Victorian ALP state secretary Erik Locke headed off yesterday to join Labor-leaning PR outfit CPR with one final blast – at Crikey. Your correspondent received a call from Locke after we reported his resignation, and Erik wasn’t a happy camper.

“I did not negotiate the preference deal with Family First. It was done at a federal level,” he told us. “I did not brief journalists about branch stacking – I was in New Zealand when the story broke.

“What’s more, I didn’t leak my resignation letter to Jon Faine. I sent the letter to Brian (Daley) on Friday and this morning to admin committee members. And the quotes you attributed to me in the letter are wrong.”

We have obtained a copy of Locke’s resignation letter which, frankly, is not nearly as good as the version we reported on yesterday. A fairly mundane effort, there’s a bit of brown-nosing to Premier Steve Bracks and the old “personal reasons” excuse gets trotted out. So who did negotiate the infamous Family First preference deal? We are informed that it wasn’t all Locke’s handiwork. Locke, only ever a compromise candidate for the secretary position, has never really proven himself to be skilled at “the numbers”. He needed some help in securing the FF deal.

One operator who’s hoping no-one notices his role is SL warlord and federal MP Alan Griffin (Member for Bruce, shadow for sport & recreation). Apparently Griffin joined Locke in conducting the negotiations with FF in Victoria – and played a role in the national negotiations, too. Griffin was confident heading into the election and, with his eye on a ministry or shadow ministry spot, personally called marginal seat candidates to let them know what great work he was doing with FF. Griffin has always fancied himself as a hardened Left numbers-man, but the reality is that, beyond his own preselection, he’s yet to actually bring anything else off successfully.

Finally, we asked Locke to put his thoughts to pen: “I’ve just had a sh*t sheet written about me,” he complained. “I’m not going to dignify it with a response.” So here, in its place, is his resignation letter:

Brian Daley
C/- LHMU
117-131 Capel St
NORTH MELBOURNE 3051

Dear Brian

I write to inform you of my resignation from the position of State Secretary of the Victorian Branch of the ALP, effective as at 29 April this year.

My departure from the Victorian Branch is due to personal reasons.

After 14 years of working for the Party, I feel that the time has come to move on and take up new challenges. I have worked on 5 federal and 6 state elections and served in senior government and Party posts – I think I’ve earned a break from the high intensity life of politics.

I feel the time is right for someone new to fill the role, and that those currently with a majority on the Administrative Committee should take on the task of governing the Party, with a new State Secretary drawn from their ranks.

In the past two years, I have had the opportunity to work closely with a range of talented and hardworking individuals. They include State Office Officials, Members of Parliament, union secretaries and members of the ALP. Their commitment to electing Labor governments for the betterment of our community has been an invaluable source of assistance in carrying out my duties as State Secretary. They have my sincere thanks.

I wish in particular to thank Premier Steve Bracks for his ongoing support and assistance. He is one of the most decent people I know, genuinely committed to making Victoria a better place. The ALP is lucky to have him and I know that the Victorian people appreciate his qualities and will re-elect him in 2006.

The ALP Victorian Branch is in good shape. We hold State Government and we are the best performing mainland state at a federal level. Financially we are well and truly in the black and fireproofed for the future. I am proud of the contribution I have made to that achievement.

The ALP has my very best wishes for its future success. I know the ALP will achieve that success through unity, adherence to its rules and values and by respecting the diversity of opinions that exist amongst our membership. Above all else, the ALP will succeed by electing Labor Governments that represent the needs of all Australians.

Yours sincerely
Erik Locke
State Secretary
Friday, 15 April 2005

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