This eulogy to young Swordsman Tim Holding provides enough inside perspectives to justify publishing. One of Shorten’s blokes will probably send through a similar piece about him now. Crikey is quite enjoying being used by both sides and learning a hell of a lot about the ALP along the way.

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 hones talent.

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 the Party.

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 go unpunished.

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 takes.

Peter Fray

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