‘Awful piece of work’: Bombshell texts

 

A horror week for the ALP has just got worse as fresh texts aimed at two high-profile women from MP Anthony­ ­Byrne's phone have been revealed.

In one text sent to Victorian MP Adem Somyurek, The Australian reports, he attacked ex-Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard staffer Jamila Rizvi describing the now political commentator as "an awful piece of work".

Bizarrely, it appears she has never even met Mr ­Byrne or Adem Somyurek.

"About 10 years ago, I worked as an adviser in the Gillard and Rudd government and it turns out that's enough to have these powerful, well frankly, dudes go after you," she said on The Briefing podcast this morning.

"I have a feeling there are a whole lot more messages that are going to come out between various people in the Australian Labor Party using some pretty awful language."

She stressed that she wasn't involved in branch stacking, given the revelations about Labor this week.

Jamila Rizvi is a former Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard staffer.
Jamila Rizvi is a former Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard staffer.

The other woman criticised in the new texts was former Victorian Labor MP Judith Graley, who survived breast cancer about 15 years ago and retired­ from parliament in 2018.

He appears to attack members of the Victorian Left over the quality of the candidates in Melbourne's southeastern suburbs­, before having a go at Ms Graley.

"They are f***ing useless. They are rabid lefties, the seat perfect for them,'' he wrote.

"If they keep putting losers like grayley (sic) into (the state seat of Narre Warren South) we will lose the seat one day.''

A federal Labor frontbencher said the ALP has had a "horror week" in the wake of a branch-stacking scandal in Victoria which has also brought Leader Anthony Albanese into the drama.

Deputy Opposition Leader Richard Marles also weighed in on the involvement of federal Victorian MP Anthony Byrne in the controversy.

"Horror week is a pretty good description," Mr Marles told Nine's Today show this morning.

"Albo has obviously spoken to Anthony."

Anthony Byrne sent the messages to Victorian MP Adem Somyurek. Picture: Mick Tsikas/AAP
Anthony Byrne sent the messages to Victorian MP Adem Somyurek. Picture: Mick Tsikas/AAP

While agreeing the texts revealed today were a disgrace, Mr Marles defended Mr Byrne's political record saying he was a "wonderful" servant of his community and the party.

"I'm not about to defend what he said but I absolutely think that Anthony Byrne has a very important role to continue to play in politics," he said.

Surprisingly, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton defended Mr Byrne on Friday, saying he was not going to criticise him for the language used in the text messages.

"It was a private text message. If you can say hand-on-heart, or Richard can or I can that you haven't used bad language in private, good luck to you. But that's not the reality for most adult Australians," he told Nine.

Mr Albanese is under pressure to discipline Mr Byrne, who sits on the powerful parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security.

Mr Somyurek earlier this week lost his ministership in the wake of the branch-stacking scandal after he was recorded in footage aired by Nine boasting of his political influence.

Some of the covert recordings were captured in Mr Byrne's office and his phone calls were also recorded.

Judith Graley was also attacked in the text messages.
Judith Graley was also attacked in the text messages.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said Mr Albanese must decide whether Mr Byrne should remain as deputy chair of the intelligence committee.

But Mr Albanese has so far said Mr Byrne would remain in the position. Mr Dutton said Mr Byrne had done a good job on the committee.

"He has a sensible perspective in dealing with counter-terrorism laws. He is a subject matter expert and he has done very well in that committee," he told Nine.

Mr Byrne is also feeling the heat over the revelation of earlier text messages after Mr Albanese on Thursday described them as "completely unacceptable and inappropriate".

Those texts were made public on Thursday after Mr Byrne agreed to help corruption investigators looking into the Victorian saga, included various profanities and disparaging remarks about Labor colleagues.

"Somyurek has selectively released a hand-picked selection of my text messages to him sent over two years just hours after I made a public statement that I had contacted authorities and would assist with their corruption investigations into him. That speaks for itself," Mr Byrne told AAP on Thursday. Mr Somyurek told reporters outside his home he had learned the art of "branch work" from Mr Byrne.

Originally published as 'Awful piece of work': Bombshell texts



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