Ombudsman’s report clears Liberals, shames Labor

Today’s release of the Ombudsman’s investigation into fraud carried out by a sacked former Liberal Party state director has fully exonerated current and former Liberal MPs of any culpability.

In so doing, the Ombudsman has highlighted the difference between Liberal MPs who were victims of a fraud and Labor MPs who perpetrated a fraud against Victorian taxpayers through the Red Shirts rorts.

While Liberal MPs actively co-operated with investigations, the contrast with Victorian Labor MPs - who not only refused to co-operate with Victoria Police criminal investigation but shamefully spent taxpayers’ money trying to block the Ombudsman’s Red Shirts investigation – could not be more stark.

The Ombudsman noted that “(Liberal) MPs and others involved in this investigation co-operated fully with it…I am grateful for the open and detailed accounts we received from all we interviewed”. She also found that “An investigation can result in exoneration, and this was the case in this instance, where we found no culpability on the part of any of the named MPs”.

This investigation only came about after Labor Premier Daniel Andrews abused his numbers in the Legislative Assembly to require the Ombudsman to undertake an investigation into his political opponents. This was despite the fact that it was the Liberal Party itself that reported the sacked staff member to Victoria Police and that the person responsible for the fraud had been jailed while the monies had been repaid.

Some of the main differences of the two investigations include:

The Ombudsman also fully exonerates the Nationals Member for Lowan, Emma Kealy, of Labor’s false claims relating to the invoicing of advertising in the Hamilton Spectator.

Comments attributable to the Leader of the Opposition, Michael O’Brien:

“Labor’s attempt to distract from their shocking Red Shirts rorts has blown up in their faces.

“This was a political stunt worthy of Wile E. Coyote, and just as successful.

“All Daniel Andrews and James Merlino have done through this Ombudsman’s report is to contrast the integrity of Liberal MPs with the disgraceful rorting of Labor MPs.

“Labor was desperate to distract from its party-orchestrated Red Shirts rorts that robbed Victorians of almost $400,000 but this baseless investigation has just robbed taxpayers of more money.

“Once again, the Labor Party has used public resources to try to smear its political opponents but it has backfired severely. It has exposed the contrast between Liberals full cooperation with authorities and Labor’s refusal to answer questions or co-operate with police.

“The Ombudsman’s reports also demonstrate that while Labor MPs were perpetrators of a scheme to rip off taxpayers, Liberal MPs were innocent victims of a crime.

“The Labor Party was forced to repay the hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Red Shirts rorts. Now Labor should pay Victorians back for the cost of this political witch-hunt which amounted to nothing.

“This Ombudsman’s report simply highlights that when it comes to integrity, the Andrews Labor Government has none.”

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