commissioner Robert Redlich continues.

– AAP