Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is expected to address explosive allegations of branch-stacking by a minister he once described as a “very good friend”.
An investigation by The Age and 60 Minutes on Sunday revealed upper house MP Adem Somyurek handed over thousands of dollars in cash and used parliamentary employees to create fake branch members and amass political influence within the Australian Labor Party.
Footage shows Mr Somyurek on April 13 withdrawing $2000 in cash from an ATM, before handing it and dozens of party membership forms, to an adviser working for fellow Labor minister Marlene Kairouz.
The adviser then delivers the forms and cash to ALP head office.
The same man reportedly carried out a similar cash drop-off earlier in the year.
“Well, if he (the adviser) gets caught on the street, he’d better not say he’s doing f—ing this stuff,” Mr Somyurek is recorded saying after the April 13 drop.
Mr Somyurek is also recorded ordering people to forge signatures and create false statements, in which Labor branch members claim to have paid for their own memberships.
“The story at the end of it will be that I’m the most powerful guy … that’s good for business,” he says in another recording, apparently unfazed by the threat of being caught.
He also talks about directing taxpayer-funded parliamentary employees, meant to be working for other MPs, including Preston MP Robin Scott, to conduct party political operations.
Branch stacking involves recruiting or signing up members for a local branch of a political party to try to influence the outcome of internal preselections of candidates for federal and state parliament.
It is against Labor rules to pay for other people’s memberships.
Party members are required to sign a form declaring they have paid for their own memberships.
In the recordings, Mr Somyurek also takes aim at his colleagues including Ms Kairouz, who he describes as holding a “meaningless” portfolio “made up just to make it look like we’re interested in the suburbs”.
He labels the Minister for Women and the Prevention of Family Violence Gabrielle Williams a “stupid bitch” whom he will “f—ing force … out of the ministry”.
— 60 Minutes Australia (@60Mins) June 14, 2020
Mr Somyurek also describes the young staffers helping him as “patronising and annoying”, and “real little f—ing slimy little f—ers, little passive-aggressive f—ing gay kids”.
Mr Andrews isn’t immune from the criticism either.
“F— the Premier,” Mr Somyurek says in one recording.
The allegations come after Mr Andrews welcomed his “very good friend” Mr Somyurek back to the frontbench after Labor’s resounding 2018 state election win.
Mr Somyurek had been dumped from cabinet in 2015 over allegations of bullying made by his then-chief of staff.
Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien has described the allegations as a “shocking failure of judgment by Daniel Andrews”.
“In backing Adem Somyurek, Daniel Andrews put his own political interests ahead of the interests of Victorians. Andrews bears full responsibility for the actions of his ministers,” he said.
Mr O’Brien wants Mr Somyurek, Ms Kairouz and Mr Scott and their staff stood down and their offices secured ahead of an investigation by the state’s anti-corruption commission and Victoria Police.