Bracks, Macklin to clean up Victoria Labor

Marnie Banger and Benita Kolovos
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ADEM SOMYUREK BRANCH STACKING

Adem Somyurek is one of three Labor MPs to leave the Victorian cabinet over branch stacking claims

Two Labor stalwarts have been tasked with cleaning up the Victorian branch of the party, after the state lost three ministers over branch-stacking allegations.

The Australian Labor Party national executive on Tuesday night appointed former premier Steve Bracks and former federal minister Jenny Macklin as administrators until the end of January 2021.

All voting rights in the Victorian branch will be suspended until 2023, meaning candidates at the next federal and state elections will be preselected by the national governing body.

In a letter to the executive, Premier Daniel Andrews said he had no confidence in current ALP membership rolls in Victoria.

"Accordingly, we must suspend those elections and begin a long and critical process of validating each and every member of the Labor Party in Victoria as genuine, consenting and self-funded," he wrote.

An expose by The Age and 60 Minutes alleges Labor heavyweight and powerbroker Adem Somyurek handed over cash and used parliamentary employees to create fake branch members and amass political influence.

Recordings also captured Mr Somyurek using vile language against colleagues and staff.

It is alleged staff members of ministers Marlene Kairouz and Robin Scott were involved in Mr Somyurek's branch-stacking efforts.

Ms Kairouz on Tuesday became the third minister to leave cabinet over the scandal, after Mr Somyurek and Mr Scott left the ministry on Monday.

Mr Somyurek also lost his Labor Party membership on Monday. He wasn't spotted in parliament on Tuesday.

Mr Andrews said Ms Kairouz wasn't pushed to resign but had taken the "appropriate course of action" in doing so, given he has asked the corruption watchdog and Victoria Police to investigate the accusations.

Ms Kairouz said she was standing down so as not to be a distraction and to avoid causing her family distress.

"I look forward to the opportunity to clear my name and am confident any investigative process will do so," she said in a statement.

Former veterans minister Mr Scott cited similar reasons for his resignation and maintained his innocence.

Both told the premier on Monday they had acted appropriately at all times.

Mr Andrews said it was not up to him to determine if that was true.

"Victoria Police and IBAC, they will be the ultimate arbiters of whether their contention that they've done the right thing is an accurate one or not," he said.

Mr Andrews said he was confident nobody else in his team has been using taxpayer-funded staff to further political interests.

But he added the investigation will probe as widely as it needs to.

Opposition Leader Michael O'Brien said Mr Andrews should take responsibility for the issues which have unfolded under his decade-long Labor leadership.

"He's set the standard. He's responsible for this corruption," Mr O'Brien said.

Under questioning in parliament, Mr Andrews reiterated he didn't learn about the claims until they were aired on Sunday night.

Mr Somyurek denies the branch-stacking allegations and wants police to investigate the recordings used in the expose.

He will now sit on the upper house crossbench next to Reason Party MP Fiona Patten, who was critical of her new neighbour.

"He hasn't shown any interest in the parliament, or the policies really of his party. He certainly has never treated the crossbench with any interest or any respect, so it will be interesting seeing him join our ranks," she told reporters.

IBAC and Victoria Police are considering the government's referrals.

Mr Bracks and Ms Macklin will lead an inquiry into the allegations, with an initial report due in July and a final report in November.