Labor’s rule book could not be clearer. Those involved in branch stacking, which it interprets as enrolling persons for the principal purpose of influencing the outcome of ballots of members, should be expelled from the party. The sensational revelations detailing Victorian minister and right-wing powerbroker Adem Somyurek’s industrial-scale branch-stacking operation in his quest to accumulate power within the state and federal party should be an open and shut case for his expulsion.
And yet this is a political party that for decades has turned a blind eye to branch stacking and has all but revered the backroom factional powerbrokers who have partaken in the practice in a bid to control factions, advance their causes and reward supporters. While not as publicly visible, the Liberal Party also at times resorts to the same tactics.
Accusations of branch stacking against Mr Somyurek have been levelled at him in the past, with a senior union official accusing him of recruiting up to 4000 members, about a quarter of the party’s state membership. Despite demands for an investigation, little was done and, incredibly, several months later Mr Somyurek was returned to the ministry after being dumped a few years before over allegations of systemic bullying, abuse and intimidation. He is now overseeing new laws stamping out corruption in local councils.
But this time Mr Somyurek has been caught red-handed ordering others to forge signatures and create dozens of false statements in which Labor branch members claim to have paid for their own memberships when the minister or his political operatives have footed the bill. He openly talks about directing taxpayer-funded parliamentary employees, who say they have the backing of their bosses to conduct party political operations. His misogynist and derogatory language is also disgraceful.