One of the great characters of Victorian Labor politics, George Seitz, is back in the game, distributing a spelling-challenged Christmas letter to 25,000 local residents and telling Crikey he’s planning to run for a seat on Brimbank Council in 2015.
In the entertaining missive, Seitz, a party stalwart with a gift for rallying the community through ALP membership drives, extends New Year greetings from himself and wife Elenor. The former Keilor MP — who served dutifully from 1982 to 2010 — also weighs in on Labor’s recent political performance.
“IN CAMBRA (sic) IT IS A (sic) UP AND DOWN ROLLERCOASTER BUT WE WILL GET THERE,” he predicts triumphantly. Down south, things are also looking up:
“In Victorian (sic), the DANIEL ANDREWS theme continues to provide the vision and strength to govern Victoria in the near future, this is only possible because of the support of Members such as yourself. I am imprest (sic) with our north/west members of Parliament and their performance in the job to represent us.”
Seitz signs off as a “RETIERED MEMBER OF PRLIMENT”.
Seitz explained to Crikey there was a problem with his original Word document when it was transferred across to his printer’s Adobe InDesign software, and some crucial letters were omitted. “Three people read it before it went out, the printer stuffed it up!”, he said, adding he would continue to hand out remaining copies in the neighbourhood. Another letter is planned for Easter “to keep my head above water” before his political career ratchets up with a Brimbank Council bid in 2015.
“If Brimbank ever had elections again” he would “definitely run”, Seitz says. “I might need a bionic heart but I’ll be there.” The Baillieu government used consultant reports earlier this year to shut down elections planned for 2012 — in which he planned to run — because the municipality wasn’t ready for democracy.
In a blow for party powerbrokers, Setiz confirmed he was still working on the tell-all book he promised back in 2009 revealing his preselection dealings with senior Labor MPs including Kim Carr, Bill Shorten and Stephen Conroy. “There’s a go slow but I’m still working on it … I’m writing it like how we used to do the parliamentary reports. Map out the chapters and then fill them in. There’s not much academic research involved … it will be a bit like an ombudsman’s report!”
Seitz was famously named in a scathing 2009 ombudsman report into Brimbank Council that accused him of interfering in local affairs from his lower house sinecure. The Brumby government was then forced to introduce a ban on local councillors serving concurrently as political advisers. However, charges were never laid and the ombudsman has since been gutted. One Labor source recalled that in the wake of the report Seitz distributed a 2009 Christmas calendar to members of the powerful state administrative committee featuring the soccer club at the centre of the Brimbank funding allegations.
The Seitz book also plans to include key events in Labor history, like Gough Whitlam’s “plenary powers” triumph at the 1971 Labor conference in Tasmania and the thrills and spills when Seitz was executive president of Jim Cairns’ electoral committee in Lalor in 1969. But more modern tales, including his dealings with Brimbank and his bloc voting prowess, will also be spun. As an aside, the Labor Renewal Alliance groundbreaker revealed two other ex-state MPs — Tayfun Eren (disendorsed in 1999) and Sang Nguyen (dumped in 2006) — also had bombshell tomes on the go.
While out of formal party politics, Seitz is believed to still control significant numbers of Labor members across Melbourne’s north and west that could prove crucial in a contested preselection ballot.
Meanwhile, Seitz says he is looking forward to a “high tea” reunion on Friday at state Parliament for Labor MPs from the Kirner and Cain eras. John Cain has been a vociferous Seitz critic, slamming him in 2008 as “eminently forgettable, a backbench warrior who was out there in the local electorate doing a lot of branch stacking and enjoying it”.
Keilor might have a new Labor MP in Natalie Hutchins but the legendary numbers man seems determined to remain on voters’ minds.