There was factional fun and games at the Victorian Young Liberals’ annual ball held at Eventsware on Melbourne’s Southbank over the weekend, with reports that the event descended into a factional stand-off on the banks of Yarra River, with suited-up young Libs just itching to tear each other limb from limb.

Inside sources have told Crikey that the function got heated when guest speaker and Liberal party relic Tony Staley had to stop his speech numerous times to tell drunken students to be quiet as they threw insults at each other across the room. Supposedly the Melbourne Uni young Libs were in fine drunken form heckling, jeering and calling their fellow party members “left-wing w*nkers” all through the night

According to Crikey sources biffo was brewing from with outset, with the Jason Aldworth-aligned Melbourne University Liberal Club keen to start a bit of a punch on with Monash Uni Libs Chris Nugent, Conrad Xanthos and other factional hangers-on over some minor Young Liberal positions.

And it all spilt out on to the banks of the Yarra where up to 30 unruly Libs prepared to duel, throwing lines like “you are all Trots” until former Victorian state MP Inga Peutlich was forced to step in and calm down the crowd. “Just to ensure that it came to nothing I jumped into the scrum, as I always tend to, and prevented some people from making fools of themselves,” Peutlich told The Age.

Crikey’s insiders suggest that no drunken punches were thrown, or if they were they didn’t hit anything that resembled a young Lib, and that the entire night fizzled out after Peutlich stepped in. Maybe after leaving state politics Peutlich could turn her talents to crowd control – she admits she’s no stranger to breaking up a fight.

The Age’s Farrah Tomazin and Paul Austin report that Melbourne University Liberal Club members and their crew engaged in “thuggery and intimidation” during the ball and that until recently the two factions groups rarely mixed – and we see why. Coincidentally Young Labor was also having a little celebration a few doors down, but it proved a much more subdued affair, and without a knife in sight.

Peter Fray

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