Apr 20, 2006

Inside the Victorian ALP – who runs the Bracks Government?

Crikey published an 18,500 word treatise on Jeff Kennett during the last state election - but that was nothing compared with this unprecedented 34,000 word insight into the Labor Party courtesy of insiders who sent through these remarkable missives in May and June during the great Victorian faction fight. The key players call themselves Delia Delegate, Reg the Representative, Harry Hack and Betty Branchmember.

Crikey published an 18,500 word treatise on Jeff Kennett during the last state election - but that was nothing compared with this unprecedented 34,000 word insight into the Labor Party courtesy of insiders who sent through these remarkable missives in May and June during the great Victorian faction fight. The key players call themselves Delia Delegate, Reg the Representative, Harry Hack and Betty Branchmember. Published late May

The Victorian ALP conference last weekend saw a great deal of tension over the issue of whether the 33 delegates of the Metal Trades division of the Manufacturing Workers Union would be allowed to vote. I personally felt far more angst about the slow moving queue for coffee downstairs from the Conference but that's another story.

On the surface, the issue was about whether the state branches of unions or their federal superiors had the ultimate say about appointing delegates. Michelle O'Neill, the Textiles, Clothing and Footwear Secretary, argued the case passionately as she didn't want the federal office of her union taking her power away. As she presides over a union in hopeless decline, who can blame her for that?

Then Ian Jones of the Vehicle Builders division of the Manufacturing Workers Union ranted and raved about workers' rights and how the decision by the Metal Trades division not to send any delegates was wrong and that the Federal Court's decision that the national office of AMWU was binding on the ALP.

A cavalcade of rabble rousers followed, arguing the case for why the Victorian ALP had to comply with "the rule of law." It was an amusing argument from people who often boast about organising illegal strikes, who beat each other up in and out of the Comrades' Bar, the Lincoln, the bar at Trades Hall, the car-park at Trades Hall and anywhere else where there are brothers from militant world of militant unionism.

Greg Sword put the case best. He argued very persuasively that the Victorian branch of the Party had no right and no role looking into the process by which union delegates are appointed to the Conference. He said it would make us a laughing stock and reminded delegates to remember when the state was referred to as the Albania of the south. Greg is in the Right of the Party, as convenor of the Labor Unity group and many Labor Unity delegates were inclined to go along with their leader. Especially in circumstances in which there was argument in which his pulse rate had exceeded its normal Bjorn Borg levels.

That was on the surface. That's what readers of the Sunday Age heard about. What was the debate really about?

It was about a conflict in the Right wing Labor Unity group that threatens to cause a major split.


Greg Sword is the National Secretary of the National Union of Workers. He is the elder statesman of the Victorian right. He has been a person of great influence within the Party for decades now.

He is profoundly unhappy about the emergence of younger turks, like ALP State David Feeney and the best man at his recent wedding AWU National Secretary Bill Shorten who while also in the Right have built their own power bases completely independently of Sword and the National Union of Workers.

This grates on Sword and the NUW who remember the fact that they founded the faction years ago. They remember days when they were practically the last union left standing in the Labor Unity group in the early 1990's after the Socialist Left had seized control of the Clerks' Union, the AWU and the Transport Workers Union.

Overlayed on that is a group called Network. It was a Young Labor group formed by Shorten in the 1980's. It's a long and bizarre story but essentially Shorten and Feeney were in intense and bitter competition within Young Labor. Feeney says Shorten was his "nemesis" in those days. Shorten had built a large group of Young Labor people, primarily from Monash University, Feeney built a smaller group, primarily from Melbourne University.

Due to a series of personality conflicts most of which caused by Bill's outsized ego within Shorten's own group, he left them and formed an unlikely coalition with David Feeney.

The remaining Young Labor Network people, formerly Bill's best mates like NUW Victorian Assistant Secretary Martin Pakula, TWU's Steve Moore, NUW's Antony Thow, bumbling lawyer Charles Power and the younger ones like ambitious and capable State MP Tim Holding were all shocked that Bill could enter into a Devil's Pact of this type.

In the way that the best of friends can become the best of enemies, this group renamed briefly as Agenda continued. Many of the Agenda group and the remaining Network group have coalesced around Greg Sword and the National Union of Workers bloc within the Right.


The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

The simmering tension is all about personalities. And it's been played out in several battles.

Last year, Greg Sword and Martin Pakula had arranged funding for an all-out attack on Bill Shorten's powerbase at the AWU. Bill's enemies within the AWU were meant to deliver candidates to run against him in the Victorian branch but they got cold feet. The NUW denied any association with interfering in the internal affairs of another union.

This year, there is a ballot coming up for the National Union of Workers. Ray Gorman and a number of disgruntled people from the Victorian branch are planning on running against Greg Sword's ticket. Whether these old guys can form a Dad's Army ticket or not is the big question. The notoriously ethically challenged NSW branch of the NUW (the late NUW NSW State Secretary Frank Belan once got busted for putting brothel services on his union American Express card) run by Derek Belan is funding the effort although it is clear the AWU Secretary Bill Shorten is providing support of some kind too.

And there's the Health Services Union where there is an ongoing power struggle between its Secretary Greg Sword ally Maria Zarko and the majority of the Branch Committee which is controlled by Jeff Jackson and Kathy Jackson. It is the closest thing to a direct conflict within the Right that we've had for a long time.

In almost every preselection and other contest from the seat of Isaacs to Melbourne Ports to Holt to various state preselections, the bitter conflict plays itself out. Sword and the NUW have been on the losing end of most of these conflicts and it remains to be seen whether they can continue to tolerate a situation where a majority of the Labor Unity group divides up the spoils while they get continually frozen out.


The next battle will probably involve the position of State Secretary of the Party. Greg Sword has evidence that suggests David Feeney has been directly involved in interfering in the Health Services Union, which is not really allowed in the job he has currently.

If the evidence checks out and if there is no resolution to the challenge to Victorian branch of the NUW, it is highly likely that Greg Sword in combination with the Left will vote out David Feeney and install the Left's Daniel Andrews as Secretary. From Sword's perspective while he isn't enamoured of Daniel Andrews he at least will have a State Secretary he can deal with who isn't undermining his power base.

And of course last weekend's issue was about whether Bill Shorten would be President of the Victorian branch of the Party. It was the unspoken but crucial issue of the Metal Workers' debate. The effect of the Metal Workers' delegates being allowed to vote would have meant that Greg Sword's group would have had the "balance of power" on the question of whether Shorten was to get the top but largely ceremonial job.

Sword's supporters would say that any pretense of power-sharing has gone out the window in a Party with Feeney as Secretary and Shorten as President. Shorten's opponents would say that he does not have the peace-making skills required of someone leading the faction and the Party. He is a head-kicker, they say.

The NUW had sent its delegates and the Network delegates in to get their ballot papers but rather than put them into the ballot box they were holding onto them to see how these issues could be resolved. Feeney/Shorten would be forced to the negotiating table or they would face the consequences.

These are interesting days in the Victorian Right.

The other fascinating struggle occurred between Senator Steve Conroy and the State Government. Steve had drafted a series of highly provocative motions about the State Government and its policies. The Right's person on the Agenda Committee of the Conference David White the former Minister and lobbyist copped a huge serve from Conroy in the Labor Unity caucus meeting where Conroy accused him of refusing to let his motions on the Agenda of the Conference for personal financial reasons as Conroy's motion on stopping public-private partnerships had financial implications from David's clients at Hawker Brittan.

Given how close White and Conroy have been in the past for a while White worked on Conroy's staff doing hatchet-job research into Ron Walker, John Elliott, Peter Scanlan and Lloyd Williams it was an extraordinary attack.

Ministers Brumby, Madden, el Supremo Bracks and others were spitting chips that a leading light of the "moderate" wing of the Party would engage in such a display in a pre-election State Conference.

Conroy is upset about the direction of the State Government. He wants danger man Theo Theophanous in the State Cabinet. He wants the Government to be more aggressive in supporting its friends and culling its enemies from Government boards and the public service. He finds the average Ministerial staffer to be arrogant and incompetent. He says the average State Minister wouldn't qualify to get a job in his electoral office.

And within the Left of the Party, the conflict over the Metal Trades was all about precedent setting. The implications for most state secretaries of letting their federal superiors choose their delegations were frightening. Some have rules that make this impossible but most don't. So the tension between those who were desperate for the Left not to slip further behind Labor Unity which would have been the consequence of not letting them in and those who were concerned about their own members' right to have people chosen indirectly by them was palpable. Peter Holding - world Kick Boxing champion and sometime barrister - was strutting his stuff in and out of the Left caucus offering an opinion on everything but a solution for nothing. His presence causes much disturbance in the Force.


Reports that Dean Mighell is actively supporting what most thought was a Right wing push against Brian Daley from the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union also didn't help the joie de vivre feeling in the SL meeting room. Accusing glares were being sent in the direction of ETU delegates, most of whom hadn't heard a thing.

The Left's candidate for President Jim Claven was heard complaining bitterly that people like Daley, O'Neill and others had brutally shafted him. His only chance of being President was the Metal Workers being allowed to vote. Claven is the failed candidate for Syndal in the 1988 election when Labor was still riding high. He wrote an uninspiring book on English politics which was an apologia for the right of the Labour Party in England causing many comrades in the Left to question Claven's ideological purity. Even more disturbing for the Left are his ties with the NSW Right Postal Workers. By the end of the weekend, Kim Carr and others were wondering whether they should support Claven at all. His suggestions that his rival Bill Shorten was cosy with the corporate sector made several wags throw comments around about the tame-cat role his union plays with Australia Post and Telstra as they downsize with no resistance from the likes of Jim Claven. The appellation "softcock" arose in the mind of several comrades.

The courts will now resolve whether the Metals delegates can vote. As a consequence of this and several other administrative bungles by the Labor Unity aligned Tony Lang ALP Returning Officer, there is to be a postal ballot of all elected positions. This will create more time and most probably more tension in the Victorian branch, as the ballot will occur at the same time as Sword is just beginning to defend the principle of power-sharing within the Victorian Right.

The bigger principle of whether every major or minor controversy within the Party should be resolved by unelected, often very conservative judges is a hard one to resolve. There is no question that because the Parties are in receipt of millions of taxpayer dollars Courts have decided that it is in the public interest for Courts to enforce Party rules when the Party won't. This happened in South Australia, as the Conference's resident legal savant Diane Anderson kept reminding the Conference. Diane is a barrister. Diane is the least popular Delegate, loathed almost equally by all factions. It is people like Diane, wealthy legal practitioners who stand to benefit from all of this. Maybe there's no alternative but it's surely enough to have the founders of the Party spinning around in their graves faster than Diane Anderson talks.

Regards, Delia Delegate

Sword goes nuclear against Feeney and Shorten

Published June 4

By Delia Delegate

Since my last treatise on the farcical factional fracturings within the Victorian branch of the ALP many have speculated on my identity. Indeed, I have myself participated in water cooler conversations pondering who the leaker was. So convincing were some accusations that even I found myself persuaded of the guilt of others.

Like many comrades in Labor Unity, I am a little confused about my political identity myself now that Labor Unity Convenor, ALP National President, State President, National Union of Workers National Secretary and friend of Joe Gutnick, Greg Sword, on Monday announced that the Union has left Labor Unity to form an as yet unnamed grouping. In fact, the practically unknown State Secretary Charlie Donnelly made the announcement but the fingerprints of Dual President Sword were all over it.

So while I'm pondering my own future factional identity, I'll share with you the background you probably won't read elsewhere on the faction formerly known as Right.

After weeks of characters like Senator Steve Conroy, Small Business Minister Marsha Thomson and others trying to drag back in the departing comrades, there was a rather glum meeting of NUW officials at the NUW bunker at 552 Victoria Street North Melbourne on Monday. In the corner room with the spectacular view of the bitumen of Victoria Street, the officials of the union that once formed the faction Labor Unity formally resolved to leave Labor Unity. To be sure that all the niceties are observed, the matter is being referred to the Branch Committee of the union. But it's a done deal as far as Greg is concerned.

Why? Why has Greg Sword taken this step.

The official line is "we don't have much in common with the other parts of Labor Unity any more". And that the union were so disappointed with the debate at the State Conference on the issue of whether the Metal Workers were allowed to vote that they couldn't live with themselves.

The real reason as previously explained is the mother of all personality conflicts between Greg and his supporters and the Feeney/Shorten camp. Sword's position is that Feeney has perverted the office of State Secretary of the Party and that he must be removed from the position forthwith. Certainly there has been much speculation throughout Melbourne about the pernicious dealings of Comrade Feeney, his ties with conservative Catholic organisations and his support for branch stacking.

Some with long memories will recall Comrade Feeney's forced resignation from the office of then Opposition Leader John Brumby's office for being implicated in the round of Macedonian branch-stacking occurring in the western suburbs of Melbourne. Many thought it was not cricket for someone in the Leader's office to be using the office to recruit dozens of Macedonians, so after a spot of bad press, Feeney was banished.

Even his many critics would accept that Feeney showed astonishing tenacity and cunning, with the sponsorship of his conservative Catholic brothers in the NSW Right, from the more tolerant support base of the national office of the Transport Workers Union. Some speculated he was the first TWU official ever who was unable to drive when he took the job. That's tolerance. Anyway, he continued his branch-stacking and also got involved in a couple of very nasty union battles. One of which was the Health Services Union. This came to bite him badly in the end when he was caught red-handed paying for a defamatory mailout against his opponents. They sued. There was a big settlement. That whole fiasco merits another story for another time.

Feeney's ties with the NSW Right extend beyond the truckies. He is known to be very friendly with Johnno Johnson, former President of the NSW Legislative Council and former Senator and Party Secretary and frequent flyer at the SeaWorld Nara Resort, Graham Richardson. (Crikey: thanks for that $80 million loss for Trico on Sea World through Richo's mate Peter Laurance.)

Sword and close allies like Martin Ferguson say Feeney's days as State Secretary are numbered. Why?

Because Greg Sword has decided that this NSW Right protected boy is a cancer within the Party that must be excised. Some say exorcised. The challenge, for the first time in living memory, of the Victorian branch of the NUW under way at the moment supported by the NSW branch of the NUW no doubt has heightened the anti-NSW feeling felt in Greg Sword's bunker.

As previously mentioned the NSW branch of the NUW has a history that even colourful racing identities from Sydney would be proud of. It would frequently leave the NSW Right, leave the Party, threaten to leave the Trades and Labor Council. A couple of years back the NSW branch left the ALP as a result of its mishandling of the Davids dispute where the union had to pay huge fines and costs for ignoring court orders not to block trucks during the Davids strike. The late Frank Belan known for booking hookers on the Union American Express Card demanded the State Government "fix" his contempt of court problem which the Attorney General wisely refused. Frank, the Yugoslav born union official, also resigned from the NSW Admin Committee which did not diminish the quality of their deliberations.

Needless to say, many people attended Frank's funeral in October last year to make sure he was actually dead. (Crikey: this is getting nasty.)

This is the calibre of those opposing Charlie Donnelly and Greg Sword in the imminent NUW elections. Greg's critics point to allegations of close intra-office friendships (occasionally referred to in graffiti in the Trades Hall carpark), the crucifying of former state secretary Dennis Lennen for "irregularities" and the practice of holding massive fundraisers called Industrial Relations Seminars - at the Hilton Hotel where employers like Bonlac and many others hand over vast amounts of money to support Sword's private election account. An account that has not needed to be used for NUW elections until now. Some of Greg's tension I suspect is caused by having to use these funds to defend both Charlie Donnelly and his own position. The Sword campaign cost will exceed a few hundred thousand dollars so I can feel his pain. By the standards of his NSW brothers though, Greg is Mother Theresa and the Dalai Lama rolled into one.

So unless Feeney wins Tattslotto by the very unlikely Ray Gorman stealing the NUW State Secretary's crown, Feeney faces one of the largest and long serving ALP affiliates and one-time cornerstone of the Victorian Right being absolutely sworn to his destruction and demise. Many of them believe that Feeney and Shorten are directly or indirectly assisting Gorman's challenge.

Feeney boasts of his successes in leading the Victorian branch to victory in the September 1999 election and for raising tons and tons of money from likes of Kerry Packer and Tabcorp and Tattersalls since then. It is true that Bracks won the election. But Feeney had barely arrived in the State Secretary's job when the Independents gave Bracks the nod. And as for raising money from those enjoying the millions of dollars of profits flowing from the pokies, I suspect the Party could have hired one of those muscular dystrophy sufferers who sell the Herald-Sun and Chupa-Chups to raise funds and got a similar result. Who wants to donate to a newly elected Government no one thought had a chance? Everyone. And strangely enough, everyone did.

So while everyone thought Feeney would be focused on building up the fortunes of the Party and the Government, what concerns Sword is that Feeney has been focused on protecting his mates and building a Head Office culture like the NSW Right have. Head Office staff show a disturbing degree of devotion to Feeney, even those from the Left seem to be caught in his spell of blarney and charm. Sword is also concerned that Feeney has been willing to accept funds from practically anyone, including developers with checkered histories and businessmen with close ties to the Liberal Party and the Kennett Government. Sword is upset that the socially conservative Shop Assistants Union gets its candidates up and its agenda heard while the NUW is just as big and is systemically shafted in almost every preselection contest.

He contends that Feeney/Shorten did not accept power-sharing within Labor Unity and that while the NUW/Network group were expected to stay loyal and accept results where they didn't prevail that the same did not apply in reverse. He cites the Isaacs preselection fiasco which followed the tragic suicide of Greg Wilton.

Greg Wilton was very much a creature of the NUW culture, he'd worked for the Union for years and while not close to Greg was certainly aligned to him within Labor Unity. In the traumatic days following his suicide, the Union was appalled that Feeney/Shorten were claiming yet another seat for themselves. They proposed Natalie Sykes, someone very loyal to Feeney despite having worked for the NUW. It was regarded as a sneaky way of getting yet another Feeney/Shorten candidate up.

The NUW/Network group countered with their own candidate, Julie Warren who eventually won the Labor Unity preselection. Julie was a much stronger candidate. However, there was such a pattern of leaking and hostility about it that the National Executive seized control of the preselection which is where it really stuffed up.

Opportunistically, the Left put up Blonde Bombshell Jill Hennessy who has contested more preselections than Garth Head has had hot dinners or indeed Double Whoppers with Cheese. The Centre Left on the National Executive didn't want to vote for the Right and preferred Jill. But there was also local school administrator, non-factional Ann Corcoran who no one had ever heard of. Due to the skulduggery and deviousness of the Feeney camp and a series of stuff-ups no one could ever really explain without a Ph.D. thesis, Ann won.

Ann was then elected to serve in the House of Representatives and continues to have a look of surprise on her face. She shares the same happy look as One Nation Senator Len Harris, delighted with being paid probably twice what she'd get elsewhere. Without the hard work ethic of her predecessor it is inevitable she will return to school administration. We can only hope.


And interestingly, Natalie Sykes has ended up moving up to Sydney to be with her man NSW Right Senator and power-haircut TWU bovver boy Steve Hutchens. Jill Hennessy has had many personal problems and looks like not being a candidate again. She has taken a lot of time off work from the Premier's office.

So the NUW/Network group were shafted again for nothing.

The systematic shafting of NUW/Network candidates is I believe the real reason why Feeney has incurred Sword's wrath. Sword copped it sweet many times but has decided that enough is enough. Sword's opponents would say that the quality of candidates proposed by Sword has been even worse than the already low average of Victorian ALP candidates.

Sword's supporters in the branches, predominantly former members of the Network group are ready and primed to leave Labor Unity in response to Greg Sword's call. They are very confident that their Supreme Leader will carry out his mission: destroy Feeney/Shorten once and for all. Greg has the demeanour of a suburban accountant and the calming voice of your local GP but when crossed there is no more effective crusader in the ALP anywhere. Some close to Sword say that nailing Feeney is his final ambition in politics. I suspect Greg's plan is to build a new group based around key allies like Ian Jones of the Vehicle Builders, Mar'n Ferguson from the Left, Doug Cameron from the AMWU, Dean Mighell from the ETU and others. How stable such a group would be is the big question, although Sword's political management skills are excellent. In addition Greg has excellent relations with the press, such as Paul Robinson of The Age, know by some as the official mouthpiece of the Socialist Left, particularly Kim Il Carr, although he does talk to all the major players. (And Crikey rates him as a good journo)

Feeney has much to fear say Sword's supporters. The Left is united on little except how dangerous Feeney is to all of them. If you add their votes with the NUW/Network on the current Administrative Committee and the likely to be elected new Admin, then Feeney will be looking through the Saturday Age Situations Vacant. The Left's concern with branch stacking is likely to motivate them to vote with NUW/Network to bump off its primary practitioner and beneficiary David Feeney. The atrocities in Geelong are just one of a long series of outrages encouraged by Feeney, where ACTU Assistant Secretary Richard Marles has thoroughly stacked Corio in anticipation of next year's federal preselection which will probably culminate in a rare and gruesome sight: sitting MP Gavan O'Connor being electorally dumped in the Geelong Harbour with concrete boots supplied by Richard's slippery mates from the Turkish community. The exploitation of ethnic groups is a common but not often spoken about characteristic of branch stacking. Feeney is by no means the inventor of it, in fact the Socialist Left inspired the 1970's round of ethnic stacking. You only need to read some of Frank Hardy's work to know that stacking the ALP is an ancient art, some might say a primitive art.

The NUW/Network group is not just a splinter group, it includes the some of the most influential people in the right of the Party. From the top, Simon Crean while above the vulgarities of factional disputes as Leader is unquestionably aligned with the NUW having once served as NUW National Secretary. He employs a number of Network aligned people on his staff including Jamie Driscoll and has done so for years.

In the Premier's office as well, the Chief of Staff Tim Pallas is an NUW member and Greg Sword loyalist. There are many other NUW aligned staffers in Bracks office and throughout Treachery Place. They considerably outnumber those aligned to Feeney/Shorten, something known to rankle at Head Office.

The third highest ranking Minister in the Government, Government Leader in the upper house Monica Gould, harshly criticised in Crikey last week, is a former NUW official. Also aligned in the move to dump Feeney are State MP's Bob Stensholt, Matt Viney and the leader of the Network grouping Tim Holding.

My praise of Tim Holding in the past prompted an avalanche of accusation that Delia was in fact Tim in girl's clothing. Not true. Tim's critics say he is best known for leaking to journalists anything he hears in the Caucus room and for his leadership role in Network at a time when there was a minor furore over a bungled Young Labor operation where a room was established at the Downtowner Hotel (just down the road from the Trades Hall where the Young Labor conference was being held). Then Head Office organiser Roland Lindell raided the room but missed all that went on in there. No one can ever be sure what went on in that room, but the Melbourne University University Council resolved to call in the Police expressing concern at the large-scale production of false Melbourne University student cards which were being used to facilitate false voting in the Young Labor conference. Can anyone guess whose name appeared on the hotel reservation form, a document still in the files of a number of activists. I happen to think that despite the critics, that Tim is indeed highly capable and is potential leadership material of the Party, he is young and will have twenty years under his belt before getting his chance but he definitely has what it takes. He is the Victorian Paul Keating, in style and substance.

Anyway the NUW/Network group represent a very significant and influential grouping that is a key part of the Bracks Government and the federal leadership. It seems far more likely that Bracks will eventually side with the influential figure Greg Sword than the young but replaceable David Feeney. Sword has made it clear a choice must be made.

Just like the conservative Catholic Arch-Bishop fending off criticism from 60 Minutes, many in Sword's camp believe there is an air of inevitability about Feeney's demise. Feeney's defenders say that this is the one job in life he always wanted and that if Sword wants to nuke him that he must get ready for some return fire. Those stuck in the middle like the husband and wife team Thomson, Conroy and faction Secretary Fiona Richardson must be feeling as nervous as the million troops along the Kashmiri line of control.

Time to duck and cover, I think.

Do ya best, Delia Delegate

Bye bye Billy Shorten

By Delia Delegate

Published June 6

Thursday's stunning development in the War of the Right Wing was that the Workers First group controlling the AMWU in Victoria have backed off from their threatened legal challenge to the Federal AMWU appointing their delegates. This means it's Bye Bye Billy time.

Craig 'Conan' Johnston's lawyers advised him that he had no or limited chance of successfully appealing the Court decision which confirmed Doug Cameron's right to appoint delegates if the State branch failed to do so. The most surprising thing is that Johnston actually listens to his lawyers. In an Australia run by Craig Johnston, the lawyers would be shot at dawn.

The massive tactical balls-up by Johnston of not appointing delegates to the Conference has cost 'Bye Bye' Bill Shorten big. It is now all but certain that Jim 'Softbelly' Claven or a compromise candidate will prevail in the race for the ALP Presidency. It will be Bye Bye Bill Shorten's first ever loss in an election, in the past he has got elected to everything without opposition. Bye Bye Bill has been pre-selected for the seat of Melton without an opponent, elected State Secretary of the AWU unopposed and then later elected National Secretary the same way. One thing is certain, that will never happen again. Sword's restraint in the past in not tackling the AWU in Victoria is over, Shorten is fair game now, say several who've been planning an AWU campaign for some time. There is a sizable disaffected group of members in the AWU who say that Shorten is all style, no substance. By turning Shorten's good press into bad press, any chance Bye Bye had of being re-elected uneventfully in a couple years has gone out the window. All's fair in love and war.

Many are now saying that the Presidency is not a big deal and as it is almost certainly resolved against Shorten, the focus is on the current internal election for the Administrative Committee, the body that hires and fires State Secretaries. And that's where the attention of 'General' Greg Sword and his increasingly friendly ally north of the 38th parallel Kim Il Carr is firmly fixed. Mar'n Ferguson has also indicated that he is ready to publicly defend General Sword for the brave but necessary actions that will need to be taken to restore decency and integrity to Head Office.

It is interesting to reflect that Craig Conan Johnston is not even a member of the ALP while playing a big role in its decision-making. Craig is a member of various fanatic left wing groups and is currently charged with a number of juicy criminal charges such as "threat to kill", "riot", "affray", and "criminal damage" to name but a few. Sword on Thursday outed Shorten's ties with Johnston in the excellent Hannan/Carney piece in The Age. Although some in Workers First say they are not as favourable to Shorten as Shorten likes to think. Sword remains hopeful of Workers First support for a Broad Left group which would snatch control of the Party away from right-wing elements and purge the caucus of branch-stackers and dead-wood.

The lobbying of competing warlords continues furiously with the NUW/Network group making steady progress building ties with a growing network of state MPs, unionists, federal MP's and FEA delegates. The Labor Unity group is disintegrating before its own eyes.

Bob Sercombe's friends say it is too early to call whether he has jumped to the NUW/Network camp. Fortress Bob is clearly relishing the fact that everyone wants his support, restoring his powers to the days prior to Ian Baker's botched coup attempt against John Bean-counter Brumby which cost Bob the deputy state leadership. Sercombe has been a bit-player ever since then, eking out a living as a suburban stacking specialist. Sword's liberation of the Party from the shackles of bitter factionalism present Sercombe with many opportunities.

It is also understood that Tiny Tim Pallas, the Chief of Staff to the Premier, ably assisted by Network stalwarts Ben Hubbard and Rachel Dapiran beavering away in the Premier's office, is working hard on ensuring that Premier Bracks stays absolutely silent on the question of David Feeney's future. The numbers on Admin are locked in to replace Feeney with a highly competent and appropriate successor. The Premier's silence at the moment is speaking volumes and it's saying "Off with his head."

And in case you missed it, on Thursday night PM ran a story on the NUW led group leaving the Right and forming partnerships with the Left and significant parts of the Right to restore values at Head Office and shake up the branch-stackers.

The PM program is interesting in that it quotes Premier Bracks welcoming Sword's initiative to leave the Right and encourage decisions being made on their merits not on factional grounds all the time. This is the strongest statement yet from Bracks on the NUW move and is welcomed by Sword's supporters as confirmation of support from the key decision-makers within the State Government.

PM is wrong about Sword being challenged for the Presidency, he is not running again for the Presidency.

PM sensationally exaggerates the problems for Crean arising from the deathblow that Sword has struck the Labor Unity faction and the careers of Shorten and Feeney. Sword is not a Left-winger, he has said that he doesn't have much in common with the people he was in a faction with. So he has every right to leave, as does the NUW.

Contrary to what was said on PM, the NUW group continues to totally support Crean, because he is willing to support the bold initiatives necessary to clean up Head Office and turf out incumbent MP's suspected of branch-stacking and ties with conservative catholic groups. As many as five federal MP's are being reviewed by Sword's supporters for replacement in next year's pre-selections. It represents an exciting opportunity to inject quality candidates into the federal caucus. The reshaping of the Bracks Cabinet is also under consideration, with the promotion of Tim Holding to the Ministry the most urgent priority with the immediate restoration of Monica Gould's role to an appropriate level for her level of seniority after the unhelpful reshuffle earlier in the year. Talk of reopening the state pre-selections has been discounted as reckless by Sword, who has been managing well the enthusiasm and expectations of his more eager supporters.

There is no reason to doubt Crean's or Bracks' resolve. The change is underway.


Swords stunning coup

By Delia Delegate

Published June 6

National and State ALP President Sword has initiated a stunning coup, where he leaves the Labor Unity group to form his own based around the NUW-Network coalition, plans to form an alliance with the Socialist Left and in so doing annihilates ALP Secretary Feeney and AWU Secretary Shorten in the process. Chaos results.

Wednesday's sensation was Greg Sword's first of many serious public attacks on Feeney-Shorten on the front page of the Financial Review. Greg's swiftness and prowess has Feeney-Shorten hopelessly on the backfoot, stunned, worried and confused.

The only thing stealing the headlines from Greg's decisive moves was the pathetic beat-up in The Australian quoting an un-named backbencher talking up a leadership challenge to Crean. Glenn Milne known in Canberra more for his festive approach to life after dark, particularly in taxis wrote it. Glenn Milne, the official spokesman of the Prime Miniature, as others on Crikey would say. It was gossip journalism at its lowest and most pathetic. There is genuinely no challenge going on and if one was, it wouldn't be coming from Big Kim Beazley.

The only one crazy enough to challenge, Crean's office thinks, is Latham and he'd be lucky to get one vote. Glenn Milne, paid a fortune to write that weekly column in the Australian and to serve up his nightly crap on Seven, wrote that article, it made big "follow the leader" news everywhere and it was based on nothing. It's a sad indictment on Milne's professionalism. That column is increasingly a joke, used as a snide and vindictive vehicle for the frustrations of a select few. Not unlike this one.

Nice to know there are still some serious journalists in the Gallery, which we saw in full force with the astute Tony Walker of the Financial Review's coverage of the crisis in the Right. The Financial Review and rapidly circulating gossip around Parliament House on Wednesday confirmed what many had been conjecturing: that Bob Sercombe will be joining forces with the NUW-Network group, mainly as a reaction to the "unsubtlety" and "pushiness" of Shorten.

Shorten aspires to succeed Bob Sercombe in Maribyrnong. Sercombe aspires to collect as many years sitting on the plush green leather backbenches as possible. Therein lies a conflict of ambitions that has shattered any previous relationship. In the old set of factional alignments, Bob feared he was vulnerable to a Shorten execution. Now, in a world of chaos, front page assasinations and intrigue, Bob Sercombe is far more likely to prevail he thinks.

Bob is a crafty, rat-cunning individual who has a steady series of commercial pursuits to keep him occupied while living the quiet life of a Club Fed backbencher. Where Sercombe exercises his brilliance is in the construction of "Fortress Bob," an empire of a stacked FEA which would be impossible to out-stack. Bob's local lieutenants know all, see all and recruit all to an extent that makes Marles in Geelong look like an amateur. Bob's Public Enemy Number One has traditionally been Senator Steve Conroy but the emergence of Baby Bill Shorten as a local threat has meant that Steve has been relegated to Number Two. So Sercs will jump most think, and take with him his delegates which are probably 1 or 2% of the Party, adding further to the burgeoning anti Feeney/Shorten alliance.

Again, Sword's brilliance is at work when you consider that just a few weeks ago Sword's supporters still regarded Sercombe as an implacable enemy and as one of them said to me the other day, a branch-stacking oaf. Those same people say now that Bob is a magnificent builder of relationships with ethnic communities, encouraging them to participate in the democratic process. Bob is not the only suburbanite factional warlord jumping ship, dissatisfied with Feeney/Shorten or Conroy. There are many others pondering their future just at the moment that the ballot papers for the internal Party elections are arriving in the mail.

All of this spells disaster for Shorten's campaign for President, to say nothing of his Parliamentary aspirations. His flag is barely still flying, riddled with bullet-holes and mud and blood. His friends say he regrets ever running for President, suspecting that his over-reaching may have triggered the whole split of the Right. Twenty-twenty hindsight is perfect vision, Shorten says. Others I've heard say with what I suspect is wishful thinking that Shorten will prevail as he's a more media-savvy candidate. Those reading his polite "no comment" in Wednesday's Financial Review in response to some serious claims would beg to differ. Shorten is good on TV but his crisis management seems rather poor at the moment. He talks the talk of wanting to be PM, but is he any good under pressure? It appears not but the jury's still out. The Network assessment of Bill is that he folds under pressure, and he's certainly under pressure now.

The intensity of the fight within the Right Wing has led us to forget the plodding progress of our little mate and Socialist Left candidate for ALP President Jim Claven. With ballot papers for the Presidential ballot out there in delegate's mailboxes, it is appropriate to pay this little man some attention as he seeks the highest office in the Victorian ALP and can be justly called at the moment the Frontrunner. It's just that he's so damn dull, ineffectual and obtuse that I suspect no one cares. He's like the Tortoise who has just passed the Bill Shorten Hare but he looks like winning by default so it is only fair that we examine his candidacy and past statements and see what the Victorian branch is in for.

In case you missed it, Jim took serious exception to being tagged "soft" in Crikey recently, asserting he was as well endowed a hardened left leaner as you could hope to find. Many in the Comrade's Bar scoffed at his presumption.

Viagra is clearly present in the St John's First Aid Kit in the Postal Workers Union national office, and is sorely needed. Recent reports indicate that Viagra was the possible cause of 14 deaths in Australia. Headaches, flushing, and abnormal vision were among the most common minor side effects reported by Viagra takers. Some thought the nervous Claven was exhibiting these symptoms at the State Conference at the World Trade Centre a few weeks and a lifetime ago. I thought the symptoms were caused by the evil eye of Senator Kim Il Carr of North Korea but it may have been from raiding the medicine kit to cure the dreaded soft apologist for the Right disease.

Jim's employers who run the national office of the CEPU let's call them the Postal Workers are some interesting operators from NSW. Students of the history of the Party will recall that some of the sleaziest contests in intra-union battles occurred in the Postal Workers in NSW, starting with the original Richo. Fred, father of Graham, was the State Secretary of the Postal Workers and withstood many conspiracies and attacks until his untimely death. The internal machinations of the NSW Postal Workers continue to be astonishingly nasty. If Jim wants, I will happily reveal more about this in the next exciting episode.

But interestingly Jim also rejected claims that his not exactly best selling book on his insights into the Blair Government was an apologia for the free market and poll driven policies of New Labour and the right as I ventured in my first ever piece for Crikey on the State Conference.

Claven's rejection prompted Delia to take time out from other duties to pop in at the fount of all knowledge in the world, the Trades Hall International Bookshop on Lygon and Victoria Streets, Carlton. In this bookshop, it is possible to purchase everything from lesbian erotica to Che Guevara's musings. Among the writings of Marx, Engels and Race Mathews, Delia was fortunate to stumble on a copy of "Centre is Mine: Tony Blair, new Labour and the future of electoral politics" by Jim "Ideologically Challenged" Claven.

Over a camomile tea and hash cookie supplied by the comrades in the bookshop, I took careful note of what Jim had to say. In order to spare you the visit to the Bookshop and the fragrant odour of the staff who "work" there, I offer you selected highlights so that you can be the judge of whether Jim has stayed loyal and true to his Socialist Left (I noticed he called it Labor Left, it's still Socialist Left last time I looked comrade) credentials.

The book is basically a cleaned-up version of his M.A. thesis. It's a dull but wholesome account of Jim's views on life and the British Labour Party. Congratulations to him for sharing them with us. Hopefully he won't regret doing so after reading this. My comments may seem very critical of his work. They're not meant that way, he's right about the need to modernise - as is Crean - but he's wrong to pretend to be a socialist unionist to the comrades in the SL when his views are in fact are sympathetic to the Right of the British Labour Party which is probably to the Right of the ALP Right. Claven's attempt to spin-doctor himself as a hardened Lefty was totally misleading in that important way and must be seen in the context of his book. Jim's comrades in the Socialist Left will find the book intriguing. While I enjoyed and agreed with most of what he had to say, I doubt they will.

It all starts with a foreward from then Opposition Leader and decidedly right-wing conservative bloke Kim Beazley. Kim is anti-abortion, wants free-markets for all and while a decent big-hearted guy is a true blue ideological right-winger. Or so says Kim Il Carr.

Beazley writes "Jim has grasped the extent to which New Labour in Britain has been influenced by other social democratic governments around the world, including the Australian Labor Party of the 1980s and 1990s. Jim calls it new revisionism others call it the Third Way we used to call it government policy as did our colleagues across the Tasman. (That's right, remember Sir Roger Douglas and his privatisation/deregulation of everything? Those were the days)

Kind Kim continues: "Jim sees clearly as I do the opportunity for Australian Labor to continue to learn from the public policy innovation executive power is now fostering in the British Labour Party and to harness those lessons within our process of policy renewal."

So Beazley the right-winger loves his work. That's nice. Let's see why.

It's simple, Jim in his book pours a big bucket of shit on the "Labour Left" while praising the "Right" and its leaders constantly. Maybe they shouted him more ales when Jim was hanging around Millwall (should that be Millbank, Millwall is a thuggish soccer team- ed) like an old smell.

On page 29, he attacks the Left British Labour referring to an "ideological crisis" where in the Party's 1983 policy it "reflected the demands of Labour's Left-wing promising a massive programme of public sector led reflation to regain full employment and expand the public services, the reinstatement of exchange controls, the introduction of selective controls on imports, a comprehensive system of planning, and an isolationist and neutralist foreign policy based on unilateralism, withdrawal from the European Economic Community and the removal of US military bases..."

Now the above sounds not terribly dissimilar to what Kim Il Carr tells the comrades is his vision for the world.

And Jim goes on:

"It can nevertheless be seen as representing the Left's archetypal platform displaying sufficient radicalism to prove unacceptable to both elite and mass opinion."

"Centre is Mine" continues with this theme, praising the Right and attacking the Left. Praising the Right's Blair, Mandelson, Healy and sledging Left figures like Benn and others.

He talks joyously about how the "soft-Left" split away from and repudiated the nonsense of the "hard-Left" (page 38), signifying perhaps his approach to people like Carr and Johnston and O'Neill who don't agree with Claven's free-market poll-driven spin-doctoring approach.

He lavishes praise on Labour for accepting Thatcher's "labour law that constrained the trade union movement, as well as its extensive privatization program."

And strangely given his claim to being a staunch job-defending public sector unionist, on page 68 he tears into affiliated trade unions and praises "reforms" which took voting power away from union secretaries and gave them to individual union members.

On page 133, he welcomes what he says is the fact that Labor's "historic link with the working class was increasingly no longer considered of primary importance, with trade unions regarded as being entitled to no greater say in politics than other key interest groups."

So forget 60:40 or 50:50, Claven wants the CEPU and other unions to have the same influence within the ALP as Amnesty International, Greenpeace and the Lions Club. 0:100. Removing the unions altogether from the Party's decision making forums.

As I digested both my cookie and Jim's unorthodox views, his approval for the most radical possible transformation of the Party in a way that would permanently neuter his union bosses and his SL union factional colleagues, my mind unable to deal with such revolutionary thought wandered aimlessly to the history of the Trades Hall building I was in and the old saw "if these walls could talk." My inability to handle digestion of the cookie led only to digression. In the International Bookshop, the walls would slur "pass the bong" but elsewhere in the building it would be far more interesting. That building has seen it all. Bashings in the carpark, pushings down the stairs and even shootings and at least one murder form part of the history of the "worker's parliament." These days old hands say it is more "wanker's paradise" than "worker's parliament."

Within its historic corridors, we have cynical opportunist Secretary Leigh Hubbard who a few months ago said he was pondering whether he'd be resigning his Party membership in sympathy with born again Greenie, hunter, Sporting Shooters Association member and coal burner Dean Mighell. Hubbard says he is still pondering. And we are still hoping. But sadly when ALP membership renewals were due at the end of May, Leigh Hubbard, man of the people, champion of the dispossed and the unpreselected, quietly renewed. A wanker indeed.

Brian Boyd, the bovver boy of the CFMEU (Come Fuck Me Union as Crikey calls it, although the Cole Royal Commission is proving that in construction at least they are more often the fucker than the fuckee) also works for Trades Hall as Policy Guru or some other title with no sense of Irony, under Hubbard. Only problem is that Boyd is sworn to the destruction of Hubbard and spends his waking hours slagging Hubbard to everyone who'll listen in the Trades Hall bar. The numbers are dwindling. There's always the Bookshop. Any talk of any revolt anywhere gets their blood running.

And there's someone else in there. Trades Hall Assistant Secretary Nathan Neverthere Niven I think his name is but I'm really not too sure because I've never seen him in the office. As the token right-winger in a very Red Sea, Nathan prefers to be elsewhere. As I leave the International Bookshop and walk past a noticeboard adorned with posters calling on workers to join the armed struggle for (fill the gap) I don't think anyone could blame him.

But the unanswered question of Jim's Left Cred, always a serious issue with any good lefty remains clouded and not just because of his book full of praise for the "Labour Right".

He works for a NSW Right dominated union, the CEPU. The CEPU includes Communications/Telstra/Aussie Post and Plumbers and Electrical Trades Union. He is regarded with absolute contempt by the harder left elements of the CEPU, headed by born again Green Dean Mighell of the sparkies. He enjoys the patronage of a federal secretary who couldn't get a good spin doctor/campaign manager for the derisory salary he was offering. Instead he got poor old Jim Claven, failed candidate in Syndal in a campaign where the then Left controlled Head Office spent an absolute fortune on the campaign and Jim was running against the laziest Liberal imaginable who was in his late 60's, Jim who served as an adviser to the hugely successful Cain/Kirner Governments and presents himself as a campaign expert who in fact has never actually run a successful election campaign for anything ever. He is a researcher, a job normally given to twenty somethings who've got a future. Jim is the wrong side of 45 and must be wondering whether he's ever going to get his butt on the green or red leather, his sole reason for living apparently. His boss finds the thrusting ambitions of the hired help to be quite amusing, as long as he doesn't impose his ambitious intentions on the union itself, he'll keep Jim on for now.

And this is the person who wants to lead the Victorian ALP as its President, following the highly successful Presidency of Greg Sword. It's laughable really. When the Left were looking around for candidates and Claven enthusiastically thrust his hand in the air, Carr and Griffin spent days looking for someone else. The more they looked, the more enthusiastic Claven got. Jim was perceived as pretty harmless, a quiet, somewhat cagey individual who could do OK as the Senior Vice President of the Party, the consolation prize for those who don't win President. At that stage, it looked like Shorten had it all worked out so what the hell, give Jim the nod, it will make him feel better, they thought. With the Feeney/Shorten camp under siege from an increasingly triumphant Sword, Kim Il Carr and Griffin must be wondering what the hell they've done. There are a number of other candidates in the field, but none of them are as enthusiastic as Claven.

It's almost enough to make you vote for Shorten, well, almost.

Delia Delegate.

How the key players line up

By Delia Delegate

Published June 6

Following Greg Sword's devastating departure, there is great speculation about who is lining up where in the Parliamentary Right wing in light of factional changes. Backbenchers and Ministers are keeping quiet about which way they're jumping to the wage slave journalists hanging around outside the back door of Parliament House. But to show Crikey is first with the latest, Delia intends to lift her skirt and reveal all.

There are three camps - NUW Loyalists, Swingers and the Labor Unity residue.

In giving this list, there are bound to be caucus members I've missed or got it slightly wrong but this is basically where it's at:

Spring Street

NUW Loyalists

Denise Allen - won Benalla by-election, highly critical of Feeney
Ann Barker - former Simon Crean staffer and State MP in 80's
Mary Gillett - former NUW official
Ben Hardman - respected rural MP from some sort of Eketahuna place
Tim Holding - future Minister and Leader
Bob Stensholt - won Burwood from the Liberals
Matt Viney - marginal seats campaign wizard
Monica Gould - 3rd highest ranking Minister

(Those above have already stopped attending Parliamentary Labor Unity group meetings before Caucus and will be having their own meetings)

Swingers (Have loyalties to both sides or are confused)

Sheryl Garbutt - Minister for Natural Resources and Environment
Andre Haermeyer - Minister for Police
Rob Hulls - Attorney-General
Craig Langdon - Langdon, Leighton and Lim are all influenced by what Sercombe does.
Michael Leighton - Sercombe
Hong Lim - Sercombe
John Lenders - former State Secretary, now Minister for Industrial Relations, will probably stay in Labor Unity but supportive of Sword and Holding personally
Jenny Lindell - loyal to Tim Holding but has conflicting loyalties, employs anti-Network elements. Known to despise Conroy.
Justin Madden - Will go with swinging Ministerial colleagues, sympathetic to Sword position. Sword opposed his preselection vehemently saying it was a stunt but Madden has employed trusted Senior Policy Adviser Geoff Pulford, a leading NUW/Network identity devoted to destroying Conroy. Pulford is a probable candidate to replace one of the five federal MP's being reviewed at the moment.
Steve Bracks - Will keep quiet on this issue but influenced by Chief Political Adviser Tim Pallas who is very loyal to Sword
John Brumby - Known to be sympathetic to Sword but reluctant to leave Labor Unity.
Judy Maddigan - Deputy Speaker, doesn't like Conroy.

Labor Unity

Christine Campbell - SDA
Telmo Languiller - LRA
Ian Maxfield - SDA
Bruce Mildenhall - influenced by Conroy
Tony Robinson
George Seitz - LRA
Elaine Carbines - part of the Marles Geelong group
John McQuilten
Bob Smith - former AWU Secretary, has improved golf handicap considerably since being in Parliament
Theo Theophanous - LRA, close to Conroy
Marsha Thomson - former Secretary of faction, now Minister, believed to be critical of excesses of Feeney/Shorten. Last National Conference, with Sword's backing, successfully took National Executive position from Feeney/Shorten's candidate
Sang Nguyen - Conroy's Vietnamese warlord
Joe Helper

As you can see, even allowing for all the Swingers to go with Labor Unity, which is possible, some say likely, there has been a huge fracturing of the Right caused by the excesses of Feeney-Shorten.

If you take out the left wing refugees in the form of the LRA, branchstackers, conservative catholic SDA types and golf players, there isn't a core of Labor Unity in existence in the State Parliament.

In the federal Parliament, there is also a division although things are weighted towards Feeney-Shorten more after successive victories in federal preselections.

NUW Friendly (but all possible turncoats, especially Roxon)

Anna Burke MHR - employs Network staff and is strongly supported by Network campaign experts in her marginal seat
Simon Crean MHR - former NUW General Secretary
Nicola Roxon MHR - former NUW official, believed to hate Shorten now but is worried about Conroy using his Vietnamese numbers against her. Has considered moving to expose branchstacking in Gellibrand but this would involve war with Conroy.
Bob Sercombe MHR - worried about Shorten unleashing his central numbers on his local powerbase, a weakened Shorten can only help Fortress Bob.

Could Go Either Way

Christian Zahra - loyal to Feeney but once Feeney sacked will go with Roxon who used to work for NUW.
Senator Robert Ray - employed Tim Holding, leader of Network and rising ALP Network star Mayor of Brimbank Andres Puig. But Ray is not always respectful of NUW leadership role in the Party and opposes alliances with Kim Il Carr and has ties with Conroy going back decades. Is pondering retirement...

NUW Enemies List

Anthony Byrne MHR - SDA & Branchstacker
Senator Stephen Conroy - Branchstacker
Michael Danby MHR - SDA & Branchstacker
Kelvin Thomson MHR - SDA
Senator Jacinta Collins - SDA

According to Sword's supporters, the above list will be closely examined prior to federal preselections. Inquiries into the most stacked seat in Victoria Holt and Byrne's activities, Conroy's stacking in Gellibrand, Danby in Melbourne Ports and Marles in Corio will cost probably five people their seats in Parliament. Collins and Thomson are also considered likely to be removed for their support of conservative catholic organisations and Conroy.

Finally, someone sticks it to Delia

By Reg the Representative
Feeney-Shorten support

Published June 9

Delia Delegate offers an interesting but poison pen insight into the macabre internals of the Victorian ALP. More accurately, she offers an insight into the scary conspiracy theories that now prey upon the mind of ALP president and National Union of Workers boss Greg Sword.

Her spin about Greg's "brilliant coup" is a not very convincing explanation for a bizarre act of treachery, designed to deliver the Victorian ALP back into the hands of the currently side-lined Socialist Left faction.

The prevailing view around the ALP at the moment is that Greg has "lost it". How else can one explain the actions of a veteran union boss who now appears to be betraying every idea he has ever argued? Why would a union leader in the middle of his very own re-election campaign trigger an ALP civil war? It's crazy.

Nominations for this year's NUW elections closed on Friday May 31. Greg's position as national secretary is under siege from his old union enemies up in Sydney, and his Victorian powerbase faces its first half-way serious challenge since the 60s. Time for the NUW to concentrate on bread and butter industrial issues? No way, according to Greg time to start a political factional brawl inside the ALP!

NUW members out at Pacific Dunlop, Bonlac or Nylex must be scratching their heads. Only a special breed of union leader would be vain enough to make his own union election a national media yarn.

Greg now declares that he was motivated (the day after NUW nominations closed!) to leave the Labor Unity faction because he was angry that most of it voted to expel the left-wing AMWU delegation at the ALP State Conference on 18-19 May.

Yup. Weird. A bunch of Labor right-wingers taking the opportunity to prevent 33 Doug Cameron (AMWU national secretary) worshipping delegates from voting inside the ALP should not have merited more than a chuckle. Yet so angry is Greg about this farce that he has been motivated to abandon right-wing Labor Unity and now work in alliance with the Socialist Left.

The Socialist Left is of course the very same faction that those crazy AMWU Workers' First types are members of. Hang on, aren't they the very ones Greg hates in the first place?

For everyone who attended the LU caucus at ALP conference on May 17 out the back of the convention centre, the meeting's decision was clear and moved by Sword himself because of unresolved disagreements, LU delegates were free on any votes about either the Metal Workers or the HSUA delegations in dispute. Repeat no binding position, free conscience.

Or so we thought . A number of union officials particularly from the TWU that saw itself a close NUW ally are mightily pissed off that the vote on the AMWU Cameron delegation was, unknown to anyone else, some sort of litmus test for Greg on their continued factional loyalty. One federal senator believes that the NUW decision to split was made in principle months, if not years, ago the vote on May 18 just a convenient trigger.

Why is the National President of the ALP blowing up a stable factional system in Victoria? Why is an old union boss like Sword dumping long time alliances and trading them in for new ones? There's that old line about Vince Gair it's a classy rat who can sink the ship as it swims away. Vince Gair and Greg Sword, kindred spirits odd but not impossible.

There may be an industrial agenda the NUW and AMWU, despite ALP factional differences, agreed in principle many years ago to pursue amalgamation talks. Inside gossip has it that Greg sees himself as the first boss of a monster NUW-AMWU conglomerate, with Scottish shop steward Cameron as his successor (which fits in with Greg's opinion of his juniors inside NUW national office).

What is really going on? No surprise its about power and prestige. Greg Sword collects titles in the labour movement in much the same way as oriental potentates collect concubines. Greg is general secretary of the NUW, senior vice president at the ACTU, the ALP's national president, still (of course) state ALP president, and until last Monday LU convenor, as well as enjoying a couple of NUW and Victorian Government board positions into the bargain. Next possies? Boss of Australia's largest union, a combined NUW-AMWU, and then slipping into retirement in the Senate, filling out old mate Robert Ray's term of office?

As you might have gathered, Sword loves a little bit of pomp. Nothing like a bit of ceremony to make Sword happy. Sword is the kind of guy who gets oil paintings of himself done. For real. It's very important to Greg that everyone believes that Greg Sword is a very, very important man. Just ask the Melbourne Football Club, after his ill-fated Gutnick rescue mission.

Greg is not anxious about an absence of power sharing in Labor Unity; he's panicked that a period of power sharing has arrived. As long as LU kept electing Greg to things, it was OK. Now that it has started electing some other people to positions who don't properly acknowledge Greg as a living legend, it's time to tear the faction up.

The important thing for Greg Sword out of any factional re-alignment that occurs in Victoria is that Greg Sword is perceived to be the kingmaker. Every other consideration is secondary, and that includes Bracks, stability for the Victorian Government and Simon Crean. This is truly unusual behaviour for an ALP national president, and titular head of the ALP Right nationally. Besides, Sword still hasn't forgiven Premier Bracks for having the temerity to reshuffle his cabinet without first asking Sword's permission.

Delia Delegate is poisonously mischievous. Feeney and Shorten are tight with Bracks and Crean. Feeney's many sins with Sword include his apparent capacity to work well and productively with his own former enemies at Treasury Place. He has good friends there. Shorten is a quick-witted wildcat union leader with some ability and charm; he counts Bill Kelty, Dennis Lennen, Richard Pratt, Sharan Burrow and Lindsay Fox amongst his eclectic bunch of mates. Shorten will be a tough opponent.

Greg Sword hates ALP secretary David Feeney. Feeney's principal sin appears to be that he is interfering in a union contest that Greg Sword is also interfering in. While Feeney's involvement in this union contest has certainly raised some eyebrows, it is also now ancient history. The far more recent, dramatic and high profile involvement of the ALP National President in union elections has astonished all. The NUW has always prided itself of staying out of any other unions business; that NUW tradition has clearly been ripped up by Sword. When was the last time an ALP National President started organising his own personal ALP Industrial Group to run union elections?

But given that Malcolm Sword (Greg's brother) is a candidate for leadership in one of the various Health Workers' Divisions, maybe Greg's hostile behaviour can be understood. Greg's turning union politics into a family business.

So now the 56-year old union boss Greg Sword has embarked on a jihad aimed as nothing more than wounding the careers of a couple of 30 year olds who he doesn't like. Unable to terminate their careers inside the Labor Unity faction, Sword has abandoned his thirty-year allegiance to his own faction and now started talking to some interesting old factional players.

Curiously, Sword and the NUW have split from LU in a manner that leaves their old faction united against them. There are unlikely to be any further major defections from the faction. Senators Robert Ray and Stephen Conroy, faction secretary Fiona Richardson, Theo Theophanous, Premier Bracks and State Ministers like Marsha Thomson, John Brumby and John Lenders are all staying put and backing Shorten & Feeney. The wily Bob Sercombe is uncertain, but then he always is. That's Sercombe. All this can't be part of Sword's plan. What's gone wrong? Other right-wing unions like the AWU, TWU, CEPU and SDA aren't about to follow Sword into a socialist paradise.

Although Sword can now only depend upon a small number of followers, the NUW alone still has enough votes to wreak havoc. The Socialist Left are interested in an alliance with Sword's NUW. All Greg wants is David Feeney and Bill Shorten carried off the political stage in blood soaked stretchers. All the Socialist Left want is total control of the Victorian ALP machine and lots more MP's. The two goals are mutually compatible happy days.

Greg Sword can't attack Feeney and Shorten on the basis that they're poor performers. Shorten's AWU has never been stronger. It's united nationally which is, even for Shorten critics, an amazing feat. Meanwhile, ALP Head Office under Feeney ticked over quietly and reasonably effectively. It was a feather in the cap for Victorian Labor that the feds ran their campaign out of King St last year (even though the results outside Victoria were pretty ordinary that's another story!). So instead, Greg Sword is quietly attacking the integrity of Feeney and Shorten. He accuses them of treachery and 'sinister dealings' (none of which he can detail except for rumours of some "silver bullet" e-mail on Feeney. More on that later).

Now is perhaps SL strongman Senator Kim Carr's last opportunity to resume the iron rule he once enjoyed over Victorian Labor in the 1980s. With various union bosses (and accomplished headkickers) like Greg Sword, Doug Cameron and Ian Jones underpinning his regime (with veteran meatworker boss Wally Curran as a hard-nosed godfather overseeing the operation), Senator Carr is looking forward to Victorian Labor again becoming the Albania of the southern hemisphere (to quote another veteran ALP godfather Senator Ray, as Greg did at state conference).

How Steve Bracks and Simon Crean feel about living in a Kim Carr collective is pretty clear to insiders. They're not happy. But this is where Delia is no dill the positioning of the pollies is critical to how things will turn out. And, while you wouldn't necessarily want state or federal caucus with you on the Normandy beaches on D-Day, it's clear despite Delia clutching at straws that a majority of LU MPs are naturally pissed with this weird and unwelcome turn of events. No matter how you stack it up rocking the ALP boat at this stage is good news for Dr. Denis, and not an unwelcome development for the Abbott & Costello show up in Canberra.

Just as interesting is the question of how the NUW-Network foot-soldiers feel about Greg's kamikaze "stand of principle"? A long civil war through the branches and unions with their erstwhile LU colleagues cannot be a pleasant thought. Sword's Network operatives are going to spend the next few years delivering up LU seats in parliament to the Socialist Left, rather than climbing the greasy pole themselves.

At least part of the sting here is that Senator Carr and his new union enforcers have to keep a bizarre political coalition together. The parliamentarians at Spring Street will not like the new order. Many of them are going to have to fight for their political lives (hell hath no fury like a caucus MP scorned!). The anti-Workers First and pro-Workers First unionists will all be serving in the one factional alliance. That will be interesting! Greg Sword and Craig Johnston in the same faction! Helping the AMWU national leadership destroy the militant Workers First group here in Victoria while at the same time keeping Craig Johnston and co in the factional cart is Kim Carr's goal. It is going to be a tricky performance to pull off. If he manages it then Carr is a political genius rather than the clipboard-clutching, resolution-reading robot of old, when he was trying to undermine Hawkie up in Wills FEA. The Socialist Left will have to kiss and make up with characters like Greg Sword and Ian Jones who have spent the last ten years persecuting them.

Oh, to be a fly on the wall .

Delia Delegate responds to Reg's attack

By Delia Delegate

Published June 10

Delia has tried to be balanced in her reporting on the war of the Right wing but in response to Reg the Representative's sickening attack on Greg Sword, I am taking the gloves off. In future, I will be more balanced, presenting both sides of the argument where possible.

Sword is clearly not a left winger and has only offered an alliance with Kim Il Carr of the Socialist Left because he has no alternative. The SL will deal with him ahead of the young egos Feeney/Shorten because he has a history of honouring deals. The Labor Unity faction have consistently opposed candidates endorsed by Sword/NUW/Network. Their role in the south-east where conservative catholics with no history of involvement in the Party have been preselected ahead of quality candidates has been disgraceful, they say.

For the opponents of Sword to presume that Greg Sword has "lost it" seems to be a dangerous and foolhardy presumption. Sword is playing a chess game and in the first move or so looks like taking the Queen (Feeney), launching an inquiry into the activities of the Bishop (Marles), replacing several backbencher pawns and has at the very least put the King (in his own mind) Bye Bye Bill Shorten in check. Checkmate is not out of the question if the Left hold their nerve.

The NUW election is a non-issue. Aside from the interventions of Feeney, Shorten, Conroy and other unions under suspicion, the NUW is as safe as houses. Under Sword's leadership, the NUW is financially strong with quality industrial staff and enjoys respect in the business community as an honest but firm negotiator. Sword is not just a young wanker with an MBA and a chambray shirt, Sword has respect, built over decades.

Sword is not making the re-positioning of the NUW an election issue. The issue is whether Victorian members want the NSW branch, with its history of wrongdoing, interfering in the Victorian branch. Every other state leadership of the union is totally supporting Sword, all have been elected again without opposition so can focus on supporting Sword in the national election.

Sword is willing to accept the votes of the AMWU but obviously prefers to deal with Doug Cameron than Craig Johnston, currently charged with riot, affray, threat to kill, criminal damage, burglary etc. Earlier in the year Johnston when talking about the federal election: "For the first time in my life I voted against the ALP", he explained. "I voted Socialist Alliance first, the Greens second and put Labor third. How could I vote for a party that was supporting racism and had very right-wing policies? "

How could we vote for such a person to decide who is going to lead the Labor Party's organisation?

It absolutely not true that the NUW and the AMWU are seeking amalgamation. While there is some logic for it in theory, it would be impossible to do with a Liberal government. Amalgamations under Kelty only happened with Government assistance for amalgamation ballots. Tony Abbott isn't interested in building bigger unions.

As for getting a portrait painted, what's the big deal. The NUW proudly supports the arts and was delighted that Kim Beazley and Steve Bracks launched the portrait which was in fact entered into the Archibald Prize and nearly won. Greg is a very appropriate subject of a painting being an important person in the history of Australia. Bell Securities, Joe Gutnick's stockbroker, sponsored the event, meaning that it cost members nothing at all.

And to imply that Sword was the cause of Joe Gutnick's failure in the Melbourne Football Club is wrong too. Gutnick was beaten by the conservatism and lack of vision of the Club. Sword was willing to stand beside a friend, as he always does.

Reg the Representative fails to understand that Sword as an elder statesman of the Labor Right, President of the federal and state ALP and leader of the most effective union in the country is entitled to play a leadership role in any faction he is in. It's not unreasonable. Instead what he got was Jacinta Collins, Kelvin Thomson, Michael Danby, Anthony Byrne and Steve Conroy and was looking like getting Bill Shorten, Richard Marles and David Feeney served up as well. If you look at the list previously supplied of NUW friends in Club Fed, there are very few. That's because Sword has copped many of his quality candidates going down and tolerated SDA hacks and over-ambitious, MBA types getting their way at his expense.

However the factional situation unfolds, there is no going back to that situation. The conservative catholics are greatly over-represented, in Party office, in Club Fed and elsewhere. Feeney-Shorten have strut around like preening peacocks and are now learning what it's like to be firmly plucked.

Feeney should not delude himself that he has friends at Treachery Place, he has very few. The position of the NUW-Network group is for his severed head to be shoved on a pole outside the King Street office of the ALP for all to see.

With no powerbase of his own, once sacked, he will be the Nowhere Man. The Network view is that while it has brought through dozens of potential high quality, highly trained and seasoned electoral stars that it will wait its time. There is no rush. The NUW group would rather give a majority of seats in the caucus to SL members it can negotiate with rather than LU members who habitually freeze them out.

This does not mean Kim Il Carr would run Victoria. There's nothing wrong with him having a say over events though, he is an important and respected figure in the Victorian branch and he's entitled to an opinion. Carr, like Sword, has played a soothing role in his faction, keeping warring parties from tearing each other apart. He recruited Jenny Mikakos, a former Pledge faction member, known for branchstacking and being one of the laziest MP's in the history of Parliaments. She came back to the SL with the promise of next Cabinet vacancy, a promise that wisely Carr won't be honouring.

Gavin Jennings has far greater claim on it. Carr while affectionately called Kim Il Carr has moderated since being in Canberra. He has focused on policy issues, particularly in education and has caused chaos in Government offices with the volume of his inquiries. Carr's nemesis, MHR for Bruce and fierce branchstacker Alan Griffin, is believed to be less likely to stab him from behind than at any other time for years. They have even sipped cafe51 lattes together at Ozzies in recent times much to the shock of comrades. Griffin has even given thought to removing the photo of Kim Carr with the crosshair symbols of a gun target on his face from his once family home. However, Carr has a file of Griffin's bad deeds buried deep in his Soviet Archives.

Branchstacking, close friendships with property developers (a very bad thing in the world of the SL), personal problems beyond description, fundraising issues to name a few. Carr hates Griffin and Melbourne MP Lindsay Tanner but will get over that in order to seize control of the branch. Griffin and Tanner despise Carr but are pleased with idea of necking some rightwingers, promoting some of their people into Head Office, taking back Holt etc. The only complication is that NUW/Network has found Griffin very unco-operative in Holt and expects him to lift his game if he wants to get any benefit from the new arrangements.

The position of the New Majority is that we will accept votes from the AMWU leadership but we won't defend their actions that led to criminal charges. We won't go to see the Premier of Victoria on Craig Johnston's behalf to persuade Bracks to interfere in the course of justice. But we'll do what we have to do to clean up the Victorian branch from rightwingers and miscreants. Feeney/Shorten will find that while the differences in the New Majority are great on many issues, there is heated agreement on whether Feeney should continue as State Secretary and Shorten becomes President.

From the slick economic rationalists of the Network group to the socialists of the industrial left, the New Majority has reached its verdict. And while Conroy's mate Andrew Theophanous got six years, Conroy's mates Shorten and Feeney have been sentenced to political death.

Sizing up the damage

By Delia Delegate

Published June 11

Last week was a big week in football, as Eddie McGuire would say. It was an even bigger week in the Victorian ALP with many participants gladly welcoming the long weekend to celebrate the birth of our Sovereign and the elevation of Bill Shorten's mates, the billionaires Pratt, in the Queen's Birthday honours. Comrades from the red to the pink to the bluish ones with ties to proscribed conservative catholic organisations were recovering from the week and caucusing across Melbourne during the long weekend.

Some of Sword's suburban supporters led by Tim Holding met informally to review progress in collecting ballot papers from State Conference delegates across the state. The SL leadership is also understood to be reviewing its options, including proposals made by Sword and various ideas for how the branch will work in the future. Feeney-Shorten's forces encouraged by the favorable treatment of Shorten in Friday's HeraldSun and other one-sided coverage are hoping the worst has passed and of course also responded on Crikey with a blistering attack on Greg Sword, justifying his decision to leave in the first place.

The much anticipated Stateline on Friday night was dull, except for the sombre mood music in the background with Sword presenting the argument that the NUW's decision was taken because of the union's dissatisfaction with where the faction was heading. Sword's critics say it is misleading for him to say it is only about what the NUW is doing when a whole network led by him and Holding numbering state MP's, FEA delegates, federal MP's and government advisers are supporting his moves.

The ABC's Josephine Cafagna got some nice comments from Martin "Rent-a-quote" Foley, the ASU State Secretary normally well regarded Left winger who declared factionalism dead in his interview. All the factional members who publicly decry the role of factions is confusing to many branch members, 90% of them never join factions with their interest being in helping the ALP not Left or Right. Sword's friends say that his move to a neutral corner is not necessarily an anti-factional move, it's really an anti Labor Unity move which will have the effect of enabling the NUW/Network group play an honest broker role in the Party ensuring the promotion of quality candidates and the clearing out of branch-stackers.

Sword's supporters including the Premier Steve Bracks say that Sword's decision is more about ending factionalism as we know it than any temporary alliances that may have to be struck in the interim. Feeney/Shorten's allies question this arguing that the NUW is handing control of the Victorian branch to the SL, a challenge they say to the powerbase of Simon Crean and the electability of Bracks at the next election. The NUW view is that they are entitled to play a leadership role within the Party and that their honest broker role will enable the restoration of that role.

Sword says Shorten is responsible for supporting the contemptible Craig Johnston who is a destructive presence within the labour movement. Shorten says he is about electing Labor Governments, supporting Crean's leadership unlike Sword's close ally Doug Cameron who has repeatedly attacked Crean's 50:50 proposed rule change and talked up the prospects of disaffiliation 'within two years.'

Shorten's media offensive broadened over the weekend as he attempted to gee up his supporters who are demoralised and confused. The conservative windbags of the News organisation came to Bill's rescue with favorable treatment in the Herald-Sun for three consecutive days. Even on the ABC which should no better, the Insiders spent the entire length of the program bagging Kim Il Carr. Sword doesn't think that highly of Kim Il Carr but he isn't going to be bullied out of cleaning out the Party by a media tart or a nervous Parliamentary leadership or anyone else.

All the failings of the Cain-Kirner Governments have been visited on Carr and Sword by a media obsessed with blaming someone for its disappointments. This is stupid and unfair. Many forget Bill Shorten's role as a Ministerial staffer for Neil Pope, the Minister for Industrial Relations during this time. Feeney also worked as a staffer for big drinking Ian Baker, Minister for Agriculture. Many also forget that the Cain-Kirner years had problems but were years of great achievement in Victoria in education, social services and relationships with unions. It wasn't a great time for Labor Unity due to several union election defeats but one union, the NUW, remained strong. Kim Il Carr while a divisive person in the media is a proven leader rather than a windbag like Shorten and has built an enduring coalition with Sword that no amount of undermining will undo, according to those close to Sword.

And to Jim Claven, the man most likely to follow on from Sword as State ALP President, he now says that he opposes Crean's proposal for 50:50. This is inconsistent with his position in his epic "Centre is Mine" which as considered previously praises the sweeping changes made to the British Labour Party by the Labour Right which took considerable power away from union secretaries. Claven says he has been quoted out of context and he was merely describing what occurred in the Labour Party without imposing value judgements and that his submission to the Party Review of rules contains a clear and emphatic endorsement of 60:40. Perhaps Comrade Claven would agree to sending the full text of his book on a disc to Crikey so he can publish the whole thing for the benefit of Comrades considering whether to vote for him. Some SL comrades would collapse at their PC's with shock at how far Claven has strayed from the official line of Kim Il Carr.

Claven's equivocating on Crean's reform agenda makes the previously easy question of burying Shorten more difficult, say Sword's allies in the Left particularly in light of Shorten's typically cunning endorsement of Crean's 50:50 rule change. Shorten's supporters say that Sword who is on the record being open to 50:50 and supporting Crean too should support the only candidate for President who also supports Crean's position. Shorten's opponents particularly his old mates from Network say that Claven isn't the only candidate but even if he was, his views would be irrelevant in Party forums as pro Crean forces would still dominate. Shorten's scalp has been promised to the troops and must be given to them, they say.

Claven's higher-ups in the SL, union leaders as diverse as Michelle O'Neill and Martin Kingham are known to be suspicious about his political judgement and believe he is an accident waiting to happen because of it if elevated to Party President. Kim Il Carr wants him to withdraw in favour of a compromise candidate according to some observers but Claven is holding firm. A cross-party view is emerging that someone committed to reform is required to lead the Party at this troubled time, not a publicly unknown unelected union hack like Claven. Jim's view on 50:50, 60:40, 0:100 may vary from time to time but he is obsessed with being President and believes that his own candidacy has played a role in restoring the Left's fortunes in the past week. He has said this a few times. Each time without blushing.

Sword has strong views on Claven, it is believed. Sword likes to deal with serious people, not those who constantly work the media or change their position on issues or deal every six hours. He suspects Claven is not someone he will be able to support even though he is desperate to sink Shorten in the most public possible way. Sword is not convinced that the SL are united behind Claven given all the talk around town about his political unreliability from certain comrades in the Left. Within his employer at CEPU, the Postal Workers think he's a fool, the ETU don't trust him and the Plumbers don't either. Whether that leads them to support a NUW compromise candidate is the question for the week. A few are saying that moves against Claven' own position as Policy Researcher in the national office are likely whether he's elected President of the Party or not.

Elsewhere, at Westernport, ETU Secretary Dean Mighell is decrying the Big Australian (now British) BHP's use of helicopters at their Hastings plant to intimidate striking workers and break picket-lines being run by the ETU and AMWU. Another Crikey contributor says that Dean Mighell's girlfriend is the very well-paid Manager, Media Relations for BHP Billiton, defender of Ok Tedi and BHP's boisterous IR practices, Ms Frostick. Not true. Firebrand Dean Mighell and Mandy Frostick are in fact married with two kids in a happy home happily transferred out of Dean's name to guard against the effect of fines, lawsuits etc. There's power in a union.

In Tasmania, an executive of construction company Fairbrother says that a Tasmanian official working for Mighell's CEPU had threatened to bring a boatload of Melbourne thugs armed with baseball bats to Hobart. These claims are denied by Mighell who does not carry his pistol around with him in the glove-box of his union fleet car, according to informed sources. Several comrades found it interesting Mighell was on Friday accusing BHP of "putting a gun to the head" of his membership.

It's right to assume that Dean Mighell is the only ever member of the Victorian Greens with a pistol licence who likes to hunt, shoot, root and stick in the boot. He always knew he was unique. Now we all know.

Harry Hack hoes into the Swordsman

By Harry Hack
Feeney-Sword supporter

Published June 11

Well what a week it's been! Hacks, harlots, stackers, rats and careerists. This is a week that will take some beating.

It's time to reflect on just what has been achieved. At NUW headquarters the charismatically challenged Greg Sword can be heard calling the faithful to prayer with Pythonesque cry of "what has Labor Unity ever done for us?" Well, apart from the National Presidency, State Presidency (on several occasions), state and federal preselections, ministries etc. Oh and there's the aqueducts.

But as I read yet another article attempting to interpret the entrails of what remains of Labor Unity, I am struck again by how much is missed by the Contiki Tour itineraries journalists are restricted to.

So here it is only for those adventurous souls who like to get off the beaten track and understand a faction the way it truly is not just the capital cities but the hill tribes as well.

The Lonely Planet Guide to Labor Unity (including disputed territories seeking self-determination).

Firstly, the National Union of Workers.

To use a contemporary analogy, the NUW are the Taliban of the Labor Party. And it comes as no surprise to those who have to put up with their terrorist tactics, Al Qaeda translates as 'the Network'. But more on them next edition.

The supreme Taliban Leader is Greg Sword (Mullah Omar), followed by Charlie "the man with no name" Donnelly, Yasser Martin Paluka and lumbering Lloyd Freeburn.

Their Headquarters are at 552 Victoria Street, North Melbourne "the Neutral Cave".

Listening to the pious statements of Sword this week from his "neutral cave" one might believe that the NUW has never ratted on their LU colleagues before. Of course many of us recall the state preselection round conducted in December 1993. Donkey Dave Cunningham (MP for Melton) was for the chop, to be replaced by Terry Muscat from the AWU. Only problem was that Sword's brothers and sisters in the State branch of the NUW couldn't bring themselves to support an AWU official.

With one memorable NUW official lamenting that "as long as my arse points to the ground, I will never vote for Terry Muscat", the NUW ratted on the LU caucus and Donkey Dave was preselected for another term. Even big Bob Smith, then State Secretary of the AWU, was reduced to tears (not to be sure, on the AWU's account, but because he abhors disloyalty of any kind!).

The other claim Sword has been making is the alleged interference of Shorten/Feeney in the current NUW elections. On the standard of evidence required by the NUW, David and Bill are also responsible for Kennedy assassination, the Watergate Break-in, and the El Nino effect. "It's just the vibe of the thing" the NUW claim.

Conversely, the NUW have elevated interfering in unions elections into an art form. Just about every branch of the HSUA has felt the dead hand of NUW interference. It is also rumoured that NUW slush funds have provided thousands of dollars to try to claim this union for the Sword empire.

These crusaders for non-interference also had a dip at the TCFUA (Textiles). This little cock-up was coordinated by then-NUW official and Networker James McGarvey.

The NUW poured cash from dubious sources into the 1991 TWU campaign and many other nefarious union causes during the 1990s. Their claim of having a "hands-off" policy on union elections is about as credible as Rose Porteous claiming to be a loving wife with simple tastes.

And what about the so-called industrial credentials of this self-styled "tough and smart" union? Are they really the face of progressive unionism, or just a bunch of spivs in suits selling the virtues of computers to storeman and packers?

Sword also accuses Feeney of using his position to fundraise for his empire-building, yet there is ample evidence that Sword is bleeding corporate Melbourne to fund his bizarre array of "causes" and "obsessions".

Rumour has it that that Sword is just bitter that he doesn't get invited to lunch with James Packer or for dinner with the Pratts at Raheen, like his better-connected rivals Feeney and Shorten.

In happier days, the NUW prided itself on cultivating the best and brightest young people the ALP has to offer. Nicola Roxon and Natalie Sykes are two of the brighter stars they have assisted and subsequently burnt.

In fact there is a disturbing list of employees who have come and gone through the revolving door of the NUW in mysterious circumstances.

It seems at the NUW, only the docile or the devious survive.

So that's my first instalment of the Travel Guide to Labor Unity. Like all quality guides I am independent and accept no sponsorship or advertising. Freebies and grovelling will not attract a positive write-up.

Without fear and favour I will guide readers through the treacherous and rugged terrain known as Labor Unity.

Till next time, Harry Hack

Harry Hacks exposes The Network

By Harry Hack

Published June 12

Dear Crikey,

As promised, I will continue my Lonely Planet Guide to Labor Unity.

Our last stop was the neutral cave - otherwise known as NUW Headquarters. Today's visit will be to check out those bandits in the hills known as "The Network".

This little cabal maybe bandits, but unlike Al Qaeda they don't disappear into the hills. They are everywhere.

Their roots extend back before 1990 when Bill Shorten was the Network chief and he was at war with ALP state secretary David Feeney. Bill and David kissed and made up and the rest is history. They moved on to bigger and better things, whilst the Network rabble hung around to execute their "unconventional" form of democracy in the Young Labor arena.

Enthusiasts with long memories may remember the gerrymander that enabled Network to dominate Young Labor Conferences for many years. Their support for a gerrymandered system of electing delegates to Youth Conference enabled comrades in the eastern and south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne to have a greater influence than their more numerous comrades in Melbourne's west and northern suburbs.

This system suited Network operatives very well, allowing them to be the senior partner in the non-Left side and dispense plenty of booty. It was the kind of undemocratic gerrymander that would have made Joh Bjelke-Peterson blush.

To give readers a better flavour of the nature of Network and its past, I will now cut to the 1994 Victorian Youth Conference.

Location: the infamous Room 50 at Trades Hall was the headquarters for the Network team. This room was used to manufacture blank RMIT, Japan Airlines and Toyota cards. These were then used as fake ID by Networkers "impersonating" or "facing" delegates that had not turned up to vote at the Conference.

They also fitted Room 50 with a scanner to enable them to monitor the phone calls of rival teams.

And in a separate development involving different people, it was revealed that Rachel Dapiran and Tim Holding of Network and Adrian Munro of the Left, did a secret deal to exchange preferences for a parcel of votes from Network to the Left, effectively shafting their brothers and sisters in Labor Unity.

Old habits die hard.

Then there was of course the infamous 1997 Youth conference where the rorting of Network led to the ballot not being counted and the whole of Young Labor being shut down. This has been documented on Crikey elsewhere. Heading up Network at the time was one Matt Carrick, now an adviser to the Treasurer John Brumby. One can only wonder what his boss would make of his all this.

So where are the other members of the Al Qaeda Network now?

Firstly, there is "Osama" Tim Holding. Holding is never more treacherous than when he appears to be on your side. Just ask John Lenders. Springvale was not Tim's first choice of seat. Osama stunned the party when he declared that he would take on then State-Secretary and the now widely respected Minister for Finance in the Dandenong North preselection.

Facing a massive defeat, Tim was about to limp away into the political wilderness, when he was saved by Mullah Sword who in typical Sword style threatened to leave the faction unless Tim was accommodated in Springvale. As usual, Labor Unity relented.

A quick check of the parliamentary staff list finds one Cathy Sword in the employ of young Osama Tim Holding. Cathy is of course Greg's second wife. Cathy makes sure that young Tim doesn't stray too far from the Mullah's flock.

Aficionados may remember Jorge Ladowsky. Jorge became infamous for setting up GD Advertising Material which illegally skimmed Commonwealth funds to help feed his gambling habit.

This is what The Age carried on the story last year.

Ladowsky is now the subject of a Federal Police investigation.

Whilst it is widely known that Ladowsky was an employee of the ethically-challenged Andrew Theophanous, he was also employed for a time by Tim Holding.

My sources inform me that both Tim Holding and Jorge's mate Telmo Languiller (Sunshine MP) also used GD Advertising, and in one case had to cancel a contract but they didn't realise what the game was. More to come on this later.

Young Osama's juvenile attacks on the Liberals have more often than not backfired on his own side, and his FOI requests on his own government have made him look stupid in the eyes of his Ministerial colleagues and provoked a private carpeting from Premier Bracks.

A lesser known fact is that Tim was once married to a member of the Victorian Police Force. One can only wonder what Tim's now ex-wife made of his involvement in the Youth Conferences.

But it is Tim's reported fascination with Richard Nixon that really concerns me. Whilst most up and coming Labor activists model themselves on the inspirational JFK, Tim appears to have take a shine to the man who famously said "I am not a crook".

Tim's last remaining friend in the State caucus is Matt Viney, the member for Frankston East. Matt is most recently known for the allegations surrounding the $100 million Frankston redevelopment. Crikey readers will recall this was the dodgy tender process that ended up the subject of an inspection from the Municipal Inspector and an inquiry held by the Legislative Council.

Matt was, of course, cleared and reinstated to his parliamentary secretary position.

His mate Mark "Chopper" Conroy will now have to wait on the mercy of the Director of Public Prosecutions but protests his innocence very loudly.

Another Network terrorist is the ubiquitous James 'the Mercenary' McGarvey, a former NUW official and now PR consultant with EMC. We did a quick coffee room survey in our office the other day and no-one would remember him doing too special, other than producing an obscure paper called "Meaningful Membership".

Beneath his bland exterior, he appears to like a dollar and is doing well out of the Labor Party these days through Essential Media.

Then there's his partner in crime, Rachel "the defector" Dapiran. Easily forgettable as a non-starter in the Isaacs preselection, Dapiran should by rights be in the SDA camp after all she worked there for years.

But instead she defected to the NUW camp and Michael Donovan (SDA State Secretary) is said to be especially displeased.

Ask her ex-boss Anna Burke how she was once encouraged into not attending a fundraiser organised for her, just because it wasn't a Network event. While I think of it, ask the then Labor candidate for Dunkley, Mark Conroy, how he had to knock back assistance offered by the AWU because the Networkers threatened to walk off his campaign if he accepted.

Dapiran has always been a distant third to leading women like Natalie Sykes and Jill Hennessy. With both of these women moving onto other endeavours, at last she may have a chance to move out of the backstalls. And what a difference a deal with the Left could make to her flagging parliamentary ambitions?

Then there's Andres Puig known in St Albans as his worship the Mayor of Brimbank and known just about everywhere else as the wanker from the west. A little known fact from Andres' obscure life is the address he maintained during his last Council campaign. The people of Furlong Ward were supposed to believe that Andres lived with his father when he actually spent more time at his employer's home in Hope Street, South Yarra.

One Networker who really does live with Mum and Dad is Kieran "mummy's boy" Boland, the failed candidate for Aston. When John Howard claimed victory in 2001 he credited the turnaround in their fortunes as the win Aston by-election win. Well, if Greg Sword wants to reform the party he could start by clearing out such failed candidates as Boland. Or at least back a candidate that knows that Kyoto is a protocol on greenhouse emissions - not an exotic Japanese beer.

This nefarious little cult is a growing cancer in the bowel of the Labor Party. With little genuine support in the party beyond its own army of brainwashed suicide bombers, its tentacles and the damage it has wreaked spread far and wide, and are ultimately to answer for the current threat to a faction they've never been loyal to.

So join with me next time as we get off the beaten track and discover the other weird and wonderful tribes that make up Labor Unity.

Delias ode to Tim Holding

By Delia Delegate

Published June 12

Tim Holding is keeping a low profile as the bombs are falling in the War of the Right Wing. He is quietly going about his business as a state backbench MP, keeping his own counsel and quietly working to support his mentor Greg Sword in building the New Majority. He has been worried about the way Labor Unity has worked for a long time now. His supporters say he is relieved that the NUW has taken the decision it has which enables Tim and his allies to take care of years of unfinished business.

Tim just turned thirty years old has been the leader of the Network group with his friend James McGarvey for a number of years. Network doesn't work in the same way as it had to in Young Labor, it is now an informal network of FEA delegates, union officials, MP's and ministerial staff. It rewards loyalty to each other and promotes and hones talent.

Its role has grown from being preoccupied with Young Labor battles with the despised Centre Forum group founded by Feeney, to forming an active group within the Right that supports the leadership of Greg Sword and provides a base of talent that will soon be running the NUW. Sword has consistently helped this process by ensuring that the NUW hired the best of Network talent to teach them industrial skills and ensure the union had the best available people. Former Network and Young Labor activists have moved into leadership positions within the NUW and will in time replace Sword and Donnelly as they contemplate the future into their next term. Assistant Victorian Secretary Martin Pakula, Victorian Industrial Officer Antony Thow, Victorian Organiser Jaala Pulford, National Organiser Antonia Parkes are the future leadership of the NUW in Victoria and nationally. All are talented, fiercely loyal to Sword and committed to Shorten's destruction within the Party.

Through Tim's leadership, the group has grown its skills and influence. It has some revered campaigners, many of whom are pursuing careers in private enterprise in marketing, broadcasting, journalism, academia, public relations and other areas to add to the skills of the group. Unlike the narrow base of their rivals, Holding's supporters have diverse and rich skills. James McGarvey is one example, in his pace-setting work at Essential Media Communications or EMC. James has been able to secure hundreds of thousands of dollars of Government contracts by offering a much more cost effective service than their competition (Crikey - many would argue there has been plenty of cronyism in this). James and colleagues like Mark Civitelli and others at EMC make a team that is simply the best in the business, James running the Frankston East by-election for Matt Viney so effectively that even his enemy Feeney praised him. It was the election that won government for Bracks which is not a bad calling card around town.

Holding has also been able to cultivate other mentors such as Senator Robert Ray who employed Tim Holding prior to his election to State Parliament. Even though Ray had supported Conroy within Labor Unity, Ray appreciated his talents and nurtured them. The opposition research skills for which Holding is feared in Spring Street were developed watching the skilled Senator Ray who almost single handedly destroyed Labor turncoat now infamous Senator Mal Colston through forensic research. Holding applies those skills ruthlessly and fearlessly. One time he got into trouble for making FOI applications on Feeney's correspondence with the Victorian Electoral Commission after Feeney was being typically unco-operative. He never intended to go through with it but used it to send a message that Feeney's interfering in local government elections in which Network had an agenda would not go unpunished.

As previously reported by Delia, young people who've been groomed by leader Tim Holding dominate the ministerial staff of most of the Bracks Government despite Feeney's attempts to get them all sacked in the early days of the government. Talent like Matt Carrick, Geoff Pulford, Rachel Dapiran, Ben Hubbard, Nada Delavec, Matt Merry and countless others represent the future of the Victorian right and are all working towards Tim Holding's eventual leadership of the Party.

Tim has the discipline and focus often lacking in politics. He is up by 6am every day, is physically extremely fit, lives and breathes politics every waking hour, is constantly on the phone encouraging people to work harder and longer against the common enemy: Bill Shorten and David Feeney.

A former Army Reservist, Holding brings those skills to his life in a way that those who prefer the easy path of media interviews, self-promotion and National Press Club speeches would not comprehend. During his election campaign for Springvale in September 99, Holding demonstrated his moral fibre.

He was going home late on a Saturday night after campaigning all day and attending a community function. He got off the train at Noble Park and noticed it didn't go off to the next station.

He noticed a large group of young people congregating at the back of train and initially thought it was a fight but realised they were watching a man who had fallen under the train as it arrived.

Risking his own life and drawing on his reserves of courage and physical fitness, Holding leapt on to the rail track to help the seriously injured man, who was unconscious and bleeding everywhere. Tim removed his coat and shirt in a desperate attempt to staunch the blood.

Holding assisted the dying man while waiting for paramedics from MICA 11 to get there. They placed him on a spineboard and lifted him from under the train onto the platform.

Tragically, the man died a few weeks later in Dandenong Hospital. He was a thirty year old who suffered from epilepsy.

Holding didn't want the incident publicised and was not exactly thrilled when locals nominated him for a Community Award for heroism awarded by the Metropolitan Ambulance, wanting to have made a difference in a quiet, dignified way not by claiming headlines constantly in an orgy of self-promotion that his rivals engage in.

That's what leadership is, say Tim's supporters. Not talking, but doing. Not being the centre of attention but being the centre of action. Tim Holding is showing in his own way that he has what it takes.

A guide to the great faction fight

By Delia Delegate

Published mid June

Previously in the Right Wing, ALP President Greg Sword left Labor Unity and took his union the mainstay of the right, the National Union of Workers with him, rocking the once dominant right-wing Labor Unity faction. He presented a once in a lifetime opportunity to Kim Il Carr, the leader of the Socialist Left faction who once witnessed the disintegration of his faction when the Pledge Unions departed over privatisation. Carr has received support from all elements of the Socialist Left to negotiate a deal with Sword at the expense of Labor Unity who the SL say have been guilty of "winner-takes-all" politics. Desperate to force Sword back into the fold, Feeney's defenders have launched a media blitz, fronted by Bill "I am the Messiah" Shorten. But what's really happening in the fluorescent-lit blood-splattered corridors of ALP Head Office in North Melbourne?

Sword and Carr are still working out the fine print but the already agreed principles are:

1. Opposing Shorten for the Presidency (ballots in by Friday with the triumphant count of Shorten's first ever loss happening Friday night).

2. Sacking Feeney from Head Office and eliminating Feeneyites from Head Office staff, and

3. Protecting most MP's federal and state. Delia definitely had it wrong about a hit-list, the Sword-Carr Modernisation are now definitely now committed to protecting all but one or two incumbent MP's, especially the one encircled by rightist sharks in Geelong. While there are many favouring a comprehensive clean-out, Sword's view is that such talk is premature and not likely to help the strengthening of the Alliance at the moment. Harry Jenkins is believed to be favouring retirement, now that he can be certain he will be replaced in Scullin by an SL comrade. So the Alliance is already achieving generational change, according to its supporters.

With far more support from conservative media barons like Murdoch, Packer and Fairfax than from the rank and file of the labour movement, Feeney/Shorten continue to be on the ropes, more punch-drunk than Iron Mike Tyson. Greg 'Lennox Lewis' Sword has cut them up early and they show no sign of recovery despite their occasional attempt at low-blows and ear-biting with anti-Kim Carr stories in the conservative press. Sword's forces though have counter-punched brilliantly, with the Premier "brackstracking" quickly on his reckless defence of the indefensible David Feeney.

Compounding Feeney/Shorten's problems, master strategist Fortress Bob Sercombe returned from overseas to announce his departure from Labor Unity. Fortress Bob is as shrewd as Iron Mike's former manager Don King and would not switch without good reason. Bob can sniff a winner from a stadium away. Bob's supporters blame Steve Conroy for his move saying he didn't trust Conroy after years of Conroy undermining him. Sercombe's departure marks the end of Shorten's attempts to get re-elected with the Modernisation Alliance swinging somewhat reluctantly behind Jim "No Name" Claven, the obscure researcher at the Postal Workers Union, who has attracted most of his support for not being Bill Shorten. Jim is so far in front that even Bill's doorstops and fancy juggling tricks at the back door of State Parliament House can't save him now.

Feeney/Shorten's supporters are busy trying to sucker-punch Bracks into supporting Feeney/Shorten by playing up the idea of Socialist Left control of the Party. The Australian on Monday went too far, talking of a Socialist Left list of public sector spending they want but hadn't got under the Bracks government. Sword has told Bracks and Crean he will not be supporting mad left policies and has never done so but he will not be pressured out of pursuing his reform agenda within the Party. Equally Sword says the Party should not freeze out Carr and the SL agenda because of conservative press barons, he says the ideological structures behind factions are irrelevant since the end of the Cold War. Both Left and Right, he says, are committed to being in government now, with the Left producing some of the more effective campaigners, such as Alan Griffin, Lindsay Tanner, Daniel Andrews, ministerial adviser Andrew McKenzie and Jason Murray. Many in the NUW have said the State Government has been obsessed with its AAA credit rating rather being a reforming Labor Government and it needs shaking up. That view has helped bind together the NUW with Carr and his union base.

Sword's camp is committed to seeing the NUW reform agenda implemented no matter how high the short-term cost. They say State Secretary Feeney is living on borrowed time. A few months ago Feeney was riding high as what he claims is "the greatest fund raising success ever" and was leading up to a campaign where Bracks would achieve a great swing that Feeney was going to claim credit for. Today as early as the 28th of June, according to reports, he is facing a majority of Admin determined to kill him.

The way the ALP works is that the State Secretary is chosen by the Administrative Committee. He is appointed by Admin and can be sacked by Admin. If it likes him, he stays. If not, he goes. Bracks does not get a vote. Crean does not get a vote. They can talk and talk and talk but they don't have the numbers.

Up until the formation of the Modernisation Alliance, Feeney could rely on the grudging support of the NUW and the Ferguson Left and the Pledge. The NUW was part of Labor Unity so had to support Feeney and the Fergusons and Pledge were in alliance so did the same.

Crikey can now reveal exclusively in this occasional series on the War of the Right Wing, who lines up where on the all powerful but highly secretive Victorian Administrative Committee of the ALP. None of them have a big public profile but they are the ones who call the shots. The names will change after Friday but the support bases remain the same.

Faction Codes:

NUW = formerley right wing National Union of Workers
SL = Socialist Left
Ferguson Left = Lefties loyal to Mar'n Ferguson
LRA = Labor Renewal Alliance founded by convict's brother Theo Theophanous to include stacks from Greek, South American and other ethnic communities.
LU - Labor Unity faction
SDA - Shop Assistant union, run by conservative catholic elements

Will Vote to Impeach Feeney:

President Greg Sword NUW (Union Official)
Senior Vice President Brian Daley SL (Union official)
Vice President Julia Gillard Ferguson Left (Federal MP for Lalor)
Lily D'Ambrosio SL (Government Staffer candidate for Mill Park)
Rachel Dapiran NUW/Network (Government Adviser)
Steve Dargavel SL although takes orders from Craig Johnston (Former Federal MP)
Nazih El Asmar once loyal to Theophanous, now loyal to NUW/Ferguson (Government Adviser)
Kosmos Felekos SL (Government Adviser)
Andrew Giles SL (Lawyer)
Jill Hennessy SL (Government Adviser)
Lev Lafayette was Pledge, now SL (Government Adviser)
Andrew McKenzie SL (Government Adviser)
Jason Murray SL (Electorate Officer)
Dave Noonan SL (Union Official)
Martin Pakula NUW/Network (Union Official)
John Scheffer SL (Government Adviser)
Silvana Sgro SL (Union Official)
Brian Tee SL (Union Official)
Catherine van Vliet SL (Union Official)
Julie Warren NUW (Union Official)
Tony White Ferguson (Government Adviser)
Linda White Left (Union Official)
Robin Scott - Sercombe (Government Adviser)

Will Vote Against Impeachment of Feeney

Stephen Booth LU (Union Official)
Antony Burke SDA (Union Official)
Michael Donovan SDA (Union Official)
Luke Donnellan LU (Government Adviser)
Garth Head LU (Government Adviser)
Michelle MacDonald LU (Electorate Officer)
Nathan Niven LU (Trades Hall)
Fiona Richardson LU (Government Adviser)
Natalie Sykes LU (was Government Adviser)

Count the names, 21 votes to 9. In Sword's defection, and bringing over of Ferguson and Pledge forces loyal to him, Sword has the numbers very clearly to replace Feeney.

So certain is the Modernisation Alliance of victory that it has already sounded out replacements for Feeney. The most likely candidates are Cabinet Secretary Gavin Jennings (Jennings was recently named by the Herald Sun as one of the state's laziest MP's quite an honour considering the competition) and adviser Andrew MacKenzie, a Ministerial adviser who once served as Assistant Secretary and has long craved the job. MacKenzie is on the public record boasting that at least one-third of the membership fees of the Victorian ALP were paid for by someone other than the member. Other candidates include Daniel Andrews, current assistant secretary, the alleged brains and bagman behind Alan "Privatisation" Griffin's operation, but who is running for the marginal seat of Mulgrave and is believed to have told his Supreme Leader Griffin that the job is a "poisoned chalice" and he wants to focus on winning Mulgrave. Believed to be backed by Socialist Left Leader Senator Kim Carr is the respected Minister Lynn Kosky's adviser Eric Locke who has impressed many with his quiet efficiency. Griffin is believed to want Blonde Bombshell and former Party President Jill Hennessy to take on the role but she isn't returning Alan's calls at the moment for much speculated upon reasons.

Some in the MA argue that the publicity given to the "Socialist Left takeover" of the Victorian Party and the on-again, off-again support from Bracks for Feeney means that it would be wise to appoint someone not from the Socialist Left to the important Secretary position. There are several excellent possibilities here including former adviser James McGarvey, Martin Pakula of the NUW or Jeff Pulford, Senior Policy Adviser to the Sports Minister. Sword apparently considered Conroy's request to put up Nathan Niven, of the Trades Hall to rebuild ties with Labor Unity but didn't think Niven was up to it. Sword though is no mood to force his supporters on the Party, he realises that in order to remove Feeney he will need the support of key stakeholders in the MA, which means a Left State Secretary, for now. In the long term the job belongs to the best campaigning talent though, which is someone like McGarvey.

It is interesting that 3 of 3 Party officers would vote to sack Feeney, including close ally of Crean's Julia Gillard which proves the difficulty of Crean getting involved in this spat. True, they would be doing so for factional reasons but it doesn't reflect well on someone who has raised a lot of money from right-wing corporates but does not enjoy the confidence of his superiors. Thwaites said he was doing a very good job, as did Peter "Nunawading" Batchelor make positive comments but they were hardly lavishing him with praise, as Bracks did from his $3000 a night suite in London, (with Tiny Tim Pallas sipping on $50 mini-bottles of cognac from the mini-bar trying to numb the pain of their European junket being rudely interrupted with the petty squabbles of faction-fighting). Pallas says Feeney-Shorten have tried to bully the Premier into doing something he cannot do, direct Greg Sword's votes on an internal ALP dispute. It is absurd he says for the Premier to stake his authority on the outcome of an Admin decision, the Premier leads the Government, not the Party. He doesn't even get a vote on Admin, just one vote out of 450+ at the State Conference.

As of next week, a new Administrative Committee will be elected, but the numbers will be mostly the same or even worse for Feeney as they are on the current Admin. Instead of the rampaging run through squad at the AMWU Workers First group having someone on Admin, the slightly saner AMWU Doog Cameroonites will get an extra vote. It won't change the fact that Feeney needs to find around six votes to save himself, an escape not even Houdini could have managed.

The key for the Modernisation Alliance from all this is that Sword, Jones, Ferguson and Carr's forces have swiftly and with a minimum of dissent seized control of the Victorian branch of the ALP from the conservative backed Feeney/Shorten. The Administrative Committee is the ultimate seat of power in the Party, only answerable to the National Executive and State Conference. Sword and his supporters throughout the different factions have the will and the numbers to force through the changes he wants, it's only a matter of when. Sword's supporters believe they can put an early end to the uncertainty by quickly removing Feeney and resuming focus on the election.

Another person who craves a low public profile but has exerted great clout in the Victorian branch of the ALP is Senator Steven Conroy. Conroy is the self-appointed leader of the Victorian Right is also the Shadow Minister for Small Business and Finance and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. Steve muscled out the competition for this post in search of a 20% pay rise, bigger office and some juicy perks. If you are surprised that such things matter in Canberra, you haven't spent much time in our nation's capital or have forgotten about Steve's mate Mal Colston. Steve exercised his legendary brutality to get the spot, spreading all sorts of tales about his competitors, Senators Bishop and Hogg.

Many particularly Steve regard Conroy as a cunning political operator. Some like Bishop think he's a cunning stunt. Conroy's critics say he has been effective at convincing journalists he is the numbers-man for the Victorian Right. Most ignorant Gallery journalists fall for this sort of crap very easily as not many MP's bother to spend the time Conroy does with them. Conroy's critics say he has failed to exercise the same judgement of the quality of factional Titan Senator Robert Ray. Ray balanced competing interests capably and honourably. Conroy by contrast would not hold back in his anti-Sercombe headkicking and other irrational games. Conroy's parliamentary colleagues don't like the way he hogs the corporate hospitality offered by Philip Morris at the MCG, being a regular in the PM box, taking back at least a few of their generously stocked courtesy bags chock full of ciggys and confections.

The focus of Greg Sword's wrath in the media has been Feeney and Shorten. One who raises money from the Tory end of town, the other who married into it. Shorten seems to think he's the only person connected with business in Melbourne. Sword has built very strong relationships across business and is enjoying strong support for his re-election bid at the NUW from employers across the state who are worried about militants from NSW taking over.

Some think though that while Feeney and Shorten are the obvious targets Senator Steve Conroy is just as big a casualty of recent skirmishes. The NUW Network group has watched closely the performance of the Transport Workers Union leadership and believes it is weak and dispirited. A challenge is being considered depending on how the union leadership line up over the next few months. The TWU are Conroy's support base in addition to the stacked electorate of Gellibrand. Aided by his South Vietnamese lieutenant MLC Sang Nguyen, a former NUW official who is loyal to Conroy not Sword, much to the disgust of the union. Gellibrand includes hundreds of Vietnamese members. Many of these members have been shown to be dead, non-existent, moved back to Vietnam, living in another electorate when scrutinised. Conroy's opponents are hoping to tie him to Gellibrand in any branchstacking inquiry conducted prior to the federal preselections.

It won't be the first time Gellibrand has been controversial. This is when the legend of Conroy crashed into the brick wall of reality according to Conroy's critics.

Ralph Wills the former Treasurer whose stupidity cost Keating the 1996 election when he released forged letters from Kennett to Costello full of very unlikely statements was always a Sword ally. Their ties went back to Ralph's time at the ACTU and his close work with Sword on the Accord. When Ralph said he wanted to retire, Sword assumed that it would be a chance to promote a quality candidate of his own, possibly himself. Conroy had other ideas.

Conroy had worked the area hard. Despite his northern English background and growing up in Whites Only Canberra, Steve immersed himself in the local community, particularly those who had historical antipathies to the Left. He'd intended to take Gellibrand for himself. He controlled the branches, the local council and most of the local newspaper editors. Conroy was the King of the Inner-West, or so he said to anyone listening. If Conroy had have been in Cabramatta, no doubt Phong Ngo would have handed him the keys to the Mekong Club. Only problem was that by the time Ralph was ready to retire Conroy was in the Senate and enjoying life up there with his mentor Senator Robert Ray.

So Conroy had to find someone else to ensure no else claimed his expensive prize. He knew he should find a woman. Not easy in a Labor Party dominated by homophobic white men. He looked everywhere. No locals. He kept looking and found a senior Telstra executive Vicki Corbett.

Vicki had some problems.

Problem 1: Sword wanted the seat. Initially for him. Because the NUW needed him, he decided to stay. He then wanted now Chief of Staff Tiny Tim Pallas who was working at the ACTU but was a loyal Sword supporter.

Problem 2: She'd only been in the ALP for a few weeks. This became quite important.

Problem 3: In her capacity as a Telstra executive, she had busted the balls of many union officials and was regarded by them as a hostile anti-worker manager. Such things matter less than you would think, for example Jenny Mikakos a prominent member now of the Socialist Left was once a "tax lawyer", and not for the Tax Department but for clients desperate to reduce their taxes as much as possible (all above board I'm sure).

Problem 4: She lived in ritzy Clifton Hill miles from the impoverished suburbs of Gellibrand, not greatly important but didn't help her credibility.

Aided by a well-briefed journalist Paul Molloy in the Herald Sun, Greg decided to unleash war against Conroy over Gellibrand. Everyday, a new story emerged about Conroy's candidate, a new fact undermining her credibility. Then Greg really taught Conroy a political lesson by organising the National Executive of the Party to cast her aside as a candidate for failing to qualify because she didn't have twelve months membership. Conroy was grief-stricken, years of stacking and tens of thousands of dollars sunk into it had been a complete waste. Instead of getting a supporter in the caucus he had been humiliated, very publicly. He later paid Molloy back by lobbying successfully to get him sacked by repeated lobbying trips to Sydney. (Crikey - this doesn't sound right. Herald Sun editor Peter Blunden told me Molloy was sacked for sending an expletive-laden story down the wire about the suicide of Michael Hutchence and then standing by it when he was sober.)

Tim Pallas was looking like the man most likely until a shocking development occurred. Readers will recall the Isaacs preselection where Feeney-Shorten organised to steal Isaacs from the NUW group using a former NUW official they had won over. It wasn't the first time.

Nicola Roxon, the former girlfriend of Bill Shorten, had once worked at the NUW. While a highly respected young industrial lawyer, she was receptive to Bill's proposal that she run for the seat. The NUW Group were outraged, Shorten-Feeney had used their own person to destabilise carefully prepared arrangements for Gellibrand. Conroy was so unhappy about being mugged in the press by Sword and Carr's journalist that he would have agreed to Bob Sercombe taking the seat rather than anyone nominated by Sword. So Nicola mostly unknown in the murky world of factional politics arose from obscurity to take the safest seat in the country.

Even though a former NUW official, Nicola repaid the union by employing enemies of the union in the form of some particularly nasty and brutal Young Labor allies of Feeney and Conroy. Roxon's actions have not been forgotten or forgiven by the Sword camp, many angered by Crean's promotion of her to the shadow ministry last year.

Many of Sword's supporters believed at the time that Sword should have taken the seat. He was the only candidate of stature and experience that could have undone Feeney-Shorten's devious trick.

Conroy definitely recovered from his failure. Conroy's opponents say he would attempt to be the master negotiator, shuttling between the union bosses and Feeney and Network and attempting to talk peace while always carving things up nicely for himself. His friends and there aren't many (Crikey bumped into him at Andrew Bolt's 40th) say he achieved growth for the faction by negotiating deals with groups like the Labor Renewal Alliance (Theo Theophanous), the Ferguson Left (based around the ASU and the Tree-Cutters), the Pledge (a hard Left group expelled by Kim Il Carr's forces for being too left wing, meaning that most Pledge members have pictures of Chairman Mao on the walls of their communes with the possible exception of tax minimisation lawyer and now MP Jenny Mikakos), the Independents (a strangle little group comprising mainly lawyers and staffers who claim the tanned Minister John Thwaites, the stunned Ann Corcoran MP and the retired Neil O'Keefe MP as their own and once included the likes of Cain, Barry Jones).

Conroy's critics say that except for the LRA, Sword has had to do all the hard work on these deals. The alliance with Ferguson, Ian Jones of the Pledge and the Independents is all due to the relationships and credibility that Sword has as a respected union leader. Conroy's efforts in recruiting the brother of convict Andrew Theophanous, Theo Theophanous Member for Jika Jika (an amusing title remembering that Jika Jika was once the name of a prison) and fellow branchstackers Keilor backbencher George Seitz, Sunshine MP Telmo Languiller, and failed candidate Carlos Baldovino to the faction may have increased the numbers, Network insiders believe, but they haven't added to the integrity or stability of the Victorian right. Many within the Network group believe that an attack on these former LRA members is vital to remove the cancer of branchstacking from the Victorian branch. Representations are to made to Simon Crean and several Party forums detailing the operations of the LRA, including the payment of memberships by its leadership in breach of Party rules and many other improprieties relating to fundraising. These are people of dubious integrity that not even Kim Il Carr could tolerate. Those within the Sword camp who want the state preselections re-opened believe that Conroy's mates Theophanous, Languiller and Seitz should be removed, following the precedent of Tayfun Erun and Dimitri Dollis' (best man at the Bolkus wedding and whose wife was appointed by then Immigration Minister Bolkus to the Immigration Review Tribunal on a $90,000 a year package) removal prior to the last election. Sword, while sympathetic to the concerns, is not willing to agree to this even though the Left would totally support the move. It would be destabilising before an election, Sword thinks. Others say it would be cleaning up the Party in time for the election. Some think Bracks might favour the move, especially Seitz.

Conroy's shuttle diplomacy is not necessary now, Sword has replaced him as the peace-maker between the warring clans. While to Conroy's credit he maintained friendships within the NUW, those friends regard his efforts to negotiate with them in recent times as self-serving and attempting to rebuild something that is now a distant memory.

Conroy's one-time leadership is now finished, his critics say. Shorten-Feeney don't need him and Sword is committed to freezing him out, not talking to him or wasting time on his games until Greg has had a chance to establish new relations with the Left to shape the Party for tomorrow. Sword suspects Conroy of leaking against the NUW to the media, which Conroy denies. The NUW has no problem with Conroy being in the Senate, with his nice payrise and big office, but his days of manipulating results at their expense is over, according to those close to Sword. Despite Shorten's desperate spin that the numbers are fluid and the outcome close, he knows he has already lost the Presidency. Conroy knows he is permanently weakened. And Feeney knows that now Bracks has given him up that there's no turning back. The Modernisation Alliance has arrived.

Love to all my fans, Delia

What the Fuck was that?

By Delia Delegate

Published June 20

Urban legend says that Mayor of Hiroshima's famous last words were "What the fuck was that!"

Jim "No Name" Claven, criticised in Crikey for being an unknown, unelected, unelectable, anorak wearer finally won the Presidential crown but is feeling just like the Mayor of Hiroshima looking around surveying the damage caused by an Enola Gay Shorten delivered nuke comprising radioactive elements of ratting and Shorten's conservative press attacks on the Party.

The Modernisation Alliance have delivered its first of what looks like many victories against Feeney/Shorten but with Claven's uninspired candidacy it did it the hard way with a very close result. If Sword or Holding were the candidate, it would have been a much better result, most think.

Sword's decisive moves in conjunction with fellow leader Tim Holding MP for Springvale and likely next Minister in the Bracks Government, laid the groundwork for Claven to win with 60% of the Party vote. More symbolic than anything it was going to be an exciting way of sending a message to the Party that the NUW/Network move to a neutral corner was capable of delivering a big swag of votes for modernisation.

Problem was the candidate. What a dud. He has all the charisma of a postage stamp and all the talent of a forty something unelected policy researcher with at least one failed election campaign for an easily winnable seat under his belt, a boring book that belted the crap out of his Left comrades and an attitude that he is a big man about town now that HE won the Presidency. Sword won him the Presidency and he should act like it.

Crikey's claims a while ago that Claven's book "Centre is Mine" indicated he was likely to flip-flop on 60:40 was quickly confirmed (conveniently after the NUW and the Left unions and delegates had voted) with his press pronouncements that 50:50 might be OK after all. Sword is going to have to tolerate this flaky, light, dandruff man for a while to come and supports him with no enthusiasm. Claven must earn Sword's respect as a serious player, it is clear he has a long way to go.

Some in the Network camp are understood to be extremely unhappy with the ratting that has gone on in the Modernisation Alliance. They point to the risks they've made voting for the Socialist Left candidate for President, bringing 50 votes. Without these critical votes and moral support, Claven would have received 184 votes or 40% of the vote. NUW/Network made the difference and delivered victory.

Who ratted on the Modernisation Alliance and why?

Prime Suspects are:

1) ETU Dean Mighell the now Greenie, long time sporting shooter who exercises control over the ETU's votes within the ALP, believed to think that he could jointly serve as Co-Messiah with Shorten and run the entire world together with their rich wives and chambray shirts. The hot air coming from both of their mouths could fuel a Richard Branson hot air balloon crossing of the Atlantic.

2) Ferguson Left There's nothing Left about Ferguson, his views on refugees would make Janette Howard blush non-menopausally. Mar'n is believed to be close to Sword but could not deliver his union boys to vote for Claven.

3) Kosmos Felekos Kosmos is growing impatient with his lack of promotion, may be talking to Conroy according to some. He is being closely watched.

4) Nazih El Asmar Questions about a last minute ballot replacement have arisen and have not been satisfactorily answered. Given the job he was given in the Government and the support of the NUW for his memberships if true this would lead to his elimination. Mar'n is believed to be highly suspicious of his local warlord Nazih.

5) The Independents A group of opportunists who stand for little although they have fought branchstacking in some FEA's.

For Shorten to have climbed to 48% of the vote is not good. The Feeney/Shorten junta is discredited and defeated and should not have been 12 votes from victory. Their only weapons are whining about the SL takeover of the Party, which is an easily revealed falsehood. What has occurred is an NUW/Network takeover of the agenda setting for the Party, restoring the leadership role it has long played but had been subverted by the conservative catholic tendency in Feeney/Shorten (Crikey: isn't Feeney Jewish?). The SL is in no position to deliver anything without NUW/Network approval. Sword and Holding have not built the respect they have around by agreeing to a socialist left agenda. Any lies about that will be proven to be over time.

Carr is not giving a great account of himself in the press but that's not his area of expertise. He is an ideas man not a slick salesman in a chambray shirt with an MBA. Carr is not perfect, he was guilty of presiding over the worst excesses of the SL Government which had notable lefties such as:

Brian Mier an Aboriginal Affairs Minister from the Pledge Left believed to have got pissed, thumped his Aboriginal Affairs adviser's door at her home (with his ministerial driver waiting in the limo at the front of the house) and screamed at her comments like "you (blank blank blank bitch". Enough to make you proud to be Labor. Mier eventually resigned from the Government after the adviser, Trish Jones, claimed $150,000 settlement for the incident.

Peter Spyker Minister for Transport who barely spoke English but was the SL minister in charge of billions of dollars of infrastructure decisions. They were wild times.

The NUW/Network group regards such people as disgusting. The union opposed unqualified and inappropriate ministerial candidates then just as it does now. All elements of the Modernisation Alliance must be committed to cleaning up the Party of people like this, whatever faction they are in.

Feeney/Shorten's conservative media baron backed media offensive has consisted of these cunningly crafted messages:

The Socialist Left has taken over the Party.
The SL will run the Government in the same way as it did under Kirner
Sword is obsessed with Feeney/Shorten on a personal level and "hates" them

All three are lies, say the NUW/Sword camp.

The NUW/Network group while numerically smaller than the SL contain the balance of power. Without the NUW/Network they go back to being a minority

The SL is a lot more pragmatic than those days. Jennings, Tanner, Griffin, Kosky etc are believers in low tax, small government mostly. Kosky calls herself a "fiscal conservative" while being a member of the Socialist Left. Tanner is an economic dry and shares much in common with Network comrades.

Sword does not hate Feeney/Shorten personally, he is negative about the Feeney/Shorten junta and their once iron-grip on Party preselections. It's a popular view. Those in the Network group do hate Shorten in particular and he is going to find himself dying by a thousand cuts over the next few years. Wherever he is, Network will be. He betrayed Network years ago and it won't and can't be forgiven.

Speculation continues to mount about new State Secretaries. It's not an easy job to fill. Assistant Party Secretary Daniel Andrews, Kosky ministerial adviser Eric Locke, Jennings' adviser Andrew McKenzie are all still possibilities but because of their Socialist baggage would give another headline to the Herald-Sun. Other names are being suggested like the talented and ambitious NUW Assistant Secretary Martin Pakula and adviser Matt Carrick, who has expressed keen interest in moving on from Brumby's office.

Also being kicked around was Marsha Thomson's adviser Fiona Richardson, the convenor of what's left of Labor Unity. She was keen to get the payrise apparently but is regarded by some as not having the intellectual rigour for the job. Crean's adviser Mike Kerrisk, from National Secretariat is also being suggested by certain comrades. He is also an also-ran with an inferiority complex that some people argue is justified. His close association with Nicola Roxon, who once worked on the NUW but ratted on Greg to be involved with Feeney/Shorten is enough to make him unacceptable to some of the hardliners in Network but Sword regards him as a push-over. Delia thinks Tim Pallas should take the job. He's not going into Parliament, is a proven manager, is getting bored in the Premier's office and is liked by nearly all factions, except the hard right wingers of the stem cell fanatics in the SDA.

Sword has explained to Holding the need for restraint, but Tim is believed to think if you've got the numbers you use them and if you've got talented people for the job and no other faction does then you're entitled to put them in. It's a persuasive argument. If NUW/Network does a deal with Labor Unity then the Left is back where it started with only the narrowest of wins by a complete oxygen thief for the Presidency. Sword is considering all his options and rightly so. President Claven is now so excited about being famous because now when he's at dinner parties and everyone is bored by him they'll think it's their fault.

Love to all my fans, Delia

Larry Laborites memories with Bill Shorten

By Lary Laborite
Former Shorten colleague

Published June 20

Hello Crikey,

I felt it was time to perhaps offer something a little bit different from Delia Delegate, Roderick Rorter, Reg the Representative, Harry Hack and whoever else has an opinion on Bill Shorten vs the rest of Network in the late 1980's and early 1990's. My words and opinions are as accurate as any ones.

Firstly, I notice all the boys (yes the boys) went on and became anchored in unionism - Bill Shorten, and the rest of Network - Pakula, Steve Moore, Antony Thow, etc. More on this later.

Back to the late 1980's with Tears for Fears, INXS, acid wash jeans and Network. Yes Network - that Monash University driven young ALP think club. Some good times and some good memories I have to say. I reckon poor old Liberal Roger Pescott must have lost 37 signs in his electorate one night due to some people belonging to a young ALP group pinching them and cutting them down. Yes, I certainly learnt a lot about the streets of Bennettswood that night. Pity the ALP still did not claim the seat in the 1988 State election; but it was not through the lack of efforts of us.

Poor old Jim Claven also came close in neighbouring Syndal but hey, there was no way we wanted that left wing prick to get up did we? Another 100 votes and he would have got the seat! Lets concentrate instead in the 'harder' seats of Monbulk (Neil Pope) and Knox (Steve Crabb) that were retained easily that election. Sorry, what faction did Pope and Crabb belong to? Oh that's right, Pope is the same bloke who gave Bill a job the following year as a ministerial advisor.

In the 1990 Federal election the ALP was decimated despite winning Government. Poor old John "Beautiful Brumby" lost his seat in Bendigo as well. But hey, it was not Network's fault. We were there at Drummond St pretending to be calling from say the Age Saulwick poll asking people who they were going to vote for. No push polling ever occurred in Drummond St. I can be sure of that - Just ask Peter 'Nunawading' Batchelor. Just because I told a voter that the Coalition wanted to cut spending on Education - surely there is nothing wrong with this.

Oh, the one or two parties at Gareth Evans offices - courtesy of the great taxpayer I might add. And what about some of those parties. Sorry Martin P you were one of the pissed blokes that night at Malvern after the 1998 State election party.

Great sight - wish I'd had had a camera! Then I saw you score a few nights on Sale of the Century. What about beers at Neil Pope's offices as well?

Antony Thow - another good bloke I have to add. Sat next to him in Drummond St in the opinion polling booths. Antony, sorry to re-open old cans if its the case but what happened to Kylie Hanson another Networker who became a journo with the Herald-Sun? Martin was there sometimes as well, so was Bill in the first year. Can you blokes tell me what happened to Peter Cowling and that top little bloke George Habib from Bulleen?

Now that from what I can tell most of you became unions boys what about the God damn condition in Drummond St - no heating, no air conditioning, no coffee, no anything! Where was our bloody union in those days for $12.00 an hour?

Anyway, enough gripes for the minute.

That ALP youth conference in 1988 was a ripper. To that person calling himself Rod Rorter - I never saw an Asian at one youth conference so I don't know where that one comes from. There were also certainly no hired rooms in the Downtowner either that I have since read about.

It was just good fair and honest polling, I have to say. We ran 3 candidates and had 3 different how to vote cards. Now what on earth is wrong with that? Would have put Batchelor to shame in Nunawading I have to say. For memory the 3 important positions were won by Bill, Steve Moore and either Pakula or Cowling (again, what happened to him?). The following year same again and an even more complete sweep of the Victorian Young Labor movement. Absolutely brilliant. In 1990 with my enthusiasm wavering it was Antony Thow on the Friday night that called me at home to make sure I was there to vote. I had been secured a proxy from some Labor Unity union - I bet you 50 bucks that it was the NWU! How bloody ironic when I think about it today. But hey I was already a delegate from my Federal electorate (sorry boys, cannot say which one again). Not a problem I thought. I voted twice for Bill and the boys!

Following on from Tears for Fears, INXS, and acid wash jeans in the 1980's we then moved more to Noiseworks, floral shirts, etc. This little legend then went overseas at the end of University (sorry boys, cannot tell you which one as that could give away my identity) in 1991 and from there it all somewhat ends for me I am afraid. In 1992 in I saw one bloke by the name of Yorik Piper - the left wing nemesis in young Labor at a bus station in Edinburgh. But he was one of those tomato lefties so I didn't bother. After a couple of years in London with John Major and the extension of Thatcherism I then travelled through Africa in early 1993. Managed to get to Harare in time to lodge my vote for El President Paul. Also noticed that Martin Pakula was running in Goldstein. Sorry Martin, did not live anywhere near that electorate but you know I would have been there for you mate.

That is if this so called spat with Bill had not happened.

This is where that dumb Delia, I have to admit, gets one over me. I am all finished and my memory has dried up by this stage I am afraid. Who the bloody hell was this bloke David Feeney that Bill has climbed into bed with, become best mates with, and then tried to take over the world with? Wasn't even important in my day. Tim Holding must have been an absolute nipper in our days too. Who the bloody hell was he? And then I see that Bill managed to marry the offspring of a not so great Liberal man Julian Beale (worst dressed MP in history in those golf pants at the airport that night on the news). Money bought him Deakin first then Bruce and then could not buy him Bruce again. What happened to fun days? Love someone to give me the low down. Everybody stopped calling me. My mother often says "do you still see that Bill Shorten? I saw him on tv again". No-body even rang me to get my renewal of ALP membership. No one calls me to be part of a branch stack even though I am in a marginal seat. What happened boys? It really is a sad thing?

If I read Delia, she suggests Bill's ego could have been the problem. Absolute bullshit, Bill always wanted to be Prime Minister. Now I read with interest Martin & Co are out to get Bill and his new best friend with some old union hack called Sword who has been around for bloody years. Come on Paky, leave em alone. Sword is 56 years old for God's sake. What is the party becoming? I reckon you should all kiss and make up. Why don't I organise a party in the next election and we can choose a night to go around town pulling down some Liberal candidate posters?

Who am I, I hear you all asking. That doesn't matter. Let's just say I was there boys. I have the memory of an elephant. And whoever that person is (Roderick) suggesting his next article is 'The loves of Bill's life" give it up you wanker. I don't think past girlfriends is really relevant now that the bloke is married if that's what you are aiming at.

As for me, I did not renew my membership from the early 1990's. I am now an Account Manager with a fortune 500 company. I work for one of the richest men in the world. There is not a union to be sighted around where I work and everyone makes a lot of money. I am like one of the 80% of the population who does not belong to a union. A high income earner, a non union member, son of a Doctor, well educated. But guess what comrades? I am still a true believer.

Happy memories.

Delia rates the cabinet

By Delia Delegate
Published late June

The general view of the Modernisation Alliance of Victorian Premier Steve Bracks is that it requires and insists that he shut his mouth if he wants to keep his head. The Alliance has been tolerant up until now and believes Bracks' intentions are honourable although his pro Feeney statements are not helpful to the Alliance at this time.

It is believed that the Socialist Left will never accept a deal that will install members of Labor Unity in the State Secretary and Bracks created Campaign Director's roles. The Griffin forces regard Carr as a divisive force incapable of consultation, much like Conroy in the Right. Griffin is concerned that Carr will use the process of negotiation with Sword as yet another opportunity to shaft Griffin's supporters. Their view is that getting Jim "No Name" Claven up as President wins the Socialist Left a high public profile and a beating from Feeney/Shorten's conservative press baron mates, but no more power than they were getting anyway on Admin because the three officer positions receive one vote each on Admin. Some suspect that the Left may eventually be shafted by Sword who will have delivered very little to them except a ceremonial post which carries no extra voting power than the SL would have before the NUW moved to a neutral corner.

The comments about Sword are of course lies fueled by conservatives like Conroy who is desperate to destroy the Alliance and restore his Empire powerbroker role from the dustbin of history it is firmly in. The Socialist Left leadership and Sword are working together closely to reshape the Party. Carr is happy. Sword is busy with union business but is also happy with the turn of events.

They have taught Bill a lesson in politics and Shorten has been punished for his hubris. For all the spin of the conservative media barons and Premier's spin doctors who show more loyalty to Feeney/Shorten than the Victorian Government, the NUW has triumphed. It delivered the Presidency to a nobody rather than Bill who has stroked himself about being PM to the extent of causing blindness. There are none so blind than those who will not see. A few in the NUW group are pushing for a deal with Labor Unity - no one credible hopes to rejoin Conroy's dispirited and highly secretive organisation - to ensure that they are seen as neutral players, encouraging young talent and stopping branchstackers, like Miles in Geelong.

The NUW group are confident of screwing a good deal out of Conroy and his lapdog with the laptop who is yapping constantly. So desperate are they to keep on side with the NUW that they are still inviting even prominent people once associated with Network and well known NUW officials to Labor Unity meetings, sending them newsletters. They serve as a reminder of the fact that Conroy runs the faction organisation for his own dubious benefit with secrecy being his ideology. Show us the bank accounts we contributed money to all these years, some say, and then we might consider coming back.

Conroy is remembered explaining his unorthodox approach to democracy this way at a Victorian Parliamentary Right caucus meeting: "Arguments are to be avoided, they are always vulgar and often convincing."

Friday night is the first night of the rest of the ALP's life. A new state secretary will come to reform the branch, expel branchstackers and their conservative catholic allies. There's even a chance the Alliance might agree to David Feeney being out in the Head Office print room being "Campaign Director", making sure the ink tanks are replenished although many in the NUW group would prefer a clean break for the sake of Party unity.

Modernisation has its critics, such as the many who like writing in Crikey in scathing and malicious tones about one of the nation's great union leaders. As it prepares for its show-down with the conservatives from Labor Unity, it is interesting to see how the Bracks Cabinet lines up.

If you normally read the conservative's favourite the Herald Sun, you might be surprised to know that the Modernisation Alliance has secured a majority in the Bracks Cabinet. Counting only formally committed Ministers, the Modernisation Alliance has 10 of the 19 member Cabinet. 11 of 20 if you count Gavin Jennings, the clever Cabinet Secretary. This means that policy prescriptions approved by the Alliance through its structures will become the Cabinet's formal position. Sword and Carr have indicated they would use this new power prudently and decently for all.

The conservatives have 9 of the 19, with Bracks, Brumby, Hulls and Madden possibly changing sides. Bracks now appears to have committed to the conservatives, but he has many capable people on his staff who want him to join the Modernisation Alliance. Here's Crikey's exclusive Ministerial assessments about who lines up where and why.

Ministerial Report Card

Premier Steve Bracks

His disgraceful intervention in favour of Feeney has cost him the valuable support of National ALP President, Greg Sword. Bracks must accept the Modernisation Alliance's achievement of stabilising the party or face the consequences. Is he rebuking his Chief of Staff for disloyalty?

John Thwaites, Deputy Premier, Health Minister
Titutlar leader of the Independents grouping, which will be part of the Modernisation Alliance. Thwaites respects Sword and his operatives in the FEAs have worked well with Network and oppose branchstacking by catholics from the conservative SDA. Known on the road.

Peter Batchelor, Minister for Transport
Active supporter of the Modernisation Alliance, former State Secretary, is appalled by the declining moral fibre of head office and the obsession with fundraising and talking to business leaders championed by Feeney. It has become a business and has lost the cultural vibrancy of the past.

Monica Gould, Minister of Nothing
Brilliant minister, unfairly shafted in last reshuffle without consultation with stakeholders. Third highest ranking minister, will be given major economic portfolio under new deal brokered by Greg Sword. Known on the road.

John Brumby Treasurer
Has continued in Labor Unity for now, but actively supports the NUW/Network group by employing fellow travellers like Matt Carrick. Carrick is a respected member of the Treasurer's team and has won over Brumby's staff to a pro-NUW position. The Treasurer's next step will be interesting.

Bob Cameron, Minister for Local Government
Active supporter of the Modernisation Alliance, and participant in the Socialist Left group.

Christine Campbell, Minister for Senior Victorians
Demoted earlier to portfolios that no one could bugger up. Campbell is an SDA conservative catholic as previously exposed. She is one of the stem cell fanatics that are moving in on the ALP and making it less progressive than the average Lions Club. Could be replaced by Tim Holding.

Mary Delahunty, Minister for Planning
Regarded as unlikely to see out the year, sick of the job. Pays no attention to factions and doesn't understand them at all.

Sherryl Garbutt, Minister for Environment
Labor Unity right winger who will stay with the sinking ship. Could be replaced by Matt Viney, an MP with strong environmental credentials.

Andre Haermeyer, Minister for Cops and Robbers
Andre left his wife to shack up with one of Bill Shorten's girls at the AWU - Tonia Stephens. Unlikely to dump his faction (Labor Unity) and his wife in the same year.

Keith Hamilton, Minister for Agriculture
Pledge left Minister. While part of the Modernisation Alliance, is Chief Oxygen Thief of the Bracks Cabinet, a hotly contested position given the level of talent around. Known on the road.

Rob Hulls, Attorney-General, Manufacturing, Racing, Drinking, Rooting, Shooting and Tooting
Hullsy will go with whatever Bracks and Brumby does, which means he's torn. Believed to be not drinking which has destroyed the business of the Parliament House members bar, the Cricketers Arms and Imperial Hotel on Spring Street. A happy head law officer who is getting lots. Part of Labor Unity and doesn't understand the factions .

Lynne Kosky, Minister for Education and Training
A good Minister from the Socialist Left who enjoys sticking it to left wing education unions who think they own her. Despite the contradiction she is a prominent Lefty and supports the Alliance.

John Lenders, Minister for Finance and Industrial Relations
From Labor Unity group. Will be replaced by Gould after the election who will take Industrial relations back according to some sources. Former State Secretary who allowed branchstackers to stack the Party in mid 90's. Ran the notoriously bad '96 campaign.

John Pandazoploulos, Minister for Employment, Gaming, Tourism
Branchstacker and reformed table top dance tipper but OK minister. From the Socialist Left, known for involvement in branchstacking in south-east. Alliance supporter.

Bronywn Pike, Minister of Housing
Out of her depth. Part of Pledge group, with ties to the SL. Is in the three blind monkeys celebrity candidate group. Alliance supporter.

Candy Broad, Minister of Energy and Resources
Obsessed with destroying Kim Il Carr in between reading cabinet papers. Highly talented minister from the Socialist Left faction.

Justin Madden, Minister for Sport
Employs the sharp Jeff Pulford but is otherwise pretty disappointing. Makes up the numbers but is very friendly to Sword. The Right's version of Delahunty, a celebrity candidate who can only guess at the branchstacking, number crunching, muscle flexing that got them into Parliament and Cabinet because they did nothing to help themselves except show up. A Feeney/Shorten creation.

Marsha Thomson, Minister for Small Business and KFC
A challenger for the Gavin Jennings Sloth Award, enjoys playing factional games on ministerial time. Her whole staff is dedicated - especially Fiona Richardson - to running the faction apparatus of Labor Unity. How much time government funded Richardson spends on running Labor Unity.

Gavin Jennings, Cabinet Secretary
Decreed by the Herald Sun as a very lazy MP. The Herald Sun has got everything else wrong in its Murdochian presumption of promoting the Feeney-Shorten line so this is no exception. Supports Alliance.

Feedback from all my fans to [email protected]

Delia wraps up the Labor wars

By Delia Delegate

Published late June

The ALP Wars show every sign of breaking out in peace. Does this mean the death of Delia? Feeney's extra-large (XL) bodybag has been sewn and prepared for Friday's Admin meeting. The Socialist Left's Daniel Andrews was seen pouting for most the day, complaining that the Left got nothing except being used by Sword to axe Feeney. Andrews now has a big axe to grind. So near yet so far. He is the loudest of the Left questioning Kim Il Carr's wisdom of entering the Modernisation Alliance. Kim Il Carr says he needs to keep Sword motivated to not rejoin Labor Unity. Andrews and his mentor Alan Griffin think they've been used by Kim Il Carr and Sword but can't figure out what was in it for Carr. That will emerge later.

Roland Lindell the Man Least Likely has triumphed, taking a job he wanted some time ago but had suffered the literally crushing problem of having Feeney promoted over the top of him by the conservative catholic conspiracy. Lindell is considered by many to be fair to all sides. Some I heard in the SL say he's just the typical jumped-up rightwing spiv, but this is harsh. Many of the younger enthusiastic NUW group members say that Roland's wife, State MLA Jenny Lindell, is guilty of employing a young Feeney-Shortenite, a rightwing Young Labor leader Tom Cargill in her electorate office. Cargill is believed to have supported several conservative catholic causes from the office, and is suspected of reading News Weekly during his regular coffee breaks.

Cargill is believed to be planning a move in Isaacs to unseat the MHR for Isaacs, the overpaid Ann Corcoran from the Independents faction. Corcoran is no great shakes but Cargill would further contaminate the south-east with the disease (bit harsh - ed) of conservative Catholicism, according to concerned branch members.

All eyes will be on Lindell to watch for the factionalism favouritism and partisanship displayed during the Feeney years. Sword is believed to be confident that Lindell will be even-handed. If not, the Avenging Angel Greg will chop his little hands off, just like he did to Feeney. The axe is sharp, the axe is ready.

Today the Admin Committee will consider the vexing issue of Corio where Rightwing rising star and Feeney-Shorten mate Richard Marles is facing an inquiry into branchstacking. The Socialist Left locals oppose Marles and wisely so saying he has stacked the area with a coalition of Turks, Croatians and others. Marles right wing mates say he has rebuilt the Party in the area which barely functioned a few years ago. What the inquiry would do and where it might lead is keeping all the players nervous. Delia doubts anyone wants too comprehensive an inquiry into anything given how many skeletons are crammed into the closets of Senators Conroy, Carr, MP's Thomson, Roxon, Griffin, Byrne, Ferguson, Vamvakinou, Danby, Gillard, Jenkins, not to mention the State MP's. A full audit of membership is being demanded by many branch members opposed to the conservative catholic factionalism in Geelong, this could spread throughout safe Labor seats.

Speaking of religion, not Delia's favourite subject but there's a very strange happening out there. In my earliest contribution, I mentioned someone even less popular than the Fallen Feeney, ALP State Conference delegate Diane Anderson.

Diane is the Grand Wizard of the Higgins Clan of the ALP. She has seen off some relatively normal people out of Higgins by regular denunciations in mailings, lawsuits, threats of lawsuits and colorful allegations. She is the Conference Jester, dancing around like an annoying clown, talking earnestly but provoking only laughter. It is one of the few FEAs where there is no Left or Right activity due to Diane's own Faction of Fear.

Some Party members might think she reserves her very best for the ALP. Diane has lots to spare it seems, if crys for help from the Unitarian Church in the inner city are any guide.

Diane does not just go to Church. She brings in her clipboard to write notes of what others have said. She brings in recruits, lawyers and strategists to her place of worship. No doubt she takes an industrial chemist, a union official, a Workcover investigator and a psychic with her when she pops in to her purportedly local Malvern cafe51.

Diane a wealthy barrister with a sensible shoe and a bad disposition has attempted to increase her influence over the Unitarian Church. The Church is a strange institution that seems to be a blend of different religions with a dash of Che Guevara. When Delia popped in for a religious experience, she saw a photo of Che on a wall, how nice.

Diane in recent times has shared the joy of the frustrations of her life with her fellow congregants:

Accused them of branchstacking the organisation (Diane is nothing if not consistent)

Accused them of improper and illegal conduct with her serious charges including 'applauding during the service', 'censoring Diane Anderson', 'allegations of intense sexual dealings between consenting adults (presumably not in Church)

Accused them of disrespecting her boyfriend

Accused them of breaking Rules and laws

Sued the Church and its members over the content of services and her right to meditate

Joined up ALP members to the Church, primarily from her Higgins Clan. Diane thinks in irregular verbs. Her recruiting is someone else's stack

Commented on the Church's valuable assets, including property and cash worth millions as some people have left money to the church over the years

Accused the church of underpaying land tax and reported it to a Liberal MP

Accused the church of having a speaker talk on the subject of proportional representation. This is the most serious and horrible of the charges and has not been denied what a hideous thing to put up with at church

Ran hard in an election to takeover the Church and got nine votes, proving the congregation have alternative tastes

No wonder people are reluctant to eat her scones after the service.

Those interested in joining this friendly group are welcome to attend this Sunday at 11am in Grey Street East Melbourne. Lev "I had no change in my pocket, Your Honor" Lafayette of the Socialist Left faction and electorate officer who specialises in branchstacking Timorese into the ALP, will be speaking this Sunday on how he has forged ties with the Timorese community to help their liberation and his preselection.

If you attend, you might see a few ALP hacks in the audience counting their blessings and doing the numbers. Amen.

Do ya best, Delia Delegate

Talk to me on [email protected]

Inside the Labor Unity faction meeting

By Eunice and Ursula Unity

Published late June

The Labor Unity meeting at the Transport Workers Union Thursday night was supposed to be a meeting of heeling. But this meeting also had a Networker within its midst who was less than impressed with events.

Labor Unity meetings can usually be held in a phone box. But this one saw a turn out larger than expected. Most were there to show their solidarity and to see who among them had crossed over to the other side. A few names bothered to turn up. Sherryl Garbutt, Marsha Thomson and Theo "not in jail" Theophanous were there. Bill Shorten even turned up along with David Feeney. But most of those in attendance were the usuals - political wanna-bes, political has-beens and political never-will-bes who can't stay away from a faction hack meeting.

The leader of the gutted Labor Unity faction, Senator Stephen Conroy, tried to put a positive spin on the events of the past 4 weeks. But no one was hoodwinked. Everyone present knew that Conroy had been out manoeuvred by a superior political opponent in Greg Sword. Conroy has been severely damaged by the shrewd political manoeuvrings of Sword and the NUW/Network group. Conroy has been taught a political lesson by Sword and those present at the Labor Unity meeting knew their leader had arrogantly underestimated Sword's abilities and paid the price.

Bill Shorten made it clear that Sword was going to give him the chop in the ballot for ALP President. Sure enough, that prediction came true. And David Feeney made it clear that he was next on the chopping block. His fate will be the same as Shorten's - just a week later. While there was some support for the Labor Unity leadership, it was clear that the broad feeling was that the leadership had let the members down.

You see the problem with Conroy is that he has runs Labor Unity more like the Branch Davidian Sect than a political movement. Conroy (aka David Koresh) sees himself as a political overlord who demands total commitment and loyalty from Labor Unity members. This can work in a faction based on communist principles ie the Social Left under Paramount Leader Kim Il Carr, but in a faction like Labor Unity this method is fraught with danger. Ultimately this resulted in the splitting from the faction by Sword and Network.

But now the Branch Davidians are turning on their leader Koresh. And we all know what happened at Waco when this happened. Now Labor Unity looks like suffering the same fate. Conroy has also been undermined by his witless, troubled, accident prone offsider, Fiona Richardson. Richardson has been out of her depth in political and factional circles from some time and her inability to negotiate a way through recent events will come back to haunt her. At the TWU headquarters she was clearly showing the strain and became defensive when questions were asked. The smell of death surrounded her.

Richardson is set to be the first to be outed in a push to control the smaller Labor Unity faction by remanent members of the former Labor Renewal Alliance. Theo "not in jail" Theophanous is a seasoned political operator and has sensed weakness. He is at the moment marshalling his forces to take a more powerful role within Labor Unity. Theophanous doesn't take any baggage with him on his political journeys and Richardson is set to be the first off. Some speculate that she will be gone as the faction's secretary within a month.

Theophanous along with fellow LRA members George Seitz and Telmo Languillar are set to demand a larger share of control over Labor Unity. At a time when the faction is on the point of total disintegration, Conroy will have little option but to pay the price Theophanous wants for his support. And what will Theophanous demand of Conroy and Labor Unity? Well one deal floating around Labor Unity circles is that Theophanous hopes to strike a deal with now exiled Labor Unity powerbroker Bob Sercome. Sercome is being hunted by Labor Unity. Its no secret that Bill Shorten wants to enter Federal Parliament and sees Sercome's seat of Maribynong as his to take. But to Theophanous, Sercome is an opportunity to build a bridge with a powerful ally in the northern suburbs.

But with Kim Il Carr and Greg Sword now in control of the Victorian Branch of the ALP, its clear to all that Labor Unity has become irrelevant. And typically when one group goes from power to out of power, heads will roll. Give it a little time, then the Labor Unity blood letting will begin!

Yours truly, Eunice Unity


Invective night at the TWU

By Ursula Unity
Crikey's second spy at the Labor Unity faction meeting

Hell broke loose tonight at the Transport Workers Unions bunker in Rouse Street, Port Melbourne. It was the best attended Right faction meeting in years, a surprise given that about half the people who previously attended, Sword and the NUW and the Networkers, were visibly and obviously absent. They may never be welcome again. The faction in recent years has rarely met, and this may have been because the tensions under the surface were simmering and no one wanted to bring them to the boil, until the last two weeks.

Labor Unity heavyweight Stephen Conroy looked smart and dapper in his tailor made Parisian outfit, blending very uneasily in working class surroundings. Perhaps he looked more suited to the yuppified town houses next door. Leaking is out, said Conroy. Reg the Representative and Harry the Hack please stop it. You are encouraging Delia, whose cryptic comments enable the Liberals in the Senate to give me hell. Erica Betz quotes Delia regularly in the chamber, and even went so far as to tell me that my faction had been Shortened and Sercombecised. Really. Yet Conroy looked happy, unlike the faction secretary who was definitely suffering under the pressure. Conroy, having previously lost control of the Labor Unity Executive, now stands to regain that control, and perhaps win the title Kim Il from Kim Carr, in Conroy's case as the Commissar of the Right.

Invective was predictably aimed at Greg Sword, but was a little restrained. Who ratted was the question on everyone's mind. The main cuss language was directed to the Networkers, the former youth group now found as staffers in ministerial offices all over Spring Street and beyond, and some have even been elected to the parliamentary chambers themselves. The Networkers are Swords key supporters. But there is hope. Joe Helper, Parliamentary head honcho for the faction, was in a reconciliatory mood. All are in so far. We don't want any out. He refused to name the Network parliamentarians, in the hope that some will come over. Tim Holding was named as a person who did not think it appropriate to attend parliamentary faction meetings at this time. Perhaps he can be won back. Only one MP has resigned from the faction, and that is Conroy's arch enemy and federal MHR for Maribyrnong Bob Sercombe. Sword and Sercombe are strange bedfellows. So are Sercombe and the Networkers. Sercombe knows Bill Shorten is after his seat, and is out to protect himself in the ways of ALP factional politics he knows best. The wiley old beneficiary of branchstacking will almost certainly outsmarten his new allies as he has Conroy in the past.

What else happened? Nothing of note. Plenty of motherhood statements. Even an explanation by Theo Theophanous as to why he left the Socialist Left to now be a major player in the Victorian Right. Bill Shorten was philosophical and sounded every bit the Prime Ministerial material he certainly is. I might not win the Presidency, but at least I'll be Vice President if everyone follows the ticket. And I might even win. Phar Lap won once at 50-1, he added. He expects upwards of 200 votes, and the election will go down to the wire. And David Feeney was equally on top of it. He'll defend his position to the last. He means to win the next election for Labor as he did the last. Labor had no money to run campaigns when the Socialist Left misspent it. A Labor Unity Secretary in the party office is necessary to ensure a party win. He is probably correct. One point overlooked by almost everyone is the fact that the faction is now increasingly Catholic. Gene technology is a definite no no, and so too is any support for euthanasia. But these positions are also held by many non-Catholics. A faction of believers need not be a bad thing, certainly if religious belief has an ethical basis and believers do not try to force their views on others. The Labor Unity faction will be liberal in its outlook. Its parliamentarians will not be taking the socially conservative positions now held by a minority of Liberal MP's who in a previous life might have been members of the DLP."

Betty Branchmember lays into Delia

By Betty Brachmember
ALP insider and Delia critic

Published June 23

For innocent ALP members, and members of the public, the most stunning thing about Delia Delegate's contributions to crikey.com.au on the Victorian ALP has been her revelations about Tim Holding MLA and his mysterious "Network". As she seems to have recently decided (or been instructed) to shut up about "The Network", it's probably worthwhile for the political psychologists amongst us to briefly analyse the extraordinary eight (8) texts given to us by Delia from May 27 to June 18. They provide a stunning insight into the world view of the "The Network", a tiny but influential faction inside the Victorian ALP.

What is "The Network"? Former members who now live and work interstate describe it as closer to a religious cult than a traditional political faction. Delia identifies its origins as a faction in Young Labor back in the 1980s, ironically founded by now AWU secretary and ALP senior vice-president Bill Shorten. This possibly explains its fanatical, almost pathological, hatred of Shorten he is the apostate, the false prophet, who misled his followers and "betrayed" them, before the coming of the true Leader, Tim Holding.

The Network has clearly and proudly evolved beyond mere Young Labor electoral fraud and hi-jinks at YLA conferences. According to Delia, it is now "a very significant and influential grouping that is a key part of the Bracks Government and the federal leadership." It is "an informal network (that) rewards loyalty to each other and promotes and hones talent." It "has brought through (the ALP) dozens of potential high quality, highly trained and seasoned electoral stars."

Gee, it's a shame no one out in the suburban branches has seen all this talent. Wait a minute, perhaps Delia means Kieran Boland, the Network's stunningly out-of-his-depth candidate in the Aston by-election last year the turning point, pre-Tampa, in John Howard's successful re-election.

Tim Holding

Delia tells us that the leader of "The Network" is "ambitious and capable" Tim Holding, a 30-year old who branch-stacked Eddie Micallef (Crikey: thank god for that, he was absolutely useless) out of the Legislative Assembly in September 1999, having previously worked in the undemanding role of an electorate staffer for former Hawke-Keating minister Senator Robert Ray. Tim's still in his first term of parliament, but Delia has total confidence in Tim's future. Tim is "potential leadership material", a "future Minister and Leader". Delia confides in us that Tim "is the Victorian Paul Keating, in style and substance." Dear God, where's the bucket?

Indeed, making Tim a Minister is "the most urgent priority" now facing the Bracks Government, according to Delia. Network members employed in ministerial offices including Ben Hubbard and Rachel Dapiran "beavering away" in the Premier's office "and countless others represent the future of the Victorian right and are all working towards Tim Holding's eventual leadership of the Party." Gee, Bracksie the clock's ticking, mate! Big Tim's getting a bit impatient.

But, in case people feel Tim has got his priorities wrong, Delia puts us right. Tim "lives and breathes politics every waking hour, is constantly on the phone encouraging people to work harder and longer against the common enemy: Bill Shorten and David Feeney." Apparently, the Network wants party secretary Feeney's "severed head to be shoved on a pole" in King Street. Nice touch. Hang on, what about beating the Liberals? Oh, don't worry leave that to Bracksie, while he's still there.

The Network and the NUW

Delia has been quite enlightening about the intimate relationship between Network and Greg Sword's National Union of Workers. Rather than it just being the NUW withdrawing from Labor Unity "to a neutral corner", Delia is at pains to emphasise that it's the NUW-Network alliance, with significant links around the branches, including unnamed state and federal MPs.

Network "has coalesced around Greg Sword and the National Union of Workers." Network members Martin Pakula, Antony Thow, Jaala Pulford and Antonia Parkes "are the future leadership of the NUW in Victoria and nationally." Indeed, Network is "a base of talent that will soon be running the NUW." Gee, shame about the members. It's a darn nuisance that under federal law we even have to give them a vote. (Perhaps that's where all that Young Labor experience will come in handy?)

Anyway, according to Delia, the "NUW (has) hired the best of Network talent (who) have moved into leadership positions within the NUW and will in time replace Sword and Donnelly as they contemplate the future into their next term." Gee, Greg and Charlie it's time to retire, according to the well-informed Delia. Shame you won't complete your next term of office in 2006 you wouldn't want Ray Gorman to start putting that around the factories, or your members might wonder who's running the union.

The Network and Other Unions

It's interesting that Sword criticises Feeney for interference in the Health Services Union. According to Delia, Sword's NUW and the Network specialize in dabbling in the affairs of other unions. In 2001, Sword and the Network's Pakula "had arranged funding for an all-out attack on Bill Shorten's powerbase at the AWU." Delia confirms what had previously only been rumoured that their hatred of Shorten is at least twelve months old. Why did they continue to participate in the Labor Unity faction, and live a lie?

Even more startling is Delia's latest announcement that the "NUW Network group has watched the Transport Workers Union leadership and believes it is weak and dispirited. A challenge is being considered depending on how the union leadership lines up over the next few months." This is how splits in the Labor Party begin the overt power plays are so crude and violent. And what does this mean for the Network's Steve Moore, who's employed by the TWU!

Network's Hit List

Delia's truly breath-taking contribution was on June 12, when she identified the Network's hit list of federal MPs. Five enemies were identified: Senator Steve Conroy, deputy opposition leader in the Senate, Senator Jacinta Collins and MHRs Anthony Byrne, Michael Danby and Kelvin Thomson (husband of state minister Marsha Thomson). According to Delia, these five "will be closely examined . Inquiries will cost probably five people their seats in (federal) Parliament."

Repeat "As many as five federal MPs are being reviewed for replacement in next year's preselections."

Their alleged crimes range from branch stacking through to support for Steve Conroy, via support for unnamed "conservative catholics". Betty is not here to defend these federal MPs they're big enough to look after themselves but the arrogance of the Network is truly stunning. Tim and his friends are dangerous people whose first loyalty is not to the Labor Party.

The Network and Parliamentarians

In addition to Network leader Tim, Delia is pretty content with how the Network is doing around parliamentary offices. Network members "dominate the ministerial staff of the Bracks Government." Delia singles out for special mention Matt Carrick, Geoff Pulford, Rachel Dapiran, Ben Hubbard, Nada Delavec and Matt Merry, who work for various ministers including the Premier.

Geoff Pulford, who apparently works for Justin Madden, gets a special commendation from Delia Geoff is "a leading NUW/Network identity devoted to destroying (Steve) Conroy. Pulford is a probable candidate to replace one of the five federal MPs being reviewed at the moment." So, you heard it from Delia first Pulford will be the next MHR for Melbourne Ports, presumably. Has anyone ever heard of this guy? Oh sorry, he's one of those Network "electoral stars" Delia was telling us about .

Delia also gloats about the Network's influence over federal leader Simon Crean he "employs a number of Network aligned people (apparently including a Jamie Driscoll currently on loan to the NUW for the duration of their internal union elections) and has done so for years." Whether Simon is fully aware of the uses and abuses of his electorate office is unknown.

While Simon gets brownie points for allowing his electorate office to be infiltrated, other MPs get stern rebukes. Jenny Lindell, MLA for Carrum, gets a gold star for disliking Conroy but is censured because she allegedly "employs anti-Network elements." What does that mean? If you think Tim Holding is a puffed-up branch-stacker with delusions of grandeur, does that make you "an anti-Network element"? Betty thinks it makes you a sane member of the Labor Party. Keep up the good work, Jenny Lindell!

Greg Sword and Kim Carr

Now we come to the crunch the handing of the Victorian ALP back over to the Socialist Left, or what Delia delicately dubbed "the New Majority" and now the "Modernization Alliance". Talk about putting a spin on things .

Senator Kim Carr, leader of the SL, is "a proven leader" and "an important and respected figure". Dear God, what planet does Delia live on? Carr is a diligent bureaucrat who can direct a socialist revolution as long as someone else has lined up the numbers (well done, Greg) and as long as Kim has his clipboard with all his speeches, his procedural motions and points of order all carefully written out beforehand. Kim Carr can follow a script. He is incapable of independent thought. He is an unelectable factional hack of the sort traditionally hidden away in state and federal upper houses. He should not be let near voters.

But no, according to Delia, Kim "has built an enduring coalition with Sword that no amount of undermining will undo." Gee, so much for the "neutral corner", Greg you almost had the journos buying that one.

But we shouldn't concentrate on Kim Carr too much, even though he's the big winner out of this "once in a lifetime opportunity". Delia puts us right on how Greg sees his responsibility to the ALP as its national president. He "isn't going to be bullied out of cleaning out the Party by a nervous Parliamentary leadership or anyone else." You see, Greg is "an important person in the history of Australia" how dare Bracks and Crean think about winning elections?

Repeat Sword wants his "agenda implemented no matter how high the short-term cost." Translation the Network and the NUW are prepared to lose State Government.

Cleaning "out" the ALP is what the Network is on about they're ready "to take care of years of unfinished business." According to Delia, "The NUW group would rather give a majority of seats in caucus to SL members (than make peace with Labor Unity)." Gee, how stabilising and neutral is that!

No wonder Carr's keen on that "enduring coalition". No wonder Steve Bracks and Simon Crean are a bit nervous .. But in case our parliamentary leaders think they're running things, Delia put us right. "Bracks does not get a vote. Crean does not get a vote. They can talk and talk and talk but they don't have the numbers." In case poor Steve doesn't get the NUW Network message, Delia repeats that "the Premier leads the Government, not the Party. He doesn't even get a vote on Admin, just one vote out of 450+ at the state conference."

As far as the Network are concerned, "the reshaping of the Bracks Cabinet is also under consideration", and even "reopening the state preselections", although apparently Sword has drawn the line at that one.


Betty is no psychologist, but you don't have to be Freud to figure out that something weird is happening with "The Network" group inside the Victorian ALP, certainly as it is described by its insider Delia Delegate.

In the 1950s, the Catholic Social Movement and its allies gained majority control of the ALP. The consequences of their power lust were disastrous, and resulted in Federal Intervention in 1954-55 and the ALP-DLP Split. In the 1960s, the Trade Union Defence Committee and its allies gained majority control. Again, the consequences were disastrous, and we all remember the pain of Federal Intervention in 1970-71.

Today, the Network controls about 10% of the Victorian ALP. It hopes, through its "New Majority" or "Modernization Alliance" with the Socialist Left, to gain majority control of the party. Can any observer of Labor affairs have any doubt where the current disaster will ultimately head?


Delia's response to Betty Branchmember

By Delia Delegate
Published June 24, 2002, 1am

Previously in the Right-Wing, the National Union of Workers led by National ALP President Greg Sword has left the Right and concluded a deal with the Socialist Left to form the Modernisation Alliance.

Crikey has told both sides of the story well, with many from the Feeney-Shorten camp limping to their keyboards to respond on their behalf. It's all good debate. Most recently, Betty Branchmember takes my quotes out of context and distorts them shamefully. I won't respond to everything but the main points.

There is no such thing as "The Network". It was a Young Labor group. Delia has erred by using it as shorthand. There is no Network. There is a group of people who were once involved with Network during Young Labor but no longer. Don't get hung up about Network, it doesn't exist. Unlike Chambray MBA Bill Shorten who was involved at the start of the group there is no shame in being associated with Network but it no longer really exists in the way it once did.

To describe those associated with the NUW but not directly involved as Network is also wrong. Matt Viney is one of us. He was not involved in Young Labor. Bob Stensholt is the same. So blaming and throwing muck at Network is confusing and inaccurate.

The innuendo about Network's Young Labor "electoral fraud" is nothing compared with Steve Conroy's activities. Conroy's conduct during the Labor Unity executive elections was deplorable. The faction secretary - known as Steve's lapdog with a laptop - conducted the ballot in a way that favoured Conroy's candidates and Feeney's candidates and ruthlessly discriminated against those friendly with the NUW. No list of voters was made available despite repeated requests, no constitution of Labor Unity, or rules of the ballot or an accounting of the money of the group. Conroy has steadfastly refused to hand over details of the Labor Unity bank accounts which receive funds from membership subscriptions every year. None of this information has been made available to anyone associated with the NUW group and many suspect the worst about how this money has been used. Conroy regards that account, the LU membership list and even the rules of the group to be his personal possession. Conroy's Stalinism is in a much purer form than Kim Il Carr's: he's more Albania 1968 than North Korea 2002.

Betty's sinister attack on Aston byelection star Kieran Boland was pathetic, Boland was a young and brilliant candidate who did extremely well in tough circumstances in a campaign directed by David Feeney (enough said). Aston was always going to be difficult on demographics and Boland's hard work and guts was impressive to everyone. Feeney said he was a great candidate.

The attack on Tim Holding is equally shallow. No substantial criticism has been made of this young and capable MP, destined many think to be the next Premier of Victoria, after a very long Bracks innings. He has rebuilt the ALP in Springvale and part of that is a strong base of membership support.

The misquoting that Sword and Donnelly were to be replaced by their young supporters is false too. There is an election on currently which will see both of them get re-elected for four years, so that really was a beat-up.

There are mixed reports about the AWU campaign last year. Delia had heard Pakula was involved in arranging funding but no longer believes it. Would have been a good idea to test the chambray MBA man though with his members.

Betty thinks the hatred of Shorten is at least twelve months old. Try ten years.

Steve Moore is not employed by the TWU. He was once the Legal and Planning Officer of the TWU but is now a barrister specialising in industrial law. He would not have any involvement in or participation in any TWU election now.

Betty is also eerily silent about the five federal MP's known to oppose Modernisation. Not a word of defence of any of them. Betty says I say they are involved in branchstacking. True. That they are associated with "unnamed 'conservative catholics'".

Prominent Conservative Catholics in the Australian Labor Party in Victoria

You want the truth, Betty, you can't handle the truth. Delia presents a list of the previously unnamed conservative catholics who dominate the Shop Assistants Union (SDA) which has dominated recent preselections in the ALP but is now locked out by the superiority of the Modernisation Alliance.

Joe de Bruyn - National Secretary, national spokesman on the rights of embryos and ALP National Executive powerbroker.

Also involved in the ALP at varying levels are the following apparatchicks of the SDA:

Michael Donovan - Victorian State Secretary, known on the Road

Chris Gazenbeck - Organiser

Wade Noonan - Recruiter - Son of TWU Secretary Bill Noonan

Stephen Donnelly - Recruiter - Young Labor bovver boy and menace, known associate of conservative catholics on Roxon, Lindell and Byrne's staff

Anna Scott - Organiser

Anthony Burke - Researcher

Denis Parker - Senior Organiser - known for involvement in factional powergames

Joe Cerritelli - Training Officer - known suspect in reform groups against Alliance unions

John Boyle - Information Officer

Anthony Byrne - MP for Holt, to be replaced in preselections, known to have once worked for SDA

Jacinta Collins - Senator, facing replacement, known to have once worked for SDA

Michael Danby - MP for Melbourne Ports, once worked for SDA

Kelvin Thomson - MP for Wills, known to be aligned to SDA conservative catholic elements

Steve Conroy - Senator, facing replacement, once worked for TWU but known to be closely aligned to social conservative opinion while attempting to present a face of independence from the SDA despite being heavily backed by them

Ian Maxfield - State MLA - formerly at SDA, going to lose seat probably anyway.

Bill Shorten/David Feeney - Can we read anymore about these two legends in their own long lunch-times?

The SDA adopts a sinister intervention in the affairs of the Labor Party in an attempt to dominate its social agenda, on stem cell research, abortion, drugs, education. It is an organisation that runs an Australian Gown of the Year competition, the equivalent of a Miss SDA quest. OK, they represent models but that's ridiculous.

Its views are not exactly what you might expect from a union. Fiercely opposed to the rights of women, it is entirely consistent with the social conservatism of Feeney, Conroy, Shorten and their mates. Feeney is not Jewish as Crikey believed and is definitely part of the SDA conservative culture like chum Shorten.

Betty moves on to chew on Jeff Pulford claiming he's set to replace rightwing Michael Danby in Melbourne Ports. Danby is believed to be considering retirement at the next election so there may be a vacancy but it will go to the Left based on previous FEA election results, which Danby let slide.

Betty lies about Crean's staff member Jamie Driscoll. Isn't it interesting to see those who attempted to cloak their candidates in a Crean Coat of Modernisation now accusing the Federal Leader of illegally supplying his taxpayer funded staff to the NUW for election campaigning. This is hypocrisy.

Kim Il Carr certainly has his faults and I have not been quiet in expressing them. But he is a proven leader who has formed a majority Modernisation Alliance which has achieved the previously unthinkable: the defeat of Shorten, the chopping up of the Feeney carcass and the distribution of the parts around the feasting table of Admin.

Carr makes the point well, the Right-wing says he cost votes. Prove it, he challenges. Getting Murdoch and Packer to vilify Carr is easy but is there ever proof that Carr is known and disliked by voters. If he's not known he can't cost votes. He doesn't cost a single vote and never has, he gets us votes by building our policy credibility. He is a part of the Party and we're happy to take his union's affiliation fees but want to be able to call him a vote loser. Sword works well with Carr. And that means a majority has been achieved. The NUW are happy to work with Kim Il Carr while Conroy has been busy attempting to destroy him. Who's smarter now?

Betty says Sword is happy to cost Bracks/Crean government. Crap. Sword has built a new alliance for modernisation committed to supporting Bracks/Crean. He has brought the Socialist Left to adopt positions they would never have done previously. He is changing factionalism forever.

Betty saves the worst for last. She writes that Network is the NCC and Hartley combined. A fascinating accusation considering Betty is probably on a conservative catholic payroll somewhere.

She says that the consequence of the forming of the Modernisation Alliance is a split or federal intervention. A split is very unlikely, except for Bill Shorten's turncoat mate Dean Mighell who joined the Greens. Federal intervention is unlikely too considering who the Federal President is. Guess who?

Love to all my fans, Delia

Free Trial

You've hit members-only content.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details