Premier Daniel Andrews insists there is “nothing inconsistent” with his accounts of the red shirts affair and with evidence by a former minister to a Parliamentary inquiry into the scandal.
After a torrid week for the government, marked by ugly factional brawling in the Labor Party and a flare-up of the scandal over Labor's misuse of $400,000 of public money in 2014, Mr Andrews on Friday said he stood by his earlier accounts of his role in the affair.
Labor is also facing a complaint to the Australian Electoral Commission alleging financial irregularities as well as internal accusations of widespread branch-stacking and rigged preselection ballots.
On Thursday Labor MP Adem Somyurek told the inquiry into the red shirts affair that he had told Mr Andrews that he had concerns about the scheme, which used paid taxpayer-funded electorate workers to campaign for Labor in marginal seats in the 2014 election.
Mr Andrews has previously said that none of his MPs had raised the matter with him.
But Mr Somyurek told the privileges committee he had mentioned concerns to Mr Andrews during a "very brief" and informal conversation while leaving the caucus room, but the Premier directed him to take it up with John Lenders, the then upper house leader.
Mr Somyurek went on to say he could not be sure if his party leader knew what he was talking about when he made the approach.
On Friday the state opposition looked to increase the pressure on the Labor government over the affair, with shadow attorney-general John Pesutto demanding the Premier appear before the committee and answer its questions on what he knew and when he knew it.
But Mr Andrews responded to the evidence by saying it was not inconsistent with anything he had said before.
“Nothing said yesterday in evidence was in any way inconsistent with what I’ve said and what I continue to say,” the premier told a press conference in Ballarat on Friday.
“That’s my position and I’m not interested in running a commentary beyond that.
“You need to go and have a look at what he said and the context in which he gave his evidence yesterday.
“All the detail of that is in no way inconsistent with my public comments and I stand by those comments 100 per cent.”
Asked if he misled the Parliament, Mr Andrews said: “Absolutely not”.
Mr Pesutto called on the Premier to appear before the privileges committee and answer their questions, saying he did not believe Mr Lenders, the architect of the scheme, had acted alone.
“Daniel Andrews must front up to the Privileges Committee Inquiry into Matters Relating to the Misuse of Electorate Office Staffing and answer questions under oath,” Mr Pesutto said.
“There are too many questions that remain unanswered because Daniel Andrews refused to cooperate with the Ombudsman.
“Daniel Andrews can’t keep running and hiding, he has to front up to the inquiry under oath.
“Labor stole $387,000 from Victorian taxpayers and they want to know what did Daniel Andrews know and when did he know it?
“It beggars belief that John Lenders was on a frolic of his own."
Ombudsman Deborah Glass' March report into Labor's 2014 pooling arrangements found the party breached parliament's members' guide and misused about $388,000 in public money.
The money was used to pay casual electorate officers to work in the field three days a week, campaigning for Labor ahead of the election.
Electorate work is covered by the parliamentary budget but campaign work is meant to be paid for by parties.
Twenty-one MPs were found to have been involved.
Appearing before the committee on Thursday, Mr Lenders rejected the Ombudsman's finding that the party's use of electorate officers was an "artifice" designed to misuse public funds.
The Ombudsman found no evidence that Mr Andrews' office was involved.
Mr Somyurek faces trouble on another front, accused by United Firefighters Union boss Peter Marshall of being at the centre of a network involved in branch-stacking and raising funds in breach of party and AEC rules.
Mr Somyurek stongly denies the allegations but Mr Marshall has now taken his accusations to the commission as well as party authorities.
with Adam Carey