Jane Garrett

Former Victorian emergency services minister Jane Garrett

Your correspondent was slaving over an Illustrator file Monday evening, into the third hour of his masterpiece, Put Jane Back in the Game, in which players move a token of Jane Garrett around a board consisting of Melbourne’s metro state lower house seats. Players have to land on a safe Labor seat that doesn’t require an actual fight, and is available to the kooky CFMMEU/ex-SDA/AWU mash-up faction Garrett is riding (variously known as CU-IL, the Garrett-Somyurek left/right, and the Witches of Brunswick meets the Mod Squad). Every time you landed, you had to answer a question from a “dance card”. For example: If you won (very outer-west) Melton would you move to the West? a) Yes, of course, b) Sure, I love Essendon, c) bite me, bogans. Readers are invited to guess which answer Garrett gave to a preselection committee …

It was all coming into place when I got a text from deep in the bowels of Trades Hall saying “she got it”. No need to ask what or who. Garrett, who stood down from a frontline seat to try to find a spot absolutely anywhere else, had managed to slide into a number one spot in an upper house district.

[Red brotherhood at war: the cult of Garrett]

The deal that got her there is being described as the “masterpiece” of “Mods” squad faction leader Adem Somyurek (who’s in alliance with the CFMMEU, AWU and associated flotsam, in the CU-IL), and it is … in the sense that would similarly apply to a three-tier wedding cake depicting Rubens’ Massacre of the Innocents in lime and cochineal icing. 

By this deal, SDA (AKA Shoppies) upper house handy fellow, Daniel Mulino, will move to the new seat of Fraser that is being hived off Maribyrnong and other seats in Melbourne’s West. Mulino is in Somyurek’s orbit but, under the terms of the deal, he will still be counted as SDA for factional purposes. He is both SDA and not-SDA, a quantum grouper, existing in a superposition of factional states. This heads off the chance that the CU-IL will tear up the dancefloor, by contesting multiple preselections.

Thus, Jagajaga remains, for the moment, in the hands of the SL, with departing member Jenny Macklin to be replaced by either Sonja Terpstra or Kate Thwaites. This, despite the fact that hundreds of new members have mysteriously joined branches in the seat, some of them even “active, participating members” — an ALP term for a) aware they are a member or b) not currently in an induced coma at Prince Alfred ICU. Just possibly, they might have voted for a CU-IL candidate.

In Fraser, the CU-IL promised a real slap-down, with close Somyurek ally Natalie Suleyman suggested as a candidate. This sent the party into conniptions because Suleyman is utterly identified with the chaotic Brimbank City Council (within Fraser) of which she was mayor in the 2000s, at which time she was named under parliamentary privilege by ALP comrade George Seitz as “the Robert Mugabe of Brimbank“. It was Suleyman, too, who was dining with Somyurek when he had his famous parliamentary dining room altercation with Johnny “Butterdish” Eren, which may or may not have involved a butterknife.

Fraser’s a safe seat, but the record of Brimbank would have flowed out from it like toxic sludge, and leached into Billy Bob Shorten’s now less-safe seat of Maribyrnong, forcing him to — nooooooo! — visit his own seat during an election.

So the deal is a deal. If the CU-IL really had the power to win vacated seat preselections, they’d go for it everywhere. If the Death Star — the shriveled SL-Conroyite stability pact — had the power to knock them off, they wouldn’t be accepting the Garrett-Mulino deal for a second.

The upshot: as Labor heads towards a possible bad ‘super Saturday’ by-election result and/or a snap election, it has rewarded a candidate quitting a tough – but, after Batman/Cooper, winnable – seat with a sinecure, losing a 5% incumbency margin, and possibly handing post-election coalition leverage to the Greens. Wow. Better than any game I could come up with. Roll the dice.