’Wish to destroy’

Anthony Byrne, right, denied he "ran the show" in the Moderate Labor faction.

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

Holt MP Anthony Byrne has been quizzed about his alleged texts stating he wanted to ‘destroy’ and ‘kill’ an aspiring Labor MP.

At an IBAC hearing into alleged ALP branch-stacking on 12 October, Mr Byrne faced cross-examination from the lawyer of his one-time factional ally and electorate officer Adem Somyurek.

He denied that he, rather than now-state MP Mr Somyurek, “ran the show” controlling people within the Moderate Labor faction.

“You would have had to have been on the dark side of the moon to not know that Adem Somyurek was in charge of just about everything.”

Barrister Remy Van der Wiel read out alleged texts sent by Mr Byrne to Mr Somyurek that “I really do what to kill” aspiring Isaacs’ preselection candidate and ALP staffer Steve Michelson in 2019.

“Wish we could destroy him now,” Mr Byrne texted.

“I also want to humiliate him at the same time as the preselection so that he is unemployable.

“It’s a just punishment for the grief he is causing us.

“I really do want to kill him. This is personal for me now.”

At the hearing, Mr Byrne said Mr Somyurek in previous conversations had “made it clear to me that he saw Steve Michelson as being a problem”.

“I think you would say Mr Somyurek’s feelings, and therefore my feelings, were pretty strong.

“But I think the tone of this was that Adem had said to me that Michelson was a threat, that Michelson wasn’t playing a team game and that Michelson needed to be dealt with.”

The inquiry heard that Mr Michelson, a former staffer for ex-federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, had been requested to pay $5000.

In earlier evidence, Mr Byrne agreed the payment was a way for Mr Michelson to gain factional support to succeed sitting Isaacs MP Mark Dreyfus.

“I think he would have been led to understand that he would have been favourably looked upon,” Mr Byrne said.

The aspiring MP’s money went to “one of my staff members” for the paying of other people’s ALP memberships and renewals, Mr Byrne said.

He denied that he would assist Mr Michelson in preselection on that basis.

“I would assist him with preselection? I would dispute that, Counsel.

“I think that the people by that stage that were determining the preselections is the gentleman sitting next to you, Adem Somyurek.

“I think it’s fair to say, Counsel, that Adem Somyurek wanted to destroy Mr Michelson and he wanted my assistance to do so.”