IBAC Victorian Labor hearing is a lesson in the business of branch stacking

The IBAC hearing into Victorian Labor branch stacking has been a history lesson in the dirty business of faction-building.

A screenshot shows Rick Garotti (left) reacting during IBAC hearings in Melbourne (Image: APP/IBAC)

Neat-haired, blue-jacketed Richard Garotti, mayor of Banyule City Council in Melbourne’s north, was in the online witness box of the Somyurek inquiry for two days this week — the unwilling face of branch stacking, sleazy faction Labor.

It’s his bad luck that the Independent Broad‑based Anti‑corruption Commission’s (IBAC) Operation Watts then adjourned for two weeks, leaving him frozen in place as the image of Labor sharp practice. Didn’t help either that the camera magnified his slightly larger-than-normal nose into a magnificent schnozz. It was very new wave, stylish, like Belmondo in Breathless; reprobate but insouciant.

That seemed pretty much Garotti’s view of himself in testimony — that he wasn’t ashamed, but wasn’t that proud either. We’d started with Anthony Byrne, Victorian Labor Right consigliere, a man so grey the camera might have had trouble catching him at all. My colleague Bernard Keane has the details of how Byrne cheerfully detailed how he had set up Adem Somyurek as a mini-factional warrior, having already mentored him as a junior political activist.

Read more about the IBAC investigation into Victorian Labor…

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