Mr Andrews spoke outside the Parliament of Victoria on Tuesday morning, the day after the IBAC investigation into corrupt conduct among public officials, including Victorian Members of Parliament, commenced.
“All I can do is speak to the focus on the government, and that is dealing with the pandemic, a state of emergency, getting our community open, our economy open, getting through this one-in-100 year event,” he said.
“I do not want anybody to think that me or any member of my team is focused on anything other than their freedom, their health, their safety.
“That is what we are focused on and we are so, so close to some very important milestones that will see us normalise this and move past it.
“So I don’t want anyone to think that my focus is anywhere other than on the people of Victoria, their safety, their health, their well-being, their freedom, that is what we are focused on.”
Premier Daniel Andrews says the Victorian government is focused on dealing with the coronavirus pandemic amid IBAC’s anti-corruption probe. Picture: Getty Images
The IBAC investigation is looking at whether the public officials, including the members of parliament, engaged in corrupt conduct while in public office by directing their staff to perform party-political work during times when they are being paid from public funds to perform ministerial or electorate work.
It will also probe whether public money given to community groups by the Victorian government was misused to fund party-political activities or was used for other improper purposes.
Further to this, IBAC will look at whether ministers or other public public officers involved in granting the funds, dishonestly performed their functions as public officers or breached the public’s trust.
The hearings will investigate whether any personal benefits were obtained by public officers, their families and associates by using ministerial and electorate office staff to perform party-political work or grants made to community associations.
IBAC is also exploring the financial and political framework that supports branch stacking.
Branch stacking is the recruitment of large numbers of party members who will then vote along factional lines to support preferred candidates in pre-selection or other political contests.
Difference between IBAC and ICAC comes down to ‘three things’
During Monday’s hearing Federal Labor MP Anthony Bryne accused Mr Donnellan of paying Labor Party membership fees on behalf of others as part of a branch stacking operation led by former Labor minister Adem Somyurek.
Mr Donnellan’s resignation makes him the fourth minister to quit in relation to the branch-stacking affair exposed in 2020 by The Age and 60 Minutes.
The Victorian Premier on Tuesday morning told reporters he “did not expect” to receive a phone call from Mr Donnellan tendering his resignation on Monday.
“He made a difficult decision. I spoke with him around lunchtime, I thanked him for his service, I issued a statement yesterday and that statement speaks to a lot of the very good work he has done as a minister in very many different portfolio areas,” Mr Andrews said.
The Premier then reiterated he himself has always “followed the rules” amid reporters’ questions on the payments of Labor Party membership fees.
“I follow the party rules and behave appropriately,” he said.
ABC ‘weren’t that interested’ in questioning of Andrews over IBAC probe
In a statement on Monday, Mr Donnellan said: “I accept that I have previously breached party rules while a minister”.
“But let me be very clear: I never misused public funds or resources in any way. And this has absolutely nothing to do with my staff,” the statement read.
“However, I don’t believe it is possible or appropriate to maintain my ministerial responsibilities given these rule breaches. The work to support vulnerable Victorians is too important, especially during the pandemic.
“Serving as a minister in this government has been an incredible privilege and I thank the Premier and my colleagues for that opportunity.
“I also thank my staff and all the department officials who have been working so bloody hard to support the community. You’ve been marvellous.”
Mr Andrews also told the media on Tuesday he is “not here to run a commentary on what is going on” with the IBAC probe.
“Let’s see what comes out of IBAC, I’m not here to foretell what they will do, to foreshadow it or to involve myself,” he said.
The IBAC hearing continues on Tuesday.

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