Victorian opposition slams Daniel Andrews government over ‘corrupt' taxpayer spend

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The Victorian opposition has failed to gain support to take government corruption claims to the Ombudsman. Picture: Darrian Traynor/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

The Victorian opposition has slammed the government as “corrupt” amid a failed attempt to gain cross-party support to take allegations of a polling scandal to the Ombudsman.

The Australian newspaper aired claims the Premier’s office used taxpayers’ money to track perceptions of Daniel Andrews, including reactions to lockdown restrictions during the peak of the Covid pandemic in 2020.

The investigation revealed the government ordered taxpayer-funded research firm QDOS to conduct extensive community surveys to assess the political impact of the state’s 112-day lockdown, with Victorians asked to score the government’s performance, including its leadership, out of 10.

The Coalition on Wednesday moved to gain support for an Ombudsman investigation to question whether the Premier’s office had directed research, framed focus group questions and “spied” on the focus groups.

Opposition leader in the Legislative Council David Davis called the dealings “corrupt” during the debate.

“This is a red shirts-style rort for research. This is outrageous,” he said.

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The Australian newspaper aired claims the Premier’s office used taxpayers’ money to track perceptions of Daniel Andrews. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Ian Currie.Source:News Corp Australia

“It is money that is being spent by taxpayers and being spent by taxpayers in a way that they have little control over, but it is not being spent in the public interest, it is being spent in the interests of the Labor Party.”

Mr Andrews this week denied corruption allegations, saying he would not apologise for listening to the community, and all governments spent taxpayer money on research.

Despite the LNP’s push for support to take the claims to the Ombudsman, the crossbench voted against the motion.

The move was quickly shut down by MPs Rodney Barton, Clifford Hayes, Samantha Ratnam, Andy Meddick, Fiona Patten, Tania Maxwell and Stuart Grimley.

Ms Patten called the motion “political opportunitism”.

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Despite the LNP’s push for support to take the claims to the Ombudsman, the crossbench voted against the motion.Source:News Corp Australia

“If I was this concerned, the first thing I would have done is write a letter to the Ombudsman asking her to investigate this. But no, you have skipped a step, and you have decided to ask the parliament to force her to investigate this,” Ms Patten said.

“I am not comfortable with skipping over the first steps of actually asking the Ombudsman to consider this — just picking up the phone, making a call, speaking to that office directly — rather than taking this heavy-handed approach of asking the parliament to force a fiercely independent office to investigate something on our behalf.”

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