NSW Labor will check its Sydney branch members twice – but also give them a 12 month “Get out of jail free’” card – if they confess to faking branch records in the wake of a Victorian party scandal.
Labor’s national executive is to step in to clean up the Victorian branch after three frontbenchers were forced out of the state cabinet over a branch-stacking and infighting scandal.
But according to a leaked May 28 internal report, reported in The Australian on Tuesday, NSW Labor is writing to all Sydney members to check whether they attended branch meetings.
Members in Granville, South Granville, Merrylands, Guildford and Guildford West will have to resubmit their home addresses and meeting attendance records to reveal attempts at branch stacking.
However the report recommends granting “a 12-month amnesty against expulsion or suspension for members who come forward with honest and direct evidence about the falsification of branch records”, The Australian said.
The report also recommended the branch secretary take photographs of attendance records at the end of every meeting to be sent to NSW Labor’s governance director.
It comes as the Victorian branch of the Labor Party will wake up on Wednesday without three of its frontbenchers who have left since allegations of branch stacking were aired in an expose by The Age and 60 Minutes on Sunday night, centred around powerbroker Adem Somyurek.
Two Labor stalwarts have been tasked with cleaning up the Victorian division.
The Australian Labor Party national executive on Tuesday night appointed former premier Steve Bracks and former federal minister Jenny Macklin as administrators until the end of January 2021.
In a statement, ALP President Wayne Swan confirmed an emergency meeting of the party’s national executive had endorsed the new administrators.
“The conduct exposed in recent days is reprehensible and at odds with everything the ALP stands for,” he said.
“The National Executive takes these matters incredibly seriously, and the gravity of this step cannot be understated.”
According to a draft resolution, all voting rights in the Victorian branch will be suspended until 2023, meaning candidates at the next federal and state elections will be preselected by the national governing body.
Victorian Premier Dan Andrews privately declared “no confidence” in the current ALP membership roll in the state amid fears it was hopelessly tainted by fake members and branch stacking.
In a letter obtained by news.com.au, Mr Andrews outlines those fears to the ALP’s national executive for the first time, insisting the extraordinary measures are necessary to “guarantee integrity and probity in all our affairs”.
Sunday night’s expose alleged Mr Somyurek handed over cash and used parliamentary employees to create fake branch members and amass political influence.
Recordings also captured Mr Somyurek using vile language against colleagues and staff.
It is alleged staff members of ministers Marlene Kairouz and Robin Scott were involved in Mr Somyurek’s branch-stacking efforts.
Ms Kairouz on Tuesday became the third minister to leave cabinet over the scandal, after Mr Somyurek and Mr Scott left the ministry on Monday.
Mr Somyurek also lost his Labor Party membership on Monday. He wasn’t spotted in parliament on Tuesday but was photographed outside his Melbourne home wearing a suit.
Mr Andrews said Ms Kairouz wasn’t pushed to resign but had taken the “appropriate course of action” in doing so, given he has asked the corruption watchdog and Victoria Police to investigate the accusations.
Ms Kairouz said she was standing down so as not to be a distraction and to avoid causing her family distress. Echoing Mr Scott, she said she looks forward to the opportunity to clear her name.
Both told the premier on Monday they had acted appropriately at all times.
Mr Andrews said it was not up to him to determine if that was true.
“Victoria Police and IBAC, they will be the ultimate arbiters of whether their contention that they’ve done the right thing is an accurate one or not,” he said.
Mr Andrews said he was confident nobody else in his team has been using taxpayer-funded staff to further political interests, adding the investigation will probe as widely as it needs to.