The Victorian ALP will investigate allegations of branch stacking and irregularities surrounding the payment of up to 500 memberships with untraceable gift cards. As a result, the election of delegates to State Conference has been postponed to February while the investigation takes place. However, nominations still close today.
The Administrative Committee's decision to conduct the investigation follows evidence provided by Eric Dearricott of the Independents and another member of the Membership Committee that 80 or 90 people have used pre-paid gift cards to renew their party memberships online this year, even though the party forbids use of such cards for this purpose.
“Following inspection of the records of online payments of membership renewals and applications it seems clear that pre-paid debit cards (gift cards) have been used to pay for the renewals and applications of hundreds of members over recent years," Eric Dearricott said in a letter to State Officers last week.
“The surge in the use of one particular gift card type with significant numbers of online payments -- like 20, 30 and 40 made from the same computers often in the small hours of the morning -- gives rise to a belief that branch stacking has occurred”.
The Left, the National Union of Workers and the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees' Assocation all backed the proposal for an investigation. However, the Right opposed the selection of an independent investigator and the Left backed the Right position, says Dearricott, who is a member of the Administrative Committee. As a result one member nominated by the Right and one by the Left will carry out the investigation.
While Open Labor is disappointed that the investigation will not be independent, we applaud any move towards transparency and stronger democratic processes. Whatever the outcome of the investigation, we will continue to push for openness and integrity as our candidates stand again in February.