Fw: Labor figure tells all on rorts

Alan Bradley alanb at SPAMelf.brisnet.org.au
Tue Oct 31 22:46:39 MST 2000

NB:  The guy this story about is a former Leftie. - AB.

>From The Australian (http://www.theaustralian.com.au)

Labor figure tells all on rorts
By Stefanie Balogh

FORMER Queensland ALP and union organiser Lee Bermingham, who has given
secret evidence to the state's vote-rigging inquiry, admitted for the first
time last night that he had stacked the party's branches.

In the ABC's Four Corners report, The Numbers Game, Mr Bermingham also
accused the powerful Australian Workers Union of running a slush fund to
pay for Labor memberships.

He broke his silence on his role as a numbers man, admitting he had stacked
branches and conceding that the practice was not "fair game''.

"If you're a branch member in a particular area and you've been active in
that area ... and then all of a sudden somebody is able to come in and put
on numbers that are paid for from a slush fund, I think it leads to a
morale problem in the party,'' he said.

The Four Corners report also claimed Karen Ehrmann, who triggered
Queensland's damaging vote-rigging allegations, was offered a $30,000 bribe
to implicate a state MP in electoral fraud. It was claimed she had been
offered money to allege Mike Reynolds, now a Townsville MP, had been
involved in the illegal activity of vote-tampering.

Ehrmann was jailed in August for three years after pleading guilty to
vote-rigging. If she had accepted the bribe and made the claim, Mr Reynolds
would have been disendorsed.

The Shepherdson inquiry, which is investigating alleged Labor vote-rigging,
was ordered by the Criminal Justice Commission after Ehrmann claimed she
was only a bit player in an elaborate web of electorate fraud.

The inquiry, which resumes in three weeks, has sent Queensland's Labor
Government reeling.

Mr Bermingham, who was an ALP and an AWU organiser, also told Four Corners
that the AWU ran a slush fund of up to $15,000 in cash, bankrolled through
fundraising at functions.

He said the money was used to pay for party memberships so the AWU could
maintain its stake in plebiscites for state and federal candidates and keep
control of the ALP state conference floor.

The AWU is affiliated with the Queensland ALP.

AWU boss Bill Ludwig said he knew nothing of an alleged slush fund and
argued that Mr Bermingham's credibility had to be questioned.

Before the program aired, Premier Peter Beattie said his position had been
consistent and that "anyone who breaks the law, in my view, and is found
guilty by a jury goes to jail".

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