Former Labor Minister Adem Somyurek – who stood against his party in an attempt to stop Daniel Andrews’ pandemic legislation – has called for a corruption investigation into Labor’s ‘Red Shirts’ scandal.
The branch stacking scandal happened in 2014 during the Victorian state election when the Ombudsman discovered $388,000 in taxpayer funds incorrectly used by the Labor Party in relation to false timesheets. Somyurek referred to it as the ‘biggest political scandal of Victoria’s history’.
“This government is now infested with lobbyists. You’ve got dual roles of factional power brokers and lobbyists; we’ve seen how that’s going down in Queensland at the moment. It’s a real problem, it’s a real risk to our democracy, and it’s a risk to corruption, as well,” said Somyurek.
“It’s [the motion] a good opportunity, now that IBAC is interested in these matters, to have a look at the biggest political scandal in Victoria’s history that is, the red shirts scandal. Let’s be frank, I’m on the line here. I contributed to the red shirt scandal. So if it’s good enough for me to put myself on the line, I think it should be good enough for everyone else to vote.”
If this new motion is passed and such an investigation were to take place, it could prove to be a nightmare for the Premier and see him personally called before IBAC.
When asked, the Premier insisted that he had ‘no comment to make on that’.
Somyurek’s proposed motion, which the Victorian Premier is yet to comment on, specifically includes ‘the role of the then opposition leader, the Hon Daniel Andrews MP, in designing, propagating, and facilitating the scheme.’
It is not only the Premier that Somyurek’s motion is after, he wants to refer all electorate officers, ministerial advisers related to factional tasks, and – perhaps most worryingly for Daniel Andrews – Labor’s taxpayer-funded social media unit.
Given the persistent whispers and rumours around the Premier’s social media unit, the last request could also be the most damaging for his government.
Somyurek’s willingness to expose himself to the same investigation as Daniel Andrews and sacrifice himself to ensure such an investigation takes place could ultimately be the Premier’s undoing.
“We participated in the biggest political scandal of Victoria’s history and benefited by winning office.”
Unsurprisingly, some of Somyurek’s detractors – such as Reason Party leader Fiona Patten who voted in favour of Daniel Andrews’ pandemic legislation – didn’t think the motion would be a ‘terribly good use of parliament’.
“Corruption is corruption,” said Patten. “But this just seems to be a man on a mission to seek revenge. I don’t think this is a terribly good use of parliament, however corruption is corruption, if there is more to be investigated, we should let IBAC or the Ombudsman make that decision. This is really important to him [Somyurek] personally, I think it might be cathartic for him … but at the end of the day, it’s not what parliament’s really designed to do.”