Stacking admission 'liberating' for Vic MP

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Former Victorian government minister Adem Somyurek says it's been "liberating" to admit to branch stacking, as he denied misappropriating public funds on his final day of evidence before an anti-corruption inquiry.

Mr Somyurek quit the Labor Party last year before he was expelled following a Nine Network investigation, which revealed he had enlisted the help of electoral and ministerial staff to run a branch-stacking operation.

Branch stacking involves recruiting, and usually paying for, new members to a political party and it is done to boost a faction's influence and ensure its preferred candidates are preselected.

It is not illegal but it is against Labor Party rules to pay for others' memberships.

An Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission inquiry, led by Commissioner Robert Redlich, is investigating whether taxpayer funds were used for such work.

Asked by Mr Redlich on Friday if he had misappropriated public funds by enlisting the help of taxpayer-funded staff, Mr Somyurek said there were "grey areas".

"You consider that members of parliament have some latitude in being able to engage their electoral staff or ministerial staff in party political factional work?" Mr Redlich asked.

"Yes," Mr Somyurek replied, later adding his view was commonly held among politicians.

Two taped phone calls were played to the inquiry, with MPs Sarah Connolly and Robin Scott heard dismissing the Nine expose into branch stacking.

"If you are going to say there are good guys and bad guys in the Labor Party based on this stuff there are no good guys in the Labor Party," Mr Somyurek said.

As his fourth day of evidence wrapped up, Mr Redlich said Mr Somyurek had "come a long way" since his evidence began.

He put to Mr Somyurek that the former minister initially wanted to present a "false picture" of what had happened, and had only recently acknowledged his wrongdoing.

"Yes, in terms of paying for memberships, it's liberating," Mr Somyurek replied.

Unless senior members of the Victorian Labor "own up" to branch stacking, he said the culture within the organisation would not change.

"It's been quite a cathartic experience for me, admitting I paid for memberships for the past 20 years," he said.

"Do a mea culpa. Say: 'Yes, we all benefited from this'."

Mr Redlich suggested legislative reforms would be required to ban factional activity during work hours.

After the red shirts scandal, which involved the misuse of parliamentary allowances to pay Labor's political campaign staff before the 2014 election, the government banned electorate officers engaging in campaigning during work hours.

But the new rules didn't ban factional work outside of elections.

Mr Redlich said several of Mr Somyurek's former staffers have told IBAC they were doing a significant amount of factional work during working hours and there was "very little in the way of electoral duties being performed".

Mr Somyurek denied this.

He also confirmed he would not be recontesting his upper house seat at the next election.

Earlier this week, Mr Somyurek said branch stacking is "so deeply embedded in the culture that it would be hard for people outside of the system to understand how embedded it is".

He also accused Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews of dismissing concerns over Labor's red shirts scandal.

Friday was Mr Somyurek's final day in the witness box after giving evidence over four days this week.

There will be another IBAC hearing on November 26, but the witness list yet to be confirmed.

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