commentary on the end of the Kroger-Kennett feud in Victoria has mostly
missed the mark because it fails to distinguish between two quite
different things – Jeff Kennett’s personal behaviour and that of the
faction of which he is a member. John Ferguson comes close in
yesterday’s Herald Sun,
but even he refers to “the old Kennett grouping” in a way that suggests
Kennett’s influence is comparable to that of Michael Kroger or Peter

But this has never been true. The Kroger/Costello
faction in Victoria can reasonably be referred to like that because
it’s largely based on personal loyalty to its leaders. But the
anti-Kroger faction is not a personal fiefdom of Kennett; but a
coalition united by its dislike of the other side. Kennett’s personal
animus towards Kroger and Costello was never more than one element in
that. The factions would probably have lined up much the same way even
if that animus had never existed, and its ending (if it has) will make
little difference to the underlying struggle.

This is especially
true now because Kennett is long gone from a position of power. It
would be much more pertinent to ask if there had been a reconciliation
between Kroger and people like Louise Asher, Ted Baillieu, David Davis,
Petro Georgiou, Peter Clarke and Joy Howley – and there is no sign of

Ferguson is right to say that Kroger and Costello have
“overwhelming control of the Victorian division,” and that “the
so-called Kennett forces have made the broad decision to let the
winners run their race.” But that just means that they will be waiting
for Doyle or Costello to fail, not that they will be wanting them to

And there’s one important forum where the Kroger/Costello forces can’t
be sure of the numbers – the state parliamentary party. Life could
still be interesting there.

Peter Fray

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