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Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews took part in a harrowing press conference on a freezing afternoon in Melbourne.
Addressing a scathing report from the IBAC/ombudsman in Victorian Labor Party culture, Andrews was quick to apologize for the conduct of some of his Labor MPs, which occurred under his leadership.
However, after taking possession of it, he spent the rest of the hour-long press conference pointing out the uniqueness of MP Adem Somyurek’s misdemeanors.
He has used the word ‘unprecedented’ eight times to describe the actions of his factional allies, who have been ostracized by Victoria’s Labor Party since a 2020 expose by age and 60 minutes.
Andrews said he would “go further” than adopting the report’s 21 recommendations by creating new laws to enforce internal party rules and banning MPs from hiring family members.
But he faced repeated questions about whether a systemic violation of party rules and potentially inappropriate use of taxpayer funds could have gone unnoticed for so long.
Andrews said the scale of Somyurek’s actions made this case special. “The unique nature of this is noted by the agencies today in the report,” Andrews said.
“We learned about it around nine o’clock on Sunday evening. By nine o’clock on Monday morning, I had dismissed a minister and undertaken an extreme intervention.
A good indicator of the seriousness of a political press conference in Victoria is the presence of seasoned journalists who do not often attend daily media events.
The age’the chief reporter, Chip Le Grand, was on hand, as was The AustralianJohn Ferguson’s deputy editor, who asked Andrews if, as a young Labor apparatchik known for his recruiting skills in the South East, he was a branch stacker himself.
A long back-and-forth ensued between Andrews and Ferguson, during which the premier grew increasingly frustrated.
Andrews has previously denied breaking party recruiting rules, but did not appear to give Ferguson an explicit response.
“I answered the question. I just answered the question,” Andrews said.
“John, I’m not here to have a debate with you. You can watch the tape because I just answered.