Steve Bracks told the Melbourne Press Club yesterday that industrial
relations would be a key part of his re-election campaign this year, so
when it came to the Q&A I opened the batting by asking a question that can be paraphrased as follows:

Picking up on your comment that IR will be a key part of your campaign,
have you noticed all the evidence in the Primelife case involving Ted
Sent and underworld figures and the story in The Age
yesterday about the disused power station site involving the CFMEU and
various colourful characters? It’s becoming pretty clear that organised
crime is infiltrating Victorian building sites and the CFMEU is
involved. Are you concerned about this and, if so, what are you going
to do about it?

In summary, Bracks said that any allegations would always be looked at
but this area was the most investigated aspect of public
life in Australia over the past 20 years and nothing had even been
proven. Hmmm, surely issues such as petrol prices and Indigenous
disadvantage have received more scrutiny than alleged underworld
influence on Melbourne building sites.

The Age’s Michael Bachelard asked the second question which was
the best of the afternoon and went along the following lines: “You
would have seen the recent reports in The Age about the
dodgy activities of Victorian Labor backbencher George Seitz. Premier,
how corrupt does someone have to be before you’ll take action?”

There were plenty of oohs and ahhs but Bracks stonewalled by simply claiming the allegations were unproven and represented nothing more than the “backwash” that flows after a preselection contest.

The Herald Sun’s new chief state political reporter Ellen Whinnett had a good story
this morning saying that the left and right factions are looking at a
deal to disendorse Seitz, a key member of Bracks’ right
faction, and left powerbroker Khalil Eideh, Labor’s lead upper house
candidate in Melbourne’s western suburbs, whose fawning letters to
the Syrian regime have severely undermined Labor’s fundraising
prospects with Melbourne’s Jewish community.

Steve Bracks’s successful 1999 campaign was partly financed by generous
donations from wealthy Jewish business figures who decided to have a
bet each way, so this attack on Eideh by Andrew Bolt is exactly what Labor fundraisers can do without.

All of this is quite a potent mix, especially when you add today’s front page claims in The Age
about Mafia infiltration of Melbourne building sites, which is based on the
police interview that allegedly corrupt former policeman Kerry Milte gave
last year. Milte also alleged that underworld figure Mick Gatto threatened to kill ETU
secretary Dean Mighell, sparking Gatto to grant a rare interview to ABC Radio’s Josie Taylor this morning on AM this morning denying the charge and pointing out that Mighell is a “good friend” with whom he has dealt for years.

Mighell, of course, was the left powerbroker who ratted on his old
mate Bob Sercombe
to get Bill Shorten a dream run into Parliament. And where did Milte
claim Mighell complained about Gatto’s alleged kill threat? None
other than the electorate office of Bob Sercombe.

The leaking of Milte’s police interview is an apparent attempt to
undermine Christine Nixon because Victoria’s police commissioner
recruited him from NSW to help investigate the underworld killings.
Coincidentally, Nixon’s officers are currently investigating alleged
bullying inside the Police Association and presumably are taking an
interest in all these reports about connections between the underworld
and Victoria’s tough construction unions.

Oh what a tangled we weave in the countdown to the 25 November state election.