Daniel Andrews rejects claims his government is mired in corruption after IBAC controversy

Victorian parliament has erupted over claims the Andrews government directed independent consultants to dig up dirt on the state’s anti-corruption commission.

Opposition Leader John Pesutto moved to suspend parliamentary debate on Thursday, so he could turn attention on why the lower house speaker and upper house president had not released a letter from former Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission chief Robert Redlich.

Outgoing IBAC commissioner Robert Redlich, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and the state’s Opposition Leader John Pesutto.Credit:The Age

Redlich sent the letter to the pair, accusing Andrews government MPs of pressuring independent consultants to find dirt on the integrity watchdog.

The Greens backed the moves to suspend debate on the Heritage Amendment Bill, saying it was critical the house debated the presiding officers’ refusal to provide the letter to MPs.

The parliament descended into chaos as government and opposition MPs shouted across the chamber.

Premier Daniel Andrews rejected Pesutto’s suggestion his government was mired in corruption.

Outgoing IBAC commissioner Robert Redlich.

Earlier, he rebuffed IBAC assertions that government MPs acted inappropriately while sitting on a powerful parliamentary committee that has oversight of the state’s integrity bodies.

Redlich accused Labor MPs of acting out of retaliation against the commission for multiple probes into the Andrews government.

“I absolutely reject any suggestion by him or anyone else that the government does not behave appropriately,” Andrews said this morning.

“The government does behave appropriately – there are no findings to the contrary.”

In one of his final acts as IBAC commissioner, Redlich wrote to the lower house speaker and upper house president calling for an overhaul of the Integrity and Oversight Committee (IOC) to ensure it was not dominated by government MPs or chaired by government MPs.

Speaker Maree Edwards and president Shaun Leane told this masthead they did not distribute the letter widely because it was addressed only to them and marked sensitive.

Although the letter was addressed to them, Redlich opened his letter by stating he was writing to them “as the newly elected parliament to bring to parliament’s attention IBAC’s concerns about the composition of the parliamentary integrity and oversight committee”.

Andrews said on Thursday he had not seen the letter, and questioned why the letter was not addressed to him if Redlich thought the allegations were so serious they warranted the government’s attention.

The government has no plans to introduce legislation to amend the parliamentary committees act to acquiesce to Redlich’s demands, Andrews added.

Relations between the government and IBAC have been tense as the watchdog concluded a series of potentially damaging investigations — some involving interrogations of Andrews — and as Redlich grew increasingly outspoken in the later months of his five-year term.

Government ministers and MPs have privately been scathing of Redlich’s foray into the political arena, and say that the “soft corruption” he focused on — including Labor branch-stacking — was outside his jurisdiction.

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