By Andrew Brown in Canberra
Branch stacking allegations by a federal Labor MP that led to the resignation of a Victorian minister reinforces the need for a national anti-corruption watchdog, former party leader Bill Shorten says.
Labor minister Luke Donnellan resigned from cabinet after Anthony Byrne told an Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission hearing he and Mr Donnellan paid for other people’s membership fees.
Mr Shorten said the evidence presented on the first day of the hearing on Monday was startling and highlighted the need for a federal anti-corruption body.
“This is why we need a federal anti-corruption commission … people hate seeing this sort of stuff, but frankly, I would rather it be seen and dealt with than covered up,” Mr Shorten told Nine Network on Tuesday.
“This isn’t the way that our political party should be operating, and IBAC’s got a fair way to go.”
The Victorian anti-corruption watchdog is investigating allegations of branch stacking within the state Labor, after the claims were raised last year.
Mr Byrne, who represents the federal seat of Holt in Victoria, told the inquiry branch stacking was “out of control” in the state.
Mr Shorten said the revelations were embarrassing and disappointing for Victorian branch members.
“For the vast majority of ALP members … they will be frustrated and feel betrayed because this is not what the vast majority of ALP members sign up for,” Mr Shorten said.
“It’s like being hit in the stomach and no wonder people get frustrated with politics when they see these antics, it’s not the way it should be.”
The inquiry will continue on Tuesday when Mr Byrne will continue his evidence.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is also likely to be grilled on the scandal when state parliament resumes on Tuesday.