Bill Shorten's leadership ballot under scrutiny
Date February 12, 2015 Sean Nicholls Sydney Morning Herald State Political Editor
Labor's Sam Dastyari is being called upon to make a personal explanation to the Senate about his knowledge of or involvement in irregularities in the 2013 ballot that installed Bill Shorten as federal Opposition Leader.
The call was made by Liberal senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells after Fairfax Media revealed that a staff member in Senator Dastyari's office requested that addresses for 50 ballot papers be changed before the vote.
An ALP tribunal found at least 20 of those addresses were changed to the post office box or residential address of Auburn councillor Hicham Zraika.
Cr Zraika was recently suspended from the Labor party for six months after the tribunal found he had engaged in "unworthy conduct" including falsifying meeting records of his own branch.
Senator Fierravanti-Wells told the Senate that Labor "needs to get right to the bottom of this scandal and take steps to deal with any branch stacking or vote fiddling".
"An ALP tribunal may have suspended the middle man who received the redirected ballot papers but what has happened to any others involved in this episode?" she said.
"Today's reports of the irregularities in the ballot that installed Bill Shorten as Labor leader cast doubt on the validity of the vote."
Senator Fierravanti-Wells noted Senator Dastyari had yet to make a statement to to the Senate "to personally explain this situation and what he knew about the machinations of his staff member. I call on the senator to do so."
Senator Dastyari dismissed the call by Senator Fierravanti-Wells as "a joke".
"I thought we'd moved past this kind of low rent type of politics," he said.
"At no point has there been any accusation of wrongdoing against me by the Review Tribunal or any others."
Referring to last year's Independent Commission Against Corruption hearings into political donations, Senator Dastyari said it was "all a bit rich coming from Connie considering a dozen Liberal MPs from her own NSW branch had to resign over real corruption allegations".
On Thursday, Cr Zraika said it was "unfair and unjust to be accused of manipulating party membership and stacking when it is clear as daylight who changed those addresses.