Costas Socratous, a former Labor Party staffer turned whistleblower, claims he was involved in branch-stacking in several key Melbourne ALP branches.
Mr Socratous claims he was employed by former MP Theo Theophanous and parliamentary secretary Telmo Languiller to recruit members to the Albion and East Ardeer branches, to bolster the numbers of the ALP’s Right faction.
Mr Socratous told The Age, “whilst working for Mr Languiller and Mr Theophanous it was my job to recruit members, renew their memberships every year and arrange payment of membership fees for the members we recruited.
“I was regularly given large amounts of cash to pay these new memberships and also their renewals.”
The cash, he said, came from the ALP’s Derrimut electorate account, private individuals and businesses, as well as the occasional injection from the accounts of members of parliament.
”I was instructed to use these funds to pay for ALP membership renewals,” he said.
The scheme, Mr Socratous claims, also benefited Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard and federal parliamentary secretary Bill Shorten.
Mr Languiller and Mr Theophanous have denied the allegations.
The State Opposition has called for the claims to be vigorously investigated by the Victorian Ombudsman as well as the Victorian and Australian Electoral Commissions.
Opposition scrutiny of government spokesman David Davis told reporters, “these allegations are serious, they relate to corruption inside the ALP and real issues of corruption and integrity inside the Brumby government, they must be investigated.”
Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard weighed into the debate this morning, backing Mr Languiller on ABC radio.
“I understand that these claims are hotly contested by Telmo, who is one of the state members in the area, so obviously there are varying versions and a hot contest here,” she said.
“What I would say of course is that it has been unlawful under the ALP rules for a long period of time for someone to pay ALP memberships on behalf of another person.”
Ms Gillard also denied any suggestion that 80 per cent of memberships in her own electorate west of Melbourne were fake.
Mr Socratous says he is prepared to give sworn evidence to the Victorian Electoral Commission.
(source: neos kosmos)
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