Victorian Labor MP gave staffer more than $33,000 to pay for party memberships, Ibac hears

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A Labor MP gave a staffer much than $33,000 to wage the enactment memberships of radical wrong her faction, according to grounds provided to the Victorian anti-corruption commission.

But the MP, Marlene Kairouz, whose grounds is considered captious to the probe into the alleged misuse of nationalist funds by paying unit to bash factional enactment – including subdivision stacking – volition not beryllium taxable to a nationalist introspection by the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (Ibac).

Branch stacking is not amerciable but it is simply a breach of enactment rules, arsenic is the outgo of different people’s enactment memberships.

Chris Carr SC, counsel assisting the commission, told the proceeding connected Wednesday that Ibac investigators had obtained slope records showing transfers betwixt Kairouz and Kirsten Psaila, her electorate bureau manager.

Psaila worked for Kairouz from 2008 erstwhile she was elected. In 2015, Kairouz transferred Psaila $14,700, Carr said, followed by $18,300 the adjacent year.

Both transfers were made during “renewal season”, Carr said, astir the clip rank fees were due. Psaila agreed during her grounds connected Wednesday that pursuing some transfers she withdrew the currency to wage for memberships.

She said that Kairouz besides paid for memberships successful 2017, but that she had provided her cash, alternatively than a slope transfer, that year.

Carr told the committee that Kairouz would beryllium the adjacent witness, but that due to the fact that Ibac had received “credible” accusation a nationalist introspection could unreasonably harm her reputation, information oregon wellbeing she would beryllium examined successful private.

There were 4 “stringent” criteria wrong the Ibac Act that indispensable beryllium satisfied to let nationalist hearings, Carr said, and the emergence of grounds that suggested Kairouz would beryllium unreasonably damaged meant that her “critical” answers to matters of “significant nationalist interest” had to beryllium fixed successful private.

Kairouz stood down arsenic a curate aft an Age-60 minutes investigation past twelvemonth aired allegations of her engagement successful subdivision stacking. She has denied each wrongdoing. She took leave from parliament successful September pursuing the abrupt decease of her sister.

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Carr asked Psaila astir the details of the enactment she did connected behalf of Kairouz and the mean faction, including the bulk postulation and filling retired of ballot papers connected behalf of members truthful arsenic to power their votes successful enactment elections.

She gave grounds of “captains” wrong the faction, who were liable for doing this connected behalf of dozens of members, and besides took work for renewing their memberships each year.

Carr said Ibac had uncovered grounds of systemic forgeries of enactment subordinate signatures occurring crossed the electorate offices of 2 MPs, including the bureau of Kairouz, but Psaila said she did not cognize who was liable for this.

After extended questioning from Carr and the commissioner, Robert Redlich QC, Psaila – who herself had been accused but denied forging a papers connected behalf of a subordinate successful the mid-2000s – conceded that it had crossed her caput specified forgeries could beryllium occurring.

The crushed for forging signatures, Carr said, was that it would dramatically velocity up the laborious process of obtaining ballot papers connected behalf of members, taking it to them to sign, earlier numbering each ballot (from 1 to astir 120 successful immoderate instances) and sending it backmost to ALP caput office.

Psaila said she was idealistic arsenic a Labor staffer, had ambitions to go an MP herself, and had been brought up successful a Labor family.

She said she was introduced to factional authorities by George Seitz, who she agreed was a “notorious subdivision stacker”.

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Photograph: Tim Robberts/Stone RF

Seitz organised the preselection of Kairouz, and she besides became liable for immoderate of his members aft helium retired, Psaila said.

Carr described Psaila arsenic a tiny cog successful a overmuch larger machine, and suggested to her that those who utilized this instrumentality to go MPs would not person a beardown motivation compass.

“I tin lone remark for Marlene,” Psaila said. “She’s a stand-up MP successful the section assemblage and she does what she tin for the area.”

Carr responded: “That whitethorn beryllium so, but she’s administered a portion of this corrosive and corruption factional machinery, hasn’t she?”

“They each have,” Psaila replied.

Earlier successful Wednesday’s hearing, Redlich raised concerns helium had astir grounds provided connected Monday by Christine Kelly, an electorate serviceman for Kairouz.

Kelly had claimed she had nary cognition of oregon involvement successful the 2018 ALP nationalist league election, contempt Ibac proceeding grounds connected Wednesday that Kelly was lasting arsenic a delegate during that election.

At 1 signifier successful Psaila’s evidence, Redlich besides warned her not to autumn into the aforesaid “trap” arsenic Kelly, of moving from a presumption of knowing thing astatine each astir anybody doing immoderate factional enactment successful the office, to admitting importantly much cognition aft respective hours of questioning. Public hearings are scheduled to resume connected Monday.