On Saturday, Premier Daniel Andrews released a statement in response to an Age report about a corruption probe into his government awarding a $3.4 million contract to a union.
That news story, by journalist Paul Sakkal, came after the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission was granted an injunction in the Supreme Court that prevented publication of its draft report.
Premier Daniel Andrews.Credit:Eddie Jim
Andrews’ statement said he had acted “appropriately at all times and in all things.” It added: “Regardless of any smear, innuendo or media reporting based on anonymous sources, the only IBAC matters I will comment on are those that are the subject of a final report – as is appropriate and has always been my practice.”
During a Labor campaign press conference at a Northcote childcare centre on Monday, the premier repeatedly declined to explain what he meant by “smear” and “innuendo”. He also declined to answer questions about whether staff in his office had tipped off IBAC about the impending story before the anti-corruption agency sought the Supreme Court injunction.
Read an excerpt of the press conference transcript below
Reporter from another outlet #1: The Coalition have said … that your government is the only government in the country to face four corruption inquiries. If you are a voter that might be inclined to vote Labor and you hear about the corruption inquiries and you are nervous, what would you say to that voter?
Daniel Andrews: Well, I issued a statement the other day. I act appropriately at all times and in all things. It is a great honour and privilege to be sworn in as the premier of this great state and I take those obligations and those responsibilities seriously, every minute of every day, that’s what I’d say to each and every Victorian. My job is to get on and get things done and I do so appropriately at all times and in all things.
Reporter #1: There’s a clear attack on your character though, so if someone’s nervous about
Andrews: There is a lot of stuff said in elections…
Paul Sakkal, The Age: Are you aware of any conversations your office had with IBAC last week before they were granted an injunction? I am not asking to know what IBAC thinks of that, I am asking about the actions of your office, so the answer you were about to give wouldn’t apply to my question.
Andrews: Sorry Paul?
Sakkal: You were about to say “ask IBAC”, the start of your answer, but this is about your office’s actions.
Andrews: Seriously Paul – are you asking and answering the questions now? You should speak to IBAC about what IBAC has or hasn’t done. And in relation to any matters that may or may not be before the courts, any injunctions that may or may not have been issued, what you and me can and can’t talk about. Well, then, you should have a chat to IBAC.
Sakkal: Do you know if your office contacted IBAC before the injunction?
Andrews: My office behaves appropriately and that is beyond doubt. So, if you want to know what IBAC did or didn’t do – and you are kind of asking me about a matter that’s in the courts.
Sakkal: It’s not in the courts
Andrews: Well, an injunction then, that may or may not have been granted.
Sakkal: This question doesn’t go near the topic of the injunction. I am asking whether your office contacted IBAC on a certain day.
Andrews: I have answered your question, you can refer to my statement, I haven’t deleted my statement Paul, it’s there, and if you want to have a look at it, you should go and have a look at it, but if you want to know what IBAC’s doing, you need to ring them. The giveaway here, it’s independent, it’s in the name, they are independent, and I’m not their spokesperson, I’m just, I’m just not. And I’m not going to be commenting on things that may or may not be live, things that may or may not be in the court, things that certainly the government is not a party to, I’m not a party to it. So I’m not really sure what further I could offer.
Sakkal: Sorry follow-up question, just on the statement you referred to “smear and innuendo” which was written in your statement, alongside the words “media reporting” – what were you referring to when you referenced “smear and innuendo”? You need to speak to your statement premier, you put out a statement, you must be able to explain it.
Andrews: With the greatest of respect Paul, it’s not for you to – if I can, with the greatest of respect, you’ve asked your question, and I’ll determine how to answer. That’s how this works. And I’ve done literally thousands of these and that’s how it works. You ask them I answer it. Please have a look at my statement. I’ve got absolutely nothing further to add.
Sakkal: So, you can’t speak to your statement?
Andrews: I’ve issued the statement.
Sakkal: What did it mean?
Andrews: I’ve issued the statement. Well Paul – read the statement, no one else here is asking me what the statement means. The statement is very, very clear.
Reporter from another outlet #2: I’m happy to – what did you mean by “smear and innuendo”? It’s not clear from the statement exactly what you meant by smear and innuendo. What did you mean?
Andrews: Please read the statement.
Reporter #2: Why can’t you explain?
Andrews: Because I’ve issued a statement and I’m not going beyond that. Please read the statement.
Reporter from another outlet #3: Is there further meaning behind that at all?
Andrews: Please read the statement.
Reporter #3: What were you referring to when you said, “smear and innuendo?”
Andrews: Please read the statement, I am not here to add to the statement.
Sakkal: But the statement doesn’t explain it though, that’s why we are asking
Andrews: Again Paul, you can ask the questions and I’ve answered it. Please read the statement. I’ve got nothing further to add.
Reporter #4: Is the smear and innuendo sentence in that statement a referral to fact that there have been leaks?
Andrews: There’s no reference to any media outlet in relation … I didn’t name any media outlet, I’m not here to add to that statement, it’s been issued, if I want to add to the statement, I’ll issue a fresh one.
Reporter #2: There must be something behind that though, like clearly you had something in mind.
Andrews: I have issued a statement. The statement has been issued and I’ve got nothing further to say.
Reporter #1: Would you separate out the [Herald Sun] story about [Andrews’ involvement in a 2013 car crash] from the story that Paul wrote about IBAC, would you separate those two stories out – is the smear about the bike accident and not [The Age’s] story?
Andrews: That statement didn’t relate to that.
Reporter #5: It didn’t relate to the bike accident at all?
Andrews: No, if you read the statement, it doesn’t relate to that …
Sakkal: So did “smear an innuendo” refer to the reporting on the IBAC matter?
Andrews: I’ve issued a statement Paul and the reason … I’m not adding to that statement today. So we can sit here all day if you want, but I’m not adding to the statement. It’s very clear
Sakkal: It’s very unusual that you can’t explain a statement that has your name on it, very unusual.
Andrews: Well I’ve issued a statement.
Sakkal: I know you’ve issued it, none of us understand it.
Andrews: Well Paul, I’ve issued that statement and I’m not adding to it.
Reporter from another outlet #6: Are you having a dig at The Age?
Andrews: I’m not adding to the statement, and no media outlet is named in that.
Sakkal: You weren’t talking about the New York Times.
Andrews: Well Paul if you want to self identify, mate, go right ahead. But I didn’t, I didn’t mention you, not you personally and not the people you work for. I’ve issued a statement. And I’ve got nothing to add to that statement.
Reporter #2: Why would you issue a statement where the meaning of that statement is not clear, but you are essentially casting aspersions?
Andrews: Whether or not … no I don’t think that’s what I’ve done at all. I’ve issued a statement. It’s very clear, and I’ve got nothing to add to it.
Sakkal: Did you make the promise for the $2.2 million dollar election commitment in a meeting with the union?
Andrews: I’m not here to add to the statement that I have issued and the comments that I have made. If you want to know what IBAC is or isn’t doing, please go and have a chat to them.
Sakkal: I’m asking you about a government commitment announced publicly.
Andrews: It was announced publicly, yes.
Sakkal: And I’m wondering when you made the commitment in a private meeting to a union? That’s my question, I’m not asking about IBAC.
Andrews: It was a public commitment. You’ve answered your own question, because you just said the public commitment and it was a commitment made to every single Victorian.
Sakkal: And was the press conference the first time you spoke to [HWU Secretary] Diana Asmar about it?
Andrews: Paul. Paul – I made a public commitment. And if you want to know about matters that may or may not be being looked at by an integrity agency, you should have a chat to them.
The Morning Edition newsletter is our guide to the day’s most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign up here.
Most Viewed in Politics
From our partners
Source: Read Full Article