Is this MP our worst expenses rorter?
HE played taxpayers for up to $200,000 in allowance claims while paying off his family to facilitate an "opportunistic" seaside living arrangement, but still, disgraced Victorian MP Don Nardella is refusing to budge from parliament.
Now police are circling the embattled former deputy speaker, with a letter revealing he could be investigated over the expenses scandal that's rocked the state's Labor government.
Mr Nardella's expenses scandal hasn't grabbed nearly as much attention as former federal speaker Bronwyn Bishop, whose political career was undone by a $5000 publicly-funded helicopter ride, or Sussan Ley, whose property-scouting trip to the Gold Coast on the public purse forced her off the federal government's front bench.
But its cost to the taxpayer diminishes them both.
Earlier this month the Melton MP was booted from the Victorian Labor Party after failing to return $100,000 he claimed in a sneaky property scam that he roped family members into as well.
According to a draft report from an independent auditor read out in parliament on Tuesday, it was revealed Mr Nardella had exploited the controversial "second residence" allowance since 2010. According to the Herald Sun, this could mean he's claimed up to $200,000.
The report revealed Mr Nardella paid family members $200 a fortnight to say he lived at their seaside property more than 80km from Melton, and not in his suburban electorate. It was described in the report as an "opportunistic" move to claim upwards of $100,000 in allowances.
In a letter read out to the parliament, legislative council president and committee chair Bruce Atkinson said Mr Nardella entered into the "informal arrangement" with family after his relationship ended.
The letter also raised questions over whether Mr Nardella lived at the Ocean Grove residence at all. Little evidence was obtained to indicate he had - there were no bills, lease, or parliamentary driver records with Mr Nardella's name in the area.
Mr Nardella notified parliamentary clerks he moved to Ocean Grove in April 2014 from Ballarat where he had been living since 2010 - neither address is in his Melton electorate.
The committee found it could be perceived the $5200-a-year Ocean Grove deal with a relative may have been done so Mr Nardella could get the allowance, worth more than $37,000 a year once he became deputy speaker in December 2014.
"The arrangement may be construed as non-prudent, non-arms length, potentially non-commercial low rent and arguably opportunistic for continued enjoyment of the second residence allowance," Mr Atkinson said.
The report found the arrangement seemed designed to ensure the continued enjoyment of the second residence allowance, the Herald Sun reported.
Mr Nardella has denied he's done anything wrong. Though he's been under pressure to quit parliament, he instead chose to resign from the Labor Party and move to the crossbench as an independent while refusing to pay back the money.
Victoria Police have confirmed an investigator has been assigned to look into whether there is a case against Mr Nardella after the police chief commissioner was asked to intervene by the state's shadow attorney-general.
News.com.au has contacted Don Nardella's office for comment on the charges.
PricewaterhouseCoopers, the firm tasked with investigating the questionable expenses, is yet to complete its review of all MP's claims for the controversial second residence allowance.
Its report also raised questions over former Speaker Telmo Languiller, who also resigned last month after claiming $40,000 of the same allowance. Mr Languiller said he moved to coastal Queenscliff while owning a property in Melbourne's Footscray.
The committee found throughout much of 2016 he spent more time in Melbourne due to "personal family circumstances", but failed to inform parliament of the change and continued to receive the allowance.
Mr Languiller cancelled the claim and has since repaid the $37,800.
The separate expense scandals have rocked the Andrews Government.
Premier Daniel Andrews has labelled both former Labor MP's actions "appalling behaviour", and has pledged to enforce changes "once we have seen that report".
Opposition Leader Matthew Guy accused the Premier of running a "protection racket for his rorting mates".
Along with raising questions over the controversial second allowance tax and the apparent ease with which it can be taken advantage of, the cases have also shone a light on the issue of whether MPs should live in the electorate they represent.
The committee said the issue of claiming allowances for properties outside their electorates "does not constitute a breach of the regulations", but could not substantiate that either spent the majority of their time living in the properties they called their "home bases".