Subscribers have been enjoying a feast of interesting Democrats material in their email inboxes over the past few days. Here is a sample of the best of it.

Sealed section August 13

A Dems insider writes:

Another piece to the puzzle. The crucial votes at the Dem national executive such as referring Andrew Murray to the national management and compliance committees, the road to expulsion, were lost 11-9. In other words, where Britney used to have the numbers on National exec she has lost those as well.

She threatened to put her leadership on the line and they ignored it. Flashback to 2 months ago. Nine Dem senators, nine dem factions in the party room. Leader has control in party room just for the sake of the party others grumpy but put up with it. Leader has absolute control over national executive.

Fast forward to present: 1 Dem seat gone to Greens in NSW, another Dems senate seat gone with Meg Lees walking away from the student politic inspired games. Another Dem senator about to walk which she desperately wanted to happen. The three Dems senators in the middle – Allison, Cherry, Ridgeway – harden up against her over her treatment of Lees and Murray.

She loses every round with Murray who is now back with his concerns being met under urgent consideration in the party room. Deputy finds it difficult to support leader and says party is intolerant and unhealthy. Leader turns to National Executive to get rid of Murray and now the National Executive is turning with her majority turned to a minority. She threatens to resign if Murray stays and the vote goes against her wishes 11-9.

Cherry now leading push to keep Murray, with support of Allison and Ridgeway and hammers out a deal to keep him by putting up a stack of motions reflecting Murray’s concerns for urgent consideration. Party room agrees expressly against leader’s wishes. She tries to spin to the gallery she is happy, hasn’t agreed to any conditions and Murray is under probation. Other Senators point out inaccuracies on channel 9 and ABC 7.30 Report. His concerns being met and he isn’t under any probation. Add to this losing 3 national presidents, 3 campaign directors and a vote down to the margin for error at 3% and things don’t look so hot.

One of the Andrew Murray and now Cherry et al concerns is the professionalism of NSD staff. Would be interesting to take a look there. Were there any involved in trying to get rid of Meg by fairly squalid measures? Ask the sphere of influence, he knows what went on. What does Frank McGuire, brother of Crikey fav Eddie actually do for his big fat salary? He is supposed to be the chief strategist and gets to run his business and work from home, going to Canberra when it sits. He is supposed to sit in Lyn Allison’s office in Melbourne to make it all hunky dory but is very rarely seen there.

A cursory glance at the last few months would show he is either an incompetent strategist or maybe doesn’t have his eye on the ball. Jo Pride is one of the NSD favourite staff. So favourite that it is she who has been given the regal nod for Meg’s seat. The setting up of her for Meg’s seat started some time ago, partly the reason for the push on Meg according to some. What does a young democrat formerly involved in a scandal in NSW parliament have to do with all this intrigue? Plenty and it is pretty dirty according to others.

Name withheld

Hillary’s 3-part Dems special

Sealed Section August 14

Should Natasha do a Britney

Now that she has been comprehensively rolled, maybe Natasha should do a Britney and take six months off performing. She could get married and go on an extended honeymoon to start with. This is what the New York Post said about Britney’s rest: click here.

Dems Victorian President resigns

Meanwhile, Tom Joyce, who was the Dems Victorian State President, resigned on Monday night. He flew over to Adelaide for National Executive on the weekend to support NSD. He told the State Exec he was resigning in protest because Andrew Murray had been let back into the party room and that would be too difficult for Natasha.

Democrats dollars doomed

Hillary Bray writes:

Crikey has already asked how the Democrat’ woes will affect the party’s fundraising and now an ominous answer has come from their stronghold state, South Australia.

Back in the halcyon days when the Dems could claim to be a serious political party, the local organisation capitalised on its credibility in the community and began holding an annual dinner at the prestigious Adelaide Town Hall.

The affair was sold to the corporate sector as well as members, with Adelaide businesses being generous in underwriting the event to maximise profits for the party.

The South Australian Dems inevitably came to rely on the function to boost their meagre finances, and it became their biggest annual earner.

Now, with the Dems in turmoil, this year’s dinner has suddenly been cancelled. Reports from the funeral parlour (yep the South Australian Democrats’ HQ used to be an undertakers) say that the mail-out to businesses and members seeking support and flogging tickets has resulted in a deafening silence.

And just to add insult to injury, they have lost a hefty $2000 deposit as well. Ouch!

Is the party over for Andrew Murray

Hillary Bray writes:

Crikey has reported just some of the blood-curdling threats made against Western Australian Democrat Senator Andrew Murray and now a new item comes our way.

Much of the Democrats’ current trouble has stemmed from tensions between an activist rank and file and parliamentarians who want to act like a political party. So, what have some WA members done? Yep you guessed. They’ve collected the 10 signatures that’s all it takes needed to put an expulsion motion to all the folk in fairyland and sent it off to Canberra.

Just how the Democrat national executive reacts to this unwelcome but surely anticipated gift remains to be seen. As the days go by and the situation becomes muddier and muddier, one thing stays certain and that’s that something’s got to give.

PS A subscriber swears on a stack of Bibles that a friend of a friend’s sister’s mother’s aunt’s cousin’s neighbour saw Andrew Murray leave a Liberal state MP’s office in outer Melbourne yesterday accompanied by a bunch of suits and none other than Petro Georgiou. Anyone got anything on this?

Hillary’s Dems special in August 15 sealed section

The Murray Mystery deepens

Yesterday, Crikey exclusively reported that Andrew Murray had been seen leaving a Liberal state MP’s office in outer Melbourne earlier in the week with a bunch of suits and the former Victorian state Liberal director turned MP for Ming’s old seat of Kooyong, Petro Georgiou.

Now, we can also reveal the sensational news that he has been seen in the Gloomy City with Labor heavyweight Robert Ray. The plot thickens!


Fortunately, someone with half a clue tells us that Murray is not shopping for the best offer but rather going about his business as a member of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters – a committee chaired by Georgiou and that also counts Ray amongst its members.

Conspiracy theorists and ADnet regulars should note that this means that only one negative conclusion that can be drawn from the sightings. This is, of course, is that if all the other Committee members were also there – Michael Danby, Andrew Bartlett, Jeannie Ferris, Brett Mason, John Forrest, Sussan Ley and Daryl Melham – they should be worrying about their poor public recognition rates.

The Democrats fix their problems

More interesting items come to Crikey from the ADnet, now know as the MADnet in dissident circles, as party worthies argue for job descriptions for MPs and annual appraisals as a cure all.

True, it’s a comfort that Liz Oss-Emer recognises that her party’s constitution is in a bad way – but her remedy is like treating cancer with cough medicine (sorry – with a glass of hot water with a teaspoon full of organic leatherwood honey – we are talking about the Dems here).

The membership have responded brilliantly, calling for new ways in which the rank and file can make it harder for the parliamentary wing of the party to act like a parliamentary party – as our snippets show.

—–Original Message—–

From: Oss-Emer

Sent: Tuesday, 13 August 2002 3:45 PM

To: [email protected]

Subject: [AD] constitutional reform

I’m really interested in getting this going, and am taking note of all the suggestions coming through AD net. I know lots of suggestions have been made via the review, which is great. There has been discussion of bringing all Divisional ones into closer alignment, but of course (understandably) that will be a big bun fight. Your suggestion of including minimum standards in the national one is good.

There’s lots of areas in which our Constitution is inadequate, I think. For example, how we can address the issue of reviewing parliamentarians’ performance more regularly than happens with preselection. How about members getting to review them against set criteria, this info is kept and made available as part of their renomination every time? Other ideas?



Thank you, Liz, for asking for ideas.

Leaders’ Job Descriptions

I suggest that the positions of Parliamentary or Senate Leader (and deputy leader) should have job descriptions. One of the powers of the leader should be the ability to require National Compliance Committee (or the party’s disciplinary body, if there should be a new one after the review and possibly-related ballot[s]) to deal with a complaint by the leader about improper behaviour by an MP under his or her leadership.

Perhaps the Democrat Senate partyroom could get the concept of leader and deputy job descriptions going now so that they have some interim descriptions working very soon. I suggest that this would help overcome partyroom disagreement on the direction(s) the Senate team should take, by defining what role the leader should take in such circumstances.

MP’s Code of Conduct

To complement the leaders’ job descriptions, we should have, as others have suggested, a code of conduct for MPs, something which candidates should reaffirm when they stand for parliament and ask for the backing of the party for getting them into parliament.

National Compliance Committee

I don’t think there is much need for change in the structure of the NCC and complaints made to it, except for the ability of the leader to refer MPs to it as I have outlined above. (By the way, I was very disappointed that NE, at its meeting on the weekend, did not ask NMC to investigate the case for NMC to make a complaint to NCC regarding Senator Murray’s alleged serious breaches of the constitution over the last three weeks.)

Mark Andrews

Will Lex give the Dems a new lease of life?

Foreign Minister Lex “I wanna be an Airborne Ranger/I wanna live a life of danger” Loser is demonstrating his political skills once again. As Britney desperately gasps for breath before going under a third and final time, his embarrassing tub thumping on Iraq is providing the Democrat leader with much needed oxygen.

What a clever boy he is!

Peter Fray

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