The Age poached Michael Bachelard from The Australian
last month and the investment appears to have paid some handsome early dividends
with an exquisite skewering of the ALP’s alleged worst rorter and branch stacker
in Victoria, Keilor MP George Seitz.

Saturday’s paper featured the page one splash, the break out, the full page feature and the editorial
which, if Labor had any sense of decency, would see Seitz disendorsed
and sitting as a discredited independent by the end of the week. Alas,
Premier Steve Bracks is showing no such inclination, even claiming Seitz is a good MP:

These are allegations, unproven, opposed by the member.
Vigorously opposed. Legal action has been taken and obviously if any
matters need to be investigated they will be. He (George Seitz) has been a long serving member. He has served his
community well and I think that if you talked to people in the Keilor area they
will say he has stood up for that area over a long period of time.

So much for open and accountable government under nice guy Bracks. Why
on earth would he want to lie down with dogs and catch fleas like that?

While it was Steve Bracks who publicly launched the proposed writ against The Age
for defamation, the 65-year-old veteran who has amassed six
properties over the years clearly has no other option. The scale of the
allegations is so comprehensive that a failure to sue would surely
lead the ALP immediately to disown him.

It’s in these sorts of situations that rival media outlets really need
to back each other up, and it was good to hear Jon Faine giving the
issue a burst on ABC 774 Melbourne this morning. The oft-used tactic of
immediately declaring an intention to sue in the face of an
embarrassing story has long been used to fob off other media attempting
to follow up the story or seek a response. In fact, this might make an
interesting list. Send your suggestions to [email protected]

Not only has Seitz been caught red-handed branch stacking, rorting ALP
memberships and producing patently false accounting in his various
community groups and bingo fundraising operations, the bloke appears to
have been economical with the truth when confronted with
the evidence about his connection to the various schemes.

The colourful Labor figure who sat next to me at last year’s fiery
ALP state conference described Seitz as “a cockroach who would prosper
in
any environment”. Indeed, it would be funny if he weren’t so
influential: the Seitz stacks were pivotal in getting Bill Shorten
preselected in
the safe seat of Maribyrnong, which is not the sort of baggage the
self-declared prime ministerial wannabe would want to take to Canberra.

Peter Fray

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