In a week of explosive whistleblower revelations about Cambridge Analytica’s dark partnership with Facebook on behalf of the Trump and Brexit campaigns, a smaller but equally unpleasant campaign scam emerged much closer to home — and this time, on the progressive side of politics.

A meticulous report by Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass revealed that the Labor Party’s 2014 state election campaign was built on the deliberate manufacture of dodgy timesheets designed to con the taxpayer into paying for a big slice of the party’s electoral fieldwork.

This “artifice” — to use careful ombudspeak — is embarrassing for Labor and expensive as well, given it has had to repay the $388,000 in public funds it misused. It also creates the suspicion that Labor’s adoption of Obama-inspired fieldwork, with its democratising overtones of volunteerism, grassroots engagement and door-to-door voter persuasion, is an improbable and unaffordable fiction.

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