CHARRED: The Age celebrates carnage in moderate Labor faction


Some in the Victorian Labor Unity moderate faction, including its biggest moderate union that champions unpopular but righteous social causes is threatening to sack their own guy as ALP Secretary days before Christmas and install a lefty environmentalist refugee rights activist instead, Rob Hulls current COS Mark Madden.

The supreme irony is that the day after Newnham’s enemies revealed their plan, Newspoll is published in the Australian revealing that his performance as party secretary couldn’t be stronger:

The Newspoll, taken exclusively for The Australian, shows that after preferences are distributed, the ALP leads the Coalition by 57 to 43 per cent.

This is a better result than Labor achieved at the 2006 state election when Steve Bracks took the ALP to a resounding victory over the Baillieu-led Opposition.

The Australian’s Ewin Hannan says:

The poll results are likely to be used by ALP state secretary Stephen Newnham to try to stave off an attempt to dump him next week.

Certainly they provide part of a compelling case to keep the campaign wizard, from Gippsland originally and who masterminded the brilliantly successful 2006 election campaign and four subsequent by-election wins.

The good part for the Liberal party with Newspoll is that provides them a compelling reason to make a move away from Baillieu. That would be Brumby’s worst nightmare, to face a more aggressive, clever and effective leader than Ted Baillieu (wouldn’t be hard).

The bad part for the government of such strong polls is complacency. The same culture is all too evident in some parts of Spring Street, and very many parts of 1 Treasury Place. With a latte sipper state secretary, some Spring Street MPs and advisers who don’t want to hear from hardheads that their agenda sucks and is deeply unpopular in voter land, would be spared such unkindness and told everything is wonderful while the new herbal party boss hums kumbayah to backbenchers seeking love and reassurance. 

Naturally The Age are delighted with the surprise left in their Festivus stocking but most patriots are left wondering whether the world has gone completely mad.

It’s been a long time since we’ve needed to carve up an individual Age story for close attention. But it might be worthwhile dissecting their spin.

VICTORIAN Labor is set to dump its key campaign strategist, in a move that threatens to destabilise the Brumby Government as it prepares for the next election.

VEXNEWS: But is it set to dump him? It’s certainly set to have a meeting but it’s far from clear from our sources across the fractions and factions whether there’ll be quorum at the pre-Christmas meeting, whether all of the Labor Unity caucus will support the move to dump one of its own as State Secretary, what the Socialist Left are doing, what the Premier wants, all these things are very much up in the air.

Controversial state ALP secretary Stephen Newnham, who masterminded Steve Bracks’ victory at the 2006 election and is a close confidant of John Brumby, has been abandoned by a coalition of leaders from his own right-wing faction.

VEXNEWS: Hardly abandoned, try never supported him one bit in the NUW’s case. Others keen for a Christmas Eve execution like Adem Somyurek and Robin Scott have never supported Newnham. That’s their prerogative of course, but it would be wrong to present their view as a change or a shift. There hasn’t been any such thing. It’s probably worth noting why The Age calls Newnham controversial too. He’s been a vital part of keeping Labor focused on winning country and outer suburban seats, at the expense of the latte sipper agenda of those pursued by folks like the Chief of Staff to the Attorney-General who’ve risked much political capital this year on a range of highly controversial social issues.

New ALP president Charlie Donnelly, a leader of the Right, yesterday called an extraordinary meeting of the party’s administrative committee for Monday to decide Mr Newnham’s fate.

VEXNEWS: As Party President and a member of Labor Unity, Donnelly is a leader of the Right, perfectly true. But what’s also true is that many in his faction have been sceptical about him and them. That needed time to heal and instead of that happening, the scab has been picked just in time for a Christmas bleed. The NUW were striving for legitimacy and regardless of Monday’s outcome will be seen

Mr Newnham, a former ministerial adviser to Mr Brumby, has been in the gun since a new power bloc wrested control of the party’s dominant Right faction, in a bitter factional brawl during June’s Kororoit byelection.

VEXNEWS: True enough but it’s also more complicated than that too with many SDA friendly people expressing shock and awe that this business would be transacted this way prior to Christmas. One told us that “whatever happens, this will leave a permanent scar across the Right.”

His overthrow would be seen as further evidence of the declining influence of prominent right-wingers and federal MPs Senator Stephen Conroy and Bill Shorten, who have been close to the state secretary.

VEXNEWS: Or perhaps the final proof the National Union of Workers ought not have been readmitted to the Right because of the destabilisation and carnage that does rather seem to follow them around like a bad smell.

Mr Brumby, who has previously praised Mr Newnham’s record in election and byelection campaigns, recognises there is a mood for change in some key sections of the party.

He is expected to emphasise to factional powerbrokers the need for a consensus on who should be state secretary.

VEXNEWS: A mood for change emanating from the NUW, yes that’s no doubt true but many wonder why there hasn’t ever been a discussion about the issue at Admin Committee before. Or in any factional forum, including last night’s Broad Group meeting. And that’s at the heart of the damage being done here, an outright refusal to discuss anything, in particular the merits of making a change.

Party insiders said last night that the early front-runner for Mr Newnham’s position was Mark Madden, chief of staff to Deputy Premier and Attorney-General Rob Hulls.

VEXNEWS: Indeed he is, if a change is made, the way things currently stand Madden will get the position. A former business partner of James McGarvie, a leading light in the National Union of Workers machine, he is considered close with Tim Holding and their grouping although is apparently not a member of the Labor Unity group.

Other possible candidates were Tom Cargill, an adviser to the Premier, and Nathan Lambert, a federal ALP official.

VEXNEWS: Both would be much stronger candidates than the NUW’s refugee rights activist Mark Madden, certainly. Cargill is seen as linked with the Feeney forces and Lambert with the SDA.

An email informing members of Labor’s administration committee about the Monday night meeting, seen by The Age, has one agenda item: “That the Administrate Committee consider the position of the State Secretary.”

Sources said it was almost certain Mr Newnham would go, because he had lost the support of a majority of the Right and had numerous enemies in the Left.

VEXNEWS: Sources tell us though that it is far from certain Newnham will go, partly for the reasons raised above. The Labor Unity caucus will not hold on this issue. It was never going to be able to force all its members to participate in an ambush against their own faction member three days before Christmas. So some of the Right will vote to remove him but a very big chunk of them are not only going to vote against it without negotiations and several of them are threatening to tar and feather Robin Scott (only kidding). The Socialist Left’s position is far from clear, and they are seen as being much less likely to split with every chance they would oppose the motion in conjunction with Newnham loyalists.

Mr Newnham declined to comment on the putsch when contacted last night.

VEXNEWS: Putsch, such a good word.

The ALP Right split down the middle over who should be the candidate for the Kororoit byelection.

VEXNEWS: And is set to do so again, meaning this opera won’t be over til the Premier sings. And in his restive audience sits a few people who are not listening to him very much. What this means for all of them is a question not easily answered.



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8 responses to “CHARRED: The Age celebrates carnage in moderate Labor faction

  1. Andrew Giles

    I want to be party secretary…

  2. madness. sheer bloody madness. this is the best Christmas present the Libs could have hoped to land in Terry Mulder’s XMas stocking.
    The Hon. Terence Wynne Mulder, MLA, Premier. got a ring to it.

  3. Charlie the Joker

    hooo hee hee haa haa I love this shit. Why so Serious!

    Burn baby burn!

  4. anon

    Why Charlie why? Are you not content with screwing up your own union with an idea so stupid that all it will do is hurt its members, you now want to turn your sights on the ALP?

    This is more than short man’s syndrome, pal…it’s a goddamn sickness.

  5. dickie bird

    charlie just wants to be noticed. can’t get over the fact that no one knows who he is. a bird brain!

  6. They must be under the paid employment of Ted the Red or maybe it is a CIA plot. Why would you want to axe the most successful State Secretary Labor has had?

    One bad apple or act can destroy the whole crop.

  7. Anonymous

    Socialism rides again !

  8. Hullsy

    Newnham today ; tomorrow – Brumby

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