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Landeryou charged over election vandalism

AAP logoAAP 28/12/2016

A close friend of Labor leader Bill Shorten will face court accused of politically motivated vandalism at polling booths on federal election day in Melbourne.

Andrew Landeryou, the husband of new Labor senator Kimberley Kitching, has been charged with five counts of theft and five counts of criminal damage.

He and two other men linked to Labor were charged by summons over the incident and told to face Melbourne Magistrates' Court on February 15.

David Asmar, husband of Health Services Union Victoria No. 1 branch secretary Diana Asmar, faces the same charges as Landeryou.

Dean Sherriff, who has worked as an industrial officer for the Health Workers Union, also faces the same 10 charges, and a count of assault.

Back on July 2, police said they had arrested four men in St Kilda for allegedly damaging numerous polling booths, campaign signs and posters in the Port Philip area.

Police were called to a polling booth at 2.40am on July 2, a car was searched and three box cutters were seized.

The men were released pending further inquiries, with the three now charged.

It is unclear what has happened to the fourth man.

The charges against Landeryou swing attention to his partner, Senator Kitching, who was controversially selected in October to fill the Victorian senate seat left empty by Labor powerbroker Stephen Conroy.

Senator Kitching, a lawyer and former HSU official, was chosen by Labor's public office selection committee amid intense speculation she was also the captain's pick of her long-time friend, Mr Shorten.

Her endorsement reportedly sparked unease among many Labor members and afforded the Liberals a wealth of opportunities for union jibes.

The Liberals were quick to point out she had been hauled before the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption and chastised over official workplace tests.

On Thursday, Labor's human services spokesman, Doug Cameron, said anyone trashing Australia's democratic processes should face the full force of the law - no matter who they were.

"If people are vandalising signs, if people are trashing the democratic processes, and it's illegal to do that, they should be dealt with under the law. Full stop, no argument," the senator told reporters in Sydney.

"It's not an issue of who they've got links to, this is an issue that's before the courts ... they will be dealt with, and Labor has got no tolerance for the democratic processes being trashed."

Special Minister of State Scott Ryan shied away from commenting when talking to reporters in Melbourne about issues of the day on behalf of the Turnbull government.

He said it was "probably not appropriate for me to make public comment until after the court matters have concluded".

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