The deputy chair of federal Parliament’s powerful intelligence committee, Labor MP Anthony Byrne, is assisting police and anti-corruption authorities after his office was used to secretly record alleged “industrial-scale” branch-stacking by a state Labor party colleague.
On Sunday, the Nine Network’s 60 Minutes and The Age newspaper published explosive allegations of misconduct against Victorian Labor MP Adem Somyurek, prompting Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews to kick him out of State Cabinet and Mr Somyurek to quit the ALP.
The Premier referred the matter to Victoria Police and the state’s Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) for investigation.
Mr Somyurek denies the allegations.
The covert recordings were filmed in the Melbourne electorate office of long-serving federal member for Holt, Anthony Byrne – a factional ally of Mr Somyurek.
In a statement, Mr Byrne said there had been “misinformation circulating” about the matter.
“I want to make clear that I take the matters raised recently seriously and have been in touch with authorities to offer my full assistance,” he said.
“I welcome investigations into corruption, which has no place in the party I love.
“Because I do not want to cross over or impede any investigations that may be occurring, I’m unable to comment further at this point in time.”
Mr Byrne is the deputy chair of federal Parliament’s Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS), which is in charge of scrutinising some of the most sensitive national security matters and legislation.
The explosive recordings published by Nine detail comments by Mr Somyurek, saying he was “protecting” Mr Byrne.
In the wake of the videos being made public, one state Labor MP demanded an investigation by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and domestic spy agency ASIO into how the cameras ended up in Mr Byrne’s office.
“That is a great concern for our Commonwealth and our national security,” state MP Tim Richardson said, noting Mr Byrne’s committee position.
The story has rocked Labor to the core, with the federal party launching an intervention and taking over the state party while investigations are underway.