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Police swoop in Victoria Labor rorts probe

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is not commenting on police action involving the Labor party.More than 15 people are being questioned by police as part of a fraud investigation into Victorian Labor’s rorts-for-votes scandal.
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It is understood MPs are not among those arrested in Melbourne, regional Victoria, NSW and the Northern Territory on Thursday morning.

The arrests come less than a week after a criminal probe was announced into the misuse of $388,000 by 21 past and present Labor MPs in the party’s successful 2014 election campaign.

A former organiser of what has come to be known as the red shirts scandal told AAP he was arrested at his Melbourne home shortly before 6am for allegedly making a false document.

He was strip-searched and interviewed at the Melbourne West Police Station for an hour before being released but was told he could be charged on summons at a later date.

A total of 17 people were being interviewed in relation to the alleged misuse of parliamentary entitlements, police said, adding further comment would not be appropriate.

Premier Daniel Andrews’ office declined to comment.

The fraud and extortion probe was opened on Friday, after Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass in March found Labor MPs unknowingly used public money in breach of parliamentary guidelines by diverting electorate officers for campaigning.

The money was later repaid and the premier apologised.

Police declined to investigate the scandal in 2016 before reassessing it following a letter of complaint sent by Liberal MP Edward O’Donohue.

The opposition has been calling on the six cabinet ministers named in the ombudsman report, including Attorney-General Martin Pakula, to resign.

Days after the investigation was announced, Deputy Premier James Merlino wrote to police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton requesting an investigation into 18 current and former Liberal and National MPs.

He alleged they used electorate staff for political campaigning during normal business hours but refused to release details of the government’s claims.

The opposition denies any wrongdoing.

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