Embattled Labor MP Anthony Byrne resigns from powerful committee amid Victorian inquiry

Under-pressure Labor MP Anthony Byrne has left his post as the deputy chair and member of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security.

Labor member for Cunningham Anthony Byrne during Question Time in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, Wednesday, March 24, 2021. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING

Labor member for Holt Anthony Byrne during Question Time in the House of Representatives. Source: AAP

Embattled Labor MP Anthony Byrne has resigned from a powerful parliamentary committee but has resisted calls to leave parliament, following his appearance at a Victorian anti-corruption inquiry.

Mr Byrne has admitted to the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission that he had engaged in branch stacking - paying for ALP memberships on behalf of others - and used taxpayer-funded parliamentary staff to create fake branch members.

The revelations have prompted some senior members of the federal government to call for Mr Byrne to step down.

On Thursday, the federal MP for Holt said he would leave his post as the deputy chair and member of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS).

“The work of the PJCIS is crucial to Australia’s national security and its integrity should never be questioned,” Mr Byrne said in a statement.

“I have always put the work of this bipartisan Committee first and have always served in its best interests.

“I will continue to fully cooperate with the IBAC inquiry and will not be making further comment while proceedings are underway.”

Labor leader Anthony Albanese said he accepted the resignation and would put forward Labor Senator Jenny McAllister as Mr Byrne's replacement as deputy chair.

Mr Byrne has told the inquiry he, state government minister Luke Donnellan and then-Labor powerbroker Adem Somyurek were paying for other people's party memberships to boost their moderate faction's influence in Melbourne's southeast, and to ensure their preferred candidates were preselected.

The practice is not illegal but is against Labor party rules.

IBAC is investigating whether public funds were used for such work.

Mr Donnellan resigned from his cabinet post on Monday afternoon, admitting he breached party rules but "never misused public funds or resources in any way".

The IBAC hearings will resume on Monday.

- With AAP


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Published 14 October 2021 at 4:33pm
By Rashida Yosufzai

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