Coronavirus Australia live updates: Victoria reports seven new cases and five deaths

By Calla Wahlquist

18:33

Federal Liberal MPs reportedly cleared of branch stacking allegations

The finance department has reportedly cleared assistant treasurer, Michael Sukkar, and veteran Liberal MP and former front bencher, Kevin Andrews, of inappropriately hiring staff to conduct recruitment from their offices (to stack branches).

In August an explosive story by Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes aired allegations that party operative, Marcus Bastiaan, had organised staff to recruit members to boost the position of his faction while they were employed by Andrews. The report claimed to have seen evidence from memos, documents and recordings that suggests while Sukkar was not actively involved in stacking Liberal branches, he may have benefited from it.

Bastiaan rejected allegations of branch-stacking but resigned from the party. Andrews and Sukkar also denied wrongdoing, but the matter was referred to the finance department, which oversees parliamentarians’ employment of staff.

According to the Australian, the department hired an independent reviewer and has now concluded:

Further investigation of the matters within the scope of the review is not warranted as there is not a sufficient basis to form a view that there was serious misuse of commonwealth resources under the (relevant legislation).

There is no basis to refer the matter to the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority under the protocol because there is no evidence of serious misuse of work expenses.

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17:31

Victoria records seven new coronavirus cases and five new deaths.

17:28

Morrison says Berejiklian's integrity is 'not in question'

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