The Andrews Labor Government has been caught out using probity auditors arranged by the Labor Party’s fundraising arm to monitor meetings between Labor Ministers and commercial interests, including property developers such as John Woodman.
Planning Minister Richard Wynne regularly attended political fundraisers with developer John Woodman without non-political departmental probity advisers. Instead the Minister relied on probity advisers paid for by Labor’s key fundraising arm Progressive Business.
Despite Minister Wynne telling State Parliament on 20 February 2020 that “Mr Woodman has attended a number of functions and forums, and indeed at every one of those I have been accompanied by a probity auditor”, it can now be revealed that those probity advisers were commissioned by Progressive Business.
Progressive Business is Labor’s fundraising-arm of its party that enables political donations to be made to election and political campaigns.
Details obtained under Freedom of Information and from the Office of the Victorian Information Commission reveal “that the probity auditor referred to in Hansard is engaged by Progressive Business.”
The revelation also contradicts Minister Wynne’s comments to State Parliament on 3rd March 2020 “that on all occasions when I have been involved in Progressive Business events an independent probity auditor has been part of all those conversations, and indeed to all of the people who participated in those events with me it was made very clear that the probity auditor was in attendance”.
This week at the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission, Woodman lobbyist and lifetime ALP member Phil Staindl has been providing evidence of fundraising events and donations made to Victorian Labor for access to the Premier and key Ministers. Mr Staindl is the former President of Progressive Business.
Comments attributable to the Leader of the Opposition, Michael O’Brien:
“Victorians deserve better than this scandal-plagued Labor Government that is willing to use its political fundraising arm to police the integrity of government ministers meeting with crooked developers.
“This is a massive conflict of interest. The same Labor fundraising arm that accepts donations from dodgy developer John Woodman is also responsible for ensuring the probity of Labor ministers and Labor donors.
“There is nothing ‘independent’ about a probity auditor engaged by Labor’s fundraising arm.
“Victoria’s anti-corruption watchdog has been calling for more funding from the Andrews Labor Government to ensure it can carry out its basic funding and Andrews has denied this request.
“The list of coverups under Daniel Andrews continues to grow. The Premier has put the fox in charge of the hen house when it comes to honesty and political donations. How many more corruption scandals do Victorians have to endure under this dodgy Labor government?”