Anthony Albanese flustered after questions about Anthony Byrne, branch stacking and misusing funds
Federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese has refused to be drawn on whether a Labor MP, who admitted to branch stacking, will be forced out of parliament.
Anthony Byrne tendered his resignation on Thursday as chair of the powerful parliamentary intelligence and security committee after he admitted to the Victorian anti-corruption commission that he had engaged in branch stacking and hired taxpayer-funded staff who did not show up to work but instead performed factional duties.
Despite stepping down as chair, My Byrne remains an MP, a position unlikely to change – at least until Victoria’s Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission concludes its investigation – according to Mr Albanese.
“He has said that he’ll wait for the IBAC processes to be concluded before he determines his political future, and it’s important that these independent processes are allowed to take their course,” Mr Albanese told ABC Breakfast on Friday.
“He has put his hand up and said this is the wrong practice and it needs to be weeded out and indeed it does.”
But Mr Albanese came under fire for failing to expel Mr Byrne for branch stacking after former Victorian minister Adem Somyurek was expelled for engaging in the same practice.
Mr Albanese said the allegations against Mr Somyurek had been “of a very different nature”.
When pressed on what the difference was between Mr Somyurek and Mr Byrne’s behaviour, Mr Albanese maintained he would wait for the IBAC findings.
“No, this is a matter for the Labor Party, separate to what IBAC does. He’s breached party rules. You are the leader, what action will you take against him?” Mr Albanese was asked by Michael Rowland.
When Mr Albanese failed to answer the question, he was asked again before snapping: “I know what you are talking about.
“From time to time, there are breaches of party rules and the processes kick in to deal with that, but while IBAC is undertaking these investigations, it’s important they be allowed to take their course.”
When pressed on why he needed to wait for IBAC when it was a party matter, Mr Albanese appeared flustered.
“Because you have an independent investigation,” he said.
On the matter of hiring taxpayer-funded staff who performed factional work, Mr Albanese refused to be drawn on whether he would refer Mr Byrne to the finance department.
“The finance department have an audit every month of every MP,” he said.
“We have an independent parliamentary authority that examines every dollar of expenditure of every MP that has the power to look at all of these matters.”
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