MP to front Labor branch stacking tribunal

Benita Kolovos and Liz Hobday
·3-min read

Under-fire Victorian Labor MP Marlene Kairouz has confirmed she will have to front a Labor disputes tribunal over branch stacking allegations.

Ms Kairouz has been charged as part of a long-running probe into branch stacking in the party, sparked by allegations her factional ally, Adem Somurek, handed over cash and used parliamentary employees to create fake branch members and amass political influence.

Staff in Ms Kairouz's office, as well as that of her factional ally Robin Scott, were also allegedly involved in Mr Somurek's branch-stacking efforts.

Ms Kairouz said in a statement on Twitter that the development was disappointing, and said the charges against her were tenuous.

"The charges do not allege that I was engaged in branch stacking activity, but rather I was somehow promoting it or that I knew it was going on and did not report it," she said.

Ms Kairouz stated that the allegations against her are based on a secretly recorded meeting that Mr Somurek had organised with young activists from their faction.

Ms Kairouz maintains she has never stacked branches in her life.

"It is interesting that white Anglo-Saxon men who have engaged in branch stacking to get into parliament are not being investigated and charged by the Administrators, but rather a woman from a multicultural background who has never engaged in branch stacking is being pursued relentlessly," she said.

Meanwhile more than 1800 Victorian Labor members have been expelled from the party.

Labor stalwarts Steve Bracks and Jenny Macklin concluded their term as administrators of the Victorian branch of the party on Sunday.

As part of their role, the duo conducted an audit of the party membership, which resulted in 1634 members being expelled after they were found to be "non-genuine".

Many had missing contact details or shared contact details with multiple members in the party and often paid by untraceable means.

AAP understands a high proportion of those who had their membership revoked were from branches linked to Mr Somyurek.

The second stage of the audit involved investigating responses to the survey, looking for irregularities such as a large number of responses coming from the same IP address.

It resulted in a further 222 non-genuine members having their membership revoked.

Ms Macklin referred two cases of what they believe to be "the most serious cases" of branch stacking to the party's internal disputes tribunal.

"We now need this process to run its course," she said in a statement on Monday.

On Friday, the national executive also endorsed changes to the branch's rules, which give effect to the 37 recommendations made in the duo's final report.

Mr Bracks said the rule changes would set Labor up to "continue to bring about the election of Labor governments in Spring Street and in Canberra".

Mr Somyurek was sacked from the ministry by the premier and resigned from the Labor Party, ahead of a move to expel him. He has denied the branch-stacking allegations.

Ms Kairouz and Mr Scott resigned from cabinet, but have vowed to clear their names.

The state's corruption watchdog and Ombudsman are also investigating the allegations.