Albanese firm on branch-stacking claims

Anthony Albanese says he has zero tolerance for inappropriate behaviour within the Labor Party as allegations of branch-stacking are levelled at a Victorian state government minister.

Adem Somyurek is accused of handing over thousands of dollars in cash and using parliamentary employees to create fake branch members to gain influence within the Victorian branch of the Labor party.

Mr Albanese also says Mr Somyurek, who is also a member of the ALP national executive, has no influence on any members of the federal Labor caucus.

“I have zero tolerance for any corrupt or inappropriate behaviour, any behaviour that brings the party into disrepute,” Mr Albanese, leader of the federal Labor party, told the ABC on Monday.

He’s confident “swift action” will be taken.

Nine’s 60 Minutes and The Age report Mr Somyurek boasted of having influence over federal Labor MPs from Victoria.

“No-one watching that program outside of Victoria, including my federal colleagues, would have heard of this bloke, it is as simple as that,” Mr Albanese said.

The four federal MPs named in the reports have his backing.

“They are doing a good job representing their local electorates and they deserve better than to be distracted by this bloke.”

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has called for an investigation into the allegations.

“There’s obviously questions for Labor to address in this matter. And so they should. And you know, it’s just not on,” he told the ABC.

“Of course there should be an inquiry into it.”

Branch stacking involves recruiting or signing up members for a local branch of a political party to influence the outcome of candidate preselections for parliament.

It is against Labor rules to pay for other people’s memberships.

Party members are required to sign a form declaring they have paid for their own memberships.

Footage shows Mr Somyurek withdrawing $2000 in cash from an ATM on April 13, before handing it and dozens of party membership forms to an adviser working for fellow Labor minister Marlene Kairouz.

The adviser then delivers the forms and cash to ALP head office.

A similar cash drop-off reportedly occurred earlier in the year.

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