Malvern Electorate

Another day, another Labor conflict of interest scandal

Wednesday, 22 February 2023

The Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission’s (IBAC) Operation Clara special report lays bare another appalling Andrews Labor Government conflict of interest scandal.

Operation Clara examined the actions of Theo Theophanous, a former Labor Minister who was appointed or re-appointed to public sector boards by the Andrews Labor Government. In particular, the report examined Mr Theophanous’ actions in support of the Australian Education City (AEC) consortium to develop a large parcel of land in East Werribee while also serving on the board of the Victorian Planning Authority (VPA).

IBAC found that Mr Theophanous:

“…improperly lobbied in favour of the proposal on behalf of AEC, including by misusing his position as a member of the…Victorian Planning Authority.

“He failed to declare a conflict of interest and to comply with a requirement to register a lobbying payment.

“In lieu of direct payment for his lobbying, he obtained benefits from the AEC and its associates in the form of donations to his daughter’s campaign for election to the Victorian Parliament”.

These damning findings follow the exposure of Labor’s Assistant Treasurer Danny Pearson’s conflict of interest over his ownership of Commonwealth Bank shares while having Ministerial oversight of a decision to engage the CBA on a panel providing banking services to the Victorian Government.

While Mr Theophanous resigned from the VPA board last week, the website of State Trustees continues to list him as a director. The board of State Trustees is appointed by the Treasurer.

Mr Theophanous told IBAC “[The] Treasurer…is a very close friend” and IBAC found that he improperly attempted to lobby the Treasurer in support of the AEC proposal.

Comments attributable to Shadow Attorney-General, Michael O’Brien:

“This latest Labor integrity scandal demonstrates that this is a dodgy government run by Labor mates for Labor mates; public interest be damned.

“Directors of public sector boards must not misuse their position or act improperly.

“Given IBAC’s clear findings, Treasurer Tim Pallas must immediately sack Mr Theophanous from the board of State Trustees.

“Mr Pallas must also come clean on all attempts by Mr Theophanous to lobby him over the AEC project. What did the Treasurer know, when did he know it and why didn’t he report his mate’s lobbying to the authorities?

“This IBAC report shows the danger of Labor’s politicisation of the public service and government boards. Stacking Labor mates into every part of the Victorian public sector has dire consequences for integrity and for millions of ordinary Victorians who aren’t Labor royalty.”

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