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Monday, 26 March 2018
Page: 2134

Senator HUME (Victoria) (16:25): I rise today to speak on a matter of urgency submitted to this place by a parliamentary colleague from New South Wales, Senator Burston. In the wake of the saddening revelations of ball tampering by members of the Australian cricket team, Senator Burston wants this place to consider 'the need to understand why some politicians and professional sportsmen feel the need to cheat'. Now, whether intentionally or not, Senator Burston's timing is impeccable, because only last week the Victorian Ombudsman, Ms Deborah Glass OBE, handed down her report into the egregious practices of 21 separate members of the Victorian state parliament from the Australian Labor Party. There is no other word for it.

As the Ombudsman has made perfectly clear, the Andrews Labor government cheated its way to electoral victory in 2014. By using taxpayer funds that are ordinarily used for expenditure on the electorate, 21 state MPs were able to fund an army of campaign coordinators called the red shirts. This is deception of the very highest order. It was a scheme devised by the Labor leadership. It was endorsed by the Labor campaign team. It was signed off by Premier Daniel Andrews. More than 1,100 days of work was ascribed. Nearly $400,000 worth of taxpayer money was used. It was specifically designed to use taxpayer funds to subvert the democratic process. Quite frankly, it makes ball tampering look like amateur hour.

So let us be clear about exactly who we are talking about. Who is responsible for this rort? Who are the 21 state and Labor MPs involved? Well, I can show you exactly who they are, because they've been named and shamed in the Herald Sun.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Sterle ): I'm probably one of the last ones to be pulling you up on this, but you know that you're not allowed to use props. I've been guilty myself, but you are not to use props. You'll have to put the prop down.

Senator HUME: I'm terribly sorry.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: I have no doubt that you are.

Senator HUME: I apologise. I'm afraid I'm a little bit like Premier Andrews: I didn't know that I was cheating. Let me just name the individual members of parliament who cheated the taxpayer. Let's start with John Lenders. He's now the retired member for Southern Metropolitan Region. He was the architect of the scheme to defraud the taxpayer. This man was once the Treasurer of Victoria. He was the architect of this scheme. He was rewarded by the Labor Party for his audacious fleecing of the taxpayer, with a $90,000-a-year chairmanship of a government-run organisation, a company called VicTrack. He's since resigned from that position—thank heavens for that—because he knows that you cannot defend the indefensible. And then there is Martin Pakula, the member for Western Metropolitan Region. He's actually the current Attorney-General—the highest lawmaker in the state. Yet not only was he a willing participant in the scheme but he was responsible for the extra $1 million of taxpayer money spent to try to fend off the investigation by the Ombudsman and protect the cover-up.

Gavin Jennings, the member for Southern Eastern Metropolitan Region, was the Special Minister of State. His job description is supposedly to oversee government transparency, integrity and accountability. What a joke! Jenny Mikakos, the member for Northern Metropolitan Region, the Minister for Families and Children and the Minister for Youth Affairs, was one of the largest contributors to the scheme. Gayle Tierney, the member for the Western Victoria Region, was—the irony!—the Minister for Corrections. Perhaps she could tell us which correctional facility houses those who have stolen from the taxpayer and subverted the democratic process. And then there is John Eren, the member for Lara, the Minister for Tourism and Major Events and the Minister for Sports. It was his staff member who became the whistleblower.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Reynolds ): A point of order, Senator Gallacher?