Labor MP backs motion over Adem Somyurek’s Red Shirt scandal in Victorian parliament

A Victorian Labor MP has caused a stir in the state parliament to back a referral from disgraced MP Adem Somyurek to have the party’s Red Shirt scandal investigated by the ombudsman and anti-corruption commission.

MP Kaushaliya Vaghela’s vote secured Mr Somyurek’s motion, which calls on parliament to refer corruption allegations involving the Labor Party to the ombudsman and the IBAC.

The motion was adopted by 19 votes to 17, with the support of the opposition, several cross MPs and Ms. Vaghela.

In 2018, Victoria Ombudsman Deborah Glass found Labor misused $388,000 of public funds through the Red Shirt arrangement, which saw campaign organizers employed as election workers.

The party refunded the money and the police did not lay charges.

Ms Vaghela’s decision stunned her caucus colleagues and her future in the party is now in jeopardy. It is against party rules to go against caucus.

It is now up to the integrity bodies to decide whether or not to pursue the matter further.

The deputy who crossed the floor was to be ousted in the next election

At the end of last year, Ms Vaghela was not re-elected for this year’s elections as part of a factional purge.

Shortly after the vote, the MP released a statement on social media that, as a former staff member of the Socialist Left faction of the party, she knew “all about their money-piling activities. branches and on the use of their electoral offices for factional purposes”.

MP Kaushaliya Vaghela crossed the room to support Adem Somyurek’s referral from the Labor Party to two investigative bodies.(PA: James Ross)

“If faction branches and agents working in election offices are corrupt, then the Socialist Left and all other factions must be investigated,” she wrote.

She described branch stacking as ‘endemic to the PLA’ and said Wednesday’s successful motion gave the Ombudsman and IBAC the power ‘to expand their mandate to include all factions of the Party. Labour”.

In parliament, Labor MPs were shocked and nearly all said Ms Vaghela would be kicked out of the party.

A move to the cross-bench will make it harder for the Andrews government if it has to pass controversial legislation ahead of the November election.

Ms Vaghela was part of Mr Somyurek’s moderate Labor faction which has crumbled since he was kicked out of the party.

Whistleblower says move means his actions were not ‘in vain’

Mr Somyurek, who is now independent, wanted the scandal to be investigated by the IBAC and he introduced a motion in the Upper House on Wednesday demanding cross-support.

In a statement, a government spokesman said anything referred to the ombudsman was “her business”.

A spokesman for the ombudsman said that under the ombudsman law any matter could be referred to the watchdog through parliament.

“If the Ombudsman receives a referral, she will determine how any investigation will be conducted and report back to Parliament in due course,” they said.

Daniel Andrews, wearing a white shirt and blue jacket, speaks to reporters outside.
Prime Minister Daniel Andrews sacked Mr Somyurek from his ministry shortly after branch stacking allegations surfaced in mid-2020.(CPA: Luis Ascui)

Mr Somyurek is still under investigation by the IBAC over a branch stacking scandal.

He has been sacked twice by the prime minister, but he denies the motion is revenge.

Former Labor staffer Jake Finnigan, who has spoken out about the Red Shirts scandal, said he was pleased with the news of the motion’s success.

Mr Finnigan was arrested and strip searched by police in 2018 while the case was being investigated.

Jake is sitting in a music store with guitars behind wearing a cap and looking at the camera with a serious expression
Whistleblower Jake Finnigan was arrested and strip searched by police in 2018.(ABC News: Peter Drought)

“Passing Mr Somyurek’s motion today means that my speaking out in 2015, putting myself in danger and torpedoing my future progress in the Labor Party was not in vain,” he said. declared.

“That I got up and [did] the right thing and will be properly investigated.”

Somyurek denies seeking revenge for branch stacking fallout

Victorian Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said the move was “amazing” and showed the government was distracted and self-focused.

“It shows that this government is once again in disarray at the worst possible time for Victoria,” he said.

“I hope, more than anything else, that this case will be resolved, that all corruption issues will be dealt with and dealt with and that Victorians can get a government that focuses on them.”

Earlier in the day, Independent MP Clifford Hayes said he would vote in favor of the motion because he was “concerned about the misuse of public funds for partisan purposes”.

But Reason Party MP Fiona Patton, who also sits on the Cross Bench, said she would not support Mr Somyurek’s dismissal.

“The motives behind this motion are not honorable. The motives behind this motion are vengeful and seek attention,” she said.

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