Daniel Andrews (pictured) has explained why he is not resigning
Daniel Andrews has explained why he is not resigning after reports he is being investigated by Victoria’s anti-corruption watchdog over a deal struck with firefighters two years ago.
The Opposition said Mr Andrews should follow the lead of former NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian who stood down last week after it emerged she was being investigated for corruption over her relationship with ex-boyfriend Daryl Maguire.
Ms Berejiklian denied any wrongdoing but said she had no choice but to step down because of her own policy requiring ministers to stand aside if they were being investigated.
Mr Andrews said he would not be resigning because he does not have the same stand-down policy regarding investigations by IBAC, Victoria’s Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission.
‘Just because you were assisting IBAC or were involved in some way, that that without any question or as a binary thing, you would have to step down, no, I don’t believe that’s accurate, I don’t believe that’s fair,’ the Victorian Premier said on Thursday.
IBAC has been secretly investigating the United Firefighters Union’s role in Victoria’s fire services reform since 2019.
But The Age newspaper on Wednesday revealed the watchdog is also examining Mr Andrews and a senior public servant’s interactions with the union and has interviewed several former and serving Labor MPs and staffers.
According to the report, IBAC has seized mobile phones, laptops and dozens of USBs in its investigation.
No evidence of corruption has been reported publicly.
Speaking outside parliament on Wednesday and again on Thursday, Mr Andrews repeatedly declined to confirm whether he was being investigated by the watchdog.
After four days of hiding in a CBD hotel after her resignation, Gladys Berejiklian (pictured) turned up at her electorate office in Northbridge on Wednesday morning
Legally he may not be able to as it can be an offence for individuals to confirm that they have been interviewed by IBAC or are subject to an investigation.
‘If you want to know what’s going on at IBAC, who they’re talking to and what they’re talking to them about, then you should go and have a chat to IBAC,’ he told reporters on Wednesday.
‘In everything I do, I behave appropriately. I’m very conscious of the oath that I swore and the duty I have to every single Victorian and to suggest otherwise is completely wrong.’
The commission refused to comment on whether it is investigating Mr Andrews.
‘As a matter of practice, IBAC does not comment on whether it has a complaint or investigation before it,’ it said in a statement.
Mr Andrews said he had not spoken to UFU secretary Peter Marshall in more than a year and that he was proud of the Government’s 2019 reforms to the fire services, which involved merging Metropolitan Fire Brigade members and career Country Fire Authority firefighters into the new Fire Rescue Victoria.
When she arrived home Ms Berejiklian (pictured) picked up a bunch of flowers outside her gate and entered her property
The UFU championed the reforms, while volunteer firefighters and the Victorian opposition said it would hand the union too much power.
The reforms passed parliament with the help of crossbenchers after more than four years of negotiations between the government, the fire services and the union, during which Mr Andrews reportedly intervened.
Emergency services minister Jane Garrett, CFA chief executive Lucinda Nolan and chief fire officer Joe Buffone all quit while the CFA board was sacked by the Government after it opposed the deal.
Opposition Leader Matthew Guy and shadow attorney-general Tim Smith have called on the premier to resign if he is being investigated.
‘The former premier of NSW resigned because she was under investigation by ICAC. The premier of Victoria is under investigation by our anti-corruption commission, IBAC, why hasn’t the premier stood down?’ Mr Smith said.
‘I’m delighted that IBAC is finally going to look into the very murky, ugly, nasty underbelly of the Labor party, and their insidious relationship with this brutally awful union.’
When asked in Parliament on Wednesday if he would stand down pending the outcome of an IBAC investigation, Mr Andrews replied: ‘Absolutely not.’
‘I will not be doing anything other than my duty and what I’m sworn to do and that is to work as hard as I can to deliver on my commitments to the community, keep the community safe and make sure that we can deliver our roadmap to opening,’ he said.
Mr Andrews also said it was ‘not a necessity’ for any minister to stand aside if they were being investigated.
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
‘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.’
Mr Andrews blasted Mr Guy, 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.’
Why did Gladys Berejiklian resign?
Ms Berejiklian quit on Friday after the state’s corruption watchdog said it was investigating her.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption is investigating whether Ms Berejiklian encouraged or allowed corrupt conduct by her secret ex-boyfriend and former Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire between 2012 and 2018.
It will also probe whether she breached public trust by not reporting any suspicion of corrupt conduct and what role she had to play in two government grants handed out in Mr Maguire’s electorate.
The NSW corruption watchdog ICAC is investigating whether Ms Berejiklian encouraged or allowed corrupt conduct by her ex-boyfriend and former MP Daryl Maguire (pictured together)
An ICAC public inquiry on the matter will be held for about 10 days from October 18, overseen by Assistant Commissioner Ruth McColl SC.
Mr Maguire is accused of abusing his public office after admitting being involved in a cash-for-visa scheme and seeking secret commissions for brokering property deals. He was forced to resign in 2018.
In an emotional 10-minute speech on Friday Ms Berejiklian denied any wrongdoing and slammed the watchdog for announcing its investigation into her as the state emerges from a four-month Covid lockdown.
‘Resigning at this time is against every instinct in my being and something which I do not want to do,’ she said.