In moves calculated to resolve a damaging conflict within the Victorian ALP Right, different sides are meeting with their supporters to discuss their predicament. Last night the NUW group met at the union’s impressive new Docklands HQ to discuss recent events. NUW insiders explain that these caucus style meetings are not greatly unusual, bringing together NUW aligned MPs, officials from the union, staffers and FEA activists from a number of eastern suburbs.
This evening, members of Labor Unity will meet at the Australian Workers Union to do the same. Matters are so delicate about the internal governance issues that even invoking the faction name in that way can be enough to prompt Greece/Macedonian style useless disputation about what’s in a name. Hopefully you’ll know what we mean.
On Friday, we understand that there will be talks between representatives of both sides of the divided Right with a view to addressing a variety of issues, some of which we have previously canvassed.
Senator David Feeney – who wears the Roman title so very well but would not be fetching in a toga – will represent the interests of his allies as will fellow negotiators Parliamentary Secretaries Bill Shorten and Fiona Richardson.
For the purposes of the negotiations, they won’t be representing Labor Unity as a whole but attempting to resolve the conflicts within it.
The matters are delicate but observers on both sides are hopeful about what can be achieved. Words like consensus, compromise, reconciliation have for now replaced split, payback, Kororoit et al. Shorten has made a powerful point through his decisive moves but his temporary foes continue to hold a significant bloc of votes that while not currently needed to deliver preselection outcomes would always be nice to have for a rainy day.
There’s certainly plenty of common ground now about the excesses of last year’s pre Christmas festivities (many seek to blame the Premier’s staff with the apparently now ominously bearded NUW Nat Secretary Charlie Donnelly is said to be greatly displeased with a few of them) and a shared acknowledgement that both sides had committed a variety of stupid deeds to smite the other in years gone by. We’ve yet to speak with any significant player who denies committing error of some kind. Of course, we haven’t been trying to get through to the Federal Minister of Trade. He’s too busy arm-chair quarterbacking with Mar’n.
If only Bishop Tutu was available for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission where perps from both sides could step forward and fess up their intra-factional atrocities, conspiracies and square-ups. An inquiry into the Hotham debacle of 2006, the hunting of the State Secretaries and the Kororoit fun-fest and Brimbank Wars would have it going for weeks. If recorded for posterity, the DVD pack would no doubt be called “Unity Blues.”