Daniel Andrews has claimed politicians, including himself, should not have to resign if they are targeted by a corruption inquiry.
The Victorian premier was put on the spot during a press conference on Tuesday with reporters firing off several questions about the IBAC hearing.
Senior Andrews Government minister Luke Donnellan fell on his sword on Monday after admitting to breaking party rules by playing dirty tricks with local branches.
The ongoing IBAC inquiry is probing the actions of numerous Victorian Labor politicians including Mr Andrews.
But despite former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian resigning while under investigation from her state’s corruption watchdog, no others in Victoria have followed her lead.
Mr Andrews has repeatedly shut down suggestions he too should resign – or anyone else under investigation or mentioned in the probe.
‘This notion that if you are in any way, you know, in the same postcode as IBAC you would have to resign,’ he said on Tuesday.
‘I made it very clear last week, that that is not in that kind of binary sense, the way that that forum works.
‘They are having hearings, they can’t do it all in one day, so there’s going to be a process, there’ll be evidence led, there’ll be things said and there will be findings made.
‘We will respond to those findings when they are findings, not evidence that has been made.’
While being grilled by reporters, the Victorian premier said he expected that all his colleagues ‘behave appropriately at all times’.
‘I follow the party’s rules and I behave appropriately,’ he said.
‘People in all roles [should be] focused on the people they serve, and that is the people of this state.’
The Victorian Premier was put under the spotlight during a press conference on Tuesday with reporters firing off several questions about the current IBAC hearing
Victorian Labor minister Luke Donnellan has resigned from his position after day one of the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission public inquiry
He was also asked whether he thought more ministers would step down following the resignation of Mr Donnellan over allegations he had paid for other people’s party memberships.
‘Let’s see what comes out of IBAC, I’m not here to foretell what they will do, to foreshadow it or to involve myself,’ Mr Andrews responded.
Mr Donnellan announced his resignation from Cabinet on Monday and will move to the backbench in disgrace after he was thrown under the bus by Federal Labor MP Anthony Byrne, who admitted to rampant and repeated ‘branch stacking’.
Mr Andrews stressed that during his lengthy career in parliament, he had ‘no time’ for backroom political schemes, or anything else but his work.
‘If you go and ask [my wife] Cath and the kids, they’ll tell you I had no time to do much else other than my parliamentary and ministerial duties,’ he said.
‘I’ve got a job to do. I dedicate myself to that job every waking hour so the notion that I’d have time, even, [is] frankly…’
Some of the questions raised about Mr Andrews’ political history dated from the late 1990s when he was a junior ALP official working roles he tried to downplay.
‘All of us like to think of ourselves as very important when we’re 24 or 25, but we rarely are,’ he said.
But the premier was tight-lipped when questioned on Mr Donnellan’s resignation.
‘We shouldn’t be speculating about what may or may not be led, we shouldn’t be speculating on people’s responses to that,’ he said.
He also admitted there was a ‘cultural problem’ within the Victorian Labor party but he last year took ‘unprecedented action’ to solve it.
‘Significant steps were taken. We have made changes, but we may need to go further,’ he said.
The IBAC hearings are expected to go for at least a month and drag before it a series of ALP power brokers – possibly even the premier himself.
On announcing his resignation on Monday afternoon, Mr Donnellan admitted to branch stacking, but denied ever misusing public funds.
‘I accept that I have previously breached party rules while a minister. But let me be very clear: I never misused public funds or resources in any way,’ he said in a statement.
Adem Somyurek (right) and Premier Daniel Andrews (centre) were once close allies
Mr Andrews released a short statement directly after in which he paid gushing tribute to the ex-Minister for Child Protection and Disability, Ageing, and Carers.
However, he refused to be drawn into the scandal, which has already exposed damning allegations of dodgy practices throughout the Victorian Labor party.
‘Due to inquiries currently on foot, I will not be making further comment,’ Mr Andrews earlier said on Monday.
Mr Donnellan claimed he only stepped down for breaking party rules over the officially shunned practice of branch stacking.
‘I don’t believe it is possible or appropriate to maintain my Ministerial responsibilities given these rule breaches,’ he stated.
Branch stacking is a practice within political parties that sees people recruited into a branch of a political party to influence who is pre-selected as an election candidate.
It comes with the problem of certain factions of political parties boosting membership with a view that pre-selection votes ensure its preferred candidate gets the job.
In a day of drama, the inquiry heard Mr Donnellan was involved in a factional alliance with former state Labor minister Adem Somyurek and contributed to a kitty that was used to pay for ALP memberships to control branches and secure positions in Parliament for allies.
Federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese was quizzed on the scandal on Tuesday
Over the course of the day, Mr Byrne made a series of claims that suggested Mr Somyurek was an ALP powerbroker, who was behind a widespread branch stacking operations.
‘The party was completely out of control. I saw things and heard things that I didn’t think I’d ever see in a modern Labor party,’ he told the inquiry.
‘I’m referring to branch stacking, I’m referring to coercion of staff being made to do things they didn’t want to do. I was referring to party being taken over by one person whose sole objective was power and power alone.’
Mr Byrne claimed he blew the whistle on Mr Somyurek amid fears he was driving the party ‘off a cliff’ with the dodgy practice.
Mr Somyurek, who denies the claims, was first elected to Victorian Parliament in 2002 and was sworn in as minister for small business, innovation and trade in the Andrews Government in December 2014.
Federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese was quizzed on the scandal on Tuesday.
He said he was not aware that Mr Byrne was involved in branch stacking.
‘I’m not a member of the Victorian branch. Nor do I have a detailed knowledge of the whole electorate and you’d be surprised if I did,’ he said.
Mr Albanese also said Labor was not the only party guilty of branch stacking.
‘I will stamp out corruption wherever I see it.’