There’s a reason why worshippers pray and sing together, Amway salesfolk meet up and political types rally, when done well it can be very good for morale.
Last night’s Labor Unity members’ meeting at the Australian Workers Union HQ was such an experience for many of those attending it. There were at least three hundred people there, crammed in to the busy meeting hall, with so many that several dozen spilled out into the street. On the verge of a long weekend, it was an astonishing attendance and an amazing vindication of Bill Shorten’s leadership.
Many who were confused, left enlightened. Many who were uncertain left confident with the frank explanations and clear sense of direction. Many who’d felt left right out of all the action suddenly felt included and part of something bigger than themselves.
It was an important moment. A self-affirming one of the kind some seek in footy cheer squads, churches and May Day marches.
Some three hundred Labor Unity patriots crammed into their meeting room, there was applause, some great speeches, a lot of explaining of the recently concluded arrangements over preselections and – amazingly enough – unanimous support for the faction’s leadership.
Long-time Labor Unity members like inner-city numbers-man and former Melbourne Mayoral candidate Ray Collins asked tough questions about the recently announced preselection peace deal and the current internal crisis within the Victorian Labor Right. They were given straight-shooting responses.
Melbourne Ports federal MP Michael Danby dressed in matching purple garb with Corio comrade Richard Marles spoke up on behalf of “the purple faction”, endorsed the deal that he said delivered stability. He explained with many nodding enthusiastically that he was no friend of the Socialist Left but he thoroughly endorsed a global deal that resolved preselection fights before they started. He and others also made the point they felt very little enthusiasm for the prospect of being in a different group from their dear friend Senator David Feeney, a brother patriot who had gone into battle shoulder-to-shoulder with so many of them so many times.
The strong sentiment supporting Bill Shorten – unanimous support – was matched by an equally strong desire not to tear Labor Unity asunder, if it can be avoided.
Patriots say Shorten spoke particularly well and singled out popular ALP State Secretary Steve Newnham for high praise. He spoke of his courage and strong performance. Labor Unity members responded with a long and loud round of applause reflecting their support for him and also their pent-up fury at those who threatened to punish him for the supposed crime of being in the wrong sub-group.
Motions passed by the members were deliberately cast in the most moderate and peace-friendly language to show that while they were firmly resolved in their action that the door was open to reconciliation within the divided Right.
At midday today, the start of the reconciliation process occurred when negotiators from the disputants convened to attempt to resolve the issues.
Sources told VEXNEWS the discussions were positive, with the three participants Shorten, Feeney and Richardson at their diplomatic and constructive best. One source said “We are on track to sorting out a resolution.”
Some believe a steering committee that would operate on consensus grounds could unite the divided Right into one big happy Labor Unity of clipboards, count-sheets and Kumbayah. (And in saluting our SDA friends, we’d also add cardigans, once but no longer a regular feature of every SDA official’s wardrobe)
We certainly hope so because The Age’s celebration of the faction’s action and lavish praise for Labor Unity’s convenor Bill Shorten is starting to spook us. Even left-wing blog Crikey has lavished praise upon him. “Does this mean we’ve done something wrong?” one patriot asked us, seeking reassurance about their righteous cause.Â It doesn’t necessarily meant that but it’s certainly useful and helpful to ponder the joy some in the SL feel about a divided Right.
It’s worth thinking about it carefully. It’s worth reflecting on some of the vile invective poured out in our VEXNEWS comments section, from people our technical investigation has revealed to be from computers that have previously posted pro-Left or strongly anti-moderate comments here. They have regularly masquerading as feuding moderates here in past days. Some of them were immediately deleted, some were sinister in the extreme, racist, homophobic and in other ways very ugly. It’s not nice to think people who write such things are playing such an active role in public affairs, whether it be in the Left or wherever.
All of them were clearly designed to fuel the raging bushfire many believe was sparked by a group of incompetent buffoons in the Premier’s office who ought to have left well enough alone.
We didn’t start the fire, insists all corners of the Labor Unity globe. And when they look around to blame folks, many point to the squat tower of power at 1 Treasury Place where the personal ambitions of several people – in our view – conflicted with their duty to their Premier, the party and the government they are paid well to serve. It was a shameful episode, made all the more outrageous when you ponder how little many of them seem to understand about what they were messing with. Not-so-clever media management advice given by some know-alls to the plotters against State Secretary Newnham. They were as wrong as they were certain.
It’s always nice to be able to find the arsonist who lit the devastating fire. This was a more complicated situation than that of course, but the colours of VEXNEWS are black and white for good reason. We seek the comfort of simple explanations. We not unreasonably blamed Party President NUW boss Charlie Donnelly for calling on the crazy Admin Committee meeting a few days before Christmas but possibly by giving him the boot as we did made matters worse. The truth is clearer now. Initially at least, Donnelly was doing what he thought he was being asked to do by people he presumed to be responsible and competent in positions of authority. It rapidly descended from there in a way that reflected no credit on anyone involved. It was the wrong thing done for the wrong reasons at the wrong time. It was the first significant thing done by the NUW since they returned to the Labor Unity fold. It was not a good start. Whether progress can be made beyond that we’ll see soon enough. Many of the senior players on all sides VEXNEWS that – with patience and goodwill – it could well happen.
For the NUW, who are growing increasingly despondent about the always unrealistic prospect of splitting militant SL unions from the SL, it might be their only hope to avoid ten years of the isolation and desolation they had thought they had finally left behind.
In other news, the vacancy in Southern Metro created by the departure of the arguably corrupt Evan Thornley’s big butt from the red velvet of LegCo will be filled soon. Noms close at 5pm today.
So far, Labor moderates Marcie Pinskier, Jenny Huppert, Julia Mason, Dick Gross and Steve Perryman have nominated. All strong candidates in their way with not one of them likely to implode in the manner now known as “doing a Thornley.” We believe the most likely candidate will be female to help deal with the gender imbalance in the Labor caucus and will almost certainly be a local with strong ties to her local community.
Dear Labor Unity Member,
If you were unable to attend last nights meeting at the AWU, we haveÂ included below the motions that were discussed.
As reported in the newspaper today, over 300 rank and file Labor UnityÂ members were in attendance. All motions listed below were passedÂ unanimously and without amendment.
The atmosphere was one of genuine engagement about why the agreementÂ was necessary, the details of the agreement between Labor Unity andÂ the Socialist Left, and the way forward for the Group.
We have also attached a document by Race Mathews that he has requestedÂ be circulated in response to recent events within the party.
We sincerely wish you all a Happy Australia day weekend.
Yours in Unity
Bill Shorten, LU Convenor
Noah Carroll, LU Secretary
That this meeting supports the agreement that has been reached in theÂ name of Labor Unity to provide stability to the Party.
Moved: Cesar Melhem Â Â Seconded: Wayne Mader Â Â Â Â Â Passed Unanimously
This meeting is concerned at events that have occurred over recentÂ months that have demonstrated an inability for Labor Unity to work inÂ the spirit of consensus and in the best interests of Labor Unity andÂ the Party.
In particular, we acknowledge the support given to the petition thatÂ expressed no confidence in the current Labor Unity Executive.
We are also concerned by recent media speculation that has beenÂ damaging to the Labor Party, and that has put individual self-interestÂ ahead of the important task of maintaining Labor Governments.
We realise that in the current circumstances it will take effort onÂ behalf of many to get Labor Unity back to a trusting consensus modelÂ of decision making. In order to achieve the aim of returning to oneÂ united Labor Unity, this meeting resolves to establish a steeringÂ committee whose responsibility will be to:
(a) Â Â Establish the process and structures by which we will operateÂ and bring these recommendations back to this group for endorsement.
(b) Â Â Commence negotiations with the NUW/SDA/HSUA to establish theÂ means to bring the two groups back together.
(c) Â Â The steering committee will consist of:
1 representative each from the AWU, TWU and ASU
â€¢ Â Â Â 6 representatives from the rank and file
â€¢ Â Â Â 2 State Parliamentary Representatives
â€¢ Â Â Â 2 Federal Parliamentary Representatives
â€¢ Â Â Â Young Labor Unity President
â€¢ Â Â Â Factional Convenor and Secretary
Moved: Richard Marles Â Seconded: Michael Danby Â Â Â Â Passed Unanimously