Australia

Expletive-filled texts by federal Labor MP Anthony Byrne leaked amid Adem Somyurek fallout

The Victorian ALP scandal has pivoted back to the federal parliamentary party after explosive text messages written by federal Labor MP Anthony Byrne were released.

Former Labor leader Bill Shorten, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and retired federal politicians Michael Danby, Alan Griffin and Sam Dastyari are subject to criticism in the text messages.

Adem Somyurek reportedly leaked the text messages after Adam Byrne agreed to cooperate with investigators.

AAP

The texts were reportedly released by disgraced party powerbroker Adem Somyurek after the backbencher agreed to cooperate with corruption investigators.

In the private text messages, Mr Bryne calls former colleague Sam Dastyari a “crooked, corrupt f***”, a female MP a “drunk” and an unnamed female Labor activist a “ratf***er”.

“Somyurek has selectively released a hand-picked selection of my text messages to him sent over two years just hours after I made a public statement that I had contacted authorities and would assist with their corruption investigations into him. That speaks for itself,” Mr Byrne said in a statement to AAP.

An investigation by The Age and 60 Minutes, which claimed the scalps of Mr Somyurek and two allies, involved secret recordings in Mr Byrne’s Melbourne electorate office in Cranbourne West.

There are fears his office could have been bugged.

The potential problem is more acute given Mr Byrne’s position on federal parliament’s powerful intelligence committee.

“In respect of the misinformation circulating, I want to make clear that I take the matters raised recently seriously and have been in touch with authorities to offer my full assistance,” Mr Byrne said.

“I welcome investigations into corruption, which has no place in the party I love.

“Because I do not want to cross over or impede any investigations that may be occurring, I’m unable to comment further at this point in time.”

Federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese.

Federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese.

AAP

Labor leader Anthony Albanese says he has “counselled” Mr Byrne about “his language and the inappropriateness of [his] comments”.

“These comments are completely unacceptable and inappropriate,” Mr Albanese told reporters on Thursday.

“I also discussed and sought an assurance from him that he had advice, which he has, that he has acted legally at all times.”

Under Victorian law, recording a conversation does not require the consent of the person being recorded, unlike some other states.

Leader of the Opposition Anthony Albanese and Prime Minister Scott Morrison during Question Time.

Leader of the Opposition Anthony Albanese and Prime Minister Scott Morrison during Question Time.

AAP

Labor is expected to face more pressure over the issue with federal parliament sitting for the last time on Thursday before breaking for the long winter break.

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Responding to the developments on Thursday morning, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Mr Albanese had been “totally burned” by the scandal.

“What all this shows is that the Labor party are absolutely at war – we’re fighting for jobs, they’re fighting each other,” he told Nine Radio.

“It’s 10 years since the Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard blow-up here in Canberra, and 10 years later they’re still doing it. They haven’t changed. They’ve learned nothing.” 

Additional reporting by Claudia Farhart.

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