Michael Sukkar tight-lipped on support for branch-stacking investigation

Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar has refused to say whether he will co-operate with an investigation under way into branch stacking in the Victorian Liberal Party.

Mr Sukkar said he had not yet been approached to co-operate with the investigation, but repeatedly refused to answer direct questions on Sunday about whether he would assist the investigation if asked in future.

Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar, pictured in Canberra.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

"These are matters for the Liberal Party," he said. "These are not matters that are the focus of my attention."

Mr Sukkar's comments come after a warning that party members refusing to participate with an investigation led by forensic accountants KordaMentha could face suspension or expulsion from the Liberals.

Liberal Party state director Sam McQuestin appointed KordaMentha in September to conduct a forensic audit of memberships, after allegations of branch stacking were revealed in The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and 60 Minutes.

Those revelations embroiled the offices of Mr Sukkar and former defence minister Kevin Andrews in an alleged branch-stacking operation.

The party's powerful administrative committee resolved that refusal or failure to fully co-operate with the investigation would be regarded as "conduct gravely detrimental to the best interests of the Party", and be met with suspension or expulsion, state president Robert Clark said.

On Friday, Mr Clark wrote to party members advising that investigators had discovered a high number of instances of party membership records being accessed after hours and by people not authorised to do so.

KordaMentha had uncovered evidence of individuals paying for multiple memberships, a key indicator of branch stacking, and instances of multiple memberships being paid for by the same credit card, he said.

Without naming names, Mr Clark said some party members had refused or failed to cooperate with investigators.

"KordaMentha have also reported that, while many Party members have co-operated fully and helpfully with their investigations, a number of Party members have refused to do so, or have not responded to numerous phone calls or messages seeking to speak to them," Mr Clark wrote.

"This, together with the protracted restrictions on in-person meetings due to COVID-19, has added to the time taken for KordaMentha to conduct their investigations."

Those people would face expulsion from the party, Mr Clark said.

"The state director has been directed to write to all members identified by KordaMentha as refusing or failing to co-operate with the investigation to require them to co-operate or else face suspension or expulsion from the party."

Mr Sukkar and Mr Andrews asked the Finance Department to examine their staffing arrangements after allegations reported in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald that some of their electorate officers had been involved in branch stacking.

That inquiry, which concluded last month, found there was “not a sufficient basis” for finding any serious misuse of federal resources.

However, as The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald revealed, it did not hear from staff about whether they engaged in party political work at taxpayers' expense.

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