Wednesday, 17 May 2023

Statements on tabled papers and petitions

Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission


Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission

Operation Daintree: Special Report

Georgie CROZIER (Southern Metropolitan) (17:28): I am pleased to rise again to speak to the Operation Daintree: Special Report, which is one of the very serious corruption probes into this government. I have mentioned this in previous sittings, but it is worth talking about again because it goes to the point we are speaking about today, the concerns that I have raised, which I have also mentioned around another inquiry that has been referred to IBAC from the Ombudsman into ambulance data and code reds and code oranges. What we do know from various former members of the Parliament is that in relation to this report they have commented that the tentacles go everywhere from the Premier’s private office. This report goes to the heart of those corruption allegations. Just to recap, it was the Health Workers Union in 2018 that was lobbying the government on violence-related issues in the health industry. There was concern about that, which was very valid concern, because there are rising cases of violence in our hospitals, and I think there was every right for somebody to raise those concerns with the minister at the time. But what was concerning was that the Premier, again at the heart of this corruption scandal, was out there and his office was intricately involved in the machinations of what occurred.

So what occurred was that a contract was awarded for over $1 million, but there was no tender process, there was no competitive process undertaken. So it just shows that a Labor-aligned union that is associated with the Premier and this government has got access to be able to undertake this work. Now, what we found and what has been found subsequently through that is pretty alarming, because when it was awarded was on the eve of the 2018 state election and the caretaker period that was coming into play, so it was undertaken on the eve of that time. And that just shows you the extent of what the government would do to buy off their union mates and votes and how that plays out and how that is really bad governance. It is very bad governing for Victorians because of the corrupt process.

The actual project itself, which did not go to any sort of competitive process and was awarded to the Health Workers Union, was around giving a single provider, the Health Education Federation – basically a registered training organisation within the Health Workers Union – an ability to undertake this work about looking at the risk of occupational violence and looking at training programs. It was really shoddy. It was put together. But this was a lot of money, and people might recall that the Premier had gone out outside the Austin and talked about $2.2 million. Now, when he was questioned about this a few weeks ago, he could not recall that. It sounds very similar to the 4000 intensive care beds that he could not recall either. He has got a very significant track record of an inability to recall the most important facts around contentious issues.

But I do think that the comments around what IBAC found around those ‘tentacles’, as they have been described by former ministers, about ministerial advisers working in the Minister for Health’s office and exerting pressure on the Department of Health just shows you the level of influence that the Premier’s own private office and the ministerial office had on this. I think it is very, very concerning. And I think that again, we have seen four IBAC inquiries that we know of that the Premier has been himself involved in. That is no record that anyone should be proud of, and it demonstrates just how many concerns people have about the conduct of the Premier and his government and what is actually being undertaken in this state. I will have more to say on this in future weeks, but as my time has expired, I will leave it there.