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Victorian Labor requires legal action against member amid allegations of branch stacking

Posted December 10, 2015 22:18:35

Connected Story: Labor members to have cards torn up over membership irregularities
Connected Story: Shorten favours female candidate to replace retiring Victorian MP

The conflict more than branch stacking in the Victorian division of the Labor Celebration has intensified, with the party taking legal action to force a dissident member to destroy records he says prove widespread stacking is occurring.

The ABC has been told the celebration will seek in an injunction in the Supreme Court on Friday to force Eric Dearricott, a rebel member of its administrative committee, to destroy the records, which he says are evidence of the widespread use of pre-paid present cards to stack Victorian branches.

Mr Dearricott has long agitated against what he claims is the manipulation of celebration membership to advantage Labor powerbrokers, particularly in the party heartland of the western and northern suburbs of Melbourne.

Celebration officials have claimed Mr Dearricott improperly accessed membership records, such as names, addresses, payment particulars and internet protocol addresses, and last month lawyers for the celebration demanded Mr Dearricott destroy the records.

Mr Dearricott claims he was entitled to access the information, and was truly asked by the celebration to study the records to determine regardless of whether rorting was occurring.

Media reports have alleged widespread use of the pre-paid gift cards — which can be bought and utilised without the purchaser providing any identification — to sign up ALP members with out their information, or to spend for huge numbers of memberships to cement manage of branches in several Victorian electorates.

Nevertheless, in leaks to other media outlets, opposing sources apparently aligned to the party hierarchy have denied that the rorting is widespread or systemic, and mentioned the party was operating to stamp out the practice.

A recent investigation at the behest of the administrative committee, carried out by the right’s Garth Head and the left’s Liz Beattie, determined that widespread membership rorting making use of pre-paid cards was not occurring.

Nevertheless, critics have suggested Mr Head and Ms Beattie’s report did not expose the accurate extent of the difficulty.

Legal action comes as celebration prepares for Wills pre-selection

The ABC revealed earlier this year that a former staffer to party heavyweight Senator Stephen Conroy, Haykel Handal, had been kicked out of the party for utilizing the pre-paid cards to sign up numerous members.

The ABC also revealed that a Moreland City councillor linked to alleged Italian organised crime figures, Michael Teti, utilized the office of former federal Labor Senator and acolyte of Senator Conroy, Mehmet Tillem, to improperly sign up folks to the Labor Party with no their understanding.

The ABC does not recommend Mr Tillem knew of Mr Teti’s links to the alleged crime figures or the alleged branch stacking.

The legal action against Mr Dearricott also comes as the celebration prepares for a potentially bruising pre-selection ballot in the formerly rock-solid Labor-held electorate of Wills.

The pre-selection, triggered by the impending retirement of MP Kelvin Thomson, is shaping up as a battle between Mr Tillem, reviled by some in the celebration as an archetypal Labor factional operator, and whoever emerges as the candidate of the anti-Tillem forces, who are agitating for a neighborhood, female candidate who will hold off the encroaching tide of Greens help.

Federal Labor leader Bill Shorten is generally described as an ally of Senator Conroy’s but is believed to be contemplating backing a female candidate against Mr Tillem, due to Labor’s stated goal of ladies filling 50 per cent of all celebration positions by 2025.

Both Mr Dearricott and the ALP’s state assistant secretary, Kosmos Samaras, have refused to comment.

Topics: alp, political-parties, state-parliament, courts-and-trials, vic

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