The findings of a Department of Finance report into federal MP Michael Sukkar’s electoral office that cleared him of wrongdoing have been countered by allegations in a 60 Minutes-Nine newspapers investigation
The media outlets’ report, on Sunday, alleged, using leaked personal correspondence, that Sukkar’s best friend, younger brother and factional supporters were paid by taxpayers for political work that strengthened his faction.
But federal assistant treasurer Michael Sukkar has rejected any allegations that he was aware close allies and factional supporters were paid by taxpayers to do internal Liberal Party work.
When the scheme was exposed last year, Sukkar claimed he knew nothing of it, but the media outlets claim the new documents undermine his previous statement.
A finance department investigation found insufficient evidence to implicate Sukkar, but the media outlets report that the department failed to interview at least three key witnesses.
Prime minister Scott Morrison dismissed the reports, telling reporters on Monday morning that the department dealt with the issue a year ago and found “nothing further to investigate”.
Sukkar released a statement on Sunday stating he “completely rejects” the allegations, saying they were unproven and came from a “discredited and disgruntled former staff member”.
“When these allegations were first made on 23 August, 2020, I immediately and voluntarily requested that the Department of Finance undertake an independent review of my electorate office,” he said.
He said every allegation in the report was covered by the department’s review. “The review did not find any breach or improper conduct”.
“I have never authorised my staff to undertake activities contrary to applicable policies and guidelines, when they are being paid to serve the constituents of the Deakin electorate,” he said.
“I am proud of the dedication and service that my office has always provided my constituents and community.”
The report adds to growing calls for a federal anti-corruption commission that could scrutinise allegations of impropriety against federal MPs.