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Anthony Byrne, the federal Labor MP, has finished his evidence to the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission. His extraordinary testimony on Monday, that he and Luke Donnellan had been involved in paying for memberships in Melbourne’s southeast, led to the resignation of an Andrews government minister by the afternoon.

Luke Donnellan stepped down acknowledging he had broken party rules but emphasising he had never misused public funds.

Byrne was commended by the Ibac commissioner, Robert Redlich QC, for giving evidence “against your best interests”. Redlich said that despite there being some disagreements between Byrne’s version of events and that of Adem Somyurek, he had provided a great deal of knowledge which had assisted the investigation.

Redlich said:

You have acknowledged wrongdoing, you have acknowledged breaches of a number of party rules, and […] you are to be commended for coming forth and speaking openly about your conduct and those around you.

The work of the commission is considerably enhanced by your willingness to come forward in the way in which you have.

Earlier, Redlich asked Byrne about why, given a 1998 report into branch stacking which recommended changes to the recruitment of party members, and the so-called Red Shirts affair, which found Labor misused public resources, had the party not reformed itself. In relation to the Red Shirts matter, in which the Labor party said it recommended all the Ombudsman’s recommendations, Redlich said:

The ink had hardly dried on the page when the conduct about which you have testified continued, and continued at a level that horrified you?

Byrne responded: “That’s correct commissioner”.

Byrne also agreed with a statement from Redlich that it could be inferred the party lacked the sufficient will to reform “this cultural problem”. Byrne also earlier said that he hoped the Ibac investigation would lead to an overhaul of Labor factional operations.

The hearing is expected to continue on Tuesday afternoon with evidence from Labor staffer Ellen Schreiber, an electorate officer and former ministerial office executive assistant.





Elliott Charng, representative of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Australia, has encouraged the Morrison government to support Taiwan’s bid to join a key regional trade pact.

A parliamentary committee is considering how Australia should weigh up various applications to join the CPTPP. China and Taiwan have both said they want to join, as is the UK.

At a parliamentary hearing today, Charng was asked for his view on how the committee should weigh up the merits of Taiwan and other economies’ bids. Charng said the only answer he could provide was that “Taiwan is your first choice to support”.

Charng also signalled that Taiwan also interested in exploring a bilateral trade deal with Australia, in addition to the CPTPP bid.

He noted that the UK had applied to join the CPTPP at the same time as it conducted a bilateral free trade agreement negotiation with Australia. “So, for us, we do have the same mindset.”

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