Our Queensland ALP insider Mickey Spillall has come up with the goods again on his banana bending colleagues and their junketing ways.

And sometimes it’s nothing much, like a chance meeting on George Street the other day with one of the old school, a “kick ’em even harder because they’re down” man who until recently had his hands on the levers of government.

The talk turned to recent Crikey postings, and Mickey now has a new indicator of when a political career has come to a sorry pass – when the hard men of Labor politics gaze upon you with pity and talk openly about your “therapeutic needs”.

Because there it was, this former Labor Minister and confirmed head-kicker suggesting that Mike Kaiser, Woodridge’s most recently disgraced MP, might have to be allowed back into the party “on humanitarian grounds”.

“The poor bastard clearly can’t get over not being a member anymore, what do the shrinks call it – ‘closure’ – and if it gets any worse, I think we’ll just have to let him back in.”

“Would a therapuetic ALP membership cost more or less than a paedophile in prison membership?” I wondered aloud, thinking back to the shock of discovering that Woodridge’s other public disgrace Bill D’Arcy had been allowed back in for a touch under twenty bucks.

“Comrade, could you run that by me again …what you just said, about the therapy rate and the prisoner rate” the old warhorse snorted, shaking his head.

It was about then we realised that if “Populism Pete” Beattie, aka The Media Tart, suddenly renounced all press conferences and declared a fatwa on journalists, neither of us would be surprised. Truly these are strange times at the Hall.

And disconcerting times for State Secretary Cameron “Big Wig” Milner we agreed, after mulling over the political equivalent of a bad hair day the youngster had on Monday.

It was one of those small but significant indicators of how much the ground is shifting beneath you, and beneath the once all powerful AWU faction which has gifted “Big Wig”, D’Arcy and Kasier to a grateful State.

Labor’s Administrative Committee was deciding who was to get one of the bigger lollies handed out to up and coming party apparachicks – a trip to the US to get up close and personal with their political process.

“Big Wig” feels an attachment to the trip as he went himself in 2000 and it was there that he really got up close and personal with Lauren McGregor, the immediate past president of Queensland Young Labor and current Australian YL president, thus ending his marriage to Brisbane City Councillor Victoria Newton.

The trip is organised and part paid for by the US Information Agency and it was all set up during Cold War to show people from less fortunate countries how democracy should work.

“Show them how junkets work more like it,” my companion observed, greatly amused at his own joke.

In the past, the AWU State Secretary unilaterally chose who got to go, and in one of those strange quirks life sometimes throws up, it was always someone from the AWU who went. Can they help it if they always had all of the most talented up and comers?

For example, in 1996, then State Secretary Mike Kaiser bestowed the honour on his close friend and factional mate Warwick Powell, later to figure so prominently at the Shepherdson Inquiry – though not so prominently as Kaiser.

So just the fact that this decision was taken out of the hands of the (AWU) State Secretary is a blow, but on top of that, “Big Wig” failed completely to get his nominee onto the trip.

The AWU organisor at Labor’s Peel Street bunker is Milton Dick and “Big Wig” was insistent Milton should be one of the two Labor junketeers.

Instead, the other two factions ganged up, as often happens these days, and agreed to send Stuart Fyfe from the Left and Andrew Fraser from the Old Guard.

“Big Wig” complained bitterly about the injustice of the situation, argued that just because the AWU always got the trip in the past, “he shoudn’t be held accountable for previous regimes”, before launching into committee member Di Farmer, telling her she had never got to go because “you just weren’t up to it”.

Milner also argued that delgates on the trip should be chosen on the basis of proportional representation.

Now, political theorists will tell you that PR is the most democratic electoral system, and results in the Senate show you why it is much beloved by minor parties, minorities and other numerically challenged groups.

But it has been a while since the Hall has echoed to the sound of anyone from the “win at all costs, winner takes all” AWU arguing in favour of it.

Strange days. Most peculiar Mumma. But strange enough that Mike Kaiser’s political career could be re-started so soon after the ignominy of the Shepherdson Inquiry? No. And Mickey will explain why in the next day or two.

Peter Fray

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