Daniel Andrews’ government continues to suffer the fallout from scandal surrounding the CFA, United Firefighters Union and former minister Jane Garrett.
As an interested spectator, it has been stunning to watch the rapid implosion of what most Labor members and supporters deem to be one of Labor’s best governments in the country.
Andrews is highly popular and respected. But former emergency services minister Jane Garrett — who is believed to still be backed by the CFMEU — is increasingly isolated.
Sources close to the situation tell me that Garrett hasn’t been seen as a team player for a few years. It’s believed that she aspired to be premier and is unhappy Daniel Andrews was chosen as party leader. She’s said to have been leaking and undermining the government for years.
She’s now thoroughly isolated within the caucus, according to sources.
It came to a head in recent days with a series of tense confrontations at a caucus meeting over what many MPs believe to be an extended period of conduct undermining the Andrews government.
Garrett has been through a lot recently, having been attacked in broad daylight by a member of the public and now lodging a bullying claim against Victorian United Firefighters Union (UFU) state secretary Peter Marshall. She claims he threatened her, saying firefighters would bury their axes in her head.
The Socialist Left-aligned Victorian UFU is increasingly being linked to sexist and bullying conduct, which is a bad look for Victorian Labor, and urgently needs to be addressed.
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But there is no credible risk to Andrews’ leadership. He’s a popular leader within the party and in general. The “Stability Pact” between the Socialist Left and Centre Unity remains in place and will hold everything in check.
Ironically, for a period the only credible alternative to Andrews within senior ranks for the position of premier was Jane Garrett herself. Some think Andrews’ leadership wouldn’t have the wobbles it has without Garrett.
The former minister has clearly not been able to rally the power brokers of the “Stability Pact” to her cause.
According to Victorian Labor insiders, this isn’t just about the CFA dispute. It’s about years of Garrett’s ambition.
Given she has very few friends within the caucus, it seems there is now no prospect of her rising back to the top of the party or the Socialist Left in Victoria for the foreseeable future.
It was expressed to her forcefully in caucus that unless she changes her conduct she should resign from Parliament, sources say.
It’s a rapid fall from grace for a former popular rising star of the Socialist Left — and a current national vice-president of the party — from whom big things were expected.