Prime Minister Daniel Andrews under scrutiny over firefighters union deal

How the deadlock was broken by the Prime Minister, Mr. Bates and Mr. Marshall, and whether it involved any inappropriate behavior, is one thread of the IBAC investigation.

Age He also confirmed that in addition to interviewing MPs, former employees and Labor party workers about the deal, IBAC investigators confiscated cell phones, laptops and dozens of USB devices owned by the UFU or its secretary, Mr. Marshall. Among those interviewed by IBAC this year are former members of the Prime Minister’s inner circle.

“In my experience and in my judgment,” Mr. Andrews said on Tuesday, Mr. Bates had always acted fairly in his dealings with Mr. Marshall and the union.

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“It’s not up to me to decide,” he said. “I have been very clear throughout my time in public life that integrity agencies must have the full support of the government and every member of it.” In certain circumstances, it may be an offense for someone to comment on IBAC’s activities.

Bates, the deputy secretary of education, declined to comment when contacted Age. Marshall did not respond to repeated messages.

Two former members of Mr Andrews’ inner circle said there was no indication that the prime minister had acted inappropriately and questioned whether the IBAC had a place to scrutinize political and industrial negotiations. Some of the current members of Mr. Andrews’ Cabinet who have spoken with them Age He said this week that a lack of transparency about the prime minister and Mr Bates’ dealings with the TU raised issues of integrity, but others dismissed suggestions that any such dealings had reached a level that would justify a negative outcome by the IBAC.

The second track of the IBAC investigation includes the dealings between Mr Marshall and Animal Justice MP Andy Medik, whose vote helped pass union-backed fire services reform legislation after his child was awarded a two-week paid place at the UFU.

Animal Justice MP Andy Medic said the reforms were in line with his values ​​and party policy.attributed to him:Morgan Hancock

When asked last year whether the Prime Minister was aware of Mr Medic’s child getting a short-term union job, a government spokesman said: “Absolutely nothing”. Mr. Medic He said last year Age He voted to reform the fire services on the basis of “my values, party politics, my union background and consultation with many firefighters across the state.” Medic also said the job was given to his daughter based on her merits.

He said he announced his position on the bill to Mr Marshall “long before” it was debated in Parliament and government shortly after he was elected in 2018.

The broad-based Independent Anti-Corruption Commission has extraordinary investigative powers, but under the leadership of Commissioner Robert Redlich, it has generally adopted a cautious approach in making the details of its investigations public.

This is especially true of the gray area that can surround government deal-making with unions and behavior that does not involve apparent “paper bag” corruption, but rather issues of public trust and the use of official power. In the case of the UFU’s dealings with the Andrews government, the issues under investigation include questions about the appropriate use of political power and the transparency of the closed negotiations held to strike a deal that may have benefited the UFU and the business but at a cost that the taxpayer might ultimately bear.

IBAC Commissioner Robert Redlich, QC.

IBAC Commissioner Robert Redlich, QC.

Unlike the Corruption Commission investigation that led to the resignation of former New South Wales prime minister Gladys Berejiklian on Friday, there is no indication that Mr Andrews has revealed a personal interest. Unlike the case of the former New South Wales Prime Minister, the IBAC has not given any indication that it intends to hold public hearings or has made clear that it is investigating the opposite allegations regarding Mr Andrews.

The IBAC’s investigation into UFU transactions began in mid-2019 and was halted on multiple occasions due to legal challenges, the nature of which has been nullified.

“As a matter of practice, IBAC does not comment on whether it has a complaint or investigation before it,” a spokesperson for the agency said this week.

It was previously reported in the media that Mr Marshall claimed that Mr Andrews had made pre-election commitments to the UFU which may not have been publicly disclosed. Marshall insisted that Mr. Andrews needed to honor these obligations.

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Among the results of the dealings between the UFU and the Andrews government is a fire services reform bill. The bill passed Parliament in 2019 after 4 and a half years, and demanded the scalp of one minister, Jane Garrett, and two fire chiefs.And Lucinda Nolan and Joe Buffon.

The Andrews government also dismissed the entire CFA board of directors in 2016 at the height of tensions.

The legislation enabled the CFA’s 1220 brigades to become volunteer only and stations with professional firefighters to merge with the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, becoming known as Fire Rescue Victoria. Volunteer firefighters and the Victorian opposition viewed the move as a usurpation of union power.

Little information has been released about the IBAC investigation, apart from the fact that it is ongoing, since it began in early 2019. Over the course of several weeks, Age He compiled the most complete picture of the IBAC query.

The Anti-Corruption Agency can only move the investigation from the initial stage to a comprehensive investigation if it believes that the allegations of misconduct it has received are not absurd or malicious and involve a dishonest use of power.

It has jurisdiction over members of the UFU who are employees of the State Fire Service, making them public servants. Members of Parliament are also subject to the jurisdiction of the IBAC.

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