The first day of hearings on Monday heard Federal Labor MP Anthony Byrne admit to branch stacking, hiring ghost staff and being aware of rigged party ballots.
He also told the hearing former government ministers Adem Somyurek and Marlene Kairouz were “coercing” electorate and ministerial staff to engage in branch stacking.
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What is branch stacking?
Branch stacking involves getting people whose votes you control to join a political party branch as a way to influence candidate pre-selections or policy positions by creating a bloc of controllable votes. 
The party will recruit members of a particular belief or idea. These members will then vote for a particular candidate of the same belief in the party pre-selection to take the leadership role. 
In his opening remarks at the IBAC hearings on October 11, Counsel Assisting Chris Carr SC defined branch stacking as “organising people to joining a political party, which they have little genuine interest in joining”.
“Of course, few reluctant members would part with their money to join, so an integral aspect of branch stacking is the payment of membership fees by politicians, aspiring politicians, their associates, or those seeking to obtain influence.”
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Is branch stacking illegal? 
Branch stacking is not illegal, however, it may be prosecuted as fraud if false information is provided to the Australian Electoral Commission.
The national constitutions of both the Labor Party and Liberal Party state that party members must pay their own membership fees and live at their claimed address. 
A 2002 report by Bob Hawke and Neville Wran found branch stacking had a “cancerous effect” on the “democratic traditions that have been the strength of our Party”. 
“They [members], and we, also recognise that in all political parties there will be a tendency towards some form of association between individuals who share the same orientation on policy matters,” the National Committee of Review report read. 
“But there is a widespread, genuine dissatisfaction with the deadening impact of factionalism and the associated phenomenon of branch stacking.” 
The report said, as part of the consultation process, members’ greatest concern was “the level and nature of factionalism in the Party, and the detrimental effect this has on internal democratic processes.” 
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Branch stacking is not unheard of in Australia’s political history, with probes into the activity claiming the careers of many politicians. 
Notably, Federal Liberal MP Ann Sudmalis – who held the New South Wales seat of Gilmore – quit politics in 2018 following accusations of branch stacking 
The ABC reported several branches of the Victorian ALP had been stacked with members, many of whome were Somali-Australians.  

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