LABOR has refused to confirm whether electorate officers were seconded to work on election campaigns at Frankston, Carrum and Mordialloc before the state election last year amid allegations taxpayers’ money was misused to pay for election campaigning.
Three unnamed Victorian Labor MPs and a party official told the Herald Sun last week they feared parliamentary rules banning the use of electorate office funds for political campaigning had been broken.
The Labor insiders said electorate staff had allegedly been “pooled” from Labor Upper House MPs electorate staff to work on the party’s Community Action Network field campaign aimed at winning government.
Labor media adviser Kosta Pandos asked for a statement to be attributed to a government spokesperson when contacted by The News about the allegations.
“These allegations are desperate and untrue. All activity undertaken by electorate officers, and Victorian Labor pool staff, was in keeping with parliamentary rules,” the statement read.
“Pool staff arrangements have been in place in the Victorian Parliament for almost 20 years and have been overseen by presiding officers from both sides of politics.
“Pooling resources is an efficient way for political parties to support MPs and conduct parliamentary party business.”
Repeated requests to confirm whether electorate officers campaigned in Frankston, Carrum or Mordialloc went unanswered.
Labor’s election campaign also included help from unpaid volunteers and union members.
Labor’s “boots on the ground” approach to electioneering in the lead up to November’s state election has been credited by Premier Daniel Andrews as a key factor in the party’s victories in marginal seats.
The so-called sand belt seats of Frankston, Carrum and Mordialloc are pivotal to both Labor and the Liberal Party’s chances of forming government.
All three electorates swung to Labor last November with Paul Edbrooke, Sonya Kilkenny and Tim Richardson winning the seats from Liberal incumbents to contribute to a total of 48 seats won across the state against the Liberal National Coalition’s 38 seats.
Former Carrum Liberal MP Donna Bauer said “numerous people” had expressed concerns about the possible misuse of taxpayer funds.
“It is well known that the Carrum electorate was a key focal point for that Community Action Network campaign and that large numbers of its campaigners were very active in the electorate throughout 2014 and on election day,” she said.
“Carrum constituents are understandably keen to know whether the ALP misused any taxpayer resources during the campaign for the seat of Carrum.
“They are worried that voters in Carrum may have been deceived by what was portrayed as a community campaign but may in fact have been a professional campaign, resourced using illicitly obtained taxpayer funds. I believe they are entitled to know the truth.”
The Victorian Parliament’s Legislative Council will investigate the allegations about the misuse of paid electorate officers and decide whether an in-depth inquiry is needed.