IBAC finds unethical conduct in Dan Andrews' multimillion-dollar union contract scandal

Victorian government improperly awards union contract, resulting in a failed training program.

IBAC finds unethical conduct in Dan Andrews' multimillion-dollar union contract scandal
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A report by the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) has revealed that the Daniel Andrews government inappropriately granted a multimillion-dollar contract to the Health Workers Union (HWU) for a training program that ultimately failed.

The report criticises the government for exerting undue pressure on health department officials to secure the contract for the HWU.

Premier Andrews, who was lobbied by union leader Diana Asmar for additional funding, announced $2.2 million for the union prior to the election but claimed to have no recollection of key details when questioned by investigators.

Although IBAC cleared Andrews and other politicians and staff of corrupt conduct, the report delivers a damning assessment of the centralisation of power under the premier's watch and the erosion of ministerial accountability.

IBAC's investigation, dubbed Operation Daintree, unveiled that the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) had awarded HWU a $1.2 million contract without a competitive tender process due to significant pressure from ministerial staff, the premier's office, and Asmar. This marks the fourth IBAC probe in which Andrews has been interviewed.

Former health minister Jenny Mikakos stated that the premier's office pressuring the department was inappropriate, adding that it appeared the contract was signed to placate Asmar and seemed like a means of injecting funds into the HWU.

Mikakos also noted that she would not have entered into the contract, citing unease about trade unions providing training following the findings of the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption.

IBAC's report also called out the department for succumbing to pressure despite significant concerns about the union's ability to deliver the training program, ultimately falling short of the standards required for public servants.

The training provided by the union was found to be of poor quality, with 60% of hospital staff believing the trainers were unprepared and nearly 80% claiming the trainers lacked in-depth knowledge of occupational violence and aggression.

The commission recommended 17 actions to improve the standards and accountability of ministerial advisers and staff in the premier's office.

The revelations have sparked concerns about the increasing prevalence of grey corruption, where decision-makers bend or break rules to unfairly favor their allies. Left unchecked, this form of corruption threatens public governance standards and raises the risk of criminal offenses.

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  • By Avi Yemini

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