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Auburn preselection delayed as ALP wrestles with branch-stacking allegations

Tight squeeze: Labor Party records say eight members occupy this house, along with Hicham Zraika, his wife and daughters.The bitter Labor preselection for the Auburn seat has been delayed as an independent tribunal investigates branch-stacking allegations against former mayor Hicham Zraika by incumbent MP Barbara Perry.

The delay to the ballot from December 6 to December 13 follows a marathon “credentialling” process for branch members that ran until 4am. It is understood to be one of the longest in the NSW party’s history.

Credentialling involves checking the bona fides of branch members to ensure they are allowed to vote in the preselection, after which challenges can be lodged.

Ms Perry has charged Councillor Zraika with branch-stacking offences under party rules, saying he has been paying for memberships and recruiting members who do not reside at their claimed addresses to influence the ballot.

If the allegations are found to be true, Ms Perry wants him suspended or expelled from the Labor Party. Cr Zraika denies the allegations.

The charge follows revelations by Fairfax Media of a surge in membership of the Regents Park branch to more than 300. Cr Zraika has been its secretary since 2012.

Labor records show that eight members of Regents Park branch list Cr Zraika’s home as their residence and 21 members listed a post office box as their residence for close to a year.

NSW Labor general secretary Jamie Clements had previously rejected calls from Ms Perry and former general secretary John Della Bosca to delay the preselection ballot.

But it is understood the sheer number of branch members in Auburn made it impossible to complete the credentialling process and investigation before December 6.

Mr Clements referred the allegations to the ALP internal appeals tribunal, which met on Thursday night to consider Ms Perry’s allegations. However, the matter has yet to be resolved and the tribunal is due to meet again early next week.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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