Former A-G to lead NSW Labor review

Michael Lavarch (C) will head the NSW Labor review announced by Anthony Abanese and Jodi McKay.
Michael Lavarch (C) will head the NSW Labor review announced by Anthony Abanese and Jodi McKay.

A former federal attorney-general is set to rummage through the dirty laundry of NSW Labor as part of a review into the party prompted by allegations heard at the state's anti-corruption watchdog.

Professor Michael Lavarch will head the Sussex Street review announced by federal opposition leader Anthony Albanese and NSW counterpart Jodi McKay on Sunday.

It comes after details of NSW Labor's latest donations scandal were laid bare by the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

The ICAC has heard evidence that $100,000 cash was illegally donated by Chinese billionaire property developer Huang Xiangmo, who took the cash in a plastic Aldi shopping bag to NSW Labor's head office in April 2015.

As she announced the review on Sunday, Ms McKay said it was clear the party's general secretary currently held too much power.

Ms McKay said the first stage of the review would look at the role and responsibilities of the general secretary, while the second would focus on head office mechanisms deemed "lax and deficient".

"It is clear that we need to let the sunshine into our head office and I have been distressed by the evidence that has emerged," Ms McKay said.

"It's clear there is a cultural problem within head office."

The explosive evidence uncovered at the ICAC inquiry led to the dumping of NSW Labor general secretary Kaila Murnain in August.

Ms Murnain told ICAC that in September 2016 upper house MP Ernest Wong told her Huang Xiangmo - a prohibited donor - had donated to the state Labor party and she'd failed to act on that information.

Ms McKay said NSW Labor would not be appointing a new general secretary until Prof Lavarch's review is complete.

Mr Albanese said the party expected the first series of recommendations would be brought down in mid-November.

He dismissed the idea of moving the party's state headquarters from Sussex Street, saying "what we need is substantial change not symbolic change".

Prof Lavarch served as attorney-general from 1993 to 1996.

Australian Associated Press