Somyurek ’kept away’ from council

Jim Memeti emerged victorious after a four-way battle for Greater Dandenong mayor in 2019. 200886_04 Picture: CAM LUCADOU-WELLS

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

South Eastern Metro MP Adem Somyurek denied directing staffers to assist in the 2020 Greater Dandenong Council elections.

“No. I was Local Government Minister. I did not want to be anywhere near it, I can tell you.

“If anyone’s done anything, that was outside my knowledge.”

In a newly-revealed tapped phone call “believed to be” 30 October 2019 played at IBAC, Mr Somyurek told an associate that “I want to catch up with Loi and then deal with Memeti”.

Holt MP Anthony Byrne had earlier alleged at IBAC that Mr Somyurek lobbied councillors and “did in” Cr Loi Truong in the Greater Dandenong mayoral election on 14 November 2019.

Mr Somyurek told Cr Truong that he’d do what he could to assist his mayoral election but was limited by his role as Local Government Minister, Mr Byrne told the inquiry.

However, Mr Somyurek instead “lobbied” Greater Dandenong councillors Youhorn Chea and Sophie Tan – both of “Cambodian background” – to vote for victorious candidate Cr Jim Memeti.

Mr Byrne’s staff members told him that soon after the meeting Mr Somyurek met with Cr Memeti at a McDonald’s outlet “not far from my office” for two-and-a-half hours.

“So that led me to surmise something like that happened.”

Mr Byrne agreed there was a “relationship” between Mr Somyurek and Cr Memeti.

Cr Memeti has reiterated his comments last year to Star News that Mr Somyurek had no direct influence in Greater Dandenong mayoral elections.

He said “I can’t recall” his alleged meeting with Mr Somyurek at McDonald’s. He’d never stayed at a McDonald’s for two-and-a-half hours, he said.

“I’ve never spoken to Mr Somyurek regarding elections. I’ve never heard of Mr Somyurek influencing the mayoral election – nor any other MPs.

“It’s all done with councillors. All the councillors try to lobby their colleagues”

The mayoral vote in 2019 was unusually a four-way contest between Crs Chea, Memeti, Truong and Maria Sampey.

Last week, Cr Memeti was elected for his fifth term as mayor – notably while Mr Somyurek is no longer an ALP powerbroker but an independent MP.