Branchstacking Labor MP Resigns

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The Branch-stacking Victorian Labor MP Anthony Byrne has confirmed that he will not be recontesting for his seat of Holt at the federal elections due in May.

The MP’s office staff has confirmed with the Epoch Times on March 4 that Byrne will resign from his seat of Holt, which he has consistently held for more than 20 years since his first win in 1999 after the by-elections caused by the resignation of the former Labor MP Gareth Evans.

Byrne’s resignation comes after he appeared as a primary witness at the public hearing in Oct. 2021 by Victoria’s anti-corruption commission IBAC into allegations of branch-stacking by former Labor powerbroker Adem Somyurek.

At the hearing, Byrne confirmed allegations of Somyurek’s branch stacking but admitted that he too had been involved in controlling ALP branches and stated that such activities were “completely out of control (pdf).”

The Labor leader Anthony Albanese faced questions about Byrne’s possible dismissal during the IBAC hearings but gave no direct answer saying that it is “not appropriate to preempt their [IBAC’s} findings and those processes.”

Byrne’s office has refused to comment if the IBAC played a role in the MP’s decision, but in a letter sighted by News Corp, Byrne allegedly confirmed that the investigation was a reason for his decision to resign.

His letter to ALP secretary Paul Erickson allegedly wrote that “one of the reasons I am not re-contesting is because of the role I played in assisting the IBAC investigation into allegations of corruption as part of Operation Watts.”

“This involved giving public testimony that I knew could have implications for my role in Parliament, but this did not deter me from doing what I knew I needed to do.”

“I believe that I have helped protect the Australian Labor Party, which I will continue to be a member of, and to which I owe a debt of gratitude and love.”

Byrne also wrote that his “proudest achievement in politics” had been his involvement in areas of national security.

“As I leave politics and the Parliament, my strongest desire is to see a continued bipartisan approach on national security,” he said.

“I have the greatest hope to see a future Prime Minster Albanese guide Australia through the coming intelligence and security challenges with his customary level-head and calm approach, and driven, as I know him to be, by the best interests of the nation.”

Byrne was appointed the Chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) in 2010. Byrne held the seat of Deputy Chair of the PJCIS from 2013 after the LNP succeeded the ALP as the Coalition.

He resigned from his position as deputy chair on Oct. 14, two days after appearing at the IBAC hearing.

Former Labor MP Adem Somyurek, in a post on Twitter on March 3, commented that he was “really annoyed that Byrne was dumped” and expressed that the MP “blew the whistle on himself” at the IBAC hearing.

“I wish he stayed; I had some surprises for him during the election campaign,” he wrote but later tweeted that he is going to “watch Byrne prosper” as a lobbyist in the Premier Daniel Andrew’s “swamp” or be appointed to a “cushy” government job as a form of fee for service.

Marina Zhang

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Marina Zhang is based in Melbourne and focuses on Australian news. Contact her at marina.zhang@epochtimes.com.au.





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