daniel andrews
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews (Image: AAP/James Ross)

This isn’t the first time Dan Andrews’ Labor government has been embroiled in a politically-damaging scandal. Three months before the 2018 election, 17 former campaign operatives were arrested in a series of dawn police raids. It was the most dramatic point in a scandal that had been simmering for nearly all of Andrews’ first term as premier. 

The red shirts scandal (or “rorts-for-votes” according to News Corp) began with a report in the Herald Sun back in 2015. Labor had paid casual electorate officers to don red shirts and campaign for the party in marginal seats during the previous year’s state election with money out of the public purse.

Taxpayer-funded electorate officers aren’t allowed to campaign. The beneficiaries of the scheme were paid according to a “60:40 split” between party funds and the taxpayer-funded electorate officer budget, although many suggested they weren’t expected to do anything other than campaign-related work. When some of the red shirts questioned the legality of the scheme, their concerns were glossed over. An initial police investigation cleared Labor of criminal activity.