Premier Daniel Andrews has been accused of involvement in historic ethnic branch stacking as part of an extraordinary Parliamentary outburst by sacked Labor minister Adem Somyurek on Thursday.
Mr Somyurek used Parliamentary privilege to lash out at his former close ally, federal Labor MP Anthony Byrne, whom he accused of "betrayal", as well Mr Andrews and Age journalist Nick McKenzie whose exposure of Mr Somyurek’s activities led to his sacking by the Premier.
Adem Somyurek in State Parliament on Thursday.Credit:Jason South
But Mr Somyurek’s speech was cut short by the President of the Parliament’s upper house Nazih Elesmar, who was concerned the allegations were well outside the boundaries to the members’ statement the chamber had agreed to hear.
Liberal MP Bruce Atkinson, himself a former president of the Council, also raised concerns that Mr Somyurk’s claims might cut across the Independent Broad-Based Anti-Corruption Commission's investigation into Labor’s branch stacking scandal.
Before he was shut down, Mr Somyurek apologised for the misogynistic and homophobic slurs he had been caught on camera making and said he was far from alone in recruiting heavily among multicultural communities in order to take control of Labor branches.
He accused Mr Byrne of promising "anything" to community leaders to get them to marshall numbers into local branches in order to win Labor pre-selection for the seat of Holt before the 1999 by-election in the seat which Mr Byrne won.
At the time Mr Andrews was a Labor activist with the Socialist Left (SL) faction, fierce rivals to Mr Somyurek and Mr Byrnes right grouping, in Melbourne’s south-east suburbs
“I watched with fascination as Byrne recruited from the Vietnamese community, the Bosnian community, the Albanian community and the Latin American community,” Mr Somyurek said.
“He constantly worked the phones, begging, promising seats, support on council, jobs, grants, anything, he would promise anything to get numbers to rock up.
“Andrews and the SL for their part were marching their Latinos, other white Turks, Kurds, and all manner of Sri Lankans.”
The allegation against the Premier drew an immediate warning to Mr Somyurek against abusing his Parliamentary privilege.
Mr Somyurek claimed that Mr Byrne had betrayed him after 25 years of friendship by acting, along with his senior staffer Alexandra Stalder, as the main sources for the The Age/60Minutes expose that prompted the former state minister’s downfall, which he referred to as a “biased hatchet job” before going on to attack McKenzie’s integrity.
The Age stands by its reporting and rejects Mr Somyurek's assertions.
Mr Somyurek was sacked from cabinet and resigned from the ALP in the wake of the scandal breaking but retains his South-eastern Metro seat in the Parliament and said on Thursday he had no intention of resigning until the IBAC investigation is complete.
The office of both Mr Byrnes and Mr Andrews have been contacted for comment.
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