“Simon Crean has pinned his hopes for preselection
on winning the local vote in the seat of Hotham,” The Australian reports today, “but sources in the local branches say his campaign is in
trouble”.

The Cambodian stackees seem set to let Sime down: “The
Cambodians, under the control of state MP Hong Lim, constitute about 90 of the
330 eligible preselectors in Hotham, about 300 of whom are expected to turn out
on the day. Sources said Mr Lim had felt snubbed by Mr Crean’s office for
years.”

Welcome to the wonderful world of our alternative
government!

Yesterday the Financial Review reported that Crean
may appeal to Labor’s national executive if he’s given the heave-ho from
Hotham. It also carried reports of moves to jig the numbers so Kim Beazley
doesn’t have to cast a coup de grace vote against his frontbencher.

Lucky Labor has the AWB raging, to draw attention
from their own weaknesses at the moment. Still, hyperbole on how they’ll handle
that issue – raising unrealistic expectations of ministerial scalps – may yet
come back to bite them. It may even help the Government wriggle off the hook.

The Government has been strangely quiet on this. No
doubt they want to let it all happen – and leave Beazley hanging there.
There’ll be plenty of scope to wade in with accusations of factional and
union thuggery and disloyalty then.

Labor simply doesn’t get it. It’s putting its worst
aspects on display at a time when the Government looks the worst it’s ever been
in 10 full years. Kim Beazley doesn’t realise that leadership is about more than trying to give crisps sound bites.

Labor’s national president Warren Mundine was woeful on the topic on AM yesterday:

Well,
you know, it’s all within the rules of the party, it’s a democratic
party, everyone has a right, if they meet the qualification, to put
their hand up and run for the party. That’s always been the rules, and
it’s the right thing to do… Well, there’s no doubt that the public
brawl that’s going on at the moment is causing us a bit of a headache,
but you know this is all part of the process when you go through
pre-selection… It’s a process that we need to go
through. We need to get through it and then we need… once the process
is over, we then need to get behind as the selected candidates and
ensure that they’re elected to defeat the Howard-Costello Government…

It’s
a process that once it’s gone through in Hotham – and in five other
seats in Victoria – will reveal just how the numbers are stitched up by
the Right machine. It’s a process that will reveal just how much the
party needed the internal reforms attempted by Crean as leader.

And it’s a process that should reveal the fundamental weakness of the
ALP – no matter the issues that beset the government from day to day.

And when it’s all over the government will let rip. Labor insiders fear
Beazley will be portrayed as disloyal, weak and self interesting – the
walking example of all that’s wrong with Labor.

Peter Fray

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