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Labor leadership discuss branch-stack saga

Labor’s national executive is preparing to take action against the party’s beleaguered Victorian branch.

Three frontbenchers have been forced out of the state cabinet over a branch-stacking and infighting scandal.

Party stalwarts are swooping in to clean up the sordid mess.

“There’s a discussion about getting senior elders in to make sure we clean up the show,” federal Labor Leader Anthony Albanese told 2GB radio on Tuesday.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews expects the national executive to deliver a plan to restructure the state ALP.

“Then it will be for us here in Victoria to get on and make the reform that is very, very important,” he told reporters in Melbourne.

“No one should underestimate my resolve to deal with these issues properly to make sure that we make really significant reform.”

Party powerbroker Adem Somyurek has been banished from Labor after being caught handing over cash and using parliamentary staff to create fake branch members and amass political influence.

Two of his allies – Robin Scott and Marlene Kairouz – have also resigned from the ministry.

The scandal exposed by 60 Minutes threatens to seep through federal Labor ranks.

Even so, there was no mention of Mr Somyurek or the Victorian crisis during a long federal Labor caucus meeting in Canberra on Tuesday.

The factional heavy claimed to be protecting Anthony Byrne and some of the footage was filmed in the federal MP’s office.

A state Labor MP has called for the Australian Federal Police and ASIO to investigate the covert recordings.

Tim Richardson is concerned, given Mr Byrne is the deputy chair of the powerful parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and security.

“We don’t know who put those recordings in, we don’t know what’s been compromised,” he told reporters.

“That’s a great concern for our commonwealth and our national security.”

Former senator Stephen Conroy alleged Mr Somyurek intimidated federal Labor MPs including Tim Watts, Julian Hill, Joanne Ryan and Rob Mitchell.

“The intimidation of federal MPs is to be absolutely deplored,” he told Sky News.

Mr Somyurek was also recorded claiming Labor MP Josh Burns relied on his support.

“It’s not true and I am my own person in the Labor Party,” Mr Burns told the ABC.

“I think that there are clearly issues, though, that we need to deal with as a party.”

He said an arm’s length inquiry was needed to restore trust.

Former Labor leader Bill Shorten says the party thought it had stamped out branch-stacking until the “shocking and reprehensible” Victorian scandal erupted.

“The party has been trying to clean up branch stacking across Australia and … well, we thought it had, but clearly it hadn’t in Victoria,” he told Nine.

“Every person’s credentials need to be checked again. Did they pay for it, their own membership?”

WA Labor MP Patrick Gorman, a former state secretary, said banning cash payments for membership would go some way to stamping out branch stacking.

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