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Labor Party cleared of misusing staff in 2014 Victorian election
The Victorian Labor Party has been cleared of any criminal offence following allegations by the Opposition it inappropriately used casual electorate officers to campaign during the 2014 state election.
Opposition Leader Matthew Guy referred the matter to police after the party was accused of rorting hundreds of thousands of dollars in parliamentary allowances by using taxpayer-funded staff to work on the campaign.
Following an eight-month investigation, Victoria Police said no criminal offence had been committed.
In a statement, it said specialist investigators from the fraud and extortion had rigorously assessed the complaint.
"They have interviewed electorate officers, department of parliamentary services officials and other nominated parties," it said.
"They have also examined documentary materials including a review by Price Waterhouse Coopers, the relevant legislation, parliamentary guidance materials and policies."
Victoria Police said while parliamentary guidelines prohibit using electorate officers for party political purposes, it was not against the law.
The Andrews Government said it welcomed the Victoria Police findings "and had always maintained that the rules were followed".
At the time of the allegation, Premier Daniel Andrews, who was elected to power in the 2014 vote, said the practice was known as "pooling" and all parties had done it.
Under the rules of the Victorian Parliament, taxpayer-funded electorate office staff are not supposed to be involved in party political activities.
A report conducted after the allegations were levelled at the Labor Party called for clarity around the "ambiguous" guidelines.
Ombudsman Deborah Glass also asked the Supreme Court in February to determine if she had the powers to investigate the allegations.