Outgoing MP claims 'spies' in her office

·3-min read

Ousted Victorian MP Marlene Kairouz has lashed Labor whistleblower and former federal MP Anthony Byrne, claiming he planted spies in her office as a means to tear her down.

Ms Kairouz used her valedictory speech in parliament on Tuesday to take a final swing at allegations of branch stacking, saying she was "collateral damage in a power play for control".

The member for Kororoit of more than a decade said while Mr Byrne's "spies'" expected illegal recordings of her would expose wrongdoing, what they got was not good enough.

"A thief thinks everyone is a thief," she said, adding the only breach of the law was leaking a draft report.

When history undoubtedly repeated itself, Ms Kairouz hoped people who pretended to be someone's friend and broadcasted their private conversations faced prison terms, she said.

Ms Kairouz derided a 60 Minutes investigation exposing alleged claims of her involvement in branch stacking as sensationalist.

The ombudsman investigation that followed and "dragged on" for two years, before the matter was ultimately referred back to parliament, was "disingenuous", an abuse of power and "waste of taxpayers' money", she said.

Ms Kairouz was very protective over her patch as a safe seat - "that was the extent of my factional involvement", she said.

A joint ombudsman and Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission probe was launched following allegations in a Nine Network investigation that Labor moderate faction powerbroker Adem Somyurek handed over cash and used parliamentary employees to create fake branch members and amass political influence.

The practice, known as branch stacking, is not illegal but against Labor party rules.

Mr Somyurek and Ms Kairouz were found to have breached elements of the ministerial and MP codes of conduct, although neither will face criminal prosecution.

Mr Somyurek quit the Labor Party in June 2020 before he was expelled following the reports.

His factional allies Robin Scott and Ms Kairouz also departed cabinet following the expose.

Valedictory speeches from retiring members began on Tuesday afternoon, with parliament sitting for the final time this week ahead of the November state election.

Former health minister Martin Foley reflected on how the pandemic revealed that government-delivered health and care was more important than ever.

COVID-19 has given Victoria the chance to give reforming the health system a "red hot go", he said.

Outgoing Morwell MP Russell Northe was emotional at times through his address, reflecting on how he lived for a long time with an undiagnosed mental health condition, and unintentionally hurt many people.

Having experienced the consequences of problem gambling, he hoped the next government would set up a dedicated gambling safety minister and commission, rather than keeping that responsibility with the gambling minister.

Mr Northe also called on gambling harm to be treated as a public health issue, rather than punished.

"I won't rest until we see positive change in this space," Mr Northe said, vowing to continue work in gambling and suicide prevention.

Earlier on Tuesday, parliament passed laws forcing punters at Melbourne's Crown casino to set gambling limits on poker machines and stick to a 24-hour cash limit of $1000.

The mandatory pre-commitment for the casino's pokies is expected to come into effect by the end of 2023, but the full reforms must be implemented by December 2025.

An extra sitting week was added to the parliamentary calendar following Queen Elizabeth's death.

The Queen's passing meant parliament was adjourned following condolence motions in her honour, and to allow MPs to swear their allegiance to the new monarch, King Charles.

The final sitting day on September 22 will no longer go ahead.