Last weekend’s Sunday Age feature on branchstacking and forgery
allegations levelled at Derrimut MP and Parliamentary Secretary for
Health Telmo Languiller – State MP accused of forgery
– puts the Victorian ALP head office, State Secretary Eric Locke and
Premier Steve Bracks right in the hot seat in how to respond to the
leaked report on branch stacking compiled by leading Pledge and
Socialist Left figures.

The findings are nothing new for anyone in the know in the Victorian
ALP. Stacking really does go to the top, with state MPs who were
delivered seats in the first place not by their ability but by their
stacking skills unable to abandon the habits that got them where they

Bracks has been weak on the issue thanks to his own Labor Unity
faction’s culture of promoting ethnic warlords whose skills in stacking
in federal electorates delivers votes in ALP forums and
preselections. If the Premier was dinkum on the matter, he would
do a Beattie – or a Beattie after the bruvvers got rumbled – and
publicly swear to drum the rorters out of the party.

The report covers on a number of areas, but highlights the Gorton FEA
and the stacking practices linked to state MPs George Seitz and Telmo
Languiller. Gorton is a newly created federal electorate, held by
former ASU assistant secretary Brendan O’Connor.

O’Connor won his preselection thanks to deals done by his own small
rump Ferguson grouping in Victoria which includes Martin Ferguson and
Julia Gillard as members. This group votes with the National Left
in Canberra but with the right wing Labor Unity faction in Victoria –
proving once again how Labor’s factions long ago dispensed with
ideology as a driver and are now based around personalities.

O’Connor won the preselection for one of the safest seats in the
country – but also got the burden of dealing with one of the most
stacked FEAs, thanks to ethnic and tribal turf wars from competing
camps for Seitz and Languiller and stacking carried out by forces
aligned to Federal Member for Maribyrnong, Bob Sercombe.

This stacking war really commenced in the mid 1990s with the arrival of
disgraced former MLC Tayfun Eren, whose mantle has now been taken by
other Turkish warlords in the region. Today the stacking is
completely out of control.

Not much needs to be said about Keilor State MP George Seitz. An
MP since 1982, Seitz began his career in the Socialist Left Faction,
then aligned himself with the Theophanous rump which split to the
right. Even Labor Unity has been floating the idea of
transferring Justin Madden from the Legislative Council to Keilor and
allowing a NUW hack to take his upper house spot as a way of getting
rid of Seitz.

Derrimut MP Telmo Languiller again has moved his factions over the
years to accommodate his ambition. Languiller, a migrant from
Uruguay, is not a great performer. His preselection was based
largely on the outcome of a brawl between the Labor Unity/Theophanous
group and forces aligned with former Sunshine MP Ian Baker and Sercombe.

The ALP’s Administrative Committee will most likely defer this report
as its contents attack the Labor Unity Factions leading stackers.
If the committee really wanted to act it would:

  • Strip Languiller and Seitz of their preselections;
  • Expel all persons mentioned in the report who have engaged in branch stacking and fraud’
  • Suspend all the operations of the branches in the Gorton FEA and
    conduct a comprehensive audit of every member of the FEA to ensure they
    are legitimate members who have willingly joined the party, attended
    meetings, paid their own membership etcetera; and
  • Sack any head office staffer who has allowed stacked members to
    be entered into the membership register without Admin Committee

Somehow, this isn’t likely to happen.

Eric Locke’s reaction to the report was low key – even though rank and
file members have already lost a lot of confidence in the party office
bearers thanks to the disastrous Victorian federal election result and
the Family First debacle hapless faction heavies negotiated.

Many members have little hope that anyone will ever show courage and
tell the warlords and the Premier that serious culture change needs to
happen in the Victorian ALP to stamp out branch stacking from all
sections of the party, left or right.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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