Inside the Victorian ALP - who runs the Bracks Government?
Crikey published an 18,500 word treatise on Jeff Kennett during the
last state election - but that was nothing compared with this
unprecedented 34,000 word insight into the Labor Party courtesy of
insiders who sent through these remarkable missives in May and June
during the great Victorian faction fight. The key players call
themselves Delia Delegate, Reg the Representative, Harry Hack and Betty
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Crikey published an 18,500 word treatise on Jeff Kennett during the
last state election – but that was nothing compared with this
unprecedented 34,000 word insight into the Labor Party courtesy of
insiders who sent through these remarkable missives in May and June
during the great Victorian faction fight. The key players call
themselves Delia Delegate, Reg the Representative, Harry Hack and Betty
Published late May
The Victorian ALP conference last weekend saw a great deal of
tension over the issue of whether the 33 delegates of the Metal Trades
division of the Manufacturing Workers Union would be allowed to vote. I
personally felt far more angst about the slow moving queue for coffee
downstairs from the Conference but that’s another story.
On the surface, the issue was about whether the state branches of
unions or their federal superiors had the ultimate say about appointing
delegates. Michelle O’Neill, the Textiles, Clothing and Footwear
Secretary, argued the case passionately as she didn’t want the federal
office of her union taking her power away. As she presides over a union
in hopeless decline, who can blame her for that?
Then Ian Jones of the Vehicle Builders division of the
Manufacturing Workers Union ranted and raved about workers’ rights and
how the decision by the Metal Trades division not to send any delegates
was wrong and that the Federal Court’s decision that the national
office of AMWU was binding on the ALP.
A cavalcade of rabble rousers followed, arguing the case for why
the Victorian ALP had to comply with “the rule of law.” It was an
amusing argument from people who often boast about organising illegal
strikes, who beat each other up in and out of the Comrades’ Bar, the
Lincoln, the bar at Trades Hall, the car-park at Trades Hall and
anywhere else where there are brothers from militant world of militant
Greg Sword put the case best. He argued very persuasively that the
Victorian branch of the Party had no right and no role looking into the
process by which union delegates are appointed to the Conference. He
said it would make us a laughing stock and reminded delegates to
remember when the state was referred to as the Albania of the south.
Greg is in the Right of the Party, as convenor of the Labor Unity group
and many Labor Unity delegates were inclined to go along with their
leader. Especially in circumstances in which there was argument in
which his pulse rate had exceeded its normal Bjorn Borg levels.
That was on the surface. That’s what readers of the Sunday Age heard about. What was the debate really about?
It was about a conflict in the Right wing Labor Unity group that threatens to cause a major split.
GREG SWORD – PROFOUNDLY UPHAPPY
Greg Sword is the National Secretary of the National Union of
Workers. He is the elder statesman of the Victorian right. He has been
a person of great influence within the Party for decades now.
He is profoundly unhappy about the emergence of younger turks,
like ALP State David Feeney and the best man at his recent wedding AWU
National Secretary Bill Shorten who while also in the Right have built
their own power bases completely independently of Sword and the
National Union of Workers.
This grates on Sword and the NUW who remember the fact that they
founded the faction years ago. They remember days when they were
practically the last union left standing in the Labor Unity group in
the early 1990’s after the Socialist Left had seized control of the
Clerks’ Union, the AWU and the Transport Workers Union.
Overlayed on that is a group called Network. It was a Young Labor
group formed by Shorten in the 1980’s. It’s a long and bizarre story
but essentially Shorten and Feeney were in intense and bitter
competition within Young Labor. Feeney says Shorten was his “nemesis”
in those days. Shorten had built a large group of Young Labor people,
primarily from Monash University, Feeney built a smaller group,
primarily from Melbourne University.
Due to a series of personality conflicts most of which caused by
Bill’s outsized ego within Shorten’s own group, he left them and formed
an unlikely coalition with David Feeney.
The remaining Young Labor Network people, formerly Bill’s best
mates like NUW Victorian Assistant Secretary Martin Pakula, TWU’s Steve
Moore, NUW’s Antony Thow, bumbling lawyer Charles Power and the younger
ones like ambitious and capable State MP Tim Holding were all shocked
that Bill could enter into a Devil’s Pact of this type.
In the way that the best of friends can become the best of
enemies, this group renamed briefly as Agenda continued. Many of the
Agenda group and the remaining Network group have coalesced around Greg
Sword and the National Union of Workers bloc within the Right.
THE PERSONALITIES, THE BATTLES
The enemy of my enemy is my friend.
The simmering tension is all about personalities. And it’s been played out in several battles.
Last year, Greg Sword and Martin Pakula had arranged funding for
an all-out attack on Bill Shorten’s powerbase at the AWU. Bill’s
enemies within the AWU were meant to deliver candidates to run against
him in the Victorian branch but they got cold feet. The NUW denied any
association with interfering in the internal affairs of another union.
This year, there is a ballot coming up for the National Union of
Workers. Ray Gorman and a number of disgruntled people from the
Victorian branch are planning on running against Greg Sword’s ticket.
Whether these old guys can form a Dad’s Army ticket or not is the big
question. The notoriously ethically challenged NSW branch of the NUW
(the late NUW NSW State Secretary Frank Belan once got busted for
putting brothel services on his union American Express card) run by
Derek Belan is funding the effort although it is clear the AWU
Secretary Bill Shorten is providing support of some kind too.
And there’s the Health Services Union where there is an ongoing
power struggle between its Secretary Greg Sword ally Maria Zarko and
the majority of the Branch Committee which is controlled by Jeff
Jackson and Kathy Jackson. It is the closest thing to a direct conflict
within the Right that we’ve had for a long time.
In almost every preselection and other contest from the seat of
Isaacs to Melbourne Ports to Holt to various state preselections, the
bitter conflict plays itself out. Sword and the NUW have been on the
losing end of most of these conflicts and it remains to be seen whether
they can continue to tolerate a situation where a majority of the Labor
Unity group divides up the spoils while they get continually frozen
FORESHADOWING THE BATTLE FOR KEY POSITIONS
The next battle will probably involve the position of State
Secretary of the Party. Greg Sword has evidence that suggests David
Feeney has been directly involved in interfering in the Health Services
Union, which is not really allowed in the job he has currently.
If the evidence checks out and if there is no resolution to the
challenge to Victorian branch of the NUW, it is highly likely that Greg
Sword in combination with the Left will vote out David Feeney and
install the Left’s Daniel Andrews as Secretary. From Sword’s
perspective while he isn’t enamoured of Daniel Andrews he at least will
have a State Secretary he can deal with who isn’t undermining his power
And of course last weekend’s issue was about whether Bill Shorten
would be President of the Victorian branch of the Party. It was the
unspoken but crucial issue of the Metal Workers’ debate. The effect of
the Metal Workers’ delegates being allowed to vote would have meant
that Greg Sword’s group would have had the “balance of power” on the
question of whether Shorten was to get the top but largely ceremonial
Sword’s supporters would say that any pretense of power-sharing
has gone out the window in a Party with Feeney as Secretary and Shorten
as President. Shorten’s opponents would say that he does not have the
peace-making skills required of someone leading the faction and the
Party. He is a head-kicker, they say.
The NUW had sent its delegates and the Network delegates in to get
their ballot papers but rather than put them into the ballot box they
were holding onto them to see how these issues could be resolved.
Feeney/Shorten would be forced to the negotiating table or they would
face the consequences.
These are interesting days in the Victorian Right.
The other fascinating struggle occurred between Senator Steve
Conroy and the State Government. Steve had drafted a series of highly
provocative motions about the State Government and its policies. The
Right’s person on the Agenda Committee of the Conference David White
the former Minister and lobbyist copped a huge serve from Conroy in the
Labor Unity caucus meeting where Conroy accused him of refusing to let
his motions on the Agenda of the Conference for personal financial
reasons as Conroy’s motion on stopping public-private partnerships had
financial implications from David’s clients at Hawker Brittan.
Given how close White and Conroy have been in the past for a while
White worked on Conroy’s staff doing hatchet-job research into Ron
Walker, John Elliott, Peter Scanlan and Lloyd Williams it was an
Ministers Brumby, Madden, el Supremo Bracks and others were
spitting chips that a leading light of the “moderate” wing of the Party
would engage in such a display in a pre-election State Conference.
Conroy is upset about the direction of the State Government. He
wants danger man Theo Theophanous in the State Cabinet. He wants the
Government to be more aggressive in supporting its friends and culling
its enemies from Government boards and the public service. He finds the
average Ministerial staffer to be arrogant and incompetent. He says the
average State Minister wouldn’t qualify to get a job in his electoral
And within the Left of the Party, the conflict over the Metal
Trades was all about precedent setting. The implications for most state
secretaries of letting their federal superiors choose their delegations
were frightening. Some have rules that make this impossible but most
don’t. So the tension between those who were desperate for the Left not
to slip further behind Labor Unity which would have been the
consequence of not letting them in and those who were concerned about
their own members’ right to have people chosen indirectly by them was
palpable. Peter Holding – world Kick Boxing champion and sometime
barrister – was strutting his stuff in and out of the Left caucus
offering an opinion on everything but a solution for nothing. His
presence causes much disturbance in the Force.
ACCUSING GLARES IN THE SL
Reports that Dean Mighell is actively supporting what most thought
was a Right wing push against Brian Daley from the Liquor, Hospitality
and Miscellaneous Workers Union also didn’t help the joie de vivre
feeling in the SL meeting room. Accusing glares were being sent in the
direction of ETU delegates, most of whom hadn’t heard a thing.
The Left’s candidate for President Jim Claven was heard
complaining bitterly that people like Daley, O’Neill and others had
brutally shafted him. His only chance of being President was the Metal
Workers being allowed to vote. Claven is the failed candidate for
Syndal in the 1988 election when Labor was still riding high. He wrote
an uninspiring book on English politics which was an apologia for the
right of the Labour Party in England causing many comrades in the Left
to question Claven’s ideological purity. Even more disturbing for the
Left are his ties with the NSW Right Postal Workers. By the end of the
weekend, Kim Carr and others were wondering whether they should support
Claven at all. His suggestions that his rival Bill Shorten was cosy
with the corporate sector made several wags throw comments around about
the tame-cat role his union plays with Australia Post and Telstra as
they downsize with no resistance from the likes of Jim Claven. The
appellation “softcock” arose in the mind of several comrades.
The courts will now resolve whether the Metals delegates can vote.
As a consequence of this and several other administrative bungles by
the Labor Unity aligned Tony Lang ALP Returning Officer, there is to be
a postal ballot of all elected positions. This will create more time
and most probably more tension in the Victorian branch, as the ballot
will occur at the same time as Sword is just beginning to defend the
principle of power-sharing within the Victorian Right.
The bigger principle of whether every major or minor controversy
within the Party should be resolved by unelected, often very
conservative judges is a hard one to resolve. There is no question that
because the Parties are in receipt of millions of taxpayer dollars
Courts have decided that it is in the public interest for Courts to
enforce Party rules when the Party won’t. This happened in South
Australia, as the Conference’s resident legal savant Diane Anderson
kept reminding the Conference. Diane is a barrister. Diane is the least
popular Delegate, loathed almost equally by all factions. It is people
like Diane, wealthy legal practitioners who stand to benefit from all
of this. Maybe there’s no alternative but it’s surely enough to have
the founders of the Party spinning around in their graves faster than
Diane Anderson talks.
Regards, Delia Delegate
Sword goes nuclear against Feeney and Shorten
Published June 4
By Delia Delegate
Since my last treatise on the farcical factional fracturings
within the Victorian branch of the ALP many have speculated on my
identity. Indeed, I have myself participated in water cooler
conversations pondering who the leaker was. So convincing were some
accusations that even I found myself persuaded of the guilt of others.
Like many comrades in Labor Unity, I am a little confused about my
political identity myself now that Labor Unity Convenor, ALP National
President, State President, National Union of Workers National
Secretary and friend of Joe Gutnick, Greg Sword, on Monday announced
that the Union has left Labor Unity to form an as yet unnamed grouping.
In fact, the practically unknown State Secretary Charlie Donnelly made
the announcement but the fingerprints of Dual President Sword were all
So while I’m pondering my own future factional identity, I’ll
share with you the background you probably won’t read elsewhere on the
faction formerly known as Right.
After weeks of characters like Senator Steve Conroy, Small
Business Minister Marsha Thomson and others trying to drag back in the
departing comrades, there was a rather glum meeting of NUW officials at
the NUW bunker at 552 Victoria Street North Melbourne on Monday. In the
corner room with the spectacular view of the bitumen of Victoria
Street, the officials of the union that once formed the faction Labor
Unity formally resolved to leave Labor Unity. To be sure that all the
niceties are observed, the matter is being referred to the Branch
Committee of the union. But it’s a done deal as far as Greg is
Why? Why has Greg Sword taken this step.
The official line is “we don’t have much in common with the other
parts of Labor Unity any more”. And that the union were so disappointed
with the debate at the State Conference on the issue of whether the
Metal Workers were allowed to vote that they couldn’t live with
The real reason as previously explained is the mother of all
personality conflicts between Greg and his supporters and the
Feeney/Shorten camp. Sword’s position is that Feeney has perverted the
office of State Secretary of the Party and that he must be removed from
the position forthwith. Certainly there has been much speculation
throughout Melbourne about the pernicious dealings of Comrade Feeney,
his ties with conservative Catholic organisations and his support for
Some with long memories will recall Comrade Feeney’s forced
resignation from the office of then Opposition Leader John Brumby’s
office for being implicated in the round of Macedonian branch-stacking
occurring in the western suburbs of Melbourne. Many thought it was not
cricket for someone in the Leader’s office to be using the office to
recruit dozens of Macedonians, so after a spot of bad press, Feeney was
Even his many critics would accept that Feeney showed astonishing
tenacity and cunning, with the sponsorship of his conservative Catholic
brothers in the NSW Right, from the more tolerant support base of the
national office of the Transport Workers Union. Some speculated he was
the first TWU official ever who was unable to drive when he took the
job. That’s tolerance. Anyway, he continued his branch-stacking and
also got involved in a couple of very nasty union battles. One of which
was the Health Services Union. This came to bite him badly in the end
when he was caught red-handed paying for a defamatory mailout against
his opponents. They sued. There was a big settlement. That whole fiasco
merits another story for another time.
Feeney’s ties with the NSW Right extend beyond the truckies. He is
known to be very friendly with Johnno Johnson, former President of the
NSW Legislative Council and former Senator and Party Secretary and
frequent flyer at the SeaWorld Nara Resort, Graham Richardson. (Crikey:
thanks for that $80 million loss for Trico on Sea World through Richo’s
mate Peter Laurance.)
Sword and close allies like Martin Ferguson say Feeney’s days as State Secretary are numbered. Why?
Because Greg Sword has decided that this NSW Right protected boy
is a cancer within the Party that must be excised. Some say exorcised.
The challenge, for the first time in living memory, of the Victorian
branch of the NUW under way at the moment supported by the NSW branch
of the NUW no doubt has heightened the anti-NSW feeling felt in Greg
As previously mentioned the NSW branch of the NUW has a history
that even colourful racing identities from Sydney would be proud of. It
would frequently leave the NSW Right, leave the Party, threaten to
leave the Trades and Labor Council. A couple of years back the NSW
branch left the ALP as a result of its mishandling of the Davids
dispute where the union had to pay huge fines and costs for ignoring
court orders not to block trucks during the Davids strike. The late
Frank Belan known for booking hookers on the Union American Express
Card demanded the State Government “fix” his contempt of court problem
which the Attorney General wisely refused. Frank, the Yugoslav born
union official, also resigned from the NSW Admin Committee which did
not diminish the quality of their deliberations.
Needless to say, many people attended Frank’s funeral in October
last year to make sure he was actually dead. (Crikey: this is getting
This is the calibre of those opposing Charlie Donnelly and Greg
Sword in the imminent NUW elections. Greg’s critics point to
allegations of close intra-office friendships (occasionally referred to
in graffiti in the Trades Hall carpark), the crucifying of former state
secretary Dennis Lennen for “irregularities” and the practice of
holding massive fundraisers called Industrial Relations Seminars – at
the Hilton Hotel where employers like Bonlac and many others hand over
vast amounts of money to support Sword’s private election account. An
account that has not needed to be used for NUW elections until now.
Some of Greg’s tension I suspect is caused by having to use these funds
to defend both Charlie Donnelly and his own position. The Sword
campaign cost will exceed a few hundred thousand dollars so I can feel
his pain. By the standards of his NSW brothers though, Greg is Mother
Theresa and the Dalai Lama rolled into one.
So unless Feeney wins Tattslotto by the very unlikely Ray Gorman
stealing the NUW State Secretary’s crown, Feeney faces one of the
largest and long serving ALP affiliates and one-time cornerstone of the
Victorian Right being absolutely sworn to his destruction and demise.
Many of them believe that Feeney and Shorten are directly or indirectly
assisting Gorman’s challenge.
Feeney boasts of his successes in leading the Victorian branch to
victory in the September 1999 election and for raising tons and tons of
money from likes of Kerry Packer and Tabcorp and Tattersalls since
then. It is true that Bracks won the election. But Feeney had barely
arrived in the State Secretary’s job when the Independents gave Bracks
the nod. And as for raising money from those enjoying the millions of
dollars of profits flowing from the pokies, I suspect the Party could
have hired one of those muscular dystrophy sufferers who sell the
Herald-Sun and Chupa-Chups to raise funds and got a similar result. Who
wants to donate to a newly elected Government no one thought had a
chance? Everyone. And strangely enough, everyone did.
So while everyone thought Feeney would be focused on building up
the fortunes of the Party and the Government, what concerns Sword is
that Feeney has been focused on protecting his mates and building a
Head Office culture like the NSW Right have. Head Office staff show a
disturbing degree of devotion to Feeney, even those from the Left seem
to be caught in his spell of blarney and charm. Sword is also concerned
that Feeney has been willing to accept funds from practically anyone,
including developers with checkered histories and businessmen with
close ties to the Liberal Party and the Kennett Government. Sword is
upset that the socially conservative Shop Assistants Union gets its
candidates up and its agenda heard while the NUW is just as big and is
systemically shafted in almost every preselection contest.
He contends that Feeney/Shorten did not accept power-sharing
within Labor Unity and that while the NUW/Network group were expected
to stay loyal and accept results where they didn’t prevail that the
same did not apply in reverse. He cites the Isaacs preselection fiasco
which followed the tragic suicide of Greg Wilton.
Greg Wilton was very much a creature of the NUW culture, he’d
worked for the Union for years and while not close to Greg was
certainly aligned to him within Labor Unity. In the traumatic days
following his suicide, the Union was appalled that Feeney/Shorten were
claiming yet another seat for themselves. They proposed Natalie Sykes,
someone very loyal to Feeney despite having worked for the NUW. It was
regarded as a sneaky way of getting yet another Feeney/Shorten
The NUW/Network group countered with their own candidate, Julie
Warren who eventually won the Labor Unity preselection. Julie was a
much stronger candidate. However, there was such a pattern of leaking
and hostility about it that the National Executive seized control of
the preselection which is where it really stuffed up.
Opportunistically, the Left put up Blonde Bombshell Jill Hennessy
who has contested more preselections than Garth Head has had hot
dinners or indeed Double Whoppers with Cheese. The Centre Left on the
National Executive didn’t want to vote for the Right and preferred
Jill. But there was also local school administrator, non-factional Ann
Corcoran who no one had ever heard of. Due to the skulduggery and
deviousness of the Feeney camp and a series of stuff-ups no one could
ever really explain without a Ph.D. thesis, Ann won.
Ann was then elected to serve in the House of Representatives and
continues to have a look of surprise on her face. She shares the same
happy look as One Nation Senator Len Harris, delighted with being paid
probably twice what she’d get elsewhere. Without the hard work ethic of
her predecessor it is inevitable she will return to school
administration. We can only hope.
And interestingly, Natalie Sykes has ended up moving up to Sydney
to be with her man NSW Right Senator and power-haircut TWU bovver boy
Steve Hutchens. Jill Hennessy has had many personal problems and looks
like not being a candidate again. She has taken a lot of time off work
from the Premier’s office.
So the NUW/Network group were shafted again for nothing.
The systematic shafting of NUW/Network candidates is I believe the
real reason why Feeney has incurred Sword’s wrath. Sword copped it
sweet many times but has decided that enough is enough. Sword’s
opponents would say that the quality of candidates proposed by Sword
has been even worse than the already low average of Victorian ALP
Sword’s supporters in the branches, predominantly former members
of the Network group are ready and primed to leave Labor Unity in
response to Greg Sword’s call. They are very confident that their
Supreme Leader will carry out his mission: destroy Feeney/Shorten once
and for all. Greg has the demeanour of a suburban accountant and the
calming voice of your local GP but when crossed there is no more
effective crusader in the ALP anywhere. Some close to Sword say that
nailing Feeney is his final ambition in politics. I suspect Greg’s plan
is to build a new group based around key allies like Ian Jones of the
Vehicle Builders, Mar’n Ferguson from the Left, Doug Cameron from the
AMWU, Dean Mighell from the ETU and others. How stable such a group
would be is the big question, although Sword’s political management
skills are excellent. In addition Greg has excellent relations with the
press, such as Paul Robinson of The Age, know by some as the official
mouthpiece of the Socialist Left, particularly Kim Il Carr, although he
does talk to all the major players. (And Crikey rates him as a good
Feeney has much to fear say Sword’s supporters. The Left is united
on little except how dangerous Feeney is to all of them. If you add
their votes with the NUW/Network on the current Administrative
Committee and the likely to be elected new Admin, then Feeney will be
looking through the Saturday Age Situations Vacant. The Left’s concern
with branch stacking is likely to motivate them to vote with
NUW/Network to bump off its primary practitioner and beneficiary David
Feeney. The atrocities in Geelong are just one of a long series of
outrages encouraged by Feeney, where ACTU Assistant Secretary Richard
Marles has thoroughly stacked Corio in anticipation of next year’s
federal preselection which will probably culminate in a rare and
gruesome sight: sitting MP Gavan O’Connor being electorally dumped in
the Geelong Harbour with concrete boots supplied by Richard’s slippery
mates from the Turkish community. The exploitation of ethnic groups is
a common but not often spoken about characteristic of branch stacking.
Feeney is by no means the inventor of it, in fact the Socialist Left
inspired the 1970’s round of ethnic stacking. You only need to read
some of Frank Hardy’s work to know that stacking the ALP is an ancient
art, some might say a primitive art.
The NUW/Network group is not just a splinter group, it includes
the some of the most influential people in the right of the Party. From
the top, Simon Crean while above the vulgarities of factional disputes
as Leader is unquestionably aligned with the NUW having once served as
NUW National Secretary. He employs a number of Network aligned people
on his staff including Jamie Driscoll and has done so for years.
In the Premier’s office as well, the Chief of Staff Tim Pallas is
an NUW member and Greg Sword loyalist. There are many other NUW aligned
staffers in Bracks office and throughout Treachery Place. They
considerably outnumber those aligned to Feeney/Shorten, something known
to rankle at Head Office.
The third highest ranking Minister in the Government, Government
Leader in the upper house Monica Gould, harshly criticised in Crikey
last week, is a former NUW official. Also aligned in the move to dump
Feeney are State MP’s Bob Stensholt, Matt Viney and the leader of the
Network grouping Tim Holding.
My praise of Tim Holding in the past prompted an avalanche of
accusation that Delia was in fact Tim in girl’s clothing. Not true.
Tim’s critics say he is best known for leaking to journalists anything
he hears in the Caucus room and for his leadership role in Network at a
time when there was a minor furore over a bungled Young Labor operation
where a room was established at the Downtowner Hotel (just down the
road from the Trades Hall where the Young Labor conference was being
held). Then Head Office organiser Roland Lindell raided the room but
missed all that went on in there. No one can ever be sure what went on
in that room, but the Melbourne University University Council resolved
to call in the Police expressing concern at the large-scale production
of false Melbourne University student cards which were being used to
facilitate false voting in the Young Labor conference. Can anyone guess
whose name appeared on the hotel reservation form, a document still in
the files of a number of activists. I happen to think that despite the
critics, that Tim is indeed highly capable and is potential leadership
material of the Party, he is young and will have twenty years under his
belt before getting his chance but he definitely has what it takes. He
is the Victorian Paul Keating, in style and substance.
Anyway the NUW/Network group represent a very significant and
influential grouping that is a key part of the Bracks Government and
the federal leadership. It seems far more likely that Bracks will
eventually side with the influential figure Greg Sword than the young
but replaceable David Feeney. Sword has made it clear a choice must be
Just like the conservative Catholic Arch-Bishop fending off
criticism from 60 Minutes, many in Sword’s camp believe there is an air
of inevitability about Feeney’s demise. Feeney’s defenders say that
this is the one job in life he always wanted and that if Sword wants to
nuke him that he must get ready for some return fire. Those stuck in
the middle like the husband and wife team Thomson, Conroy and faction
Secretary Fiona Richardson must be feeling as nervous as the million
troops along the Kashmiri line of control.
Time to duck and cover, I think.
Do ya best, Delia Delegate
Bye bye Billy Shorten
By Delia Delegate
Published June 6
Thursday’s stunning development in the War of the
Right Wing was that the Workers First group controlling the AMWU in
Victoria have backed off from their threatened legal challenge to the
Federal AMWU appointing their delegates. This means it’s Bye Bye Billy
Craig ‘Conan’ Johnston’s lawyers advised him that he had no or
limited chance of successfully appealing the Court decision which
confirmed Doug Cameron’s right to appoint delegates if the State branch
failed to do so. The most surprising thing is that Johnston actually
listens to his lawyers. In an Australia run by Craig Johnston, the
lawyers would be shot at dawn.
The massive tactical balls-up by Johnston of not appointing
delegates to the Conference has cost ‘Bye Bye’ Bill Shorten big. It is
now all but certain that Jim ‘Softbelly’ Claven or a compromise
candidate will prevail in the race for the ALP Presidency. It will be
Bye Bye Bill Shorten’s first ever loss in an election, in the past he
has got elected to everything without opposition. Bye Bye Bill has been
pre-selected for the seat of Melton without an opponent, elected State
Secretary of the AWU unopposed and then later elected National
Secretary the same way. One thing is certain, that will never happen
again. Sword’s restraint in the past in not tackling the AWU in
Victoria is over, Shorten is fair game now, say several who’ve been
planning an AWU campaign for some time. There is a sizable disaffected
group of members in the AWU who say that Shorten is all style, no
substance. By turning Shorten’s good press into bad press, any chance
Bye Bye had of being re-elected uneventfully in a couple years has gone
out the window. All’s fair in love and war.
Many are now saying that the Presidency is not a big deal and as
it is almost certainly resolved against Shorten, the focus is on the
current internal election for the Administrative Committee, the body
that hires and fires State Secretaries. And that’s where the attention
of ‘General’ Greg Sword and his increasingly friendly ally north of the
38th parallel Kim Il Carr is firmly fixed. Mar’n Ferguson has also
indicated that he is ready to publicly defend General Sword for the
brave but necessary actions that will need to be taken to restore
decency and integrity to Head Office.
It is interesting to reflect that Craig Conan Johnston is not even
a member of the ALP while playing a big role in its decision-making.
Craig is a member of various fanatic left wing groups and is currently
charged with a number of juicy criminal charges such as “threat to
kill”, “riot”, “affray”, and “criminal damage” to name but a few. Sword
on Thursday outed Shorten’s ties with Johnston in the excellent
Hannan/Carney piece in The Age. Although some in Workers First say they
are not as favourable to Shorten as Shorten likes to think. Sword
remains hopeful of Workers First support for a Broad Left group which
would snatch control of the Party away from right-wing elements and
purge the caucus of branch-stackers and dead-wood.
The lobbying of competing warlords continues furiously with the
NUW/Network group making steady progress building ties with a growing
network of state MPs, unionists, federal MP’s and FEA delegates. The
Labor Unity group is disintegrating before its own eyes.
Bob Sercombe’s friends say it is too early to call whether he has
jumped to the NUW/Network camp. Fortress Bob is clearly relishing the
fact that everyone wants his support, restoring his powers to the days
prior to Ian Baker’s botched coup attempt against John Bean-counter
Brumby which cost Bob the deputy state leadership. Sercombe has been a
bit-player ever since then, eking out a living as a suburban stacking
specialist. Sword’s liberation of the Party from the shackles of bitter
factionalism present Sercombe with many opportunities.
It is also understood that Tiny Tim Pallas, the Chief of Staff to
the Premier, ably assisted by Network stalwarts Ben Hubbard and Rachel
Dapiran beavering away in the Premier’s office, is working hard on
ensuring that Premier Bracks stays absolutely silent on the question of
David Feeney’s future. The numbers on Admin are locked in to replace
Feeney with a highly competent and appropriate successor. The Premier’s
silence at the moment is speaking volumes and it’s saying “Off with his
And in case you missed it, on Thursday night PM ran a story on the
NUW led group leaving the Right and forming partnerships with the Left
and significant parts of the Right to restore values at Head Office and
shake up the branch-stackers.
The PM program is interesting in that it quotes Premier Bracks
welcoming Sword’s initiative to leave the Right and encourage decisions
being made on their merits not on factional grounds all the time. This
is the strongest statement yet from Bracks on the NUW move and is
welcomed by Sword’s supporters as confirmation of support from the key
decision-makers within the State Government.
PM is wrong about Sword being challenged for the Presidency, he is not running again for the Presidency.
PM sensationally exaggerates the problems for Crean arising from
the deathblow that Sword has struck the Labor Unity faction and the
careers of Shorten and Feeney. Sword is not a Left-winger, he has said
that he doesn’t have much in common with the people he was in a faction
with. So he has every right to leave, as does the NUW.
Contrary to what was said on PM, the NUW group continues to
totally support Crean, because he is willing to support the bold
initiatives necessary to clean up Head Office and turf out incumbent
MP’s suspected of branch-stacking and ties with conservative catholic
groups. As many as five federal MP’s are being reviewed by Sword’s
supporters for replacement in next year’s pre-selections. It represents
an exciting opportunity to inject quality candidates into the federal
caucus. The reshaping of the Bracks Cabinet is also under
consideration, with the promotion of Tim Holding to the Ministry the
most urgent priority with the immediate restoration of Monica Gould’s
role to an appropriate level for her level of seniority after the
unhelpful reshuffle earlier in the year. Talk of reopening the state
pre-selections has been discounted as reckless by Sword, who has been
managing well the enthusiasm and expectations of his more eager
There is no reason to doubt Crean’s or Bracks’ resolve. The change is underway.
Swords stunning coup
By Delia Delegate
Published June 6
National and State ALP President Sword has initiated a stunning
coup, where he leaves the Labor Unity group to form his own based
around the NUW-Network coalition, plans to form an alliance with the
Socialist Left and in so doing annihilates ALP Secretary Feeney and AWU
Secretary Shorten in the process. Chaos results.
Wednesday’s sensation was Greg Sword’s first of many serious
public attacks on Feeney-Shorten on the front page of the Financial
Review. Greg’s swiftness and prowess has Feeney-Shorten hopelessly on
the backfoot, stunned, worried and confused.
The only thing stealing the headlines from Greg’s decisive moves
was the pathetic beat-up in The Australian quoting an un-named
backbencher talking up a leadership challenge to Crean. Glenn Milne
known in Canberra more for his festive approach to life after dark,
particularly in taxis wrote it. Glenn Milne, the official spokesman of
the Prime Miniature, as others on Crikey would say. It was gossip
journalism at its lowest and most pathetic. There is genuinely no
challenge going on and if one was, it wouldn’t be coming from Big Kim
The only one crazy enough to challenge, Crean’s office thinks, is
Latham and he’d be lucky to get one vote. Glenn Milne, paid a fortune
to write that weekly column in the Australian and to serve up his
nightly crap on Seven, wrote that article, it made big “follow the
leader” news everywhere and it was based on nothing. It’s a sad
indictment on Milne’s professionalism. That column is increasingly a
joke, used as a snide and vindictive vehicle for the frustrations of a
select few. Not unlike this one.
Nice to know there are still some serious journalists in the
Gallery, which we saw in full force with the astute Tony Walker of the
Financial Review’s coverage of the crisis in the Right. The Financial
Review and rapidly circulating gossip around Parliament House on
Wednesday confirmed what many had been conjecturing: that Bob Sercombe
will be joining forces with the NUW-Network group, mainly as a reaction
to the “unsubtlety” and “pushiness” of Shorten.
Shorten aspires to succeed Bob Sercombe in Maribyrnong. Sercombe
aspires to collect as many years sitting on the plush green leather
backbenches as possible. Therein lies a conflict of ambitions that has
shattered any previous relationship. In the old set of factional
alignments, Bob feared he was vulnerable to a Shorten execution. Now,
in a world of chaos, front page assasinations and intrigue, Bob
Sercombe is far more likely to prevail he thinks.
Bob is a crafty, rat-cunning individual who has a steady series of
commercial pursuits to keep him occupied while living the quiet life of
a Club Fed backbencher. Where Sercombe exercises his brilliance is in
the construction of “Fortress Bob,” an empire of a stacked FEA which
would be impossible to out-stack. Bob’s local lieutenants know all, see
all and recruit all to an extent that makes Marles in Geelong look like
an amateur. Bob’s Public Enemy Number One has traditionally been
Senator Steve Conroy but the emergence of Baby Bill Shorten as a local
threat has meant that Steve has been relegated to Number Two. So Sercs
will jump most think, and take with him his delegates which are
probably 1 or 2% of the Party, adding further to the burgeoning anti
Again, Sword’s brilliance is at work when you consider that just a
few weeks ago Sword’s supporters still regarded Sercombe as an
implacable enemy and as one of them said to me the other day, a
branch-stacking oaf. Those same people say now that Bob is a
magnificent builder of relationships with ethnic communities,
encouraging them to participate in the democratic process. Bob is not
the only suburbanite factional warlord jumping ship, dissatisfied with
Feeney/Shorten or Conroy. There are many others pondering their future
just at the moment that the ballot papers for the internal Party
elections are arriving in the mail.
All of this spells disaster for Shorten’s campaign for President,
to say nothing of his Parliamentary aspirations. His flag is barely
still flying, riddled with bullet-holes and mud and blood. His friends
say he regrets ever running for President, suspecting that his
over-reaching may have triggered the whole split of the Right.
Twenty-twenty hindsight is perfect vision, Shorten says. Others I’ve
heard say with what I suspect is wishful thinking that Shorten will
prevail as he’s a more media-savvy candidate. Those reading his polite
“no comment” in Wednesday’s Financial Review in response to some
serious claims would beg to differ. Shorten is good on TV but his
crisis management seems rather poor at the moment. He talks the talk of
wanting to be PM, but is he any good under pressure? It appears not but
the jury’s still out. The Network assessment of Bill is that he folds
under pressure, and he’s certainly under pressure now.
The intensity of the fight within the Right Wing has led us to
forget the plodding progress of our little mate and Socialist Left
candidate for ALP President Jim Claven. With ballot papers for the
Presidential ballot out there in delegate’s mailboxes, it is
appropriate to pay this little man some attention as he seeks the
highest office in the Victorian ALP and can be justly called at the
moment the Frontrunner. It’s just that he’s so damn dull, ineffectual
and obtuse that I suspect no one cares. He’s like the Tortoise who has
just passed the Bill Shorten Hare but he looks like winning by default
so it is only fair that we examine his candidacy and past statements
and see what the Victorian branch is in for.
In case you missed it, Jim took serious exception to being tagged
“soft” in Crikey recently, asserting he was as well endowed a hardened
left leaner as you could hope to find. Many in the Comrade’s Bar
scoffed at his presumption.
Viagra is clearly present in the St John’s First Aid Kit in the
Postal Workers Union national office, and is sorely needed. Recent
reports indicate that Viagra was the possible cause of 14 deaths in
Australia. Headaches, flushing, and abnormal vision were among the most
common minor side effects reported by Viagra takers. Some thought the
nervous Claven was exhibiting these symptoms at the State Conference at
the World Trade Centre a few weeks and a lifetime ago. I thought the
symptoms were caused by the evil eye of Senator Kim Il Carr of North
Korea but it may have been from raiding the medicine kit to cure the
dreaded soft apologist for the Right disease.
Jim’s employers who run the national office of the CEPU let’s call
them the Postal Workers are some interesting operators from NSW.
Students of the history of the Party will recall that some of the
sleaziest contests in intra-union battles occurred in the Postal
Workers in NSW, starting with the original Richo. Fred, father of
Graham, was the State Secretary of the Postal Workers and withstood
many conspiracies and attacks until his untimely death. The internal
machinations of the NSW Postal Workers continue to be astonishingly
nasty. If Jim wants, I will happily reveal more about this in the next
But interestingly Jim also rejected claims that his not exactly
best selling book on his insights into the Blair Government was an
apologia for the free market and poll driven policies of New Labour and
the right as I ventured in my first ever piece for Crikey on the State
Claven’s rejection prompted Delia to take time out from other
duties to pop in at the fount of all knowledge in the world, the Trades
Hall International Bookshop on Lygon and Victoria Streets, Carlton. In
this bookshop, it is possible to purchase everything from lesbian
erotica to Che Guevara’s musings. Among the writings of Marx, Engels
and Race Mathews, Delia was fortunate to stumble on a copy of “Centre
is Mine: Tony Blair, new Labour and the future of electoral politics”
by Jim “Ideologically Challenged” Claven.
Over a camomile tea and hash cookie supplied by the comrades in
the bookshop, I took careful note of what Jim had to say. In order to
spare you the visit to the Bookshop and the fragrant odour of the staff
who “work” there, I offer you selected highlights so that you can be
the judge of whether Jim has stayed loyal and true to his Socialist
Left (I noticed he called it Labor Left, it’s still Socialist Left last
time I looked comrade) credentials.
The book is basically a cleaned-up version of his M.A. thesis.
It’s a dull but wholesome account of Jim’s views on life and the
British Labour Party. Congratulations to him for sharing them with us.
Hopefully he won’t regret doing so after reading this. My comments may
seem very critical of his work. They’re not meant that way, he’s right
about the need to modernise – as is Crean – but he’s wrong to pretend
to be a socialist unionist to the comrades in the SL when his views are
in fact are sympathetic to the Right of the British Labour Party which
is probably to the Right of the ALP Right. Claven’s attempt to
spin-doctor himself as a hardened Lefty was totally misleading in that
important way and must be seen in the context of his book. Jim’s
comrades in the Socialist Left will find the book intriguing. While I
enjoyed and agreed with most of what he had to say, I doubt they will.
It all starts with a foreward from then Opposition Leader and
decidedly right-wing conservative bloke Kim Beazley. Kim is
anti-abortion, wants free-markets for all and while a decent
big-hearted guy is a true blue ideological right-winger. Or so says Kim
Beazley writes “Jim has grasped the extent to which New Labour in
Britain has been influenced by other social democratic governments
around the world, including the Australian Labor Party of the 1980s and
1990s. Jim calls it new revisionism others call it the Third Way we
used to call it government policy as did our colleagues across the
Tasman. (That’s right, remember Sir Roger Douglas and his
privatisation/deregulation of everything? Those were the days)
Kind Kim continues: “Jim sees clearly as I do the opportunity for
Australian Labor to continue to learn from the public policy innovation
executive power is now fostering in the British Labour Party and to
harness those lessons within our process of policy renewal.”
So Beazley the right-winger loves his work. That’s nice. Let’s see why.
It’s simple, Jim in his book pours a big bucket of shit on the
“Labour Left” while praising the “Right” and its leaders constantly.
Maybe they shouted him more ales when Jim was hanging around Millwall
(should that be Millbank, Millwall is a thuggish soccer team- ed) like
an old smell.
On page 29, he attacks the Left British Labour referring to an
“ideological crisis” where in the Party’s 1983 policy it “reflected the
demands of Labour’s Left-wing promising a massive programme of public
sector led reflation to regain full employment and expand the public
services, the reinstatement of exchange controls, the introduction of
selective controls on imports, a comprehensive system of planning, and
an isolationist and neutralist foreign policy based on unilateralism,
withdrawal from the European Economic Community and the removal of US
Now the above sounds not terribly dissimilar to what Kim Il Carr tells the comrades is his vision for the world.
And Jim goes on:
“It can nevertheless be seen as representing the Left’s archetypal
platform displaying sufficient radicalism to prove unacceptable to both
elite and mass opinion.”
“Centre is Mine” continues with this theme, praising the Right and
attacking the Left. Praising the Right’s Blair, Mandelson, Healy and
sledging Left figures like Benn and others.
He talks joyously about how the “soft-Left” split away from and
repudiated the nonsense of the “hard-Left” (page 38), signifying
perhaps his approach to people like Carr and Johnston and O’Neill who
don’t agree with Claven’s free-market poll-driven spin-doctoring
He lavishes praise on Labour for accepting Thatcher’s “labour law
that constrained the trade union movement, as well as its extensive
And strangely given his claim to being a staunch job-defending
public sector unionist, on page 68 he tears into affiliated trade
unions and praises “reforms” which took voting power away from union
secretaries and gave them to individual union members.
On page 133, he welcomes what he says is the fact that Labor’s
“historic link with the working class was increasingly no longer
considered of primary importance, with trade unions regarded as being
entitled to no greater say in politics than other key interest groups.”
So forget 60:40 or 50:50, Claven wants the CEPU and other unions
to have the same influence within the ALP as Amnesty International,
Greenpeace and the Lions Club. 0:100. Removing the unions altogether
from the Party’s decision making forums.
As I digested both my cookie and Jim’s unorthodox views, his
approval for the most radical possible transformation of the Party in a
way that would permanently neuter his union bosses and his SL union
factional colleagues, my mind unable to deal with such revolutionary
thought wandered aimlessly to the history of the Trades Hall building I
was in and the old saw “if these walls could talk.” My inability to
handle digestion of the cookie led only to digression. In the
International Bookshop, the walls would slur “pass the bong” but
elsewhere in the building it would be far more interesting. That
building has seen it all. Bashings in the carpark, pushings down the
stairs and even shootings and at least one murder form part of the
history of the “worker’s parliament.” These days old hands say it is
more “wanker’s paradise” than “worker’s parliament.”
Within its historic corridors, we have cynical opportunist
Secretary Leigh Hubbard who a few months ago said he was pondering
whether he’d be resigning his Party membership in sympathy with born
again Greenie, hunter, Sporting Shooters Association member and coal
burner Dean Mighell. Hubbard says he is still pondering. And we are
still hoping. But sadly when ALP membership renewals were due at the
end of May, Leigh Hubbard, man of the people, champion of the dispossed
and the unpreselected, quietly renewed. A wanker indeed.
Brian Boyd, the bovver boy of the CFMEU (Come Fuck Me Union as
Crikey calls it, although the Cole Royal Commission is proving that in
construction at least they are more often the fucker than the fuckee)
also works for Trades Hall as Policy Guru or some other title with no
sense of Irony, under Hubbard. Only problem is that Boyd is sworn to
the destruction of Hubbard and spends his waking hours slagging Hubbard
to everyone who’ll listen in the Trades Hall bar. The numbers are
dwindling. There’s always the Bookshop. Any talk of any revolt anywhere
gets their blood running.
And there’s someone else in there. Trades Hall Assistant Secretary
Nathan Neverthere Niven I think his name is but I’m really not too sure
because I’ve never seen him in the office. As the token right-winger in
a very Red Sea, Nathan prefers to be elsewhere. As I leave the
International Bookshop and walk past a noticeboard adorned with posters
calling on workers to join the armed struggle for (fill the gap) I
don’t think anyone could blame him.
But the unanswered question of Jim’s Left Cred, always a serious
issue with any good lefty remains clouded and not just because of his
book full of praise for the “Labour Right”.
He works for a NSW Right dominated union, the CEPU. The CEPU
includes Communications/Telstra/Aussie Post and Plumbers and Electrical
Trades Union. He is regarded with absolute contempt by the harder left
elements of the CEPU, headed by born again Green Dean Mighell of the
sparkies. He enjoys the patronage of a federal secretary who couldn’t
get a good spin doctor/campaign manager for the derisory salary he was
offering. Instead he got poor old Jim Claven, failed candidate in
Syndal in a campaign where the then Left controlled Head Office spent
an absolute fortune on the campaign and Jim was running against the
laziest Liberal imaginable who was in his late 60’s, Jim who served as
an adviser to the hugely successful Cain/Kirner Governments and
presents himself as a campaign expert who in fact has never actually
run a successful election campaign for anything ever. He is a
researcher, a job normally given to twenty somethings who’ve got a
future. Jim is the wrong side of 45 and must be wondering whether he’s
ever going to get his butt on the green or red leather, his sole reason
for living apparently. His boss finds the thrusting ambitions of the
hired help to be quite amusing, as long as he doesn’t impose his
ambitious intentions on the union itself, he’ll keep Jim on for now.
And this is the person who wants to lead the Victorian ALP as its
President, following the highly successful Presidency of Greg Sword.
It’s laughable really. When the Left were looking around for candidates
and Claven enthusiastically thrust his hand in the air, Carr and
Griffin spent days looking for someone else. The more they looked, the
more enthusiastic Claven got. Jim was perceived as pretty harmless, a
quiet, somewhat cagey individual who could do OK as the Senior Vice
President of the Party, the consolation prize for those who don’t win
President. At that stage, it looked like Shorten had it all worked out
so what the hell, give Jim the nod, it will make him feel better, they
thought. With the Feeney/Shorten camp under siege from an increasingly
triumphant Sword, Kim Il Carr and Griffin must be wondering what the
hell they’ve done. There are a number of other candidates in the field,
but none of them are as enthusiastic as Claven.
It’s almost enough to make you vote for Shorten, well, almost.
How the key players line up
By Delia Delegate
Published June 6
Following Greg Sword’s devastating departure, there is great
speculation about who is lining up where in the Parliamentary Right
wing in light of factional changes. Backbenchers and Ministers are
keeping quiet about which way they’re jumping to the wage slave
journalists hanging around outside the back door of Parliament House.
But to show Crikey is first with the latest, Delia intends to lift her
skirt and reveal all.
There are three camps – NUW Loyalists, Swingers and the Labor Unity residue.
In giving this list, there are bound to be caucus members I’ve
missed or got it slightly wrong but this is basically where it’s at:
Denise Allen – won Benalla by-election, highly critical of Feeney
Ann Barker – former Simon Crean staffer and State MP in 80’s
Mary Gillett – former NUW official
Ben Hardman – respected rural MP from some sort of Eketahuna place
Tim Holding – future Minister and Leader
Bob Stensholt – won Burwood from the Liberals
Matt Viney – marginal seats campaign wizard
Monica Gould – 3rd highest ranking Minister
(Those above have already stopped attending Parliamentary Labor
Unity group meetings before Caucus and will be having their own
Swingers (Have loyalties to both sides or are confused)
Sheryl Garbutt – Minister for Natural Resources and Environment
Andre Haermeyer – Minister for Police
Rob Hulls – Attorney-General
Craig Langdon – Langdon, Leighton and Lim are all influenced by what Sercombe does.
Michael Leighton – Sercombe
Hong Lim – Sercombe
John Lenders – former State Secretary, now Minister for Industrial
Relations, will probably stay in Labor Unity but supportive of Sword
and Holding personally
Jenny Lindell – loyal to Tim Holding but has conflicting loyalties, employs anti-Network elements. Known to despise Conroy.
Justin Madden – Will go with swinging Ministerial colleagues,
sympathetic to Sword position. Sword opposed his preselection
vehemently saying it was a stunt but Madden has employed trusted Senior
Policy Adviser Geoff Pulford, a leading NUW/Network identity devoted to
destroying Conroy. Pulford is a probable candidate to replace one of
the five federal MP’s being reviewed at the moment.
Steve Bracks – Will keep quiet on this issue but influenced by Chief Political Adviser Tim Pallas who is very loyal to Sword
John Brumby – Known to be sympathetic to Sword but reluctant to leave Labor Unity.
Judy Maddigan – Deputy Speaker, doesn’t like Conroy.
Christine Campbell – SDA
Telmo Languiller – LRA
Ian Maxfield – SDA
Bruce Mildenhall – influenced by Conroy
George Seitz – LRA
Elaine Carbines – part of the Marles Geelong group
Bob Smith – former AWU Secretary, has improved golf handicap considerably since being in Parliament
Theo Theophanous – LRA, close to Conroy
Marsha Thomson – former Secretary of faction, now Minister,
believed to be critical of excesses of Feeney/Shorten. Last National
Conference, with Sword’s backing, successfully took National Executive
position from Feeney/Shorten’s candidate
Sang Nguyen – Conroy’s Vietnamese warlord
As you can see, even allowing for all the Swingers to go with
Labor Unity, which is possible, some say likely, there has been a huge
fracturing of the Right caused by the excesses of Feeney-Shorten.
If you take out the left wing refugees in the form of the LRA,
branchstackers, conservative catholic SDA types and golf players, there
isn’t a core of Labor Unity in existence in the State Parliament.
In the federal Parliament, there is also a division although
things are weighted towards Feeney-Shorten more after successive
victories in federal preselections.
NUW Friendly (but all possible turncoats, especially Roxon)
Anna Burke MHR – employs Network staff and is strongly supported by Network campaign experts in her marginal seat
Simon Crean MHR – former NUW General Secretary
Nicola Roxon MHR – former NUW official, believed to hate Shorten
now but is worried about Conroy using his Vietnamese numbers against
her. Has considered moving to expose branchstacking in Gellibrand but
this would involve war with Conroy. Bob Sercombe MHR – worried about Shorten unleashing his central
numbers on his local powerbase, a weakened Shorten can only help
Could Go Either Way
Christian Zahra – loyal to Feeney but once Feeney sacked will go with Roxon who used to work for NUW.
Senator Robert Ray – employed Tim Holding, leader of Network and
rising ALP Network star Mayor of Brimbank Andres Puig. But Ray is not
always respectful of NUW leadership role in the Party and opposes
alliances with Kim Il Carr and has ties with Conroy going back decades.
Is pondering retirement…
NUW Enemies List
Anthony Byrne MHR – SDA & Branchstacker
Senator Stephen Conroy – Branchstacker
Michael Danby MHR – SDA & Branchstacker
Kelvin Thomson MHR – SDA
Senator Jacinta Collins – SDA
According to Sword’s supporters, the above list will be closely
examined prior to federal preselections. Inquiries into the most
stacked seat in Victoria Holt and Byrne’s activities, Conroy’s stacking
in Gellibrand, Danby in Melbourne Ports and Marles in Corio will cost
probably five people their seats in Parliament. Collins and Thomson are
also considered likely to be removed for their support of conservative
catholic organisations and Conroy.
Finally, someone sticks it to Delia
By Reg the Representative
Published June 9
Delia Delegate offers an interesting but poison pen insight into
the macabre internals of the Victorian ALP. More accurately, she offers
an insight into the scary conspiracy theories that now prey upon the
mind of ALP president and National Union of Workers boss Greg Sword.
Her spin about Greg’s “brilliant coup” is a not very convincing
explanation for a bizarre act of treachery, designed to deliver the
Victorian ALP back into the hands of the currently side-lined Socialist
The prevailing view around the ALP at the moment is that Greg has
“lost it”. How else can one explain the actions of a veteran union boss
who now appears to be betraying every idea he has ever argued? Why
would a union leader in the middle of his very own re-election campaign
trigger an ALP civil war? It’s crazy.
Nominations for this year’s NUW elections closed on Friday May 31.
Greg’s position as national secretary is under siege from his old union
enemies up in Sydney, and his Victorian powerbase faces its first
half-way serious challenge since the 60s. Time for the NUW to
concentrate on bread and butter industrial issues? No way, according to
Greg time to start a political factional brawl inside the ALP!
NUW members out at Pacific Dunlop, Bonlac or Nylex must be
scratching their heads. Only a special breed of union leader would be
vain enough to make his own union election a national media yarn.
Greg now declares that he was motivated (the day after NUW
nominations closed!) to leave the Labor Unity faction because he was
angry that most of it voted to expel the left-wing AMWU delegation at
the ALP State Conference on 18-19 May.
Yup. Weird. A bunch of Labor right-wingers taking the opportunity
to prevent 33 Doug Cameron (AMWU national secretary) worshipping
delegates from voting inside the ALP should not have merited more than
a chuckle. Yet so angry is Greg about this farce that he has been
motivated to abandon right-wing Labor Unity and now work in alliance
with the Socialist Left.
The Socialist Left is of course the very same faction that those
crazy AMWU Workers’ First types are members of. Hang on, aren’t they
the very ones Greg hates in the first place?
For everyone who attended the LU caucus at ALP conference on May
17 out the back of the convention centre, the meeting’s decision was
clear and moved by Sword himself because of unresolved disagreements,
LU delegates were free on any votes about either the Metal Workers or
the HSUA delegations in dispute. Repeat no binding position, free
Or so we thought . A number of union officials particularly from
the TWU that saw itself a close NUW ally are mightily pissed off that
the vote on the AMWU Cameron delegation was, unknown to anyone else,
some sort of litmus test for Greg on their continued factional loyalty.
One federal senator believes that the NUW decision to split was made in
principle months, if not years, ago the vote on May 18 just a
Why is the National President of the ALP blowing up a stable
factional system in Victoria? Why is an old union boss like Sword
dumping long time alliances and trading them in for new ones? There’s
that old line about Vince Gair it’s a classy rat who can sink the ship
as it swims away. Vince Gair and Greg Sword, kindred spirits odd but
There may be an industrial agenda the NUW and AMWU, despite ALP
factional differences, agreed in principle many years ago to pursue
amalgamation talks. Inside gossip has it that Greg sees himself as the
first boss of a monster NUW-AMWU conglomerate, with Scottish shop
steward Cameron as his successor (which fits in with Greg’s opinion of
his juniors inside NUW national office).
What is really going on? No surprise its about power and prestige.
Greg Sword collects titles in the labour movement in much the same way
as oriental potentates collect concubines. Greg is general secretary of
the NUW, senior vice president at the ACTU, the ALP’s national
president, still (of course) state ALP president, and until last Monday
LU convenor, as well as enjoying a couple of NUW and Victorian
Government board positions into the bargain. Next possies? Boss of
Australia’s largest union, a combined NUW-AMWU, and then slipping into
retirement in the Senate, filling out old mate Robert Ray’s term of
As you might have gathered, Sword loves a little bit of pomp.
Nothing like a bit of ceremony to make Sword happy. Sword is the kind
of guy who gets oil paintings of himself done. For real. It’s very
important to Greg that everyone believes that Greg Sword is a very,
very important man. Just ask the Melbourne Football Club, after his
ill-fated Gutnick rescue mission.
Greg is not anxious about an absence of power sharing in Labor
Unity; he’s panicked that a period of power sharing has arrived. As
long as LU kept electing Greg to things, it was OK. Now that it has
started electing some other people to positions who don’t properly
acknowledge Greg as a living legend, it’s time to tear the faction up.
The important thing for Greg Sword out of any factional
re-alignment that occurs in Victoria is that Greg Sword is perceived to
be the kingmaker. Every other consideration is secondary, and that
includes Bracks, stability for the Victorian Government and Simon
Crean. This is truly unusual behaviour for an ALP national president,
and titular head of the ALP Right nationally. Besides, Sword still
hasn’t forgiven Premier Bracks for having the temerity to reshuffle his
cabinet without first asking Sword’s permission.
Delia Delegate is poisonously mischievous. Feeney and Shorten are
tight with Bracks and Crean. Feeney’s many sins with Sword include his
apparent capacity to work well and productively with his own former
enemies at Treasury Place. He has good friends there. Shorten is a
quick-witted wildcat union leader with some ability and charm; he
counts Bill Kelty, Dennis Lennen, Richard Pratt, Sharan Burrow and
Lindsay Fox amongst his eclectic bunch of mates. Shorten will be a
Greg Sword hates ALP secretary David Feeney. Feeney’s principal
sin appears to be that he is interfering in a union contest that Greg
Sword is also interfering in. While Feeney’s involvement in this union
contest has certainly raised some eyebrows, it is also now ancient
history. The far more recent, dramatic and high profile involvement of
the ALP National President in union elections has astonished all. The
NUW has always prided itself of staying out of any other unions
business; that NUW tradition has clearly been ripped up by Sword. When
was the last time an ALP National President started organising his own
personal ALP Industrial Group to run union elections?
But given that Malcolm Sword (Greg’s brother) is a candidate for
leadership in one of the various Health Workers’ Divisions, maybe
Greg’s hostile behaviour can be understood. Greg’s turning union
politics into a family business.
So now the 56-year old union boss Greg Sword has embarked on a
jihad aimed as nothing more than wounding the careers of a couple of 30
year olds who he doesn’t like. Unable to terminate their careers inside
the Labor Unity faction, Sword has abandoned his thirty-year allegiance
to his own faction and now started talking to some interesting old
Curiously, Sword and the NUW have split from LU in a manner that
leaves their old faction united against them. There are unlikely to be
any further major defections from the faction. Senators Robert Ray and
Stephen Conroy, faction secretary Fiona Richardson, Theo Theophanous,
Premier Bracks and State Ministers like Marsha Thomson, John Brumby and
John Lenders are all staying put and backing Shorten & Feeney. The
wily Bob Sercombe is uncertain, but then he always is. That’s Sercombe.
All this can’t be part of Sword’s plan. What’s gone wrong? Other
right-wing unions like the AWU, TWU, CEPU and SDA aren’t about to
follow Sword into a socialist paradise.
Although Sword can now only depend upon a small number of
followers, the NUW alone still has enough votes to wreak havoc. The
Socialist Left are interested in an alliance with Sword’s NUW. All Greg
wants is David Feeney and Bill Shorten carried off the political stage
in blood soaked stretchers. All the Socialist Left want is total
control of the Victorian ALP machine and lots more MP’s. The two goals
are mutually compatible happy days.
Greg Sword can’t attack Feeney and Shorten on the basis that
they’re poor performers. Shorten’s AWU has never been stronger. It’s
united nationally which is, even for Shorten critics, an amazing feat.
Meanwhile, ALP Head Office under Feeney ticked over quietly and
reasonably effectively. It was a feather in the cap for Victorian Labor
that the feds ran their campaign out of King St last year (even though
the results outside Victoria were pretty ordinary that’s another
story!). So instead, Greg Sword is quietly attacking the integrity of
Feeney and Shorten. He accuses them of treachery and ‘sinister
dealings’ (none of which he can detail except for rumours of some
“silver bullet” e-mail on Feeney. More on that later).
Now is perhaps SL strongman Senator Kim Carr’s last opportunity to
resume the iron rule he once enjoyed over Victorian Labor in the 1980s.
With various union bosses (and accomplished headkickers) like Greg
Sword, Doug Cameron and Ian Jones underpinning his regime (with veteran
meatworker boss Wally Curran as a hard-nosed godfather overseeing the
operation), Senator Carr is looking forward to Victorian Labor again
becoming the Albania of the southern hemisphere (to quote another
veteran ALP godfather Senator Ray, as Greg did at state conference).
How Steve Bracks and Simon Crean feel about living in a Kim Carr
collective is pretty clear to insiders. They’re not happy. But this is
where Delia is no dill the positioning of the pollies is critical to
how things will turn out. And, while you wouldn’t necessarily want
state or federal caucus with you on the Normandy beaches on D-Day, it’s
clear despite Delia clutching at straws that a majority of LU MPs are
naturally pissed with this weird and unwelcome turn of events. No
matter how you stack it up rocking the ALP boat at this stage is good
news for Dr. Denis, and not an unwelcome development for the Abbott
& Costello show up in Canberra.
Just as interesting is the question of how the NUW-Network
foot-soldiers feel about Greg’s kamikaze “stand of principle”? A long
civil war through the branches and unions with their erstwhile LU
colleagues cannot be a pleasant thought. Sword’s Network operatives are
going to spend the next few years delivering up LU seats in parliament
to the Socialist Left, rather than climbing the greasy pole themselves.
At least part of the sting here is that Senator Carr and his new
union enforcers have to keep a bizarre political coalition together.
The parliamentarians at Spring Street will not like the new order. Many
of them are going to have to fight for their political lives (hell hath
no fury like a caucus MP scorned!). The anti-Workers First and
pro-Workers First unionists will all be serving in the one factional
alliance. That will be interesting! Greg Sword and Craig Johnston in
the same faction! Helping the AMWU national leadership destroy the
militant Workers First group here in Victoria while at the same time
keeping Craig Johnston and co in the factional cart is Kim Carr’s goal.
It is going to be a tricky performance to pull off. If he manages it
then Carr is a political genius rather than the clipboard-clutching,
resolution-reading robot of old, when he was trying to undermine Hawkie
up in Wills FEA. The Socialist Left will have to kiss and make up with
characters like Greg Sword and Ian Jones who have spent the last ten
years persecuting them.
Oh, to be a fly on the wall .
Delia Delegate responds to Reg’s attack
By Delia Delegate
Published June 10
Delia has tried to be balanced in her reporting on the war of the
Right wing but in response to Reg the Representative’s sickening attack
on Greg Sword, I am taking the gloves off. In future, I will be more
balanced, presenting both sides of the argument where possible.
Sword is clearly not a left winger and has only offered an
alliance with Kim Il Carr of the Socialist Left because he has no
alternative. The SL will deal with him ahead of the young egos
Feeney/Shorten because he has a history of honouring deals. The Labor
Unity faction have consistently opposed candidates endorsed by
Sword/NUW/Network. Their role in the south-east where conservative
catholics with no history of involvement in the Party have been
preselected ahead of quality candidates has been disgraceful, they say.
For the opponents of Sword to presume that Greg Sword has “lost
it” seems to be a dangerous and foolhardy presumption. Sword is playing
a chess game and in the first move or so looks like taking the Queen
(Feeney), launching an inquiry into the activities of the Bishop
(Marles), replacing several backbencher pawns and has at the very least
put the King (in his own mind) Bye Bye Bill Shorten in check. Checkmate
is not out of the question if the Left hold their nerve.
The NUW election is a non-issue. Aside from the interventions of
Feeney, Shorten, Conroy and other unions under suspicion, the NUW is as
safe as houses. Under Sword’s leadership, the NUW is financially strong
with quality industrial staff and enjoys respect in the business
community as an honest but firm negotiator. Sword is not just a young
wanker with an MBA and a chambray shirt, Sword has respect, built over
Sword is not making the re-positioning of the NUW an election
issue. The issue is whether Victorian members want the NSW branch, with
its history of wrongdoing, interfering in the Victorian branch. Every
other state leadership of the union is totally supporting Sword, all
have been elected again without opposition so can focus on supporting
Sword in the national election.
Sword is willing to accept the votes of the AMWU but obviously
prefers to deal with Doug Cameron than Craig Johnston, currently
charged with riot, affray, threat to kill, criminal damage, burglary
etc. Earlier in the year Johnston when talking about the federal
election: “For the first time in my life I voted against the ALP”, he
explained. “I voted Socialist Alliance first, the Greens second and put
Labor third. How could I vote for a party that was supporting racism
and had very right-wing policies? ”
How could we vote for such a person to decide who is going to lead the Labor Party’s organisation?
It absolutely not true that the NUW and the AMWU are seeking
amalgamation. While there is some logic for it in theory, it would be
impossible to do with a Liberal government. Amalgamations under Kelty
only happened with Government assistance for amalgamation ballots. Tony
Abbott isn’t interested in building bigger unions.
As for getting a portrait painted, what’s the big deal. The NUW
proudly supports the arts and was delighted that Kim Beazley and Steve
Bracks launched the portrait which was in fact entered into the
Archibald Prize and nearly won. Greg is a very appropriate subject of a
painting being an important person in the history of Australia. Bell
Securities, Joe Gutnick’s stockbroker, sponsored the event, meaning
that it cost members nothing at all.
And to imply that Sword was the cause of Joe Gutnick’s failure in
the Melbourne Football Club is wrong too. Gutnick was beaten by the
conservatism and lack of vision of the Club. Sword was willing to stand
beside a friend, as he always does.
Reg the Representative fails to understand that Sword as an elder
statesman of the Labor Right, President of the federal and state ALP
and leader of the most effective union in the country is entitled to
play a leadership role in any faction he is in. It’s not unreasonable.
Instead what he got was Jacinta Collins, Kelvin Thomson, Michael Danby,
Anthony Byrne and Steve Conroy and was looking like getting Bill
Shorten, Richard Marles and David Feeney served up as well. If you look
at the list previously supplied of NUW friends in Club Fed, there are
very few. That’s because Sword has copped many of his quality
candidates going down and tolerated SDA hacks and over-ambitious, MBA
types getting their way at his expense.
However the factional situation unfolds, there is no going back to
that situation. The conservative catholics are greatly
over-represented, in Party office, in Club Fed and elsewhere.
Feeney-Shorten have strut around like preening peacocks and are now
learning what it’s like to be firmly plucked.
Feeney should not delude himself that he has friends at Treachery
Place, he has very few. The position of the NUW-Network group is for
his severed head to be shoved on a pole outside the King Street office
of the ALP for all to see.
With no powerbase of his own, once sacked, he will be the Nowhere
Man. The Network view is that while it has brought through dozens of
potential high quality, highly trained and seasoned electoral stars
that it will wait its time. There is no rush. The NUW group would
rather give a majority of seats in the caucus to SL members it can
negotiate with rather than LU members who habitually freeze them out.
This does not mean Kim Il Carr would run Victoria. There’s nothing
wrong with him having a say over events though, he is an important and
respected figure in the Victorian branch and he’s entitled to an
opinion. Carr, like Sword, has played a soothing role in his faction,
keeping warring parties from tearing each other apart. He recruited
Jenny Mikakos, a former Pledge faction member, known for branchstacking
and being one of the laziest MP’s in the history of Parliaments. She
came back to the SL with the promise of next Cabinet vacancy, a promise
that wisely Carr won’t be honouring.
Gavin Jennings has far greater claim on it. Carr while
affectionately called Kim Il Carr has moderated since being in
Canberra. He has focused on policy issues, particularly in education
and has caused chaos in Government offices with the volume of his
inquiries. Carr’s nemesis, MHR for Bruce and fierce branchstacker Alan
Griffin, is believed to be less likely to stab him from behind than at
any other time for years. They have even sipped cafe51 lattes together
at Ozzies in recent times much to the shock of comrades. Griffin has
even given thought to removing the photo of Kim Carr with the crosshair
symbols of a gun target on his face from his once family home. However,
Carr has a file of Griffin’s bad deeds buried deep in his Soviet
Branchstacking, close friendships with property developers (a very
bad thing in the world of the SL), personal problems beyond
description, fundraising issues to name a few. Carr hates Griffin and
Melbourne MP Lindsay Tanner but will get over that in order to seize
control of the branch. Griffin and Tanner despise Carr but are pleased
with idea of necking some rightwingers, promoting some of their people
into Head Office, taking back Holt etc. The only complication is that
NUW/Network has found Griffin very unco-operative in Holt and expects
him to lift his game if he wants to get any benefit from the new
The position of the New Majority is that we will accept votes from
the AMWU leadership but we won’t defend their actions that led to
criminal charges. We won’t go to see the Premier of Victoria on Craig
Johnston’s behalf to persuade Bracks to interfere in the course of
justice. But we’ll do what we have to do to clean up the Victorian
branch from rightwingers and miscreants. Feeney/Shorten will find that
while the differences in the New Majority are great on many issues,
there is heated agreement on whether Feeney should continue as State
Secretary and Shorten becomes President.
From the slick economic rationalists of the Network group to the
socialists of the industrial left, the New Majority has reached its
verdict. And while Conroy’s mate Andrew Theophanous got six years,
Conroy’s mates Shorten and Feeney have been sentenced to political
Sizing up the damage
By Delia Delegate
Published June 11
Last week was a big week in football, as Eddie McGuire would say.
It was an even bigger week in the Victorian ALP with many participants
gladly welcoming the long weekend to celebrate the birth of our
Sovereign and the elevation of Bill Shorten’s mates, the billionaires
Pratt, in the Queen’s Birthday honours. Comrades from the red to the
pink to the bluish ones with ties to proscribed conservative catholic
organisations were recovering from the week and caucusing across
Melbourne during the long weekend.
Some of Sword’s suburban supporters led by Tim Holding met
informally to review progress in collecting ballot papers from State
Conference delegates across the state. The SL leadership is also
understood to be reviewing its options, including proposals made by
Sword and various ideas for how the branch will work in the future.
Feeney-Shorten’s forces encouraged by the favorable treatment of
Shorten in Friday’s HeraldSun and other one-sided coverage are hoping
the worst has passed and of course also responded on Crikey with a
blistering attack on Greg Sword, justifying his decision to leave in
the first place.
The much anticipated Stateline on Friday night was dull, except
for the sombre mood music in the background with Sword presenting the
argument that the NUW’s decision was taken because of the union’s
dissatisfaction with where the faction was heading. Sword’s critics say
it is misleading for him to say it is only about what the NUW is doing
when a whole network led by him and Holding numbering state MP’s, FEA
delegates, federal MP’s and government advisers are supporting his
The ABC’s Josephine Cafagna got some nice comments from Martin
“Rent-a-quote” Foley, the ASU State Secretary normally well regarded
Left winger who declared factionalism dead in his interview. All the
factional members who publicly decry the role of factions is confusing
to many branch members, 90% of them never join factions with their
interest being in helping the ALP not Left or Right. Sword’s friends
say that his move to a neutral corner is not necessarily an
anti-factional move, it’s really an anti Labor Unity move which will
have the effect of enabling the NUW/Network group play an honest broker
role in the Party ensuring the promotion of quality candidates and the
clearing out of branch-stackers.
Sword’s supporters including the Premier Steve Bracks say that
Sword’s decision is more about ending factionalism as we know it than
any temporary alliances that may have to be struck in the interim.
Feeney/Shorten’s allies question this arguing that the NUW is handing
control of the Victorian branch to the SL, a challenge they say to the
powerbase of Simon Crean and the electability of Bracks at the next
election. The NUW view is that they are entitled to play a leadership
role within the Party and that their honest broker role will enable the
restoration of that role.
Sword says Shorten is responsible for supporting the contemptible
Craig Johnston who is a destructive presence within the labour
movement. Shorten says he is about electing Labor Governments,
supporting Crean’s leadership unlike Sword’s close ally Doug Cameron
who has repeatedly attacked Crean’s 50:50 proposed rule change and
talked up the prospects of disaffiliation ‘within two years.’
Shorten’s media offensive broadened over the weekend as he
attempted to gee up his supporters who are demoralised and confused.
The conservative windbags of the News organisation came to Bill’s
rescue with favorable treatment in the Herald-Sun for three consecutive
days. Even on the ABC which should no better, the Insiders spent the
entire length of the program bagging Kim Il Carr. Sword doesn’t think
that highly of Kim Il Carr but he isn’t going to be bullied out of
cleaning out the Party by a media tart or a nervous Parliamentary
leadership or anyone else.
All the failings of the Cain-Kirner Governments have been visited
on Carr and Sword by a media obsessed with blaming someone for its
disappointments. This is stupid and unfair. Many forget Bill Shorten’s
role as a Ministerial staffer for Neil Pope, the Minister for
Industrial Relations during this time. Feeney also worked as a staffer
for big drinking Ian Baker, Minister for Agriculture. Many also forget
that the Cain-Kirner years had problems but were years of great
achievement in Victoria in education, social services and relationships
with unions. It wasn’t a great time for Labor Unity due to several
union election defeats but one union, the NUW, remained strong. Kim Il
Carr while a divisive person in the media is a proven leader rather
than a windbag like Shorten and has built an enduring coalition with
Sword that no amount of undermining will undo, according to those close
And to Jim Claven, the man most likely to follow on from Sword as
State ALP President, he now says that he opposes Crean’s proposal for
50:50. This is inconsistent with his position in his epic “Centre is
Mine” which as considered previously praises the sweeping changes made
to the British Labour Party by the Labour Right which took considerable
power away from union secretaries. Claven says he has been quoted out
of context and he was merely describing what occurred in the Labour
Party without imposing value judgements and that his submission to the
Party Review of rules contains a clear and emphatic endorsement of
60:40. Perhaps Comrade Claven would agree to sending the full text of
his book on a disc to Crikey so he can publish the whole thing for the
benefit of Comrades considering whether to vote for him. Some SL
comrades would collapse at their PC’s with shock at how far Claven has
strayed from the official line of Kim Il Carr.
Claven’s equivocating on Crean’s reform agenda makes the
previously easy question of burying Shorten more difficult, say Sword’s
allies in the Left particularly in light of Shorten’s typically cunning
endorsement of Crean’s 50:50 rule change. Shorten’s supporters say that
Sword who is on the record being open to 50:50 and supporting Crean too
should support the only candidate for President who also supports
Crean’s position. Shorten’s opponents particularly his old mates from
Network say that Claven isn’t the only candidate but even if he was,
his views would be irrelevant in Party forums as pro Crean forces would
still dominate. Shorten’s scalp has been promised to the troops and
must be given to them, they say.
Claven’s higher-ups in the SL, union leaders as diverse as
Michelle O’Neill and Martin Kingham are known to be suspicious about
his political judgement and believe he is an accident waiting to happen
because of it if elevated to Party President. Kim Il Carr wants him to
withdraw in favour of a compromise candidate according to some
observers but Claven is holding firm. A cross-party view is emerging
that someone committed to reform is required to lead the Party at this
troubled time, not a publicly unknown unelected union hack like Claven.
Jim’s view on 50:50, 60:40, 0:100 may vary from time to time but he is
obsessed with being President and believes that his own candidacy has
played a role in restoring the Left’s fortunes in the past week. He has
said this a few times. Each time without blushing.
Sword has strong views on Claven, it is believed. Sword likes to
deal with serious people, not those who constantly work the media or
change their position on issues or deal every six hours. He suspects
Claven is not someone he will be able to support even though he is
desperate to sink Shorten in the most public possible way. Sword is not
convinced that the SL are united behind Claven given all the talk
around town about his political unreliability from certain comrades in
the Left. Within his employer at CEPU, the Postal Workers think he’s a
fool, the ETU don’t trust him and the Plumbers don’t either. Whether
that leads them to support a NUW compromise candidate is the question
for the week. A few are saying that moves against Claven’ own position
as Policy Researcher in the national office are likely whether he’s
elected President of the Party or not.
Elsewhere, at Westernport, ETU Secretary Dean Mighell is decrying
the Big Australian (now British) BHP’s use of helicopters at their
Hastings plant to intimidate striking workers and break picket-lines
being run by the ETU and AMWU. Another Crikey contributor says that
Dean Mighell’s girlfriend is the very well-paid Manager, Media
Relations for BHP Billiton, defender of Ok Tedi and BHP’s boisterous IR
practices, Ms Frostick. Not true. Firebrand Dean Mighell and Mandy
Frostick are in fact married with two kids in a happy home happily
transferred out of Dean’s name to guard against the effect of fines,
lawsuits etc. There’s power in a union.
In Tasmania, an executive of construction company Fairbrother says
that a Tasmanian official working for Mighell’s CEPU had threatened to
bring a boatload of Melbourne thugs armed with baseball bats to Hobart.
These claims are denied by Mighell who does not carry his pistol around
with him in the glove-box of his union fleet car, according to informed
sources. Several comrades found it interesting Mighell was on Friday
accusing BHP of “putting a gun to the head” of his membership.
It’s right to assume that Dean Mighell is the only ever member of
the Victorian Greens with a pistol licence who likes to hunt, shoot,
root and stick in the boot. He always knew he was unique. Now we all
Harry Hack hoes into the Swordsman
By Harry Hack
Published June 11
Well what a week it’s been! Hacks, harlots, stackers, rats and careerists. This is a week that will take some beating.
It’s time to reflect on just what has been achieved. At NUW
headquarters the charismatically challenged Greg Sword can be heard
calling the faithful to prayer with Pythonesque cry of “what has Labor
Unity ever done for us?” Well, apart from the National Presidency,
State Presidency (on several occasions), state and federal
preselections, ministries etc. Oh and there’s the aqueducts.
But as I read yet another article attempting to interpret the
entrails of what remains of Labor Unity, I am struck again by how much
is missed by the Contiki Tour itineraries journalists are restricted
So here it is only for those adventurous souls who like to get off
the beaten track and understand a faction the way it truly is not just
the capital cities but the hill tribes as well.
The Lonely Planet Guide to Labor Unity (including disputed territories seeking self-determination).
Firstly, the National Union of Workers.
To use a contemporary analogy, the NUW are the Taliban of the
Labor Party. And it comes as no surprise to those who have to put up
with their terrorist tactics, Al Qaeda translates as ‘the Network’. But
more on them next edition.
The supreme Taliban Leader is Greg Sword (Mullah Omar), followed
by Charlie “the man with no name” Donnelly, Yasser Martin Paluka and
lumbering Lloyd Freeburn.
Their Headquarters are at 552 Victoria Street, North Melbourne “the Neutral Cave”.
Listening to the pious statements of Sword this week from his
“neutral cave” one might believe that the NUW has never ratted on their
LU colleagues before. Of course many of us recall the state
preselection round conducted in December 1993. Donkey Dave Cunningham
(MP for Melton) was for the chop, to be replaced by Terry Muscat from
the AWU. Only problem was that Sword’s brothers and sisters in the
State branch of the NUW couldn’t bring themselves to support an AWU
With one memorable NUW official lamenting that “as long as my arse
points to the ground, I will never vote for Terry Muscat”, the NUW
ratted on the LU caucus and Donkey Dave was preselected for another
term. Even big Bob Smith, then State Secretary of the AWU, was reduced
to tears (not to be sure, on the AWU’s account, but because he abhors
disloyalty of any kind!).
The other claim Sword has been making is the alleged interference
of Shorten/Feeney in the current NUW elections. On the standard of
evidence required by the NUW, David and Bill are also responsible for
Kennedy assassination, the Watergate Break-in, and the El Nino effect.
“It’s just the vibe of the thing” the NUW claim.
Conversely, the NUW have elevated interfering in unions elections
into an art form. Just about every branch of the HSUA has felt the dead
hand of NUW interference. It is also rumoured that NUW slush funds have
provided thousands of dollars to try to claim this union for the Sword
These crusaders for non-interference also had a dip at the TCFUA
(Textiles). This little cock-up was coordinated by then-NUW official
and Networker James McGarvey.
The NUW poured cash from dubious sources into the 1991 TWU
campaign and many other nefarious union causes during the 1990s. Their
claim of having a “hands-off” policy on union elections is about as
credible as Rose Porteous claiming to be a loving wife with simple
And what about the so-called industrial credentials of this
self-styled “tough and smart” union? Are they really the face of
progressive unionism, or just a bunch of spivs in suits selling the
virtues of computers to storeman and packers?
Sword also accuses Feeney of using his position to fundraise for
his empire-building, yet there is ample evidence that Sword is bleeding
corporate Melbourne to fund his bizarre array of “causes” and
Rumour has it that that Sword is just bitter that he doesn’t get
invited to lunch with James Packer or for dinner with the Pratts at
Raheen, like his better-connected rivals Feeney and Shorten.
In happier days, the NUW prided itself on cultivating the best and
brightest young people the ALP has to offer. Nicola Roxon and Natalie
Sykes are two of the brighter stars they have assisted and subsequently
In fact there is a disturbing list of employees who have come and
gone through the revolving door of the NUW in mysterious circumstances.
It seems at the NUW, only the docile or the devious survive.
So that’s my first instalment of the Travel Guide to Labor Unity.
Like all quality guides I am independent and accept no sponsorship or
advertising. Freebies and grovelling will not attract a positive
Without fear and favour I will guide readers through the treacherous and rugged terrain known as Labor Unity.
Till next time, Harry Hack
Harry Hacks exposes The Network
By Harry Hack
Published June 12
As promised, I will continue my Lonely Planet Guide to Labor Unity.
Our last stop was the neutral cave – otherwise known as NUW
Headquarters. Today’s visit will be to check out those bandits in the
hills known as “The Network”.
This little cabal maybe bandits, but unlike Al Qaeda they don’t disappear into the hills. They are everywhere.
Their roots extend back before 1990 when Bill Shorten was the
Network chief and he was at war with ALP state secretary David Feeney.
Bill and David kissed and made up and the rest is history. They moved
on to bigger and better things, whilst the Network rabble hung around
to execute their “unconventional” form of democracy in the Young Labor
Enthusiasts with long memories may remember the gerrymander that
enabled Network to dominate Young Labor Conferences for many years.
Their support for a gerrymandered system of electing delegates to Youth
Conference enabled comrades in the eastern and south-eastern suburbs of
Melbourne to have a greater influence than their more numerous comrades
in Melbourne’s west and northern suburbs.
This system suited Network operatives very well, allowing them to
be the senior partner in the non-Left side and dispense plenty of
booty. It was the kind of undemocratic gerrymander that would have made
Joh Bjelke-Peterson blush.
To give readers a better flavour of the nature of Network and its past, I will now cut to the 1994 Victorian Youth Conference.
Location: the infamous Room 50 at Trades Hall was the headquarters
for the Network team. This room was used to manufacture blank RMIT,
Japan Airlines and Toyota cards. These were then used as fake ID by
Networkers “impersonating” or “facing” delegates that had not turned up
to vote at the Conference.
They also fitted Room 50 with a scanner to enable them to monitor the phone calls of rival teams.
And in a separate development involving different people, it was
revealed that Rachel Dapiran and Tim Holding of Network and Adrian
Munro of the Left, did a secret deal to exchange preferences for a
parcel of votes from Network to the Left, effectively shafting their
brothers and sisters in Labor Unity.
Old habits die hard.
Then there was of course the infamous 1997 Youth conference where
the rorting of Network led to the ballot not being counted and the
whole of Young Labor being shut down. This has been documented on
Crikey elsewhere. Heading up Network at the time was one Matt Carrick,
now an adviser to the Treasurer John Brumby. One can only wonder what
his boss would make of his all this.
So where are the other members of the Al Qaeda Network now?
Firstly, there is “Osama” Tim Holding. Holding is never more
treacherous than when he appears to be on your side. Just ask John
Lenders. Springvale was not Tim’s first choice of seat. Osama stunned
the party when he declared that he would take on then State-Secretary
and the now widely respected Minister for Finance in the Dandenong
Facing a massive defeat, Tim was about to limp away into the
political wilderness, when he was saved by Mullah Sword who in typical
Sword style threatened to leave the faction unless Tim was accommodated
in Springvale. As usual, Labor Unity relented.
A quick check of the parliamentary staff list finds one Cathy
Sword in the employ of young Osama Tim Holding. Cathy is of course
Greg’s second wife. Cathy makes sure that young Tim doesn’t stray too
far from the Mullah’s flock.
Aficionados may remember Jorge Ladowsky. Jorge became infamous for
setting up GD Advertising Material which illegally skimmed Commonwealth
funds to help feed his gambling habit.
This is what The Age carried on the story last year.
Ladowsky is now the subject of a Federal Police investigation.
Whilst it is widely known that Ladowsky was an employee of the
ethically-challenged Andrew Theophanous, he was also employed for a
time by Tim Holding.
My sources inform me that both Tim Holding and Jorge’s mate Telmo
Languiller (Sunshine MP) also used GD Advertising, and in one case had
to cancel a contract but they didn’t realise what the game was. More to
come on this later.
Young Osama’s juvenile attacks on the Liberals have more often
than not backfired on his own side, and his FOI requests on his own
government have made him look stupid in the eyes of his Ministerial
colleagues and provoked a private carpeting from Premier Bracks.
A lesser known fact is that Tim was once married to a member of
the Victorian Police Force. One can only wonder what Tim’s now ex-wife
made of his involvement in the Youth Conferences.
But it is Tim’s reported fascination with Richard Nixon that
really concerns me. Whilst most up and coming Labor activists model
themselves on the inspirational JFK, Tim appears to have take a shine
to the man who famously said “I am not a crook”.
Tim’s last remaining friend in the State caucus is Matt Viney, the
member for Frankston East. Matt is most recently known for the
allegations surrounding the $100 million Frankston redevelopment.
Crikey readers will recall this was the dodgy tender process that ended
up the subject of an inspection from the Municipal Inspector and an
inquiry held by the Legislative Council.
Matt was, of course, cleared and reinstated to his parliamentary secretary position.
His mate Mark “Chopper” Conroy will now have to wait on the mercy
of the Director of Public Prosecutions but protests his innocence very
Another Network terrorist is the ubiquitous James ‘the Mercenary’
McGarvey, a former NUW official and now PR consultant with EMC. We did
a quick coffee room survey in our office the other day and no-one would
remember him doing too special, other than producing an obscure paper
called “Meaningful Membership”.
Beneath his bland exterior, he appears to like a dollar and is
doing well out of the Labor Party these days through Essential Media.
Then there’s his partner in crime, Rachel “the defector” Dapiran.
Easily forgettable as a non-starter in the Isaacs preselection, Dapiran
should by rights be in the SDA camp after all she worked there for
But instead she defected to the NUW camp and Michael Donovan (SDA State Secretary) is said to be especially displeased.
Ask her ex-boss Anna Burke how she was once encouraged into not
attending a fundraiser organised for her, just because it wasn’t a
Network event. While I think of it, ask the then Labor candidate for
Dunkley, Mark Conroy, how he had to knock back assistance offered by
the AWU because the Networkers threatened to walk off his campaign if
Dapiran has always been a distant third to leading women like
Natalie Sykes and Jill Hennessy. With both of these women moving onto
other endeavours, at last she may have a chance to move out of the
backstalls. And what a difference a deal with the Left could make to
her flagging parliamentary ambitions?
Then there’s Andres Puig known in St Albans as his worship the
Mayor of Brimbank and known just about everywhere else as the wanker
from the west. A little known fact from Andres’ obscure life is the
address he maintained during his last Council campaign. The people of
Furlong Ward were supposed to believe that Andres lived with his father
when he actually spent more time at his employer’s home in Hope Street,
One Networker who really does live with Mum and Dad is Kieran
“mummy’s boy” Boland, the failed candidate for Aston. When John Howard
claimed victory in 2001 he credited the turnaround in their fortunes as
the win Aston by-election win. Well, if Greg Sword wants to reform the
party he could start by clearing out such failed candidates as Boland.
Or at least back a candidate that knows that Kyoto is a protocol on
greenhouse emissions – not an exotic Japanese beer.
This nefarious little cult is a growing cancer in the bowel of the
Labor Party. With little genuine support in the party beyond its own
army of brainwashed suicide bombers, its tentacles and the damage it
has wreaked spread far and wide, and are ultimately to answer for the
current threat to a faction they’ve never been loyal to.
So join with me next time as we get off the beaten track and
discover the other weird and wonderful tribes that make up Labor Unity.
Delias ode to Tim Holding
By Delia Delegate
Published June 12
Tim Holding is keeping a low profile as the bombs are falling in
the War of the Right Wing. He is quietly going about his business as a
state backbench MP, keeping his own counsel and quietly working to
support his mentor Greg Sword in building the New Majority. He has been
worried about the way Labor Unity has worked for a long time now. His
supporters say he is relieved that the NUW has taken the decision it
has which enables Tim and his allies to take care of years of
Tim just turned thirty years old has been the leader of the
Network group with his friend James McGarvey for a number of years.
Network doesn’t work in the same way as it had to in Young Labor, it is
now an informal network of FEA delegates, union officials, MP’s and
ministerial staff. It rewards loyalty to each other and promotes and
Its role has grown from being preoccupied with Young Labor battles
with the despised Centre Forum group founded by Feeney, to forming an
active group within the Right that supports the leadership of Greg
Sword and provides a base of talent that will soon be running the NUW.
Sword has consistently helped this process by ensuring that the NUW
hired the best of Network talent to teach them industrial skills and
ensure the union had the best available people. Former Network and
Young Labor activists have moved into leadership positions within the
NUW and will in time replace Sword and Donnelly as they contemplate the
future into their next term. Assistant Victorian Secretary Martin
Pakula, Victorian Industrial Officer Antony Thow, Victorian Organiser
Jaala Pulford, National Organiser Antonia Parkes are the future
leadership of the NUW in Victoria and nationally. All are talented,
fiercely loyal to Sword and committed to Shorten’s destruction within
Through Tim’s leadership, the group has grown its skills and
influence. It has some revered campaigners, many of whom are pursuing
careers in private enterprise in marketing, broadcasting, journalism,
academia, public relations and other areas to add to the skills of the
group. Unlike the narrow base of their rivals, Holding’s supporters
have diverse and rich skills. James McGarvey is one example, in his
pace-setting work at Essential Media Communications or EMC. James has
been able to secure hundreds of thousands of dollars of Government
contracts by offering a much more cost effective service than their
competition (Crikey – many would argue there has been plenty of
cronyism in this). James and colleagues like Mark Civitelli and others
at EMC make a team that is simply the best in the business, James
running the Frankston East by-election for Matt Viney so effectively
that even his enemy Feeney praised him. It was the election that won
government for Bracks which is not a bad calling card around town.
Holding has also been able to cultivate other mentors such as
Senator Robert Ray who employed Tim Holding prior to his election to
State Parliament. Even though Ray had supported Conroy within Labor
Unity, Ray appreciated his talents and nurtured them. The opposition
research skills for which Holding is feared in Spring Street were
developed watching the skilled Senator Ray who almost single handedly
destroyed Labor turncoat now infamous Senator Mal Colston through
forensic research. Holding applies those skills ruthlessly and
fearlessly. One time he got into trouble for making FOI applications on
Feeney’s correspondence with the Victorian Electoral Commission after
Feeney was being typically unco-operative. He never intended to go
through with it but used it to send a message that Feeney’s interfering
in local government elections in which Network had an agenda would not
As previously reported by Delia, young people who’ve been groomed
by leader Tim Holding dominate the ministerial staff of most of the
Bracks Government despite Feeney’s attempts to get them all sacked in
the early days of the government. Talent like Matt Carrick, Geoff
Pulford, Rachel Dapiran, Ben Hubbard, Nada Delavec, Matt Merry and
countless others represent the future of the Victorian right and are
all working towards Tim Holding’s eventual leadership of the Party.
Tim has the discipline and focus often lacking in politics. He is
up by 6am every day, is physically extremely fit, lives and breathes
politics every waking hour, is constantly on the phone encouraging
people to work harder and longer against the common enemy: Bill Shorten
and David Feeney.
A former Army Reservist, Holding brings those skills to his life
in a way that those who prefer the easy path of media interviews,
self-promotion and National Press Club speeches would not comprehend.
During his election campaign for Springvale in September 99, Holding
demonstrated his moral fibre.
He was going home late on a Saturday night after campaigning all
day and attending a community function. He got off the train at Noble
Park and noticed it didn’t go off to the next station.
He noticed a large group of young people congregating at the back
of train and initially thought it was a fight but realised they were
watching a man who had fallen under the train as it arrived.
Risking his own life and drawing on his reserves of courage and
physical fitness, Holding leapt on to the rail track to help the
seriously injured man, who was unconscious and bleeding everywhere. Tim
removed his coat and shirt in a desperate attempt to staunch the blood.
Holding assisted the dying man while waiting for paramedics from
MICA 11 to get there. They placed him on a spineboard and lifted him
from under the train onto the platform.
Tragically, the man died a few weeks later in Dandenong Hospital. He was a thirty year old who suffered from epilepsy.
Holding didn’t want the incident publicised and was not exactly
thrilled when locals nominated him for a Community Award for heroism
awarded by the Metropolitan Ambulance, wanting to have made a
difference in a quiet, dignified way not by claiming headlines
constantly in an orgy of self-promotion that his rivals engage in.
That’s what leadership is, say Tim’s supporters. Not talking, but
doing. Not being the centre of attention but being the centre of
action. Tim Holding is showing in his own way that he has what it
A guide to the great faction fight
By Delia Delegate
Published mid June
Previously in the Right Wing, ALP President Greg Sword left Labor
Unity and took his union the mainstay of the right, the National Union
of Workers with him, rocking the once dominant right-wing Labor Unity
faction. He presented a once in a lifetime opportunity to Kim Il Carr,
the leader of the Socialist Left faction who once witnessed the
disintegration of his faction when the Pledge Unions departed over
privatisation. Carr has received support from all elements of the
Socialist Left to negotiate a deal with Sword at the expense of Labor
Unity who the SL say have been guilty of “winner-takes-all” politics.
Desperate to force Sword back into the fold, Feeney’s defenders have
launched a media blitz, fronted by Bill “I am the Messiah” Shorten. But
what’s really happening in the fluorescent-lit blood-splattered
corridors of ALP Head Office in North Melbourne?
Sword and Carr are still working out the fine print but the already agreed principles are:
1. Opposing Shorten for the Presidency (ballots in by Friday with
the triumphant count of Shorten’s first ever loss happening Friday
2. Sacking Feeney from Head Office and eliminating Feeneyites from Head Office staff, and
3. Protecting most MP’s federal and state. Delia definitely had it
wrong about a hit-list, the Sword-Carr Modernisation are now definitely
now committed to protecting all but one or two incumbent MP’s,
especially the one encircled by rightist sharks in Geelong. While there
are many favouring a comprehensive clean-out, Sword’s view is that such
talk is premature and not likely to help the strengthening of the
Alliance at the moment. Harry Jenkins is believed to be favouring
retirement, now that he can be certain he will be replaced in Scullin
by an SL comrade. So the Alliance is already achieving generational
change, according to its supporters.
With far more support from conservative media barons like Murdoch,
Packer and Fairfax than from the rank and file of the labour movement,
Feeney/Shorten continue to be on the ropes, more punch-drunk than Iron
Mike Tyson. Greg ‘Lennox Lewis’ Sword has cut them up early and they
show no sign of recovery despite their occasional attempt at low-blows
and ear-biting with anti-Kim Carr stories in the conservative press.
Sword’s forces though have counter-punched brilliantly, with the
Premier “brackstracking” quickly on his reckless defence of the
indefensible David Feeney.
Compounding Feeney/Shorten’s problems, master strategist Fortress
Bob Sercombe returned from overseas to announce his departure from
Labor Unity. Fortress Bob is as shrewd as Iron Mike’s former manager
Don King and would not switch without good reason. Bob can sniff a
winner from a stadium away. Bob’s supporters blame Steve Conroy for his
move saying he didn’t trust Conroy after years of Conroy undermining
him. Sercombe’s departure marks the end of Shorten’s attempts to get
re-elected with the Modernisation Alliance swinging somewhat
reluctantly behind Jim “No Name” Claven, the obscure researcher at the
Postal Workers Union, who has attracted most of his support for not
being Bill Shorten. Jim is so far in front that even Bill’s doorstops
and fancy juggling tricks at the back door of State Parliament House
can’t save him now.
Feeney/Shorten’s supporters are busy trying to sucker-punch Bracks
into supporting Feeney/Shorten by playing up the idea of Socialist Left
control of the Party. The Australian on Monday went too far, talking of
a Socialist Left list of public sector spending they want but hadn’t
got under the Bracks government. Sword has told Bracks and Crean he
will not be supporting mad left policies and has never done so but he
will not be pressured out of pursuing his reform agenda within the
Party. Equally Sword says the Party should not freeze out Carr and the
SL agenda because of conservative press barons, he says the ideological
structures behind factions are irrelevant since the end of the Cold
War. Both Left and Right, he says, are committed to being in government
now, with the Left producing some of the more effective campaigners,
such as Alan Griffin, Lindsay Tanner, Daniel Andrews, ministerial
adviser Andrew McKenzie and Jason Murray. Many in the NUW have said the
State Government has been obsessed with its AAA credit rating rather
being a reforming Labor Government and it needs shaking up. That view
has helped bind together the NUW with Carr and his union base.
Sword’s camp is committed to seeing the NUW reform agenda
implemented no matter how high the short-term cost. They say State
Secretary Feeney is living on borrowed time. A few months ago Feeney
was riding high as what he claims is “the greatest fund raising success
ever” and was leading up to a campaign where Bracks would achieve a
great swing that Feeney was going to claim credit for. Today as early
as the 28th of June, according to reports, he is facing a majority of
Admin determined to kill him.
The way the ALP works is that the State Secretary is chosen by the
Administrative Committee. He is appointed by Admin and can be sacked by
Admin. If it likes him, he stays. If not, he goes. Bracks does not get
a vote. Crean does not get a vote. They can talk and talk and talk but
they don’t have the numbers.
Up until the formation of the Modernisation Alliance, Feeney could
rely on the grudging support of the NUW and the Ferguson Left and the
Pledge. The NUW was part of Labor Unity so had to support Feeney and
the Fergusons and Pledge were in alliance so did the same.
Crikey can now reveal exclusively in this occasional series on the
War of the Right Wing, who lines up where on the all powerful but
highly secretive Victorian Administrative Committee of the ALP. None of
them have a big public profile but they are the ones who call the
shots. The names will change after Friday but the support bases remain
NUW = formerley right wing National Union of Workers
SL = Socialist Left
Ferguson Left = Lefties loyal to Mar’n Ferguson
LRA = Labor Renewal Alliance founded by convict’s brother Theo
Theophanous to include stacks from Greek, South American and other
LU – Labor Unity faction
SDA – Shop Assistant union, run by conservative catholic elements
Will Vote to Impeach Feeney:
President Greg Sword NUW (Union Official)
Senior Vice President Brian Daley SL (Union official)
Vice President Julia Gillard Ferguson Left (Federal MP for Lalor)
Lily D’Ambrosio SL (Government Staffer candidate for Mill Park)
Rachel Dapiran NUW/Network (Government Adviser)
Steve Dargavel SL although takes orders from Craig Johnston (Former Federal MP)
Nazih El Asmar once loyal to Theophanous, now loyal to NUW/Ferguson (Government Adviser)
Kosmos Felekos SL (Government Adviser)
Andrew Giles SL (Lawyer)
Jill Hennessy SL (Government Adviser)
Lev Lafayette was Pledge, now SL (Government Adviser)
Andrew McKenzie SL (Government Adviser)
Jason Murray SL (Electorate Officer)
Dave Noonan SL (Union Official)
Martin Pakula NUW/Network (Union Official)
John Scheffer SL (Government Adviser)
Silvana Sgro SL (Union Official)
Brian Tee SL (Union Official)
Catherine van Vliet SL (Union Official)
Julie Warren NUW (Union Official)
Tony White Ferguson (Government Adviser)
Linda White Left (Union Official)
Robin Scott – Sercombe (Government Adviser)
Will Vote Against Impeachment of Feeney
Stephen Booth LU (Union Official)
Antony Burke SDA (Union Official)
Michael Donovan SDA (Union Official)
Luke Donnellan LU (Government Adviser)
Garth Head LU (Government Adviser)
Michelle MacDonald LU (Electorate Officer)
Nathan Niven LU (Trades Hall)
Fiona Richardson LU (Government Adviser)
Natalie Sykes LU (was Government Adviser)
Count the names, 21 votes to 9. In Sword’s defection, and bringing
over of Ferguson and Pledge forces loyal to him, Sword has the numbers
very clearly to replace Feeney.
So certain is the Modernisation Alliance of victory that it has
already sounded out replacements for Feeney. The most likely candidates
are Cabinet Secretary Gavin Jennings (Jennings was recently named by
the Herald Sun as one of the state’s laziest MP’s quite an honour
considering the competition) and adviser Andrew MacKenzie, a
Ministerial adviser who once served as Assistant Secretary and has long
craved the job. MacKenzie is on the public record boasting that at
least one-third of the membership fees of the Victorian ALP were paid
for by someone other than the member. Other candidates include Daniel
Andrews, current assistant secretary, the alleged brains and bagman
behind Alan “Privatisation” Griffin’s operation, but who is running for
the marginal seat of Mulgrave and is believed to have told his Supreme
Leader Griffin that the job is a “poisoned chalice” and he wants to
focus on winning Mulgrave. Believed to be backed by Socialist Left
Leader Senator Kim Carr is the respected Minister Lynn Kosky’s adviser
Eric Locke who has impressed many with his quiet efficiency. Griffin is
believed to want Blonde Bombshell and former Party President Jill
Hennessy to take on the role but she isn’t returning Alan’s calls at
the moment for much speculated upon reasons.
Some in the MA argue that the publicity given to the “Socialist
Left takeover” of the Victorian Party and the on-again, off-again
support from Bracks for Feeney means that it would be wise to appoint
someone not from the Socialist Left to the important Secretary
position. There are several excellent possibilities here including
former adviser James McGarvey, Martin Pakula of the NUW or Jeff
Pulford, Senior Policy Adviser to the Sports Minister. Sword apparently
considered Conroy’s request to put up Nathan Niven, of the Trades Hall
to rebuild ties with Labor Unity but didn’t think Niven was up to it.
Sword though is no mood to force his supporters on the Party, he
realises that in order to remove Feeney he will need the support of key
stakeholders in the MA, which means a Left State Secretary, for now. In
the long term the job belongs to the best campaigning talent though,
which is someone like McGarvey.
It is interesting that 3 of 3 Party officers would vote to sack
Feeney, including close ally of Crean’s Julia Gillard which proves the
difficulty of Crean getting involved in this spat. True, they would be
doing so for factional reasons but it doesn’t reflect well on someone
who has raised a lot of money from right-wing corporates but does not
enjoy the confidence of his superiors. Thwaites said he was doing a
very good job, as did Peter “Nunawading” Batchelor make positive
comments but they were hardly lavishing him with praise, as Bracks did
from his $3000 a night suite in London, (with Tiny Tim Pallas sipping
on $50 mini-bottles of cognac from the mini-bar trying to numb the pain
of their European junket being rudely interrupted with the petty
squabbles of faction-fighting). Pallas says Feeney-Shorten have tried
to bully the Premier into doing something he cannot do, direct Greg
Sword’s votes on an internal ALP dispute. It is absurd he says for the
Premier to stake his authority on the outcome of an Admin decision, the
Premier leads the Government, not the Party. He doesn’t even get a vote
on Admin, just one vote out of 450+ at the State Conference.
As of next week, a new Administrative Committee will be elected,
but the numbers will be mostly the same or even worse for Feeney as
they are on the current Admin. Instead of the rampaging run through
squad at the AMWU Workers First group having someone on Admin, the
slightly saner AMWU Doog Cameroonites will get an extra vote. It won’t
change the fact that Feeney needs to find around six votes to save
himself, an escape not even Houdini could have managed.
The key for the Modernisation Alliance from all this is that
Sword, Jones, Ferguson and Carr’s forces have swiftly and with a
minimum of dissent seized control of the Victorian branch of the ALP
from the conservative backed Feeney/Shorten. The Administrative
Committee is the ultimate seat of power in the Party, only answerable
to the National Executive and State Conference. Sword and his
supporters throughout the different factions have the will and the
numbers to force through the changes he wants, it’s only a matter of
when. Sword’s supporters believe they can put an early end to the
uncertainty by quickly removing Feeney and resuming focus on the
Another person who craves a low public profile but has exerted
great clout in the Victorian branch of the ALP is Senator Steven
Conroy. Conroy is the self-appointed leader of the Victorian Right is
also the Shadow Minister for Small Business and Finance and the Deputy
Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. Steve muscled out the
competition for this post in search of a 20% pay rise, bigger office
and some juicy perks. If you are surprised that such things matter in
Canberra, you haven’t spent much time in our nation’s capital or have
forgotten about Steve’s mate Mal Colston. Steve exercised his legendary
brutality to get the spot, spreading all sorts of tales about his
competitors, Senators Bishop and Hogg.
Many particularly Steve regard Conroy as a cunning political
operator. Some like Bishop think he’s a cunning stunt. Conroy’s critics
say he has been effective at convincing journalists he is the
numbers-man for the Victorian Right. Most ignorant Gallery journalists
fall for this sort of crap very easily as not many MP’s bother to spend
the time Conroy does with them. Conroy’s critics say he has failed to
exercise the same judgement of the quality of factional Titan Senator
Robert Ray. Ray balanced competing interests capably and honourably.
Conroy by contrast would not hold back in his anti-Sercombe headkicking
and other irrational games. Conroy’s parliamentary colleagues don’t
like the way he hogs the corporate hospitality offered by Philip Morris
at the MCG, being a regular in the PM box, taking back at least a few
of their generously stocked courtesy bags chock full of ciggys and
The focus of Greg Sword’s wrath in the media has been Feeney and
Shorten. One who raises money from the Tory end of town, the other who
married into it. Shorten seems to think he’s the only person connected
with business in Melbourne. Sword has built very strong relationships
across business and is enjoying strong support for his re-election bid
at the NUW from employers across the state who are worried about
militants from NSW taking over.
Some think though that while Feeney and Shorten are the obvious
targets Senator Steve Conroy is just as big a casualty of recent
skirmishes. The NUW Network group has watched closely the performance
of the Transport Workers Union leadership and believes it is weak and
dispirited. A challenge is being considered depending on how the union
leadership line up over the next few months. The TWU are Conroy’s
support base in addition to the stacked electorate of Gellibrand. Aided
by his South Vietnamese lieutenant MLC Sang Nguyen, a former NUW
official who is loyal to Conroy not Sword, much to the disgust of the
union. Gellibrand includes hundreds of Vietnamese members. Many of
these members have been shown to be dead, non-existent, moved back to
Vietnam, living in another electorate when scrutinised. Conroy’s
opponents are hoping to tie him to Gellibrand in any branchstacking
inquiry conducted prior to the federal preselections.
It won’t be the first time Gellibrand has been controversial. This
is when the legend of Conroy crashed into the brick wall of reality
according to Conroy’s critics.
Ralph Wills the former Treasurer whose stupidity cost Keating the
1996 election when he released forged letters from Kennett to Costello
full of very unlikely statements was always a Sword ally. Their ties
went back to Ralph’s time at the ACTU and his close work with Sword on
the Accord. When Ralph said he wanted to retire, Sword assumed that it
would be a chance to promote a quality candidate of his own, possibly
himself. Conroy had other ideas.
Conroy had worked the area hard. Despite his northern English
background and growing up in Whites Only Canberra, Steve immersed
himself in the local community, particularly those who had historical
antipathies to the Left. He’d intended to take Gellibrand for himself.
He controlled the branches, the local council and most of the local
newspaper editors. Conroy was the King of the Inner-West, or so he said
to anyone listening. If Conroy had have been in Cabramatta, no doubt
Phong Ngo would have handed him the keys to the Mekong Club. Only
problem was that by the time Ralph was ready to retire Conroy was in
the Senate and enjoying life up there with his mentor Senator Robert
So Conroy had to find someone else to ensure no else claimed his
expensive prize. He knew he should find a woman. Not easy in a Labor
Party dominated by homophobic white men. He looked everywhere. No
locals. He kept looking and found a senior Telstra executive Vicki
Vicki had some problems.
Problem 1: Sword wanted the seat. Initially for him. Because the
NUW needed him, he decided to stay. He then wanted now Chief of Staff
Tiny Tim Pallas who was working at the ACTU but was a loyal Sword
Problem 2: She’d only been in the ALP for a few weeks. This became quite important.
Problem 3: In her capacity as a Telstra executive, she had busted
the balls of many union officials and was regarded by them as a hostile
anti-worker manager. Such things matter less than you would think, for
example Jenny Mikakos a prominent member now of the Socialist Left was
once a “tax lawyer”, and not for the Tax Department but for clients
desperate to reduce their taxes as much as possible (all above board
Problem 4: She lived in ritzy Clifton Hill miles from the
impoverished suburbs of Gellibrand, not greatly important but didn’t
help her credibility.
Aided by a well-briefed journalist Paul Molloy in the Herald Sun,
Greg decided to unleash war against Conroy over Gellibrand. Everyday, a
new story emerged about Conroy’s candidate, a new fact undermining her
credibility. Then Greg really taught Conroy a political lesson by
organising the National Executive of the Party to cast her aside as a
candidate for failing to qualify because she didn’t have twelve months
membership. Conroy was grief-stricken, years of stacking and tens of
thousands of dollars sunk into it had been a complete waste. Instead of
getting a supporter in the caucus he had been humiliated, very
publicly. He later paid Molloy back by lobbying successfully to get him
sacked by repeated lobbying trips to Sydney. (Crikey – this doesn’t
sound right. Herald Sun editor Peter Blunden told me Molloy was sacked
for sending an expletive-laden story down the wire about the suicide of
Michael Hutchence and then standing by it when he was sober.)
Tim Pallas was looking like the man most likely until a shocking
development occurred. Readers will recall the Isaacs preselection where
Feeney-Shorten organised to steal Isaacs from the NUW group using a
former NUW official they had won over. It wasn’t the first time.
Nicola Roxon, the former girlfriend of Bill Shorten, had once
worked at the NUW. While a highly respected young industrial lawyer,
she was receptive to Bill’s proposal that she run for the seat. The NUW
Group were outraged, Shorten-Feeney had used their own person to
destabilise carefully prepared arrangements for Gellibrand. Conroy was
so unhappy about being mugged in the press by Sword and Carr’s
journalist that he would have agreed to Bob Sercombe taking the seat
rather than anyone nominated by Sword. So Nicola mostly unknown in the
murky world of factional politics arose from obscurity to take the
safest seat in the country.
Even though a former NUW official, Nicola repaid the union by
employing enemies of the union in the form of some particularly nasty
and brutal Young Labor allies of Feeney and Conroy. Roxon’s actions
have not been forgotten or forgiven by the Sword camp, many angered by
Crean’s promotion of her to the shadow ministry last year.
Many of Sword’s supporters believed at the time that Sword should
have taken the seat. He was the only candidate of stature and
experience that could have undone Feeney-Shorten’s devious trick.
Conroy definitely recovered from his failure. Conroy’s opponents
say he would attempt to be the master negotiator, shuttling between the
union bosses and Feeney and Network and attempting to talk peace while
always carving things up nicely for himself. His friends and there
aren’t many (Crikey bumped into him at Andrew Bolt’s 40th) say he
achieved growth for the faction by negotiating deals with groups like
the Labor Renewal Alliance (Theo Theophanous), the Ferguson Left (based
around the ASU and the Tree-Cutters), the Pledge (a hard Left group
expelled by Kim Il Carr’s forces for being too left wing, meaning that
most Pledge members have pictures of Chairman Mao on the walls of their
communes with the possible exception of tax minimisation lawyer and now
MP Jenny Mikakos), the Independents (a strangle little group comprising
mainly lawyers and staffers who claim the tanned Minister John
Thwaites, the stunned Ann Corcoran MP and the retired Neil O’Keefe MP
as their own and once included the likes of Cain, Barry Jones).
Conroy’s critics say that except for the LRA, Sword has had to do
all the hard work on these deals. The alliance with Ferguson, Ian Jones
of the Pledge and the Independents is all due to the relationships and
credibility that Sword has as a respected union leader. Conroy’s
efforts in recruiting the brother of convict Andrew Theophanous, Theo
Theophanous Member for Jika Jika (an amusing title remembering that
Jika Jika was once the name of a prison) and fellow branchstackers
Keilor backbencher George Seitz, Sunshine MP Telmo Languiller, and
failed candidate Carlos Baldovino to the faction may have increased the
numbers, Network insiders believe, but they haven’t added to the
integrity or stability of the Victorian right. Many within the Network
group believe that an attack on these former LRA members is vital to
remove the cancer of branchstacking from the Victorian branch.
Representations are to made to Simon Crean and several Party forums
detailing the operations of the LRA, including the payment of
memberships by its leadership in breach of Party rules and many other
improprieties relating to fundraising. These are people of dubious
integrity that not even Kim Il Carr could tolerate. Those within the
Sword camp who want the state preselections re-opened believe that
Conroy’s mates Theophanous, Languiller and Seitz should be removed,
following the precedent of Tayfun Erun and Dimitri Dollis’ (best man at
the Bolkus wedding and whose wife was appointed by then Immigration
Minister Bolkus to the Immigration Review Tribunal on a $90,000 a year
package) removal prior to the last election. Sword, while sympathetic
to the concerns, is not willing to agree to this even though the Left
would totally support the move. It would be destabilising before an
election, Sword thinks. Others say it would be cleaning up the Party in
time for the election. Some think Bracks might favour the move,
Conroy’s shuttle diplomacy is not necessary now, Sword has
replaced him as the peace-maker between the warring clans. While to
Conroy’s credit he maintained friendships within the NUW, those friends
regard his efforts to negotiate with them in recent times as
self-serving and attempting to rebuild something that is now a distant
Conroy’s one-time leadership is now finished, his critics say.
Shorten-Feeney don’t need him and Sword is committed to freezing him
out, not talking to him or wasting time on his games until Greg has had
a chance to establish new relations with the Left to shape the Party
for tomorrow. Sword suspects Conroy of leaking against the NUW to the
media, which Conroy denies. The NUW has no problem with Conroy being in
the Senate, with his nice payrise and big office, but his days of
manipulating results at their expense is over, according to those close
to Sword. Despite Shorten’s desperate spin that the numbers are fluid
and the outcome close, he knows he has already lost the Presidency.
Conroy knows he is permanently weakened. And Feeney knows that now
Bracks has given him up that there’s no turning back. The Modernisation
Alliance has arrived.
Love to all my fans, Delia
What the Fuck was that?
By Delia Delegate
Published June 20
Urban legend says that Mayor of Hiroshima’s famous last words were “What the fuck was that!”
Jim “No Name” Claven, criticised in Crikey for being an unknown,
unelected, unelectable, anorak wearer finally won the Presidential
crown but is feeling just like the Mayor of Hiroshima looking around
surveying the damage caused by an Enola Gay Shorten delivered nuke
comprising radioactive elements of ratting and Shorten’s conservative
press attacks on the Party.
The Modernisation Alliance have delivered its first of what looks
like many victories against Feeney/Shorten but with Claven’s uninspired
candidacy it did it the hard way with a very close result. If Sword or
Holding were the candidate, it would have been a much better result,
Sword’s decisive moves in conjunction with fellow leader Tim
Holding MP for Springvale and likely next Minister in the Bracks
Government, laid the groundwork for Claven to win with 60% of the Party
vote. More symbolic than anything it was going to be an exciting way of
sending a message to the Party that the NUW/Network move to a neutral
corner was capable of delivering a big swag of votes for modernisation.
Problem was the candidate. What a dud. He has all the charisma of
a postage stamp and all the talent of a forty something unelected
policy researcher with at least one failed election campaign for an
easily winnable seat under his belt, a boring book that belted the crap
out of his Left comrades and an attitude that he is a big man about
town now that HE won the Presidency. Sword won him the Presidency and
he should act like it.
Crikey’s claims a while ago that Claven’s book “Centre is Mine”
indicated he was likely to flip-flop on 60:40 was quickly confirmed
(conveniently after the NUW and the Left unions and delegates had
voted) with his press pronouncements that 50:50 might be OK after all.
Sword is going to have to tolerate this flaky, light, dandruff man for
a while to come and supports him with no enthusiasm. Claven must earn
Sword’s respect as a serious player, it is clear he has a long way to
Some in the Network camp are understood to be extremely unhappy
with the ratting that has gone on in the Modernisation Alliance. They
point to the risks they’ve made voting for the Socialist Left candidate
for President, bringing 50 votes. Without these critical votes and
moral support, Claven would have received 184 votes or 40% of the vote.
NUW/Network made the difference and delivered victory.
Who ratted on the Modernisation Alliance and why?
Prime Suspects are:
1) ETU Dean Mighell the now Greenie, long time sporting shooter
who exercises control over the ETU’s votes within the ALP, believed to
think that he could jointly serve as Co-Messiah with Shorten and run
the entire world together with their rich wives and chambray shirts.
The hot air coming from both of their mouths could fuel a Richard
Branson hot air balloon crossing of the Atlantic.
2) Ferguson Left There’s nothing Left about Ferguson, his views on
refugees would make Janette Howard blush non-menopausally. Mar’n is
believed to be close to Sword but could not deliver his union boys to
vote for Claven.
3) Kosmos Felekos Kosmos is growing impatient with his lack of
promotion, may be talking to Conroy according to some. He is being
4) Nazih El Asmar Questions about a last minute ballot replacement
have arisen and have not been satisfactorily answered. Given the job he
was given in the Government and the support of the NUW for his
memberships if true this would lead to his elimination. Mar’n is
believed to be highly suspicious of his local warlord Nazih.
5) The Independents A group of opportunists who stand for little although they have fought branchstacking in some FEA’s.
For Shorten to have climbed to 48% of the vote is not good. The
Feeney/Shorten junta is discredited and defeated and should not have
been 12 votes from victory. Their only weapons are whining about the SL
takeover of the Party, which is an easily revealed falsehood. What has
occurred is an NUW/Network takeover of the agenda setting for the
Party, restoring the leadership role it has long played but had been
subverted by the conservative catholic tendency in Feeney/Shorten
(Crikey: isn’t Feeney Jewish?). The SL is in no position to deliver
anything without NUW/Network approval. Sword and Holding have not built
the respect they have around by agreeing to a socialist left agenda.
Any lies about that will be proven to be over time.
Carr is not giving a great account of himself in the press but
that’s not his area of expertise. He is an ideas man not a slick
salesman in a chambray shirt with an MBA. Carr is not perfect, he was
guilty of presiding over the worst excesses of the SL Government which
had notable lefties such as:
Brian Mier an Aboriginal Affairs Minister from the Pledge Left
believed to have got pissed, thumped his Aboriginal Affairs adviser’s
door at her home (with his ministerial driver waiting in the limo at
the front of the house) and screamed at her comments like “you (blank
blank blank bitch”. Enough to make you proud to be Labor. Mier
eventually resigned from the Government after the adviser, Trish Jones,
claimed $150,000 settlement for the incident.
Peter Spyker Minister for Transport who barely spoke English but
was the SL minister in charge of billions of dollars of infrastructure
decisions. They were wild times.
The NUW/Network group regards such people as disgusting. The union
opposed unqualified and inappropriate ministerial candidates then just
as it does now. All elements of the Modernisation Alliance must be
committed to cleaning up the Party of people like this, whatever
faction they are in.
Feeney/Shorten’s conservative media baron backed media offensive has consisted of these cunningly crafted messages:
The Socialist Left has taken over the Party.
The SL will run the Government in the same way as it did under Kirner
Sword is obsessed with Feeney/Shorten on a personal level and “hates” them
All three are lies, say the NUW/Sword camp.
The NUW/Network group while numerically smaller than the SL
contain the balance of power. Without the NUW/Network they go back to
being a minority
The SL is a lot more pragmatic than those days. Jennings, Tanner,
Griffin, Kosky etc are believers in low tax, small government mostly.
Kosky calls herself a “fiscal conservative” while being a member of the
Socialist Left. Tanner is an economic dry and shares much in common
with Network comrades.
Sword does not hate Feeney/Shorten personally, he is negative
about the Feeney/Shorten junta and their once iron-grip on Party
preselections. It’s a popular view. Those in the Network group do hate
Shorten in particular and he is going to find himself dying by a
thousand cuts over the next few years. Wherever he is, Network will be.
He betrayed Network years ago and it won’t and can’t be forgiven.
Speculation continues to mount about new State Secretaries. It’s
not an easy job to fill. Assistant Party Secretary Daniel Andrews,
Kosky ministerial adviser Eric Locke, Jennings’ adviser Andrew McKenzie
are all still possibilities but because of their Socialist baggage
would give another headline to the Herald-Sun. Other names are being
suggested like the talented and ambitious NUW Assistant Secretary
Martin Pakula and adviser Matt Carrick, who has expressed keen interest
in moving on from Brumby’s office.
Also being kicked around was Marsha Thomson’s adviser Fiona
Richardson, the convenor of what’s left of Labor Unity. She was keen to
get the payrise apparently but is regarded by some as not having the
intellectual rigour for the job. Crean’s adviser Mike Kerrisk, from
National Secretariat is also being suggested by certain comrades. He is
also an also-ran with an inferiority complex that some people argue is
justified. His close association with Nicola Roxon, who once worked on
the NUW but ratted on Greg to be involved with Feeney/Shorten is enough
to make him unacceptable to some of the hardliners in Network but Sword
regards him as a push-over. Delia thinks Tim Pallas should take the
job. He’s not going into Parliament, is a proven manager, is getting
bored in the Premier’s office and is liked by nearly all factions,
except the hard right wingers of the stem cell fanatics in the SDA.
Sword has explained to Holding the need for restraint, but Tim is
believed to think if you’ve got the numbers you use them and if you’ve
got talented people for the job and no other faction does then you’re
entitled to put them in. It’s a persuasive argument. If NUW/Network
does a deal with Labor Unity then the Left is back where it started
with only the narrowest of wins by a complete oxygen thief for the
Presidency. Sword is considering all his options and rightly so.
President Claven is now so excited about being famous because now when
he’s at dinner parties and everyone is bored by him they’ll think it’s
Love to all my fans, Delia
Larry Laborites memories with Bill Shorten
By Lary Laborite
Former Shorten colleague
Published June 20
I felt it was time to perhaps offer something a little bit
different from Delia Delegate, Roderick Rorter, Reg the Representative,
Harry Hack and whoever else has an opinion on Bill Shorten vs the rest
of Network in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. My words and opinions
are as accurate as any ones.
Firstly, I notice all the boys (yes the boys) went on and became
anchored in unionism – Bill Shorten, and the rest of Network – Pakula,
Steve Moore, Antony Thow, etc. More on this later.
Back to the late 1980’s with Tears for Fears, INXS, acid wash
jeans and Network. Yes Network – that Monash University driven young
ALP think club. Some good times and some good memories I have to say. I
reckon poor old Liberal Roger Pescott must have lost 37 signs in his
electorate one night due to some people belonging to a young ALP group
pinching them and cutting them down. Yes, I certainly learnt a lot
about the streets of Bennettswood that night. Pity the ALP still did
not claim the seat in the 1988 State election; but it was not through
the lack of efforts of us.
Poor old Jim Claven also came close in neighbouring Syndal but
hey, there was no way we wanted that left wing prick to get up did we?
Another 100 votes and he would have got the seat! Lets concentrate
instead in the ‘harder’ seats of Monbulk (Neil Pope) and Knox (Steve
Crabb) that were retained easily that election. Sorry, what faction did
Pope and Crabb belong to? Oh that’s right, Pope is the same bloke who
gave Bill a job the following year as a ministerial advisor.
In the 1990 Federal election the ALP was decimated despite winning
Government. Poor old John “Beautiful Brumby” lost his seat in Bendigo
as well. But hey, it was not Network’s fault. We were there at Drummond
St pretending to be calling from say the Age Saulwick poll asking
people who they were going to vote for. No push polling ever occurred
in Drummond St. I can be sure of that – Just ask Peter ‘Nunawading’
Batchelor. Just because I told a voter that the Coalition wanted to cut
spending on Education – surely there is nothing wrong with this.
Oh, the one or two parties at Gareth Evans offices – courtesy of
the great taxpayer I might add. And what about some of those parties.
Sorry Martin P you were one of the pissed blokes that night at Malvern
after the 1998 State election party.
Great sight – wish I’d had had a camera! Then I saw you score a
few nights on Sale of the Century. What about beers at Neil Pope’s
offices as well?
Antony Thow – another good bloke I have to add. Sat next to him in
Drummond St in the opinion polling booths. Antony, sorry to re-open old
cans if its the case but what happened to Kylie Hanson another
Networker who became a journo with the Herald-Sun? Martin was there
sometimes as well, so was Bill in the first year. Can you blokes tell
me what happened to Peter Cowling and that top little bloke George
Habib from Bulleen?
Now that from what I can tell most of you became unions boys what
about the God damn condition in Drummond St – no heating, no air
conditioning, no coffee, no anything! Where was our bloody union in
those days for $12.00 an hour?
Anyway, enough gripes for the minute.
That ALP youth conference in 1988 was a ripper. To that person
calling himself Rod Rorter – I never saw an Asian at one youth
conference so I don’t know where that one comes from. There were also
certainly no hired rooms in the Downtowner either that I have since
It was just good fair and honest polling, I have to say. We ran 3
candidates and had 3 different how to vote cards. Now what on earth is
wrong with that? Would have put Batchelor to shame in Nunawading I have
to say. For memory the 3 important positions were won by Bill, Steve
Moore and either Pakula or Cowling (again, what happened to him?). The
following year same again and an even more complete sweep of the
Victorian Young Labor movement. Absolutely brilliant. In 1990 with my
enthusiasm wavering it was Antony Thow on the Friday night that called
me at home to make sure I was there to vote. I had been secured a proxy
from some Labor Unity union – I bet you 50 bucks that it was the NWU!
How bloody ironic when I think about it today. But hey I was already a
delegate from my Federal electorate (sorry boys, cannot say which one
again). Not a problem I thought. I voted twice for Bill and the boys!
Following on from Tears for Fears, INXS, and acid wash jeans in
the 1980’s we then moved more to Noiseworks, floral shirts, etc. This
little legend then went overseas at the end of University (sorry boys,
cannot tell you which one as that could give away my identity) in 1991
and from there it all somewhat ends for me I am afraid. In 1992 in I
saw one bloke by the name of Yorik Piper – the left wing nemesis in
young Labor at a bus station in Edinburgh. But he was one of those
tomato lefties so I didn’t bother. After a couple of years in London
with John Major and the extension of Thatcherism I then travelled
through Africa in early 1993. Managed to get to Harare in time to lodge
my vote for El President Paul. Also noticed that Martin Pakula was
running in Goldstein. Sorry Martin, did not live anywhere near that
electorate but you know I would have been there for you mate.
That is if this so called spat with Bill had not happened.
This is where that dumb Delia, I have to admit, gets one over me.
I am all finished and my memory has dried up by this stage I am afraid.
Who the bloody hell was this bloke David Feeney that Bill has climbed
into bed with, become best mates with, and then tried to take over the
world with? Wasn’t even important in my day. Tim Holding must have been
an absolute nipper in our days too. Who the bloody hell was he? And
then I see that Bill managed to marry the offspring of a not so great
Liberal man Julian Beale (worst dressed MP in history in those golf
pants at the airport that night on the news). Money bought him Deakin
first then Bruce and then could not buy him Bruce again. What happened
to fun days? Love someone to give me the low down. Everybody stopped
calling me. My mother often says “do you still see that Bill Shorten? I
saw him on tv again”. No-body even rang me to get my renewal of ALP
membership. No one calls me to be part of a branch stack even though I
am in a marginal seat. What happened boys? It really is a sad thing?
If I read Delia, she suggests Bill’s ego could have been the
problem. Absolute bullshit, Bill always wanted to be Prime Minister.
Now I read with interest Martin & Co are out to get Bill and his
new best friend with some old union hack called Sword who has been
around for bloody years. Come on Paky, leave em alone. Sword is 56
years old for God’s sake. What is the party becoming? I reckon you
should all kiss and make up. Why don’t I organise a party in the next
election and we can choose a night to go around town pulling down some
Liberal candidate posters?
Who am I, I hear you all asking. That doesn’t matter. Let’s just
say I was there boys. I have the memory of an elephant. And whoever
that person is (Roderick) suggesting his next article is ‘The loves of
Bill’s life” give it up you wanker. I don’t think past girlfriends is
really relevant now that the bloke is married if that’s what you are
As for me, I did not renew my membership from the early 1990’s. I
am now an Account Manager with a fortune 500 company. I work for one of
the richest men in the world. There is not a union to be sighted around
where I work and everyone makes a lot of money. I am like one of the
80% of the population who does not belong to a union. A high income
earner, a non union member, son of a Doctor, well educated. But guess
what comrades? I am still a true believer.
Delia rates the cabinet
By Delia Delegate
Published late June
The general view of the Modernisation Alliance of Victorian
Premier Steve Bracks is that it requires and insists that he shut his
mouth if he wants to keep his head. The Alliance has been tolerant up
until now and believes Bracks’ intentions are honourable although his
pro Feeney statements are not helpful to the Alliance at this time.
It is believed that the Socialist Left will never accept a deal
that will install members of Labor Unity in the State Secretary and
Bracks created Campaign Director’s roles. The Griffin forces regard
Carr as a divisive force incapable of consultation, much like Conroy in
the Right. Griffin is concerned that Carr will use the process of
negotiation with Sword as yet another opportunity to shaft Griffin’s
supporters. Their view is that getting Jim “No Name” Claven up as
President wins the Socialist Left a high public profile and a beating
from Feeney/Shorten’s conservative press baron mates, but no more power
than they were getting anyway on Admin because the three officer
positions receive one vote each on Admin. Some suspect that the Left
may eventually be shafted by Sword who will have delivered very little
to them except a ceremonial post which carries no extra voting power
than the SL would have before the NUW moved to a neutral corner.
The comments about Sword are of course lies fueled by
conservatives like Conroy who is desperate to destroy the Alliance and
restore his Empire powerbroker role from the dustbin of history it is
firmly in. The Socialist Left leadership and Sword are working together
closely to reshape the Party. Carr is happy. Sword is busy with union
business but is also happy with the turn of events.
They have taught Bill a lesson in politics and Shorten has been
punished for his hubris. For all the spin of the conservative media
barons and Premier’s spin doctors who show more loyalty to
Feeney/Shorten than the Victorian Government, the NUW has triumphed. It
delivered the Presidency to a nobody rather than Bill who has stroked
himself about being PM to the extent of causing blindness. There are
none so blind than those who will not see. A few in the NUW group are
pushing for a deal with Labor Unity – no one credible hopes to rejoin
Conroy’s dispirited and highly secretive organisation – to ensure that
they are seen as neutral players, encouraging young talent and stopping
branchstackers, like Miles in Geelong.
The NUW group are confident of screwing a good deal out of Conroy
and his lapdog with the laptop who is yapping constantly. So desperate
are they to keep on side with the NUW that they are still inviting even
prominent people once associated with Network and well known NUW
officials to Labor Unity meetings, sending them newsletters. They serve
as a reminder of the fact that Conroy runs the faction organisation for
his own dubious benefit with secrecy being his ideology. Show us the
bank accounts we contributed money to all these years, some say, and
then we might consider coming back.
Conroy is remembered explaining his unorthodox approach to
democracy this way at a Victorian Parliamentary Right caucus meeting:
“Arguments are to be avoided, they are always vulgar and often
Friday night is the first night of the rest of the ALP’s life. A
new state secretary will come to reform the branch, expel
branchstackers and their conservative catholic allies. There’s even a
chance the Alliance might agree to David Feeney being out in the Head
Office print room being “Campaign Director”, making sure the ink tanks
are replenished although many in the NUW group would prefer a clean
break for the sake of Party unity.
Modernisation has its critics, such as the many who like writing
in Crikey in scathing and malicious tones about one of the nation’s
great union leaders. As it prepares for its show-down with the
conservatives from Labor Unity, it is interesting to see how the Bracks
Cabinet lines up.
If you normally read the conservative’s favourite the Herald Sun,
you might be surprised to know that the Modernisation Alliance has
secured a majority in the Bracks Cabinet. Counting only formally
committed Ministers, the Modernisation Alliance has 10 of the 19 member
Cabinet. 11 of 20 if you count Gavin Jennings, the clever Cabinet
Secretary. This means that policy prescriptions approved by the
Alliance through its structures will become the Cabinet’s formal
position. Sword and Carr have indicated they would use this new power
prudently and decently for all.
The conservatives have 9 of the 19, with Bracks, Brumby, Hulls and
Madden possibly changing sides. Bracks now appears to have committed to
the conservatives, but he has many capable people on his staff who want
him to join the Modernisation Alliance. Here’s Crikey’s exclusive
Ministerial assessments about who lines up where and why.
Ministerial Report Card
Premier Steve Bracks
His disgraceful intervention in favour of Feeney has cost him the
valuable support of National ALP President, Greg Sword. Bracks must
accept the Modernisation Alliance’s achievement of stabilising the
party or face the consequences. Is he rebuking his Chief of Staff for
John Thwaites, Deputy Premier, Health Minister Titutlar leader of the Independents grouping, which will be part
of the Modernisation Alliance. Thwaites respects Sword and his
operatives in the FEAs have worked well with Network and oppose
branchstacking by catholics from the conservative SDA. Known on the
Peter Batchelor, Minister for Transport Active supporter of the Modernisation Alliance, former State
Secretary, is appalled by the declining moral fibre of head office and
the obsession with fundraising and talking to business leaders
championed by Feeney. It has become a business and has lost the
cultural vibrancy of the past.
Monica Gould, Minister of Nothing Brilliant minister, unfairly shafted in last reshuffle without
consultation with stakeholders. Third highest ranking minister, will be
given major economic portfolio under new deal brokered by Greg Sword.
Known on the road.
John Brumby Treasurer Has continued in Labor Unity for now, but actively supports the
NUW/Network group by employing fellow travellers like Matt Carrick.
Carrick is a respected member of the Treasurer’s team and has won over
Brumby’s staff to a pro-NUW position. The Treasurer’s next step will be
Bob Cameron, Minister for Local Government
Active supporter of the Modernisation Alliance, and participant in the Socialist Left group.
Christine Campbell, Minister for Senior Victorians Demoted earlier to portfolios that no one could bugger up.
Campbell is an SDA conservative catholic as previously exposed. She is
one of the stem cell fanatics that are moving in on the ALP and making
it less progressive than the average Lions Club. Could be replaced by
Mary Delahunty, Minister for Planning
Regarded as unlikely to see out the year, sick of the job. Pays no attention to factions and doesn’t understand them at all.
Sherryl Garbutt, Minister for Environment Labor Unity right winger who will stay with the sinking ship.
Could be replaced by Matt Viney, an MP with strong environmental
Andre Haermeyer, Minister for Cops and Robbers Andre left his wife to shack up with one of Bill Shorten’s girls
at the AWU – Tonia Stephens. Unlikely to dump his faction (Labor Unity)
and his wife in the same year.
Keith Hamilton, Minister for Agriculture Pledge left Minister. While part of the Modernisation Alliance, is
Chief Oxygen Thief of the Bracks Cabinet, a hotly contested position
given the level of talent around. Known on the road.
Rob Hulls, Attorney-General, Manufacturing, Racing, Drinking, Rooting, Shooting and Tooting Hullsy
will go with whatever Bracks and Brumby does, which means he’s torn.
Believed to be not drinking which has destroyed the business of the
Parliament House members bar, the Cricketers Arms and Imperial Hotel on
Spring Street. A happy head law officer who is getting lots. Part of
Labor Unity and doesn’t understand the factions .
Lynne Kosky, Minister for Education and Training A good Minister from the Socialist Left who enjoys sticking it to
left wing education unions who think they own her. Despite the
contradiction she is a prominent Lefty and supports the Alliance.
John Lenders, Minister for Finance and Industrial Relations From Labor Unity group. Will be replaced by Gould after the
election who will take Industrial relations back according to some
sources. Former State Secretary who allowed branchstackers to stack the
Party in mid 90’s. Ran the notoriously bad ’96 campaign.
John Pandazoploulos, Minister for Employment, Gaming, Tourism Branchstacker and reformed table top dance tipper but OK minister.
From the Socialist Left, known for involvement in branchstacking in
south-east. Alliance supporter.
Bronywn Pike, Minister of Housing Out of her depth. Part of Pledge group, with ties to the SL. Is in
the three blind monkeys celebrity candidate group. Alliance supporter.
Candy Broad, Minister of Energy and Resources Obsessed with destroying Kim Il Carr in between reading cabinet
papers. Highly talented minister from the Socialist Left faction.
Justin Madden, Minister for Sport Employs the sharp Jeff Pulford but is otherwise pretty
disappointing. Makes up the numbers but is very friendly to Sword. The
Right’s version of Delahunty, a celebrity candidate who can only guess
at the branchstacking, number crunching, muscle flexing that got them
into Parliament and Cabinet because they did nothing to help themselves
except show up. A Feeney/Shorten creation.
Marsha Thomson, Minister for Small Business and KFC A challenger for the Gavin Jennings Sloth Award, enjoys playing
factional games on ministerial time. Her whole staff is dedicated –
especially Fiona Richardson – to running the faction apparatus of Labor
Unity. How much time government funded Richardson spends on running
Gavin Jennings, Cabinet Secretary Decreed by the Herald Sun as a very lazy MP. The Herald Sun has
got everything else wrong in its Murdochian presumption of promoting
the Feeney-Shorten line so this is no exception. Supports Alliance.
The ALP Wars show every sign of breaking out in peace. Does this
mean the death of Delia? Feeney’s extra-large (XL) bodybag has been
sewn and prepared for Friday’s Admin meeting. The Socialist Left’s
Daniel Andrews was seen pouting for most the day, complaining that the
Left got nothing except being used by Sword to axe Feeney. Andrews now
has a big axe to grind. So near yet so far. He is the loudest of the
Left questioning Kim Il Carr’s wisdom of entering the Modernisation
Alliance. Kim Il Carr says he needs to keep Sword motivated to not
rejoin Labor Unity. Andrews and his mentor Alan Griffin think they’ve
been used by Kim Il Carr and Sword but can’t figure out what was in it
for Carr. That will emerge later.
Roland Lindell the Man Least Likely has triumphed, taking a job he
wanted some time ago but had suffered the literally crushing problem of
having Feeney promoted over the top of him by the conservative catholic
conspiracy. Lindell is considered by many to be fair to all sides. Some
I heard in the SL say he’s just the typical jumped-up rightwing spiv,
but this is harsh. Many of the younger enthusiastic NUW group members
say that Roland’s wife, State MLA Jenny Lindell, is guilty of employing
a young Feeney-Shortenite, a rightwing Young Labor leader Tom Cargill
in her electorate office. Cargill is believed to have supported several
conservative catholic causes from the office, and is suspected of
reading News Weekly during his regular coffee breaks.
Cargill is believed to be planning a move in Isaacs to unseat the
MHR for Isaacs, the overpaid Ann Corcoran from the Independents
faction. Corcoran is no great shakes but Cargill would further
contaminate the south-east with the disease (bit harsh – ed) of
conservative Catholicism, according to concerned branch members.
All eyes will be on Lindell to watch for the factionalism
favouritism and partisanship displayed during the Feeney years. Sword
is believed to be confident that Lindell will be even-handed. If not,
the Avenging Angel Greg will chop his little hands off, just like he
did to Feeney. The axe is sharp, the axe is ready.
Today the Admin Committee will consider the vexing issue of Corio
where Rightwing rising star and Feeney-Shorten mate Richard Marles is
facing an inquiry into branchstacking. The Socialist Left locals oppose
Marles and wisely so saying he has stacked the area with a coalition of
Turks, Croatians and others. Marles right wing mates say he has rebuilt
the Party in the area which barely functioned a few years ago. What the
inquiry would do and where it might lead is keeping all the players
nervous. Delia doubts anyone wants too comprehensive an inquiry into
anything given how many skeletons are crammed into the closets of
Senators Conroy, Carr, MP’s Thomson, Roxon, Griffin, Byrne, Ferguson,
Vamvakinou, Danby, Gillard, Jenkins, not to mention the State MP’s. A
full audit of membership is being demanded by many branch members
opposed to the conservative catholic factionalism in Geelong, this
could spread throughout safe Labor seats.
Speaking of religion, not Delia’s favourite subject but there’s a
very strange happening out there. In my earliest contribution, I
mentioned someone even less popular than the Fallen Feeney, ALP State
Conference delegate Diane Anderson.
Diane is the Grand Wizard of the Higgins Clan of the ALP. She has
seen off some relatively normal people out of Higgins by regular
denunciations in mailings, lawsuits, threats of lawsuits and colorful
allegations. She is the Conference Jester, dancing around like an
annoying clown, talking earnestly but provoking only laughter. It is
one of the few FEAs where there is no Left or Right activity due to
Diane’s own Faction of Fear.
Some Party members might think she reserves her very best for the
ALP. Diane has lots to spare it seems, if crys for help from the
Unitarian Church in the inner city are any guide.
Diane does not just go to Church. She brings in her clipboard to
write notes of what others have said. She brings in recruits, lawyers
and strategists to her place of worship. No doubt she takes an
industrial chemist, a union official, a Workcover investigator and a
psychic with her when she pops in to her purportedly local Malvern
Diane a wealthy barrister with a sensible shoe and a bad
disposition has attempted to increase her influence over the Unitarian
Church. The Church is a strange institution that seems to be a blend of
different religions with a dash of Che Guevara. When Delia popped in
for a religious experience, she saw a photo of Che on a wall, how nice.
Diane in recent times has shared the joy of the frustrations of her life with her fellow congregants:
Accused them of branchstacking the organisation (Diane is nothing if not consistent)
Accused them of improper and illegal conduct with her serious
charges including ‘applauding during the service’, ‘censoring Diane
Anderson’, ‘allegations of intense sexual dealings between consenting
adults (presumably not in Church)
Accused them of disrespecting her boyfriend
Accused them of breaking Rules and laws
Sued the Church and its members over the content of services and her right to meditate
Joined up ALP members to the Church, primarily from her Higgins
Clan. Diane thinks in irregular verbs. Her recruiting is someone else’s
Commented on the Church’s valuable assets, including property and
cash worth millions as some people have left money to the church over
Accused the church of underpaying land tax and reported it to a Liberal MP
Accused the church of having a speaker talk on the subject of
proportional representation. This is the most serious and horrible of
the charges and has not been denied what a hideous thing to put up with
Ran hard in an election to takeover the Church and got nine votes, proving the congregation have alternative tastes
No wonder people are reluctant to eat her scones after the service.
Those interested in joining this friendly group are welcome to
attend this Sunday at 11am in Grey Street East Melbourne. Lev “I had no
change in my pocket, Your Honor” Lafayette of the Socialist Left
faction and electorate officer who specialises in branchstacking
Timorese into the ALP, will be speaking this Sunday on how he has
forged ties with the Timorese community to help their liberation and
If you attend, you might see a few ALP hacks in the audience counting their blessings and doing the numbers. Amen.
The Labor Unity meeting at the Transport Workers Union Thursday
night was supposed to be a meeting of heeling. But this meeting also
had a Networker within its midst who was less than impressed with
Labor Unity meetings can usually be held in a phone box. But this
one saw a turn out larger than expected. Most were there to show their
solidarity and to see who among them had crossed over to the other
side. A few names bothered to turn up. Sherryl Garbutt, Marsha Thomson
and Theo “not in jail” Theophanous were there. Bill Shorten even turned
up along with David Feeney. But most of those in attendance were the
usuals – political wanna-bes, political has-beens and political
never-will-bes who can’t stay away from a faction hack meeting.
The leader of the gutted Labor Unity faction, Senator Stephen
Conroy, tried to put a positive spin on the events of the past 4 weeks.
But no one was hoodwinked. Everyone present knew that Conroy had been
out manoeuvred by a superior political opponent in Greg Sword. Conroy
has been severely damaged by the shrewd political manoeuvrings of Sword
and the NUW/Network group. Conroy has been taught a political lesson by
Sword and those present at the Labor Unity meeting knew their leader
had arrogantly underestimated Sword’s abilities and paid the price.
Bill Shorten made it clear that Sword was going to give him the
chop in the ballot for ALP President. Sure enough, that prediction came
true. And David Feeney made it clear that he was next on the chopping
block. His fate will be the same as Shorten’s – just a week later.
While there was some support for the Labor Unity leadership, it was
clear that the broad feeling was that the leadership had let the
You see the problem with Conroy is that he has runs Labor Unity
more like the Branch Davidian Sect than a political movement. Conroy
(aka David Koresh) sees himself as a political overlord who demands
total commitment and loyalty from Labor Unity members. This can work in
a faction based on communist principles ie the Social Left under
Paramount Leader Kim Il Carr, but in a faction like Labor Unity this
method is fraught with danger. Ultimately this resulted in the
splitting from the faction by Sword and Network.
But now the Branch Davidians are turning on their leader Koresh.
And we all know what happened at Waco when this happened. Now Labor
Unity looks like suffering the same fate. Conroy has also been
undermined by his witless, troubled, accident prone offsider, Fiona
Richardson. Richardson has been out of her depth in political and
factional circles from some time and her inability to negotiate a way
through recent events will come back to haunt her. At the TWU
headquarters she was clearly showing the strain and became defensive
when questions were asked. The smell of death surrounded her.
Richardson is set to be the first to be outed in a push to control
the smaller Labor Unity faction by remanent members of the former Labor
Renewal Alliance. Theo “not in jail” Theophanous is a seasoned
political operator and has sensed weakness. He is at the moment
marshalling his forces to take a more powerful role within Labor Unity.
Theophanous doesn’t take any baggage with him on his political journeys
and Richardson is set to be the first off. Some speculate that she will
be gone as the faction’s secretary within a month.
Theophanous along with fellow LRA members George Seitz and Telmo
Languillar are set to demand a larger share of control over Labor
Unity. At a time when the faction is on the point of total
disintegration, Conroy will have little option but to pay the price
Theophanous wants for his support. And what will Theophanous demand of
Conroy and Labor Unity? Well one deal floating around Labor Unity
circles is that Theophanous hopes to strike a deal with now exiled
Labor Unity powerbroker Bob Sercome. Sercome is being hunted by Labor
Unity. Its no secret that Bill Shorten wants to enter Federal
Parliament and sees Sercome’s seat of Maribynong as his to take. But to
Theophanous, Sercome is an opportunity to build a bridge with a
powerful ally in the northern suburbs.
But with Kim Il Carr and Greg Sword now in control of the
Victorian Branch of the ALP, its clear to all that Labor Unity has
become irrelevant. And typically when one group goes from power to out
of power, heads will roll. Give it a little time, then the Labor Unity
blood letting will begin!
Yours truly, Eunice Unity
Invective night at the TWU
By Ursula Unity
Crikey’s second spy at the Labor Unity faction meeting
Hell broke loose tonight at the Transport Workers Unions bunker in
Rouse Street, Port Melbourne. It was the best attended Right faction
meeting in years, a surprise given that about half the people who
previously attended, Sword and the NUW and the Networkers, were visibly
and obviously absent. They may never be welcome again. The faction in
recent years has rarely met, and this may have been because the
tensions under the surface were simmering and no one wanted to bring
them to the boil, until the last two weeks.
Labor Unity heavyweight Stephen Conroy looked smart and dapper in
his tailor made Parisian outfit, blending very uneasily in working
class surroundings. Perhaps he looked more suited to the yuppified town
houses next door. Leaking is out, said Conroy. Reg the Representative
and Harry the Hack please stop it. You are encouraging Delia, whose
cryptic comments enable the Liberals in the Senate to give me hell.
Erica Betz quotes Delia regularly in the chamber, and even went so far
as to tell me that my faction had been Shortened and Sercombecised.
Really. Yet Conroy looked happy, unlike the faction secretary who was
definitely suffering under the pressure. Conroy, having previously lost
control of the Labor Unity Executive, now stands to regain that
control, and perhaps win the title Kim Il from Kim Carr, in Conroy’s
case as the Commissar of the Right.
Invective was predictably aimed at Greg Sword, but was a little
restrained. Who ratted was the question on everyone’s mind. The main
cuss language was directed to the Networkers, the former youth group
now found as staffers in ministerial offices all over Spring Street and
beyond, and some have even been elected to the parliamentary chambers
themselves. The Networkers are Swords key supporters. But there is
hope. Joe Helper, Parliamentary head honcho for the faction, was in a
reconciliatory mood. All are in so far. We don’t want any out. He
refused to name the Network parliamentarians, in the hope that some
will come over. Tim Holding was named as a person who did not think it
appropriate to attend parliamentary faction meetings at this time.
Perhaps he can be won back. Only one MP has resigned from the faction,
and that is Conroy’s arch enemy and federal MHR for Maribyrnong Bob
Sercombe. Sword and Sercombe are strange bedfellows. So are Sercombe
and the Networkers. Sercombe knows Bill Shorten is after his seat, and
is out to protect himself in the ways of ALP factional politics he
knows best. The wiley old beneficiary of branchstacking will almost
certainly outsmarten his new allies as he has Conroy in the past.
What else happened? Nothing of note. Plenty of motherhood
statements. Even an explanation by Theo Theophanous as to why he left
the Socialist Left to now be a major player in the Victorian Right.
Bill Shorten was philosophical and sounded every bit the Prime
Ministerial material he certainly is. I might not win the Presidency,
but at least I’ll be Vice President if everyone follows the ticket. And
I might even win. Phar Lap won once at 50-1, he added. He expects
upwards of 200 votes, and the election will go down to the wire. And
David Feeney was equally on top of it. He’ll defend his position to the
last. He means to win the next election for Labor as he did the last.
Labor had no money to run campaigns when the Socialist Left misspent
it. A Labor Unity Secretary in the party office is necessary to ensure
a party win. He is probably correct. One point overlooked by almost
everyone is the fact that the faction is now increasingly Catholic.
Gene technology is a definite no no, and so too is any support for
euthanasia. But these positions are also held by many non-Catholics. A
faction of believers need not be a bad thing, certainly if religious
belief has an ethical basis and believers do not try to force their
views on others. The Labor Unity faction will be liberal in its
outlook. Its parliamentarians will not be taking the socially
conservative positions now held by a minority of Liberal MP’s who in a
previous life might have been members of the DLP.”
Betty Branchmember lays into Delia
By Betty Brachmember
ALP insider and Delia critic
Published June 23
For innocent ALP members, and members of the public, the most
stunning thing about Delia Delegate’s contributions to crikey.com.au on
the Victorian ALP has been her revelations about Tim Holding MLA and
his mysterious “Network”. As she seems to have recently decided (or
been instructed) to shut up about “The Network”, it’s probably
worthwhile for the political psychologists amongst us to briefly
analyse the extraordinary eight (8) texts given to us by Delia from May
27 to June 18. They provide a stunning insight into the world view of
the “The Network”, a tiny but influential faction inside the Victorian
What is “The Network”? Former members who now live and work
interstate describe it as closer to a religious cult than a traditional
political faction. Delia identifies its origins as a faction in Young
Labor back in the 1980s, ironically founded by now AWU secretary and
ALP senior vice-president Bill Shorten. This possibly explains its
fanatical, almost pathological, hatred of Shorten he is the apostate,
the false prophet, who misled his followers and “betrayed” them, before
the coming of the true Leader, Tim Holding.
The Network has clearly and proudly evolved beyond mere Young
Labor electoral fraud and hi-jinks at YLA conferences. According to
Delia, it is now “a very significant and influential grouping that is a
key part of the Bracks Government and the federal leadership.” It is
“an informal network (that) rewards loyalty to each other and promotes
and hones talent.” It “has brought through (the ALP) dozens of
potential high quality, highly trained and seasoned electoral stars.”
Gee, it’s a shame no one out in the suburban branches has seen all
this talent. Wait a minute, perhaps Delia means Kieran Boland, the
Network’s stunningly out-of-his-depth candidate in the Aston
by-election last year the turning point, pre-Tampa, in John Howard’s
Delia tells us that the leader of “The Network” is “ambitious and
capable” Tim Holding, a 30-year old who branch-stacked Eddie Micallef
(Crikey: thank god for that, he was absolutely useless) out of the
Legislative Assembly in September 1999, having previously worked in the
undemanding role of an electorate staffer for former Hawke-Keating
minister Senator Robert Ray. Tim’s still in his first term of
parliament, but Delia has total confidence in Tim’s future. Tim is
“potential leadership material”, a “future Minister and Leader”. Delia
confides in us that Tim “is the Victorian Paul Keating, in style and
substance.” Dear God, where’s the bucket?
Indeed, making Tim a Minister is “the most urgent priority” now
facing the Bracks Government, according to Delia. Network members
employed in ministerial offices including Ben Hubbard and Rachel
Dapiran “beavering away” in the Premier’s office “and countless others
represent the future of the Victorian right and are all working towards
Tim Holding’s eventual leadership of the Party.” Gee, Bracksie the
clock’s ticking, mate! Big Tim’s getting a bit impatient.
But, in case people feel Tim has got his priorities wrong, Delia
puts us right. Tim “lives and breathes politics every waking hour, is
constantly on the phone encouraging people to work harder and longer
against the common enemy: Bill Shorten and David Feeney.” Apparently,
the Network wants party secretary Feeney’s “severed head to be shoved
on a pole” in King Street. Nice touch. Hang on, what about beating the
Liberals? Oh, don’t worry leave that to Bracksie, while he’s still
The Network and the NUW
Delia has been quite enlightening about the intimate relationship
between Network and Greg Sword’s National Union of Workers. Rather than
it just being the NUW withdrawing from Labor Unity “to a neutral
corner”, Delia is at pains to emphasise that it’s the NUW-Network
alliance, with significant links around the branches, including unnamed
state and federal MPs.
Network “has coalesced around Greg Sword and the National Union of
Workers.” Network members Martin Pakula, Antony Thow, Jaala Pulford and
Antonia Parkes “are the future leadership of the NUW in Victoria and
nationally.” Indeed, Network is “a base of talent that will soon be
running the NUW.” Gee, shame about the members. It’s a darn nuisance
that under federal law we even have to give them a vote. (Perhaps
that’s where all that Young Labor experience will come in handy?)
Anyway, according to Delia, the “NUW (has) hired the best of
Network talent (who) have moved into leadership positions within the
NUW and will in time replace Sword and Donnelly as they contemplate the
future into their next term.” Gee, Greg and Charlie it’s time to
retire, according to the well-informed Delia. Shame you won’t complete
your next term of office in 2006 you wouldn’t want Ray Gorman to start
putting that around the factories, or your members might wonder who’s
running the union.
The Network and Other Unions
It’s interesting that Sword criticises Feeney for interference in
the Health Services Union. According to Delia, Sword’s NUW and the
Network specialize in dabbling in the affairs of other unions. In 2001,
Sword and the Network’s Pakula “had arranged funding for an all-out
attack on Bill Shorten’s powerbase at the AWU.” Delia confirms what had
previously only been rumoured that their hatred of Shorten is at least
twelve months old. Why did they continue to participate in the Labor
Unity faction, and live a lie?
Even more startling is Delia’s latest announcement that the “NUW
Network group has watched the Transport Workers Union leadership and
believes it is weak and dispirited. A challenge is being considered
depending on how the union leadership lines up over the next few
months.” This is how splits in the Labor Party begin the overt power
plays are so crude and violent. And what does this mean for the
Network’s Steve Moore, who’s employed by the TWU!
Network’s Hit List
Delia’s truly breath-taking contribution was on June 12, when she
identified the Network’s hit list of federal MPs. Five enemies were
identified: Senator Steve Conroy, deputy opposition leader in the
Senate, Senator Jacinta Collins and MHRs Anthony Byrne, Michael Danby
and Kelvin Thomson (husband of state minister Marsha Thomson).
According to Delia, these five “will be closely examined . Inquiries
will cost probably five people their seats in (federal) Parliament.”
Repeat “As many as five federal MPs are being reviewed for replacement in next year’s preselections.”
Their alleged crimes range from branch stacking through to support
for Steve Conroy, via support for unnamed “conservative catholics”.
Betty is not here to defend these federal MPs they’re big enough to
look after themselves but the arrogance of the Network is truly
stunning. Tim and his friends are dangerous people whose first loyalty
is not to the Labor Party.
The Network and Parliamentarians
In addition to Network leader Tim, Delia is pretty content with
how the Network is doing around parliamentary offices. Network members
“dominate the ministerial staff of the Bracks Government.” Delia
singles out for special mention Matt Carrick, Geoff Pulford, Rachel
Dapiran, Ben Hubbard, Nada Delavec and Matt Merry, who work for various
ministers including the Premier.
Geoff Pulford, who apparently works for Justin Madden, gets a
special commendation from Delia Geoff is “a leading NUW/Network
identity devoted to destroying (Steve) Conroy. Pulford is a probable
candidate to replace one of the five federal MPs being reviewed at the
moment.” So, you heard it from Delia first Pulford will be the next MHR
for Melbourne Ports, presumably. Has anyone ever heard of this guy? Oh
sorry, he’s one of those Network “electoral stars” Delia was telling us
Delia also gloats about the Network’s influence over federal
leader Simon Crean he “employs a number of Network aligned people
(apparently including a Jamie Driscoll currently on loan to the NUW for
the duration of their internal union elections) and has done so for
years.” Whether Simon is fully aware of the uses and abuses of his
electorate office is unknown.
While Simon gets brownie points for allowing his electorate office
to be infiltrated, other MPs get stern rebukes. Jenny Lindell, MLA for
Carrum, gets a gold star for disliking Conroy but is censured because
she allegedly “employs anti-Network elements.” What does that mean? If
you think Tim Holding is a puffed-up branch-stacker with delusions of
grandeur, does that make you “an anti-Network element”? Betty thinks it
makes you a sane member of the Labor Party. Keep up the good work,
Greg Sword and Kim Carr
Now we come to the crunch the handing of the Victorian ALP back
over to the Socialist Left, or what Delia delicately dubbed “the New
Majority” and now the “Modernization Alliance”. Talk about putting a
spin on things .
Senator Kim Carr, leader of the SL, is “a proven leader” and “an
important and respected figure”. Dear God, what planet does Delia live
on? Carr is a diligent bureaucrat who can direct a socialist revolution
as long as someone else has lined up the numbers (well done, Greg) and
as long as Kim has his clipboard with all his speeches, his procedural
motions and points of order all carefully written out beforehand. Kim
Carr can follow a script. He is incapable of independent thought. He is
an unelectable factional hack of the sort traditionally hidden away in
state and federal upper houses. He should not be let near voters.
But no, according to Delia, Kim “has built an enduring coalition
with Sword that no amount of undermining will undo.” Gee, so much for
the “neutral corner”, Greg you almost had the journos buying that one.
But we shouldn’t concentrate on Kim Carr too much, even though
he’s the big winner out of this “once in a lifetime opportunity”. Delia
puts us right on how Greg sees his responsibility to the ALP as its
national president. He “isn’t going to be bullied out of cleaning out
the Party by a nervous Parliamentary leadership or anyone else.” You
see, Greg is “an important person in the history of Australia” how dare
Bracks and Crean think about winning elections?
Repeat Sword wants his “agenda implemented no matter how high the
short-term cost.” Translation the Network and the NUW are prepared to
lose State Government.
Cleaning “out” the ALP is what the Network is on about they’re
ready “to take care of years of unfinished business.” According to
Delia, “The NUW group would rather give a majority of seats in caucus
to SL members (than make peace with Labor Unity).” Gee, how stabilising
and neutral is that!
No wonder Carr’s keen on that “enduring coalition”. No wonder
Steve Bracks and Simon Crean are a bit nervous .. But in case our
parliamentary leaders think they’re running things, Delia put us right.
“Bracks does not get a vote. Crean does not get a vote. They can talk
and talk and talk but they don’t have the numbers.” In case poor Steve
doesn’t get the NUW Network message, Delia repeats that “the Premier
leads the Government, not the Party. He doesn’t even get a vote on
Admin, just one vote out of 450+ at the state conference.”
As far as the Network are concerned, “the reshaping of the Bracks
Cabinet is also under consideration”, and even “reopening the state
preselections”, although apparently Sword has drawn the line at that
Betty is no psychologist, but you don’t have to be Freud to figure
out that something weird is happening with “The Network” group inside
the Victorian ALP, certainly as it is described by its insider Delia
In the 1950s, the Catholic Social Movement and its allies gained
majority control of the ALP. The consequences of their power lust were
disastrous, and resulted in Federal Intervention in 1954-55 and the
ALP-DLP Split. In the 1960s, the Trade Union Defence Committee and its
allies gained majority control. Again, the consequences were
disastrous, and we all remember the pain of Federal Intervention in
Today, the Network controls about 10% of the Victorian ALP. It
hopes, through its “New Majority” or “Modernization Alliance” with the
Socialist Left, to gain majority control of the party. Can any observer
of Labor affairs have any doubt where the current disaster will
Delia’s response to Betty Branchmember
By Delia Delegate
Published June 24, 2002, 1am
Previously in the Right-Wing, the National Union of Workers led by
National ALP President Greg Sword has left the Right and concluded a
deal with the Socialist Left to form the Modernisation Alliance.
Crikey has told both sides of the story well, with many from the
Feeney-Shorten camp limping to their keyboards to respond on their
behalf. It’s all good debate. Most recently, Betty Branchmember takes
my quotes out of context and distorts them shamefully. I won’t respond
to everything but the main points.
There is no such thing as “The Network”. It was a Young Labor
group. Delia has erred by using it as shorthand. There is no Network.
There is a group of people who were once involved with Network during
Young Labor but no longer. Don’t get hung up about Network, it doesn’t
exist. Unlike Chambray MBA Bill Shorten who was involved at the start
of the group there is no shame in being associated with Network but it
no longer really exists in the way it once did.
To describe those associated with the NUW but not directly
involved as Network is also wrong. Matt Viney is one of us. He was not
involved in Young Labor. Bob Stensholt is the same. So blaming and
throwing muck at Network is confusing and inaccurate.
The innuendo about Network’s Young Labor “electoral fraud” is
nothing compared with Steve Conroy’s activities. Conroy’s conduct
during the Labor Unity executive elections was deplorable. The faction
secretary – known as Steve’s lapdog with a laptop – conducted the
ballot in a way that favoured Conroy’s candidates and Feeney’s
candidates and ruthlessly discriminated against those friendly with the
NUW. No list of voters was made available despite repeated requests, no
constitution of Labor Unity, or rules of the ballot or an accounting of
the money of the group. Conroy has steadfastly refused to hand over
details of the Labor Unity bank accounts which receive funds from
membership subscriptions every year. None of this information has been
made available to anyone associated with the NUW group and many suspect
the worst about how this money has been used. Conroy regards that
account, the LU membership list and even the rules of the group to be
his personal possession. Conroy’s Stalinism is in a much purer form
than Kim Il Carr’s: he’s more Albania 1968 than North Korea 2002.
Betty’s sinister attack on Aston byelection star Kieran Boland was
pathetic, Boland was a young and brilliant candidate who did extremely
well in tough circumstances in a campaign directed by David Feeney
(enough said). Aston was always going to be difficult on demographics
and Boland’s hard work and guts was impressive to everyone. Feeney said
he was a great candidate.
The attack on Tim Holding is equally shallow. No substantial
criticism has been made of this young and capable MP, destined many
think to be the next Premier of Victoria, after a very long Bracks
innings. He has rebuilt the ALP in Springvale and part of that is a
strong base of membership support.
The misquoting that Sword and Donnelly were to be replaced by
their young supporters is false too. There is an election on currently
which will see both of them get re-elected for four years, so that
really was a beat-up.
There are mixed reports about the AWU campaign last year. Delia
had heard Pakula was involved in arranging funding but no longer
believes it. Would have been a good idea to test the chambray MBA man
though with his members.
Betty thinks the hatred of Shorten is at least twelve months old. Try ten years.
Steve Moore is not employed by the TWU. He was once the Legal and
Planning Officer of the TWU but is now a barrister specialising in
industrial law. He would not have any involvement in or participation
in any TWU election now.
Betty is also eerily silent about the five federal MP’s known to
oppose Modernisation. Not a word of defence of any of them. Betty says
I say they are involved in branchstacking. True. That they are
associated with “unnamed ‘conservative catholics'”.
Prominent Conservative Catholics in the Australian Labor Party in Victoria
You want the truth, Betty, you can’t handle the truth. Delia
presents a list of the previously unnamed conservative catholics who
dominate the Shop Assistants Union (SDA) which has dominated recent
preselections in the ALP but is now locked out by the superiority of
the Modernisation Alliance.
Joe de Bruyn – National Secretary, national spokesman on the rights of embryos and ALP National Executive powerbroker.
Also involved in the ALP at varying levels are the following apparatchicks of the SDA:
Michael Donovan – Victorian State Secretary, known on the Road
Chris Gazenbeck – Organiser
Wade Noonan – Recruiter – Son of TWU Secretary Bill Noonan
Stephen Donnelly – Recruiter – Young Labor bovver boy and menace,
known associate of conservative catholics on Roxon, Lindell and Byrne’s
Anna Scott – Organiser
Anthony Burke – Researcher
Denis Parker – Senior Organiser – known for involvement in factional powergames
Joe Cerritelli – Training Officer – known suspect in reform groups against Alliance unions
John Boyle – Information Officer
Anthony Byrne – MP for Holt, to be replaced in preselections, known to have once worked for SDA
Jacinta Collins – Senator, facing replacement, known to have once worked for SDA
Michael Danby – MP for Melbourne Ports, once worked for SDA
Kelvin Thomson – MP for Wills, known to be aligned to SDA conservative catholic elements
Steve Conroy – Senator, facing replacement, once worked for TWU
but known to be closely aligned to social conservative opinion while
attempting to present a face of independence from the SDA despite being
heavily backed by them
Ian Maxfield – State MLA – formerly at SDA, going to lose seat probably anyway.
Bill Shorten/David Feeney – Can we read anymore about these two legends in their own long lunch-times?
The SDA adopts a sinister intervention in the affairs of the Labor
Party in an attempt to dominate its social agenda, on stem cell
research, abortion, drugs, education. It is an organisation that runs
an Australian Gown of the Year competition, the equivalent of a Miss
SDA quest. OK, they represent models but that’s ridiculous.
Its views are not exactly what you might expect from a union.
Fiercely opposed to the rights of women, it is entirely consistent with
the social conservatism of Feeney, Conroy, Shorten and their mates.
Feeney is not Jewish as Crikey believed and is definitely part of the
SDA conservative culture like chum Shorten.
Betty moves on to chew on Jeff Pulford claiming he’s set to
replace rightwing Michael Danby in Melbourne Ports. Danby is believed
to be considering retirement at the next election so there may be a
vacancy but it will go to the Left based on previous FEA election
results, which Danby let slide.
Betty lies about Crean’s staff member Jamie Driscoll. Isn’t it
interesting to see those who attempted to cloak their candidates in a
Crean Coat of Modernisation now accusing the Federal Leader of
illegally supplying his taxpayer funded staff to the NUW for election
campaigning. This is hypocrisy.
Kim Il Carr certainly has his faults and I have not been quiet in
expressing them. But he is a proven leader who has formed a majority
Modernisation Alliance which has achieved the previously unthinkable:
the defeat of Shorten, the chopping up of the Feeney carcass and the
distribution of the parts around the feasting table of Admin.
Carr makes the point well, the Right-wing says he cost votes.
Prove it, he challenges. Getting Murdoch and Packer to vilify Carr is
easy but is there ever proof that Carr is known and disliked by voters.
If he’s not known he can’t cost votes. He doesn’t cost a single vote
and never has, he gets us votes by building our policy credibility. He
is a part of the Party and we’re happy to take his union’s affiliation
fees but want to be able to call him a vote loser. Sword works well
with Carr. And that means a majority has been achieved. The NUW are
happy to work with Kim Il Carr while Conroy has been busy attempting to
destroy him. Who’s smarter now?
Betty says Sword is happy to cost Bracks/Crean government. Crap.
Sword has built a new alliance for modernisation committed to
supporting Bracks/Crean. He has brought the Socialist Left to adopt
positions they would never have done previously. He is changing
Betty saves the worst for last. She writes that Network is the NCC
and Hartley combined. A fascinating accusation considering Betty is
probably on a conservative catholic payroll somewhere.
She says that the consequence of the forming of the Modernisation
Alliance is a split or federal intervention. A split is very unlikely,
except for Bill Shorten’s turncoat mate Dean Mighell who joined the
Greens. Federal intervention is unlikely too considering who the
Federal President is. Guess who?