Meanwhile, back at the ALP, the ex-NCC mob at the shop assistants union
have been flexing their muscles. Victoria’s state ALP conference on
Saturday shelved a proposal to conduct centrally-determined upper house
preselections for next year’s election, because, as The Age reports, the shop assistants broke from the Right to oppose it.

The result will be chaos, as Labor’s upper house members, including six
ministers, scramble to assure themselves seats. “One factional leader
said upper house ministers would have to ‘stop doing their ministerial
jobs’ for the next few months because they would be busy canvassing
support for preselection from rank-and-file members.”

As The Australian
put it, “this throws into doubt the ability of the faction to guarantee
the safety of ministers. ‘In a local ballot you cannot guarantee any
outcome,’ one source said.” Out in the real world, we call that

Or perhaps not: several ministers, according to The Oz, are
especially vulnerable “because they do not have the support of large
blocs of votes on the ground, unlike some MPs who spend their time
stacking branches.”

Some upper house members will try to move to lower house seats, but this is also proving difficult, since, as The Age
puts it, “factional leaders are finding it hard to ‘persuade’ many
lower house MPs to retire.” There has been no suggestion that any of
them will try to win seats from the Liberals, even though the polls say
that is quite possible.

Liberal Party members, who have just been through their own
(comparatively restrained) round of preselection bunfights, must be
shaking their heads in amazement. How is it that Labor can get away
with such nonsense, while their own internal problems threaten to keep
them out of office in perpetuity?

Truth is, the twin facts that the state Liberal Parties are
dysfunctional and that they keep losing elections are not as closely
related as it might seem. They are at the wrong point of the electoral
cycle; when the wheel turns their way again, as one day it will, they
will find themselves back in office, whether they’ve fixed up their own
problems or not.