Victoria Labor minister Adem Somyurek has resigned from cabinet.
It follows explosive branch stacking allegations, which he rejects.
An investigation by The Age and 60 Minutes alleged he handed over thousands of dollars in cash and used parliamentary employees to create fake branch members and amass political influence within the Australian Labor Party.
Mr Somyurek denied allegations of branch-stacking and in a statement said: “With respect to allegations made around memberships of the party, I reject those and will be providing a rigorous defence during any party process.”
He said he will call for a police investigation into the covert recordings.
However, he did apologise for language used in the recordings against the Minister for Women and the Prevention of Family Violence Gabrielle Williams and the LGBTI community, saying it had cost him his job.
“This morning I advised the Premier (Daniel Andrews) of my resignation as a minister.
“It follows publication of numerous personal and private conversations between myself and a long term friend and factional ally of mine.
“It is clear that I was taped and surveilled in a federal electorate office without my knowledge and that this material was published without my knowledge of its existence or my consent.
“I will be taking steps to seek a police investigation into these matters.
“With respect to allegations made around memberships of the party, I reject those and will be providing a rigorous defence during any party process.
“The conversations published without my knowledge or consent were with someone who I trusted about internal party matters.
“There are many robust discussions that occur on any given day in the Labor Party across all factions.
“I accept and take full responsibility for the fact that my language on a number of occasions was simply not appropriate.
“While Ms Williams and I have been at odds factionally for many years, I should not have used the language I did about her and I apologise to her unequivocally.
“Further, I am deeply sorry for language I used regarding highly valued and exceptional young people who are members of the LGBTI community.
“These comments have quite rightly cost me my job.”
Footage aired on 60 Minutes last night alleged Mr Somyurek on April 13 withdrawing $2000 in cash from an ATM, before handing it and dozens of party membership forms, to an adviser working for fellow Labor minister Marlene Kairouz, who then delivers the forms and cash to ALP head office.
The advisor allegedly carried out a similar cash drop-off earlier in the year.
“Well, if he (the advisor) gets caught on the street, he’d better not say he’s doing f***ing this stuff,” Mr Somyurek is recorded saying after the April 13 drop.
Mr Somyurek is also recorded allegedly ordering people to forge signatures and create false statements, in which Labor branch members claim to have paid for their own memberships.
He also talks about directing taxpayer-funded parliamentary employees, meant to be working for other MPs, including Robin Scott, to conduct party political operations.
In the recordings, Mr Somyurek also takes aim at his colleagues including Ms Kairouz, who he describes as holding a “meaningless” portfolio “made up just to make it look like we’re interested in the suburbs”.
He labels the Minister for Women and the Prevention of Family Violence Gabrielle Williams a “stupid bitch” whom he will “f—ing force … out of the ministry”.
The premier isn’t immune to the criticism either.
“F— the premier,” Mr Somyurek says in one recording.
The allegations come after Mr Andrews welcomed Mr Somyurek back to the frontbench after the resounding 2018 election win.
Mr Somyurek had been dumped from cabinet in 2015 over allegations of bullying made by his then-chief of staff.
Branch stacking involves recruiting or signing up members for a local branch of a political party for the purpose of influencing the outcome of internal preselections of candidates for federal and state 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.