Victorian local government minister Adem Somyurek has been sacked and referred to Victoria Police and the state’s corruption watchdog following allegations aired in a current affairs program.
Premier Daniel Andrews said he acted immediately to remove Mr Somyurek after he was shown engaging in inappropriate behaviour including alleged branch stacking and offensive language on 60 Minutes.
On Monday morning Mr Andrews said he was also seeking to have Mr Somyurek’s ALP membership terminated.
The Premier described Mr Somyurek’s conduct and comments as “deplorable, shameful and wicked” and said no fair-minded person could not have been shocked after seeing his behaviour captured on video and in recordings that were aired on television on Sunday night.
Mr Andrews said Mr Somyurek was not given the opportunity of resigning because he was not worthy of being asked to resign.
“Mr Somyurek is no longer a minister of the Crown,” Mr Andrews told reporters.
“There is no place in my government for him.”
“I have also instructed the Attorney General to refer all these matters as canvassed last night on the television … to both Victoria Police and IBAC. Those referrals have been made.”
In a statement provided to the media Mr Somyurek rejected allegations of branch stacking but apologised for some of his comments, including towards the Minister for Woman and Family Violence minister Gabrielle Williams.
In a statement Ms Williams said condemned violent and misogynistic language and commended the premier’s action.
“Whether at home, in the street, at work or in the halls of Parliament, this language is unacceptable – when it does occur, it must be called out,” she said.
Mr Andrews’s parliamentary secretary Danny Pearson will be sworn in as Minister for Local Government in his place.
Mr Somyurek, who temporarily resigned from the front bench in 2015 following allegations he intimidated and stood over his chief of staff, subsequently returned to cabinet and has held the local government portfolio since December 2018.
In his role as local government minisiter Mr Somyurek often condemned misconduct and poor governance in local government.
Local government peak concerned
The Victorian Local Government Association said it was concerned by the allegations regarding Mr Somyurek and supported an independent investigation into them.
“Good government and governance in Victoria is poorly served by the behaviours described,” VLGA said in a statement.
“We also echo the comments made by the Gabrielle Williams that no matter who you are, no one deserves to be treated and abused in this way.”
VLGA said it looked forward to working with the new local government minister.
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