Daniel Andrews has insisted he won’t stand down any of his staff or ministers if they’re investigated for corruption, while rejecting calls to resign himself following a Victorian watchdog probe.
The state premier was grilled by journalists in Melbourne on Wednesday and later in state Parliament over a corruption probe into the relationship between the United Firefighters Union and the Victorian government.
It has been reported that Victoria’s corruption watchdog IBAC will examine the Premier’s conduct as part of its investigation.
The revalation comes less than a week after his former New South Wales counterpart, Gladys Berejiklian, stood down after ICAC announced she was also subject to an investigation.
During a fiery Question Time in parliament Mr Andrews was asked whether he would stand down his staff if they were too were probed in the IBAC investigation.
‘No, I will not commit to that, and it would be strange if anyone did,’ he said.
Daniel Andrews (pictured on Wednesday) has said he won’t stand down any of his staff if they’re investigated following a Victorian corruption watchdog probe
‘At the end of the day, everyone should cooperate, everyone should participate, everyone should do as that commission asks.’
Mr Andrews also said it was ‘not a necessity’ for any minister to stand aside if they were being investigated when asked by Victorian Opposition Leader Matthew Guy.
‘No, not as a matter of necessity, no. Who IBAC investigates and the circumstances in which they investigate them, who participates in inquiries and who assists IBAC with their inquiries is, firstly, a matter for IBAC,’ he said.
‘Secondly, it may not be a matter that anyone in the government would even know about; and thirdly, it is not a matter that would necessitate them standing aside.’
When faced with a barrage of journalists’ questions on Wednesday about the investigation, the premier fended them off and repeatedly referred them to IBAC.
‘If you want to know what IBAC is doing and who they’re talking to… you must go talk to them,’ he said.
There are calls for Mr Andrews to follow Gladys Berejiklian who resigned on Friday (pictured) after it emerged she was being investigated for corruption over two grants handed out in her ex-boyfriend’s electorate
Mr Guy has said the Premier should follow Ms Berejiklian, who resigned on Friday after it emerged she was being investigated for corruption over two grants handed out in her ex-boyfriend’s electorate.
He said: ‘The Premier went into Opposition [where] he made a habit of calling for people to stand down who are being investigated by IBAC.
‘The Premier in NSW has just stood down for being investigated by an anti-corruption commission.
‘Now (Mr Andrews) is being investigated, and he refuses to stand down. I hope that tells the whole state of Victoria about his state of integrity. Of course he should stand down.’
Hundreds of Victorian firefighters rally on the steps of parliament in Melbourne in 2015
The call infuriated Mr Andrews, who blasted Mr Guy in state Parliament on Wednesday afternoon, accusing him of ‘grinning and smirking’ while launching political attacks.
‘The Leader of the Opposition can – whatever that’s called, that grinning and smirking whatever it is, it’s almost woken up.
‘So when you have woken up come back to me.’
Mr Andrews said he has ‘behaved appropriately at all times’.
An IBAC investigation into Victoria’s fire services has been ongoing since 2019, probing allegations of corruption and financial mismanagement.
Between 2015 and 2019 the firefighters’ union leader Peter Marshall tried to influence a new pay deal and a reform package to benefit his members. The deal was reached in 2019 and passed parliament.
IBAC has seized mobile phones, laptops and dozens of USBs belonging to the union or Mr Marshall, according to The Age.
Daily Mail Australia is not suggesting any wrongdoing by Mr Andrews.
Daniel Andrews has batted away reporters’ questions about a Victorian corruption watchdog investigation amid calls for him to resign