Former Victorian corruption watchdog boss Robert Redlich has launched a broadside on Daniel Andrews, suggesting the premier sought to conceal the nature of a report’s findings.
In April, the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) found the Andrews government unfairly awarded a $1.2 million contract to a Labor-affiliated union before the 2018 state election.
Mr Andrews branded the Operation Daintree report “educational” and stressed there were no corruption findings against anyone, despite it substantiating that government staff exerted pressure on health bureaucrats.
Mr Redlich, whose five-year term as IBAC commissioner ended late last year, said the public was not served well by Mr Andrews seeking to “conceal and disguise” the watchdog’s findings.
“It was quite disingenuous to have said at length, repeatedly, that there were no findings,” he told ABC Radio Melbourne on Tuesday.
“There shouldn’t be a need to conceal and mislead as to the significance of findings when those failings are exposed.”
The premier’s office has been contacted for comment.
Mr Redlich reiterated the points he made when appearing before parliament’s Integrity and Oversight Committee on Monday.
The former Supreme Court judge called for IBAC to have wider powers, including being able to make findings of corruption even when it does not constitute a criminal offence.
But Labor committee members instead focused their questioning on unrelated matters, such as whether Mr Redlich bullied any of his staff and his termination payment.
Mr Redlich said it was a lost opportunity to talk about integrity reforms.
“I rather thought that was a filibuster, that they were trying to waste time,” he said.
Mr Redlich wrote to parliament’s speaker and president in December with concerns that partisan politics had permeated the committee and allegations its Labor members directed an auditor to “find dirt” on the watchdog.
The threat of a parliamentary inquiry into the accusations led to Labor agreeing to no longer have a government chair or majority on the committee.
Mr Redlich used his committee appearance to double down on his concerns, but former committee chair and upper house Labor MP Harriet Shing would not address them.
“I’m not here to run a commentary on comments made by Mr Redlich as a private citizen,” she told reporters.
Opposition Leader John Pesutto accused Ms Shing, who chaired the committee until her elevation to cabinet last year, of trying to discredit Mr Redlich.
“Robert Redlich’s views, whether as IBAC commissioner last year or as private citizen today, are as powerful, as compelling and as damning as they could be,” he said.
The public spat came as government minister Danny Pearson wrote to the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) asking it to examine a donations “loophole” mentioned in IBAC’s Operation Sandon report into developer John Woodman and Casey council.
Released last week, the report outlined a discussion about the loophole between Mr Woodman and the executive director of the Liberals’ nominated fundraising entity, Enterprise Victoria.
Mr Pearson suggested the Electoral Act may have been breached as the intercepted phone conversation took place in February 2019, after Victorian donation laws were strengthened.
More than $470,000 was donated by Mr Woodman to the Labor and Liberal parties between 2010 and 2019 to access state MPs.
The referral from Mr Pearson did not faze Mr Pesutto.
“If there is an issue that the VEC wants to look at, I’d encourage it,” he said.