NSW Labor set for 'sweeping' reforms

Jodi McKay and Anthony Albanese have welcomed the findings of a review into NSW Labor.
Jodi McKay and Anthony Albanese have welcomed the findings of a review into NSW Labor.

NSW Labor will introduce sweeping reforms in its head office after a high-profile anti-corruption inquiry damaged its reputation and sparked the resignation of a party boss.

Federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese and his NSW counterpart Jodi McKay on Friday welcomed the findings of a review arising from the ongoing Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry.

They said they would fully adopt the review's recommendations, which include a new state executive board to focus on governance and oversight, and changes to the most powerful job in the state's party office.

The general secretary role will be "fully professionalised" and subject to a five-year ban on seeking elected office, to prevent it being treated as a stepping stone to public office.

Mr Albanese said the structural reforms would change the power dynamic in the Labor party, and were about ensuring "that the mistakes of the past never, ever occur again".

"(The NSW branch) will be the most transparent branch of any political party in Australia," he told reporters in Sydney.

Former Commonwealth attorney-general Michael Lavarch conducted the review amidst the ICAC inquiry into a number of cash donations to NSW Labor.

The inquiry is investigating whether Chinese billionaire Huang Xiangmo, who is now banned from Australia, was the true source of $100,000 said to have been donated by 12 people at a 2015 fundraiser.

As a property developer, Mr Huang was prohibited by law from donating to NSW political parties.

The inquiry prompted the October resignation of general secretary Kaila Murnain after she told ICAC she had known about a potentially illegal donation since 2016.

The review said the ICAC probe was bad enough, but it followed earlier head office failures and examples of poor leadership.

The last two general secretaries had been "obliged to leave the role" amidst damaging controversies and the office's poor workplace culture had been widely reported in the media, the review said.

Under the recommendations, expected to be introduced in February, the general secretary and two assistant general secretaries will have clear job descriptions, key performance indicators and grounds for termination.

In addition to a new state executive board, there will be an audit and risk committee with four independent members and the authority to report suspected wrongdoing to authorities.

"We will no longer have the case of management overseeing themselves which was a fundamental weakness in the way in which the party had been structured," Professor Lavarch told reporters.

But NSW Deputy Liberal Leader Dominic Perrottet said the review would fix nothing and the state's Labor branch was "rotten to its core".

"This is nothing more than a PR stunt, it's all smoke and mirrors. Labor doesn't need a face lift they need a heart transplant," he said in a statement.

Australian Associated Press