News Politics Australian Politics Liberal boss wants branch-stacking answers

Liberal boss wants branch-stacking answers

liberal branch stacking victoria
Michael Sukkar (rear) with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg. Photo: AAP
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Victoria’s Liberal Party director is demanding answers over branch-stacking claims involving two senior federal politicians.

Pressure is on assistant treasurer Michael Sukkar and veteran MP Kevin Andrews after the allegations were aired on Nine’s 60 Minutes on Sunday.

Labor is demanding Mr Sukkar resign from the ministry and that Mr Andrews also be sanctioned.

But senior Liberal Party members are standing by their colleagues.

Taxpayer-funded electorate staff were allegedly used to recruit new members in a bid to out-vote moderates.

Liberal state director Sam McQuestin wants a swift response from everyone connected to the claims.

“The party will be seeking full and detailed responses from party members who were named in the 60 Minutes report or who may be able to provide further information on relevant matters,” he said.

“The party will decide urgently on immediate actions to be taken and will determine further measures having regard to the responses received and the findings of any further investigations.”

Mr Sukkar has denied any involvement.

“I have never authorised taxpayer-funded staff to undertake party political activity outside of [parliamentary] policies and guidelines,” he said.

He’s sought an independent review of staffing in his Deakin electorate office, dating back to 2013.

Kevin Andrews
Senior Liberal MP Kevin Andrews has denied the accusations. Photo: AAP

Former defence minister Kevin Andrews has also ordered a Department of Finance review and described the allegations as false.

“The suggestion that I would be coerced into making decisions on staffing arrangements in my electorate office by others is untrue,” he said.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg – the deputy leader of the Liberal Party – rejected suggestions either MP should resign.

“What I saw last night was language and conduct that was of real concern,” he said on Monday.

“The Liberal Party will conduct its own internal process on that.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is under pressure to act after leading the charge against branch-stacking claims within the Labor Party earlier in 2020.

“We know what Scott Morrison thinks of branch stacking. In June this year he had a very clear view, he called it corruption,” Labor frontbencher Stephen Jones said.

“Scott Morrison should move to sack Michael Sukkar today.”

Mr Morrison has argued the allegations are a matter for the Victorian branch.

Nine cited secret recordings and text message transcripts dating back to 2016, many allegedly involving Liberal party powerbroker Marcus Bastiaan.

The communications revealed plans to remove up to six state and federal politicians, including MPs who supported Victoria’s voluntary euthanasia laws.

The alleged scheme by an ultra-conservative Victorian faction involved the recruitment of new members by targeting community and religious groups using electorate officers paid for by the public.

The allegations follow damning branch-stacking revelations that shook the Victorian Labor Party in June, and cost the scalps of three state ministers.