A former minister and the brother-in-law of a federal Labor Party powerbroker accused of branch stacking is the latest to be linked to the deepening scandal.
A former minister and the brother-in-law of a federal Labor Party powerbroker accused of branch stacking is the latest to be linked to the deepening scandal.

ALP staffer arranging party memberships on taxpayer time

A second NSW Labor frontbencher has been linked to the state ALP branch stacking scandal as Opposition Leader Jodi McKay took no steps to condemn the activity.

The Daily Telegraph can reveal that one of the party members accused of misconduct in a damning internal branch stacking report was a ministerial staffer for Labor frontbencher Paul Lynch when the man allegedly paid for other people's party memberships.

Luke McCaskie used his internal work email, funded by the taxpayer, to discuss "personally" paying for other people's ALP memberships and to plan branch membership business when he worked for then Industrial Relations Minister Mr Lynch as a "policy advisor".

A staffer to former state Labor minister Paul Lynch is accused of paying for the party memberships of other people.
A staffer to former state Labor minister Paul Lynch is accused of paying for the party memberships of other people.

Despite condemning Mr McCaskie's activities, the report does not mention that he was accused of using the parliamentary resources of an ALP frontbencher.

This omission which will give ammunition to party members already claiming the report has been too soft on MPs - however another source said the ministerial link was "outside the terms of reference."

Mr Lynch - who says he was not aware of the activity - is the brother-in-law of powerbroker Laurie Ferguson, who has also been accused of branch stacking misconduct but denied wrong doing.

Labor's branch stacking report identified Mr McCaskie as one of seven party operatives guilty of misconduct - in his case, paying for other people's memberships as they were about to expire.

This is a tactic that falsely boosts branch numbers and voting blocs for the faction.

Mr Lynch’s brother-in-law, party powerbroker Laurie Ferguson, has also been accused of branch stacking.
Mr Lynch’s brother-in-law, party powerbroker Laurie Ferguson, has also been accused of branch stacking.

In a string of 2011 emails obtained by The Daily Telegraph from Mr McCaskie's Paul Lynch ministerial email address, the staffer lists "financial" and "un-financial" memberships, promising Mr Ferguson's staffer Maurice Campbell he would "take care of" and "fix" outstanding memberships.

Mr Campbell has also been accused of branch stacking conduct.

The report found the email evidence was not clear enough to prove Mr McCaskie had been paying for other people's memberships, but Mr Moorhead found sufficient evidence through party financial receipts.

Mr McCaskie - who also worked for Labor frontbencher Lynda Voltz - could not be contacted for comment and Mr Moorhead's report also notes the branch stacking investigation could not reach him.

Labor Leader Jodi McKay was censured by state parliament over her handling of the affair. Picture: Jonathan Ng
Labor Leader Jodi McKay was censured by state parliament over her handling of the affair. Picture: Jonathan Ng

 

It comes Ms McKay was yesterday censured by state parliament over her failure to act on the branch stacking allegations.

Ms McKay left the chamber and refused to debate the motion.

"The Labor leader in NSW has had this report for over three months, and is silent. And by doing so, stands by the conduct," government minister Anthony Roberts told parliament.

Senior federal Labor MP Chris Bowen said a response to the secret report is initially a matter for the party's organisational wing.

 

Premier Gladys Berejiklian wants Labor to discipline those involved. Picture: Adam Yip
Premier Gladys Berejiklian wants Labor to discipline those involved. Picture: Adam Yip

 

However, he said "if there are findings against it in any individual, then that's a different matter".

Defence of the Labor leader was left to her deputy Yasmin Catley, who used a fiery debate to warn the Coalition: "we will come after every single one of you".

Earlier, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said Ms McKay should reprimand MPs involved in branch stacking. She said the Liberal Party wasn't "perfect" but did not have "this scale of organised falsification of reporting".

 

Originally published as ALP staffer arranging party memberships on taxpayer time