News State Victoria News Minister sacked over branch-stacking allegations quits Labor Party

Minister sacked over branch-stacking allegations quits Labor Party

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The disgraced former minister sacked by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on Monday has quit the Labor Party – hours before its national executive met to expel him.

The ALP’s national executive met at 12.30pm on Monday to address a request from Mr Andrews to terminate Adem Somyurek’s membership – supported by Labor leader Anthony Albanese – but Labor’s national president Wayne Swan confirmed in a statement afterwards that Mr Somyurek resigned.

“The National Executive Committee has taken further steps to ensure that there will never be a place for Mr Somyurek in the ALP ever again,” Mr Swan said.

Mr Somyurek, a member of Victoria’s upper house, was sacked as the state’s local government and small business minister amid explosive allegations of industrial-scale branch stacking.

Mr Andrews said the claims – aired by 60 Minutes and published in the Nine newspapers on Sunday – had also been referred to Victoria Police and the state’s anti-corruption commission by the Victorian Attorney-General.

He said he had sacked the man he once described as his “very good friend”.

“Mr Somyurek was not offered an opportunity to resign. He is not worthy of an opportunity to resign. He was sacked,” he said.

“That is the fact of the matter. Any statements to the contrary are simply false.”

Premier Andrews on his way into parliament house at 10am to announce the immediate sacking of Mr Somyurek. Photo: AAP

The move follows an explosive year-long investigation aired on Sunday night, in which Mr Somyurek – a senior figure in the Victorian ALP – boasted of having influence over the state’s federal Labor MPs.

He is accused of handing over thousands of dollars in cash and using parliamentary employees to create fake branch members to gain influence within the ALP’s Victorian branch.

In the footage, 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.

Mr Somyurek is recorded calling Victoria’s Minister for Women and the Prevention of Family Violence, Gabrielle Williams, a “stupid bitch” whom he will “f—ing force … out of the ministry”.

He describes the young staffers helping him as “patronising and annoying”, and “little passive-aggressive f—ing gay kids”.

Earlier on Monday, Mr Somyurek claimed he had resigned after the explosive allegations.

“It follows publication of numerous personal and private conversations between myself and a long-term friend and factional ally of mine,” he said.

“It is clear that I was taped and surveilled in a federal electorate office without my knowledge and that this material was published without my knowledge of its existence or my consent.”

Mr Andrews said Mr Somyurek’s conduct and comments were “completely deplorable, they are shameful”.

The national executive said the former minister’s behaviour was reprehensible. The group had organised a phone hook-up at lunchtime on Monday to discuss his future, but he quit before the meeting.

Party president Wayne Swan said Mr Somyurek’s behaviour was at odds with “everything the ALP stands for”.

Federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese also said Mr Somyurek’s actions, along with the sexist and homophobic remarks, had no place in the party.

“We will be meeting to take immediate action against Adem Somyurek and from that point in time, he will not be a member of the Australian Labor Party,” he said.

The investigation into the allegations against Mr Somyurek will also probe the possible involvement of federal Labor MP Anthony Byrne, as some of the footage of the former minister was filmed in his office.

Mr Albanese said he didn’t know about Mr Byrne’s role.

“I don’t know all the circumstances of it. That will all come out over time,” he said.

Mr Somyurek has denied the branch-stacking claims and said he would provide “a rigorous defence during any party process”.

“The conversations published without my knowledge or consent were with someone who I trusted about internal party matters,” he said.

“There are many robust discussions that occur on any given day in the Labor Party across all factions.”

But he apologised for his use of foul language about former ministerial colleagues.

“I accept and take full responsibility for the fact that my language on a number of occasions was simply not appropriate,” he said.

“While Ms Williams and I have been at odds factionally for many years, I should not have used the language I did about her and I apologise to her unequivocally.

“Further, I am deeply sorry for language I used regarding highly valued and exceptional young people who are members of the LGBTI community.

“These comments have quite rightly cost me my job.”

Mr Swan said the ALP executive would respond to the wider issues raised in coming days.

-with AAP