Damning allegations have been levelled against former Labor minister Adem Somyurek. Picture: David Crosling
Damning allegations have been levelled against former Labor minister Adem Somyurek. Picture: David Crosling

Victorian Labor to be dissolved over scandal

Federal Labor is expected to launch an extraordinary intervention into the Victorian branch of the party under unprecedented measures to stem the fallout from Adem Somyurek's dismissal.

The national executive of the party is currently considering a push to take control of operations within the state as it launches a full investigation into allegations of branch stacking.

It's understood part of this process to dissolve the Victorian branch is already underway.

The move will have massive ramifications for the factional balance within Labor amid fears the investigation would only focus on the behaviour of one group.

It's also believed discussions are focusing around a rule change that could ensure no current MPs have to go through preselection battles ahead of the next election.

This would be done to prevent further infighting.

But Labor's powerful National Executive could swing towards Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese under a new push following the resignation of Adem Somyurek.

Senior leaders within the party fear left-wing factions are about to gain the control to intervene into Victorian Labor as it races to replace Mr Somyurek's spot in the balanced executive body.

The role was vacated on Monday morning after he dramatically quit the party and was sacked from Cabinet.

But it's understood figures within Mr Albanese's camp are already pushing for a countback, or recount, on the last ballot held to fill the role.

This would mean runner up and National Union of Workers secretary Tim Kennedy would be boosted to the executive after previously missing out by a fraction of a vote.

The NUW was previously associated with the Right but this has changed after a merger with United Voice redrew their allegiance at a federal level.

The union is now looking to distance itself from Somyurek-linked forces and is speeding up this process in the wake of the scandal.

If successful, insiders believe Mr Kennedy's promotion would tip the balance of power towards left-aligned groups just as the federal wing prepares a major review and intervention in Victoria.

In 2013, Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd launched a similar intervention into the scandal-plagued NSW branch to force new rules onto the organisation.

It comes after the branch-stacking claims were referred to the state's anti-corruption watchdog.

But Victoria Police is unlikely to become involved in that matter until after the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) has finished its probe into possible misconduct by those in a public office.

Branch-stacking is recruiting people to become members of a local branch of a political party in order to influence the outcome of internal preselections of candidates or to influence the policy of the party.

But police might investigate the methods used to secure the damning recordings, with Mr Somyurek yesterday maintaining he was taped illegally.

In a letter to IBAC, Attorney-General Jill Hennessy said the conduct of public officers, detailed in the 60 Minutes report, was the basis for her referral.

IBAC Investigators will examine the current evidence available and likely request further access to the footage and secret recordings aired on the program.

They have the power to compel the production of documents, to enter and search premises, to use surveillance and to hold private and publication examinations.

IBAC officers will then look for three key things to decide if a full probe is necessary.

They will seek evidence of criminal conduct, behaviour that requires disciplinary action or evidence of weaknesses within an organisation that allow corruption to occur. 

If these are found, it's expected further investigations could stretch at least 12 months as it includes multiple Andrews Government ministers and party branches.

Political insiders are also nervous that IBAC could seize the opportunity to broaden the scope of any inquiry into branch stacking and take in other Labor factions or political parties.







Originally published as Victorian Labor to be dissolved in Federal intervention