Crikey’s Victorian Labor Party correspondents, Delia Delegate, Betty Branchmember and their friends, seem to have gone quiet – but this note was left under my pot of Melbourne Bitter yesterday:
For those maladjusted persons who have great interest in the dark and sinister world of Victorian ALP Politics, the shift in the tectonic plates that happened shortly before last Christmas when the National Union of Workers announced it was coming home to “mama”, or its recently hated but now reunited colleagues at the Right wing Labor Unity faction, thus creating a power bloc comprising 58% of the vote on ALP panels, is now starting to be felt.
Selective leaking by Labor Unity figures to the media on which Federal Seats they are gunning for and whose heads will be lopped off at the next round of ALP Federal Preselections, commenced almost immediately.
Much of the leaking was either from Stephen (I forgot to wash my hands) Conroy, the Labor Unity figure who, if a popularity contest was conducted in the Federal ALP Caucus, would almost certainly come last, and AWU National Secretary Bill (I will be Prime Minister) Shorten, a so called rising star in his own eyes as he continues to use the media to champion his own spin.
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The decision by the NUW to leave Labor Unity two years ago realigned the planets within the Victorian ALP so dramatically that it was like placing planet earth in the next galaxy. However its union with the Socialist Left and Centre groupings was only destined to last for the period that political retribution could be delivered to persons such as David Feeney, who was removed as Victorian State Secretary. The departure of Greg Sword only accelerated this process.
The NUW realised that their chances of expanding the number of lackeys aligned to them in the Federal Parliament as well as protecting the seats of their state parliament aligned members such as Monica Gould, Tim Holding or Mary Gillett at preselection time was going to be mighty difficult, so they decided to seek detente with their former Labor Unity brothers.
Interestingly the NUW seems to have promised Shorten and Co to deliver other fringe groups to the new power bloc, such as the old pledge group and some Independents. At the moment that is not yet a done deal.
So how is this new power grouping going to exercise its muscle? Well for a start it will seek to destroy any remnants of the Independents groups. Exterminate and crush would be other well chosen phrases.
It will seek to install into the Federal Seat of Maribyrnong Bill (I will be Prime Minister) Shorten. Earmarked for the Federal Seat of Corio is ACTU Assistant Secretary Richard Marles and for Issacs and Hotham an NUW Apparatchik such as Julie Warren, Rachel Dapiran and the little known and definitely talentless NUW State Secretary Martin Pakula. David Feeney is also being touted as a successor to Senator Robert Ray when he retires in 2008. Feeney does have some good skills, but is also seen as coming from the Graham Richardson finishing school of whatever it takes. Even if we have a Senator Feeney one day, he will be a creature of his faction, and will be no Robert Ray whose credibility and respect allowed the Hawke Government to prosper and rule.
Others targeted are Calwell’s Maria Vamvakinou, the erstwhile Kim Carr footsoldier who has successfully made her safe Labor seat into an increasingly marginal one. The name Labor Unity is throwing around here is the former Broadmeadows boy Eddie McGuire. The question is would Eddie trade his millions to go to Canberra. Maybe his ego will demand he is a senior Minister in a Labor Government or god forbid Prime Minister (watch out Bill). Somehow I doubt Eddie would move from Toorak back to his home suburb just to get his bum on green leather, or maybe he will stay in Toorak and rule in Broadmeadows.
Other seats being looked at are Scullin where Harry Jenkins Jnr almost certainly should move on.
The new power bloc is seeking to have Federal and State Pre Selections held in October 2005 in a big bang approach, get rid of those people in one bloody rout.
And bloody it may well be. Bill (I will be Prime Minister) Shorten will need to use a Thermo Nuclear device to get rid of fortress Bob Sercombe. It’s all well and good for Shorten to move into one of Moonee Ponds’ best streets and try to stack the Moonee Ponds Branch, but taking on the master of survival Sercombe will not be easy, even if he is starting with 58% of the vote.
The question is does little Bill, he of the big ego, have the guts to get his hands dirty, having to wade his way through all those hundreds of stacked branches and dealing with the Ethnic warlords who promote even less talented people into the ALP.
We shall see. It’s easy to take over a decrepit union such as what the AWU was, and bring it a little credibility by using the media, and with real stars in that outfit such as Bill Ludwig who symbolises all that is really wrong with the ALP, it’s another to go into real trench warfare with Sercombe.
Now we have also Richard Marles from Corio. Marles has, with his close group of Stackers John (Brother of Tayfun) Eren MLC and Cr David Saunderson, systematically stacked branches all over the FEA to realise his dream of green leather. We shall see if Marles is prepared to get his hands bloody by blasting out Gavin O’Connor. Marles may find the dirt on him, if used, could be very damaging indeed.
Then we have Martin Pakula from the NUW. Pakula has been with the union for some years now, surviving the NUW’s many fights to emerge on top of the heap as State Secretary. Now he wants his day in the sun in Canberra with Hotham or Issacs as his vehicle.
Granted, Anne Corcoran really is hopeless and has delivered Issacs into the super marginal column. But replacing her with Pakula offers another Union official who is not regarded as any star performer in the ALP and who offers the ALP Caucus another bland union apparatchik who is rooted in the ALP finishing school of union factionalism and brings no policy brain to the table.
So how do we sum up this new order? Like any new power bloc, the select few will collect the spoils, as Robert Ray once said, in the ALP it’s who is in and who is out which really matters. But what this also demonstrates is how decrepit and poisoned the internal ALP structures have become. Marles, Shorten and Pakula are only where they are because they control Union bloc votes which deliver power to them. Without it they are nothing. The ordinary branch members who are not stacks are disenfranchised and alone.
When will the ALP realise that giving unions 50% of the vote in the ALP when they represent as affiliated unions probably, at most, 15% of the overall Australian workforce, ultimately delivers a caucus which is simply out of touch. We don’t need Shorten, Marles, Feeney or Pakula in our Parliaments who come from the finishing school, we need real people with skills and life experience outside of this domain. God knows we have enough union hacks.
Also will the new Labor Unity-NUW grouping get rid of other duds in our Parliament such as Anthony Byrne in Holt who has made that seat marginal, I doubt it.
Shorten, Pakula, Feeney and Marles, if they are so talented, should move to marginal Liberal Seats and win them for the ALP. Shorten should move to Deakin, remember that seat Bill, in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, it isn’t stacked mate, but we need to win it. Come to think of it, you already have a connection with the seat, your father in law the Millionaire Liberal blueblood Julian Beale was the former Liberal Member for Deakin in the 1980s.
It will be just like going home.