With her factional ally Adem Somyurek making headlines following allegations of illegal conduct, Marlene Kairouz, an Australian politician of Lebanese origin, has stepped down from her ministerial position.
Kairouz, who had been serving as Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation Minister in the Australian state of Victoria, recently faced allegations that she was involved in branch-stacking, a process of rigging party memberships to boost power within a party.
According to Australian media, she was recorded describing the use of parliamentary officers to run the alleged operation as “excellent” and allegedly worked to cover branch-stacked members in the Australian Labor Party.
On Tuesday morning, Marlene Kairouz issued her resignation statement.
“This morning, I notified the premier that I will stand aside from my ministerial responsibilities and notified the governor of the resignation of my commission,” Kairouz stated.
She went on, “It has been an enormous honor to serve the Victorian people across a number of portfolios, including Suburban Development, Local Government and Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation.”
“I no longer want these matters to be a distraction to the Government. They have placed enormous pressure on my family and caused them great distress.”
On the allegations, the former minister declared, “I look forward to the opportunity to clear my name and am confident any investigative process will do so.”
“I note that these matters do not relate to any allegations of criminality or corruption,” she added.
On that note, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews saw Kairouz’s resignation as “an appropriate course of action,” telling reporters that she has maintained her innocence since the allegations were published.
Marlene Kairouz, whose Maronite Catholic parents hail from Lebanon, has served several political and ministerial positions in Australia since 1998.
In 2019, she visited Lebanon, where she met with President Michel Aoun and other Lebanese officials and discussed Lebanon-Australia ties.
She is the third Australian MP to resign to date in light of the recent branch-stacking political scandal.