Ben Fordham grilled Anthony Albanian in a fiery radio interview Thursday morning after the Labor leader refused to fire MP Anthony Byrne.
The 2GB host accused Mr Albanian of showing a ‘failure of leadership’ but the 58-year-old hit back, saying he will not talk to Mr Byrne pending an investigation.
In a corruption investigation into Victorian Labor this week, Mr Byrne admitted he had paid for membership fees to popular festivals to increase support for his moderate faction in a practice known as branch stacking, which is not illegal but against party rules. contrary.
Mr Albanese has faced calls from Liberal MPs and commentators for Mr Byrne to be fired from the Labor Party, but has so far refused to take any action.
In several media interviews this week, he has highlighted allegations of misconduct against government MPs, including Housing Minister Michael Sukkar, who was acquitted last year of misusing taxpayers’ money.
Fordham played Mr Albanian a snippet of what the Labor leader had said about Mr Sukkar at the time.
“I’m glad Scott Morrison is being judged by his own words. If Michael Sukkar is still sitting there as minister at two o’clock, that’s a failure of Scott Morrison’s leadership,” Mr Albanese had said.
Ben Fordham (pictured with wife Jodie) roasted Anthony Albanese for not firing Labor MP Anthony Byrne in a fiery radio interview on Thursday morning
Fordham then accused the Labor leader of showing double standards by demanding Mr Sukkar’s resignation but keeping Mr Byrne in his party.
“Speaking of leadership failure, Albo. Come on, said Fordham.
Mr Albanese pointed out that cabinet ministers are held to higher standards than MPs from the back seat.
“Byrne’s not a minister, mate,” he said.
Fordham replied, ‘Who cares what he is. He is an MP in your party.’
Again Mr Albanian insisted ‘he is not a minister’ before Fordham asked: ‘What difference does it make? What’s that got to do with it?’
The Labor leader fired back and said, ‘Are you serious? Don’t you understand what a member of the executive is…” before Fordham cut him off and said, “He is paid by the taxpayer to sit in parliament.’
The 2GB host accused Mr Albanese (pictured Wednesday) of showing a ‘failure of leadership’ but the 58-year-old hit back, saying he won’t talk to Mr Byrne pending an investigation
In several media interviews this week, Mr Albanese has highlighted allegations of misconduct against government MPs, including Housing Minister Michael Sukkar (pictured), who was acquitted last year of misusing taxpayers’ money.
The radio host asked Mr Albanese if he refused to fire Mr Byrne because they are friends, an accusation the Labor leader denied.
“This isn’t about friendship, Ben,” he said.
“While the investigation is ongoing, I haven’t spoken to Anthony Byrne. Because while people appear before a judicial body, the idea that the political leader will call them and have a conversation with them while they testify is completely inappropriate,” he said.
The heated discussion came after Richard Marles was dragged into the corruption investigation.
The deputy Labor leader denied knowing he attended a fundraiser that raised money to pay for Labor memberships in violation of party rules.
Richard Marles (pictured) has denied knowing of a fundraiser he attended to raise money to pay for Labor memberships in violation of party rules
On Wednesday, Mr Byrne said Labor would hold events to raise the money, including one in 2016 where Mr Marles spoke.
“Generally speaking, there is an event that normally takes place in April or May. Party members and others, trade unions etc. would be invited to attend these meetings,” Mr Byrne said.
The Holt MP was then shown a leaflet advertising a fundraiser at an Afghan restaurant in Dandenong, south-east Melbourne, on Friday 29 April 2016.
The guest speaker was Mr Marles, who was then the Shadow Minister for Immigration.
The leaflet shown at the IBAC hearing
When asked who knew the money raised would be used for branch stacking, Mr Byrne said: “Most of the people who would have attended those functions had a pretty good idea that some of the money raised would go towards memberships.” .’
But a spokeswoman for Marles told the Daily Mail Australia that he “knows absolutely nothing about the funds raised from that event”.
In overwhelming evidence to the Victorian watchdog IBAC this week, Mr Byrne admitted to stacking branches and said he was working with state MPs Adem Somyurek and Luke Donnellan, who resigned as child welfare minister on Monday.
Mr. Somyurek was fired from the state cabinet in June 2020 after 60 Minutes made allegations that he was involved in branch stacking.
He strongly denies the claims and has launched a defamation lawsuit against Nine Network, The Age and investigative journalist Nick McKenzie.
Federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese has refused to fire Mr Byrne, saying he was not aware the MP was involved in the stacking of branches.
‘I’m not a member of the Victorian branch. I also don’t have a detailed knowledge of the entire electorate and you would be surprised if I do,” he said on Tuesday.
“We’ll let IBAC run its course. It is not appropriate to anticipate their findings and those processes.’
Federal Minister Alan Tudge said Mr Albanian “must take strong action”.
“It’s rotten to the bone in the Labor Party here in Victoria,” he told Sky News on Tuesday.
Mr Byrne (pictured) has admitted to paying for membership fees to popular festivals to increase support for his moderate faction in a practice known as branch stacking.