Respected Slater & Gordon lawyer Andrew Giles is expected to succeed Harry Jenkins as the ALP member for the federal seat of Scullin.

Giles, a former senior adviser to state MPs Lily D’Ambrosio and Gavin Jennings, will nominate for preselection for the seat after Jenkins announced early this afternoon he would retire at the next election.

A senior Victorian head office source told Crikey that Giles had the “broad support of members in the electorate” and would “get a great deal of central support” from the party’s Public Office Selection Committee which decides the other half of the preselection vote. He is not expected to encounter any substantive opposition in the seat, which under a 2009 stability pact is reserved for the Socialist Left. Giles is the Left’s long-serving faction secretary.

Labor currently holds the ultra-safe Scullin by a massive 22.3%. The Jenkins family has had a hex on the northern suburbs fiefdom since it was created in 1969 — Harry Jenkins Sr was its inaugural MP and he was replaced by his son upon his retirement in 1986.

Jenkins, who will turn 60 next month, said today he was “very comfortable with the decision … I have no regrets about it”. The veteran backbencher famously quit as speaker last November as part of an ALP plan to insert Peter Slipper in the chair and shore up the government’s numbers. He was considered an outside chance at securing a ministry in last December’s reshuffle but ultimately returned to the backbench.

Victorian ALP preselection nominations formally open tomorrow and will last for two weeks. Strong contenders include Lisa Chesters in Bendigo, where Steve Gibbons is retiring, and Cath Bowtell, who is expected to take on Greens incumbent Adam Bandt in another pitched battle in Melbourne.

Chesters, facing opposition from local lawyer Greg Westbrook, has understood to have done good work in recent weeks liaising with local branch members, while Bowtell’s candidacy has been long mooted after her narrow loss to Bandt in 2010 on Liberal preferences.

The POSC — which reflects the factional makeup of state conference — will meet later in August to deliver its ruling following rank and file votes.

Peter Fray

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