Andrews stands by D’Ambrosio as fresh branch-stacking claims emerge

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Premier Daniel Andrews is standing by factional ally Lily D’Ambrosio amid allegations a Labor branch linked to the state energy minister forged the signatures of deceased people on membership forms.

The revelations kick off the parliamentary sitting week and come three years after The Age and 60 Minutes revealed industrial-scale branch stacking within the Victorian Labor Party, which led to the cabinet sacking of Labor Right powerbroker Adem Somyurek and a federal takeover of the party.

Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio (left) and Premier Daniel Andrews. Credit: The Age

The latest developments, which centre on the Socialist Left faction, were first reported by The Australian.

Less than 10 per cent of D’Ambrosio’s branch continued to be registered following a 2020 statewide branch stacking review conducted by former Labor premier Steve Bracks and ex-federal MP Jenny Macklin, according to the newspaper.

Branch stacking refers to the improper recruitment of card-carrying members of a political party to influence policy and decide who is pre-selected as a candidate.

Speaking to the media this morning, Andrews said he did not think it was fair to compare the current situation regarding D’Ambrosio to the resignations or expulsions of other Labor MPs.

“I don’t think there can be any comparison drawn,” he said. “If you’ve got an allegation to make about any individual, then make it. [D’Ambrosio is] a person of character [and] hard work.”

The premier added that any fresh branch-stacking allegations would be a matter for Labor’s state secretary and integrity agencies.

D’Ambrosio on Tuesday morning said she rejected any wrongdoing and was not spoken to about fake memberships when the party was in administration.

“Certainly, no findings were made by the same review into these matters,” she said. “No such claims were presented to me by that review and no findings.”

Water Minister Harriet Shing, who is in the same faction as D’Ambrosio, also said the issue was a matter for the Labor Party.

“The party will be looking into these matters as it has done in relation to the review conducted by former premier Steve Bracks,” she said.

“I’m looking forward to seeing any response to that that may come from the party.”

Roads Minister Melissa Horne said there had been extensive investigations into the issue of branch stacking over the years.

“We are continuing to work through the recommendations that were done both by the Ombudsman and IBAC,” she said. “The integrity of the party is absolutely paramount.”

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