24th April 2023
The Community Advocacy Alliance has been restrained in our criticism of the Premier of this State as we respect the democratic process. Still, there comes a time, issues and place where we can no longer remain silent because we would be failing to advocate for the Community.
The Community has every right to expect that our elected officials act lawfully and ethically, delivering the services, infrastructure and good governance the Community expects.
The political machinations orbiting around the latest IBAC findings involving the Premier are just a bridge too far. We need as a community to stand up and be vocal, holding him to account.
We accept that the IBAC Act restricts the ability of IBAC to lay charges against certain people based on the nature of the alleged misbehaviour, noting that similar behaviour by anybody else would not be tolerated. However, given what has been reported in the media on the IBAC, raises severe doubts about the competency of our Legal system to deal with corruption or criminal endeavours.
Although IBAC cannot lay criminal charges in these circumstances, that does not mean there has not been criminal behaviour. There is no absolution of the Premier in the IBAC reports.
Given the information in the public domain, two alleged offences would have a very good prospect of succeeding, and, depending on the Premier’s advice, a third offence and the most serious would apply.
Primarily multiple counts of Misconduct in Public Office seem to be the most prolific offence, and it is arguable the Premier and others have engaged in multiple Conspiracies to commit other criminal offences-most notably, Theft by Deception from the State.
The most recent exposure of the movement of funds to the HSU needs further investigation to see where all the funds ended up and with whom, and was that purpose even legal? Just because the money was moved within the government and union sphere does not necessarily mitigate theft.
The Premier’s behaviour over an extended period of memory malfunctions is also highly questionable because if it is deliberate, it is undoubtedly Perjury when he is speaking under oath and Misconduct in Public Office at other times.
He has repeatedly used memory lapses when questioned under oath.
And there is also the matter of the notes.
Are we to believe that with a posse of advisers, the Premier does not have access to logs or notes, contemporaneous or otherwise and audio recordings of the important decisions he is involved in?
Are we to believe that the Premier is so unprofessional he operates on a wing and a prayer and has no reference material on his conversations on critical matters of State?
If that is the case and he has the compromised memory span that he claims, the lack of records on important issues of the State would rate as deliberate misconduct.
Either he has repeatedly given false evidence under oath or withheld documents from multiple inquiries, all of which amount to multiple offences of Perjury or Misconduct in Public Office, -or his mental acuity is questionable, making him unfit for Office.
He can’t have it both ways.
We know that he has used the memory lapse response before a number of inquiries, and on each occasion, it was reported that he used it multiple times. Although Perjury is rated as an extremely difficult case to prosecute, nevertheless, in this circumstance, each time during each examination he used the memory lapse answer under oath, he potentially committed a further offence.
What makes these allegations of Perjury offences so egregious is their proliferation and the high profile of the person responsible. These acts alone serve to undermine the rule of law and encourage others to perjure themselves in all jurisdictions where sworn evidence is relied upon, without consequences.
It is essential that this matter be tested in Court to determine if the actions amounted to Perjury.
At the very least, there is a ‘prima facie‘ case for which his guilt or innocence must be tested.
Why should the Premier be protected from prosecution when anybody else in the Community would have been charged?
We are not arguing for a change of government but that the law be applied equally to all.
Allegedly we are all equal before the law as a fundamental Human Right. Still, the actions of this State’s legal system have now breached the rights of all other Victorians by not prosecuting the Premier.
Because the IBAC Act says IBAC cannot prosecute, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Chief Commissioner can.
The Parliament can censure him and refer the matter to the DPP or the Chief Commissioner, which must now happen.
It is also imperative to avoid repetition by others in power, that the Premier, when forced from Office by his colleagues, the most likely scenario, is his discretions do not simply disappear with him.
That would be a travesty of justice of monumental proportions and give license to others to behave in a similar way – integrity in government and the Legal system is then severely compromised, and the integrity of both may end up unrecoverable.
The only other alternative, is we will have to rely on the media to achieve the same result through relentless pressure until his colleagues and Party do what the legal system has failed to do
– hold The Premier to account.