PoliBard Profile picture
11 Oct, 98 tweets, 35 min read
Questions to Byrne are starting now, going over his history with the ALP, and the positions he's held.

I'll thread these now that the examination proper is starting
Recounting the timeline of events following the revelations from the Age and 60 Minutes, including the handing over of party admin to the federal branch of the party. Byrne confirming comments he made at the time that he hoped there would finally be a clean up
"I thought the party was completely out of control"
"Referring to branch stacking, coercion of staff, referring to a party basically being taken over by one person"
Council - "Which person"
Byrne - "Adam Somyurek"
Byrne fingers Somyurek and Khairouz for the coercion allegation just mentioned.
For a period of at least 2 years, possibly less for Khairouz.
Related to factional activities "consuming their day" and a "relentless focus" on party activities.
Byrne confirms that electoral officers are for parliamentary duties, and should not perform any party political activities.
Byrne also confirms he HAS been involved in branch stacking activities 🔥
Byrne confirms he was an underdog candidate when pre-selected.
Byrne now detailing how he was pre-selected, and confirms that "factional heavy weights" assisted with his pre-selection (FYI, replaced Gareth Evans)
Byrne is admitting he was involved in actual financial branch stacking, via paying for other people's memberships

Byrne admits it was a well entrenched system, operating from the 90's until the 2010's.
If people joined a branch, monies could be provided after they joined.
"Monies could be provided via some source"
The "south east alliance" gets named - Byrne, Somyurek and Donellan
Council now asking about any formal processes for the SE alliance.
"Who paid for these memberships as part of this SE alliance?" - here we go.....
LOL, now we're hearing about the "South East Agreement" to minimise branch stacking
"Branch stacking was wrong"
Apparently an agreement was made with the Socialist Left to minimise branch stacking going into the 2000s.
Byrne was "doing his utmost" to minimise branch stacking.
Council puts to Byrne that he believed branch stacking was an unavoidable necessity. Byrne agrees.
Commissioner intervenes to ask about Socialist Left members to confirm if any were members of parliament. Byrne confirms at least one was.
Council asks "is it easy to ascertain the(factional) alignment of members of the ALP?"
Byrne - "Yes"
Byrne confirms that people sometimes change factions, and that members who joined with them will also change their factional alignment.
Byrne admits to paying for others memberships since 1999, when he joined parliament.

Council asks about on an annual basis, how much Byrne paid out.
$2000 for renewals, reducing in later years.
"Was it far less later on because other people were contributing?"
And union members got a discount rate, of course.....
Byrne confirms that Somyurek and Donellan were also involved in paying for renewals.
His understanding was that they contributed similar amounts, but MORE in later years.
"Did others contribute?"
Byrne doesn't want to name names, but happy to confirm names 😂😂
Council asks about "categories of people" who contributed.
"Staff, community leaders, people interested in a seat, people wanting representation"
"So aspiring politicians would need to pay their share?"
Byrne - "You could say that"
Now we're onto the "machinery of the ALP" and the rules to prevent branch stacking.
Council notes the wry smile from Byrne.
Byrne refers to an internal report from 1998 to address branch stacking that seems to have been rather useless.
Council now going over the details of becoming an ALP member. You can join central branch, but can't vote, only by joining a local branch.
Only 6 members can join per meeting without advance notice to central office.
Branch meetings are monthly, and max of 13 memberships per meeting can be accepted.
This allows them to vote for state and national conference delegates also.
Pre-selection determined by local members and pre-selection committee votes @ 50/50
Byrne confirms that significant local membership control leads to pre-selection control.
Now there's a bunch of admin stuff I'm struggling to follow, lots of terminology. Bit boring.
"Could you identify the broad factions in the ALP?"
Moderate Labor
Union group
AWU, SCA, health services, plumbers, NUW,
Victorian right
Conroy group(The cons, LOL)
Now onto the left
The industrial left and the socialist left are the main factions Byrne identifies.
"Is it necessary to be a factional member to maintain pre-selection in Victoria?" - "Yes"
Byrne declares unhappiness with him at #Failure2BranchStack by the broad right factions
Byrne confirms that although not engaging in new branch stacking, he maintained paying for memberships he'd already paid for.
Council looking for an example of factional warfare taking over a region.
"Significant activity in the West" from moderate Labor.
Now council is asking about "warehousing" of memberships, where false addresses are maintained to gain advantage.
And we're going for a ten minute break. Back soon.

And we're back, and naming names. Somyurek and Khairouz getting blamed for most of the stacking.
And we're getting(SMS?) messaging presented to the witness.
-"He's a vandal"
- "If you speak with him, can you record him? His lunatic rants" Byrne, referring to Somyurek.
Commissioner brings up #RedShirts again. Finds it hard to believe branch stacking happened again after those findings.
Byrne states in his area, recommended in 2018-2019, but may have restarted earlier in other areas.
"How was Somyurek ramping up branch stacking?"
Byrne talks about him wanting to remove members of parliament belonging to socialist left via pre-selections.
Names Pauline Richards and Gabrielle Williams.
To be replaced with someone from Moderate Labor.
Council asks if Somyurek had the power to determine pre-selections by his own control. Byrne nominates Somyurek as claiming to have 63-66% control of the Labor party.
Byrne claims that Somyurek had cobbled together sub alliances within other factions.
Somyurek confirmed as convener of the moderate Labor faction, recognised within the party by Byrne.
Byrne confirms that pre-selections could be awarded for loyalty for bringing in new members, or bringing members across from other factions.
Like Byrne did for Somyurek
Commissioner intervenes to suggest Byrne "trained" the branch stackers who joined the party through his office.
Byrne doesn't like the characterisation.
Commissioner keeps referring to the #RedShirts report. I don't think he's terribly impressed with what it found.
Byrne claims that a drop in memberships in his area are proof that branch stacking subsided.
Commissioner points out that's in his area only, and seemingly remained rife at a state level, Byrne agrees that's reasonable.
Now discussing the fallout between Byrne and Somyurek. Can't give a specific date, between 2016 & 2017.
Continued communicating with him until Sept 2019(when he blocked his phone number, mentioned earlier)
Byrne claims excessive bullying by Somyurek of others.
McLennan(subject of SMS messages mentioned earlier) brought into focus now, moved from Byrne's office to Khairouz from Jan 2019. Byrne was close to McLennan.
Mclennan apparently received a lot of grief and instruction from Somyurek.

Byrne confirms that the directions given to McLennan by Somyurek were primarily factional activities, outside his brief as ministerial advisor to Khairouz.
Adam Sullivan also nominated as somebody doing factional activity on public dime.

I get the feeling the commissioner might be as disgusted as I am by taxpayers funding party political activities in the halls of government. Keeps returning to it.
"Very widely practised" according to Byrne.
Oooooo "membership kitty" is in the convo.
Getting more into the financial details now. Who paid how much for what.
MPs and aspiring MPs involved.
Aspiring MP Steve Michaelson is named for a substantial $5k contribution for Mark Dreyfuss federal seat, after being approached to do so.
Commissioner clarifies when Somyurek became factional "convenor" - early 2015 according to Byrne.
Byrne admits that he and Somyurek agreed together Michaelson would be told he needed to kick in $5k to get a chance in Isaccs(Dreyfuss seat)
Byrne confirms that fundraisers were used to raise funds for memberships. Hosted by Byrne, Donellan & Somyurek. "Generally cash"
Byrne confirms the cash found its way into the Membership kitty kept in his office.

Taking a look at the fundraiser brochures now.
"Hat not passed around, more that people would buy tables"
Raffles were involved.
Byrne admits people weren't told the funds would be used for buying memberships, in breach of ALP rules.
(You can buy for your family though)
Commissioner now stepping into clarify, and Byrne says some of the people attending definitely would have known funds were being raised for branch stacking.
Commissioner quoting from Dreyfuss report
-All members must pay for own memberships.
2nd Dreyfuss recommendation - Members seeking pre-selection must confirm they have not been in organised branch stacking operations.
Commissioner seems puzzled that nothing is fixed, despite Dreyfuss report and #RedShirts report.
Byrne confirms that people in head office are largely factional appointees. So the rule enforcers have a conflict of interest is being put to Byrne
"Depends on the official" replies Byrne.
"Did head office turn a flagrant blind eye to branch stacking over last 5 years?"
Byrne feels "powerless to stop it" rather than "turned a blind eye" is a better answer to previous question.
Now getting into delivery of membership renewals to ALP HQ from ministerial offices and staffers. Council puts it that this time was considerable.
Commissioner intervening again, mentions the Bracks/Macklin report about branch stacking. Organisation acceptance, poor culture, admin/systems were poor, oversight of memberships was practically non existent.
Byrne doesn't disagree with that.
LOL, Membership approval committee operated like a "swap meet"
Byrne agrees.
Changing topic now, on to particular pre-selections.
Ms Figella(?) the subject of discussion.
Council asks about the circumstances leading to her pre-selection
"Sub continental friends of Labor" - Sounds spicy!!
2 wealthy brothers, Kamara? involved.
"Did SCFL have an objective of having an Indian MP, are you aware of a deal done?"
Byrne confirms that an agreement/understanding was reached, and Somyurek was behind it.
Council asking if Khairouz had any involvement there, Byrne says he wasn't.
Commissioner involved again, asking about impropriety of factional transfers. Byrne can't comment.
Byrne asked about the wealthy brothers paying for memberships, confirms "financiers" label
It's a subcontinental branch stack fest, apparently. "So many people turning up they could not possibly be paying for their own memberships."
Somebody called Manoj was keen to become an MP, maybe one of the wealthy brothers?
Byrne asked if the brothers were supplying members to be controlled by Somyurek in return for something. Including demands about a Federal MP position.

Byrne now asked about Somyurek's desire to be elected to National executive in 2018.
Byrne asked about blank ballot papers at national conferences for delegate elections being brought in to be filled out. Byrne agrees they were filled out by factional operatives.
Are you aware of ballot papers being discarded before they could be collected?
Byrne says he heard his staff made claims of it.
(This is so grubby it's actually hard to get your head around it complete, I guess my "crook imagination" needs polishing)

In your area of Holt, around 40% of ballots had to be reissued, is that right?
Byrne - I wasn't aware it was such a large figure, or aware it was that large generally.
Do you accept that head office knew the large number of ballot reissues were irregular? Byrne agrees.

Commissioner puts it to Byrne that a lack of pushback from head office on these practises is an indirect endorsement of them. Byrne agrees.
Council suggests a well established practice of certain members belonging to certain people. Byrne agrees.
Council describes "recruiters" as being electorate officers belonging to MPs who would collect ballots and provide them to the faction, where they could be filled out by ministerial officers or electoral officers. Byrne agrees
Council putting on record again that considerable time was spent on these activities, and that taxpayer funded time was significantly involved. Byrne agrees.
Council describes it as a systematic approach, Byrne agrees.

Council states a witness has described the 2018 election as an "all hands on deck affair" and Byrne agrees. Confirms it was definitely so in the offices of Somyurek and Khairouz, and much of it done in working hours.
Byrne is now claiming letters were forged and sent to head office to obtain ballot reissuing. Wow.
(It's hard to comprehend how far Labor will go to thwart democratic process, internally and externally. They just don't GAF about democracy apparently)
Commissioner intervening again to confirm that both ballot reissue letters and the actual ballots themselves involved signature forging. Byrne confirms, but says it comes via a third party. Commissioner pushes for legitimacy of the claim, Byrne trusts the source.
We're back on SMS messages again.
"we have 210 ballot papers needing to be filled out"
Adam Sullivan mentioned as being involved in this activity.
Council - "This message isn't memorable because it's nothing out of the ordinary and run of the mill stuff?"
Byrne agrees.
Commissioner and Byrne clarifying that this activity referred to filling out blank ballots that were legitimately signed by members, but deliberately left blank.
Ballots may have had up to 300 names on them, significant time required. All on the tax dime, apparently....
Council clarifies with Byrne that Somyurek was happy to have electoral or ministerial staff perform these activities during work hours. Byrne agrees.

And that's it for now, we're breaking for lunch, and will resume in 40 minutes.
And we're back online, and straight onto Marlene Khairouz.
Council assist inquires as to the lovers tiff responsible for Byrne and Somyurek separating.
Byrne refers to an SMS trove released by the Herald Sun.
Byrne mentions that it was over his distaste for branch stacking and his hope that Somyurek would abandon the process.
Byrne was concerned that Somyurek's activities were hurting the party. Now Council is asking was he concerned those activities might have been illegal.
Following up with asking Byrne about his own staff doing party political work on taxpayer funded time.
Council asking if electoral officer positions were being used as currency, and being used to reward people for factional work, and keep people onside.
Byrne agres with all of this.
"We're people paid as officers without expectation of turning up?"
Byrne - "Yes"
Byrne now recounting a story of such an employee provided by Somyurek who didn't turn up to work. Byrne asked for him to be moved.
Byrne now identifies 2 individuals Burhan Yigit and Hakki Suleyman who were provided by Somyurek who didn't work.
Yigit a long standing member of western region, has control of a large number of members, maybe 200, has stood as a candidate for Labor at the last election. Close personal relationship with Somyurek.
Somyurek asked him to be employed until something else found.
Commissioner asks "why you, not Somyurek employ him?"
Byrne responds that he believes a conflict of interest was involved if Somyurek employed him. Some kind of "breach of allocation" rule involved.
Was part time work common? Byrne confirms yes.
This part time model allowed for "factional love" to be spread across multiple people, providing more influence, and the ability to provide different levels of reward says Byrne.
Byrne claims he wanted a reduction in factionally aligned staff.
Byrne claims he often got requests to put people on from Somyurek.
Somyurek often got his way with these requests.
Byrne claims Somyurek could have got him out of parliament if he hadn't at least partly cooperated.
Never an explicit demand made. Implicit maybe.
Byrne claims that when Suleyman was "assigned" to him, he expected him to work, but he didn't. Seems to be a reward from Somyurek, not jobs for mates, just salary for mates.
Done by Somyurek to get him on board.
Apparently an adverse finding was hampering Suleyman.
"Not fit to be an electoral officer" was the finding made, informs Council. Byrne confirms he knew he was disqualified, but claims not to have a detailed knowledge of the exact claim.
Seems they possibly bypassed the state finding by assigning to a Federal MP?
Byrne now states that no single issue broke down the relationship between himself and Somyurek, it was cumulative. (And plenty has accumulated judging by his evidence so far)
Byrne claims Somyurek told him the "turkish boys" would be put on without actually working.
Byrne claims that it was not his expectation that's how it would work. Byrne seems to acknowledge these jobs were purely favours.
Council puts it to him that he had no reason to expect him to work, given the nature of the arrangement.
Byrne denies it.
The individual in question(not sure which one) was employed for several months, paid via commonwealth government funds, and did not ever turn up to work apparently.
Byrne is passing the buck onto his office manager for staffing and payment.
Council puts it to Byrne that he agreed to the deal, or he wouldn't have allowed payment to continue. Byrne concedes that.
Council seems to suggest Byrne is arse covering himself to claim he wanted him at work, when he didn't chase up.
Byrne is claiming he had no choice, because his position as MP might have been jeopardised by Somyurek via political execution, abusing staff, etc.
Council asks if Byrne is aware of other instances of this kind of arrangement, Byrne vaguely confirms.

Byrne states that Somyurek was probably placing electoral officers in other offices, but doesn't have direct knowledge.
Commissioner asks how was Suleyman's employment terminated, Byrne claims he ended it.
Possibly moved onto Kitching's office with same arrangement.
Now were on to Mr Yigit, similar deal. Employed for several months, never turned up for work.
Byrne claims that he received considerable pressure for these employments, due to Somyurek's displeasure at Byrnes lack of factional activity.
Commissioner intervenes to ask if these 2 men were performing factional work, he assumes so but doesn't have direct knowledge.
Commissioner zeroing in on public money going to private, political business again.

Council pursues Byrne over knowledge of Somyurek performing similar activities to other MPs. Byrne agrees.
Byrne asked again about electoral officers used as factional currency, Byrne agrees.
Byrne asked about other factional members employed, and attendance records.
Byrne asked about electorate officers contributing to election campaigning, and Byrne confirms this happens.
Council asks about his staff working on campaigning for others, and if that's proper. Byrne agrees that it happened, regularly, was expected, and is not proper.
Specifically Byrnes employee Nick McLennan was asked to provide assistance for Tim Richardson on campaigning matters.
Now moving on to Lauren Johnson, who worked almost full time on a La Trobe campaign, improperly according to council.
Byrne - "Related to the candidate"
Byrne confirms it's still improper despite the relationship involved. All about the win(Fk me these people are grubs)
It was an unspoken expectation from the party, not a Somyurek matter according to Byrne.
Council moves on to asking about employing family members as electorate officers.
Byrne thinks it's not terribly wide spread.
Council pushing for examples within moderate Labor faction.
Byrne can't immediately recall any instances.
Byrne now admits to employing Somyurek's son in his office, and the feed goes to "private move" as something we're not supposed to hear is being discussed.

We're still offline currently, I'll pick up here when they return, otherwise that's it for the day.
Ok, and we're back online, and somebody "got done by the Cambodians"

It's all happening.
Re previous tweet, it seems to be about somebody who was running for Mayor of an LGA who got shafted, I think there was some stuff off camera that would have made this clearer. But seems to have been a promise made to someone by Somyurek.

Dandy council too. #Dodgy
It seems that Somyurek promised a Loy Truang? the mayorship of Dandy council, then went behind his back with other councillors to shaft his attempt. Commissioner is digging for the full story and confirmation Byrne actually knows this for certain.

Council now discussing a meeting of Byrne, Truang and Somyurek in Byrne's office, where Truang asked for assistance, by way of "not getting in the way" from Somyurek. Wow.......
Council notes a succession of Labor aligned mayors at Dandy council.
Oooo, now it's cambodian vs vietnamese factional war. i wonder what spicy names are involved there.
Now discussing the relationship between Mr Memeti and Somyurek and Memeti's subsequent appointment as Mayor of Dandy council.
Byrne discussing Somyurek using the "I'm minister for Local Govt, so I can't assist" regarding Truangs request for assistance to become Mayor. Truang and Byrne were long term colleagues, and Byrne thinks Truang wanted a witness to the conversation.

Commissioner intervening again to clarify what the request to Somyurek was, for assistance, or not to block Truang.
So assistance by way of "don't assist the other bloke please" seemingly is the request that got made.

Byrne getting quizzed now as to why Truang thought that Somyurek could hamper his bid for Mayor. Byrne detailing that it was known Somyurek was known for working with "the cambodian faction" it seems through previous terms on the council.
Council now revisiting an earlier question regarding electoral office workers who campaigned for outside candidates, specifically asking about Mr Richardson from Marlene Khairouz office.
Council a bit short on details, and Byrne can't answer definitively.
Back to text messages again. Or not. Now council is asking about any potential problems encountered in reporting electoral office/factional work complaints to parliamentary services.
Byrne says people wouldn't have confidence to register such a complaint.
Byrne seems to be claiming that factional leaders would find out about the complaint and suffer negative consequences, I'm not entirely clear on his answer here.
Now discussing the new role of "party integrity ombudsman" created by the Bracks/Macklin review.
Council assisting seems to be finished his questioning for the day, now Commissioner is checking with other council present for cross examination matters. Somyurek's lawyer has matters for cross examination, and these won't be live streamed.
It looks like we're all over for today, and no further public examination of Anthony Byrne will be conducted by IBAC. Commissioner has informed Byrne he can view his testimony if he desires to confirm that it's accurate. And the feed is cut, think that's it.

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with PoliBard

PoliBard Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @PoliBard

11 Oct
Somyurek thread. Here's some grabs from the presser where Dan announced he had sacked him for branch stacking, then took questions. It's one of the most brutal pressers he's ever had to face, and some interesting questions got asked.
#OpWatts #IBACDan
Here Dan gets asked about whether Scott and Khairouz will be stood aside pending investigations, but apparently no, different rules for them.
Sumeyya really picks up her stride here, and pushes Dan to justify why Kairouz in particular should keep her job, given her commentary trashing her own portfolio. But Dan holds out and says he's been personally reassured by her that her behaviour was above board.

Scorn ensues 😂
Read 13 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!