ALP president Wayne Swan promises action on the donation scandal Picture: Stuart McEvoy/The Australian.
ALP president Wayne Swan promises action on the donation scandal Picture: Stuart McEvoy/The Australian.

Labor promises action over Aldi bag affair

ALP NATIONAL president Wayne Swan has indicated there could be a clean-out of the party's NSW branch over the now notorious Aldi shopping bag donation.

Mr Swan pledge the party would "act on" findings by an Independent Commission Against Corruption which could see Labor's dominant right wing in NSW - "The Machine" as its operatives once grandly called it - lose power and personnel.

The right's energy and authority have already been reduced by spectacular evidence to an ICAC inquiry which last night led to the NSW party's general secretary Kaila Murnain being suspended.

She was made to stand down over the revelation of $100,000 - presumably in 1000 $100 notes - being handed to party headquarters in an Aldi shopping bag. The donation was from Chinese businessman Huang Xiangmo and the commission is looking at whether it was an illegal gift laundered through something called Chinese Friends of Labor.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has posed the reasonable question: What do you get from Labor for $100,000?

The muttering is starting about a possible federal intervention authorised by the ALP national executive.

Mr Swan today noted the ICAC inquiry was still proceeding but that "we will act appropriately when it is completed". He said the suspension of Ms Murnain was "fine" as an interim measure.

 

NSW Labor boss Kaila Murnain was made to stand down after ICAC revelations
NSW Labor boss Kaila Murnain was made to stand down after ICAC revelations

 

"But this has some way to go," Mr Swan told Radio National today. "The point I wanted to make is, however, we do take the issue incredibly seriously, have taken it seriously, have acted on it and will continue to act on it."

He pointed to the removal of NSW party secretary Sam Dastyari as a senator over the issue of Chinese donations and foreign influence.

"We will act, as we have acted over the last few years, because we take this issue really seriously," said Mr Swan. "And the fact that Sam Dastyari is no longer a senator would indicate that."

Other party officials are expected to be drawn into the shopping bag affair, but for now the weight is on Ms Murmain, who has revealed she had doubts about the cash donation and sought legal advice.

At the ICAC hearing yesterday her response when learning of the Aldi bag handover was to say, "What the shit?".

State Labor leader Jodi McKay said: "I no longer have confidence in her judgment. Pat Garcia will act in the role of general secretary."

Swan today insisted the ALP had "tackled head on" the issue of foreign donations.

"A couple of years ago we said we would no longer accept (foreign) donations and we didn't," he told Radio National today.

"The Liberals didn't act for a couple of years. They took donations."

The original political machine was the ruthless Democrat party group in New York which traded in cash and influence out of the infamous Tammany Hall.

The Sussex St HQ of the NSW Labor Party in Sydney now risks having its activities compared to the Tammany tactics.



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