Harry Hack, a supporter of Bill Shorten and David Feeney, has sent through a second explosive piece laying into the Swordsmen and his NUW “Network” faction.

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 arena.

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 North preselection.

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 reinstrated 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 loudly.

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 years.

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 he accepted.

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, South Yarra.

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.


Now let’s take a look at Harry Hack’s first effort.

Harry Hack hoes into the Swordsman

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 to.

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 official.

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 empire.

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 tastes.

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 “obsessions”.

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 burnt.

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 write-up.

Without fear and favour I will guide readers through the treacherous and rugged terrain known as Labor Unity.

Till next time, Harry Hack