The sad dispute between the Victorian Labor Unity faction and the NUW/SDA “ambition faction” shows no sign yet of being resolved, with state MP’s associated with the competing groups meeting separately today prior to the Labor caucus.
Importantly, no one group used the traditional Labor Unity meeting room and there were a number of informal gatherings, leaving the door open to future peace without formalised divisions. That’s an important distinction to make for the sensible folks who wish to give peace a chance.
Some have not taken this development well, with sources close to federal caucus secretary Senator David Feeney telling VEXNEWS he was preparing for a protracted conflict that will test the master strategist’s wily ways. Feeney has been previously playing a constructive role, leading a negotiation for peace between the feuding Right clans, representing his sub-factional brothers in the NUW/SDA while they have been busy attempting to win the love of the criminal construction division of the CFMEU, snatching their four POSC votes from the Socialist Left to their more conservative coalition.
It’s a shame both sides couldn’t concentrate on mending fences rather than raiding the other side’s hen-houses to steal chooks belonging to rivals, one Feeney lieutenant argued this morning.
Sources close to Labor Unity say that it was disingenuous for the NUW/SDA to be attempting to destabilise the stability deal with one side of its face while the other side was pledging hippy love and power-sharing. Not an unreasonable point perhaps but one that to quote a great former US President misunderestimates the NUW’s pride and sense of place. If they’re not running the party, they’re not happy is a fair characterisation of their view. It is their duty to undermine a deal which had as its central feature shutting them out and diminishing their recently gained power.
Interestingly the war is restricted so far to Victorian skirmishes, with no such formal division yet occurring within the federal MP’s, with Victorian Right convenor Richard Marles doing a good job to keep everyone together by whispering sweet nothings in all available ears. Senator David Feeney, Jacinta Collins and Anthony Byrne would normally be identified with the union alliance. Feeney and Collins – once good pals who ambitions collided – have become rivals in recent times after Collins defeated Feeney for the #1 Senate spot. They are very unlikely caucus chums, political insiders say. Byrne is believed to have little time for sub-factional intrigues, preferring to focus on his day-job of Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister.
ATROCITIES ON BOTH SIDES
The main reason the NUW don’t have any MP’s in Club Fed – as one NUW operative was reminding us the other day – is that two of their preselection candidates were victims of much unpleasantness in the 2006 bloodbath that saw Simon Crean defeat Martin Pakula by foul means and Alan Griffin – reputedly master stacker and manipulator – rely on right-wing votes (one actually) to survive denying one of the NUW’s most talented operatives, Matt Carrick, of Bruce.
As things turned out, with Pakula’s elevation, he’s probably quite happy with his lot in life and the young Carrick lives to fight another day. And it doesn’t hurt anyone that the NUW are shut out of Club Fed, at least for now. It quarantines the conflict to some extent in Melbourne, proving that it’s now not just Sydney that is a Labor leper colony in terms of fractional warfare.
In the state caucus though, it’s not like Club Fed at all. There is a roughly 50-50 split between the Labor Unity faction MPs and the NUW/SDA union alliance. There are sub-groups like the LRA, who could end up in either group, with members like George Seitz who is on the NUW side and Telmo Languiller believed to be likely to be with Labor Unity.
Some believe the separation is likely to be a temporary one with peace talks of a consensus driven federation model proceeding.
JUST TO ENSURE EVERYONE LOVES VEXNEWS, WE NAME NAMES
For the time being, it appears the state MP’s have divided up as follows, no doubt we’ve missed a few but here’s a rough guide:
Ann Barker – believed to be unhappy with NUW over possible threat to preselection
Christine Campbell – is worried the stability deal formula means she could lose her seat
Judith Graley – triumphed over the twin evils of Dale Wilson and cancer
Minister Tim Holding – leadership aspirant given the toughest assignment in the government, Water
Marlene Kairouz – Michael Donovan’s bestie from the west, her preselection was the start of the internal spite fight
Hong Lim – in close alliance with Robin Scott
Minister James Merlino – SDA’s minister who was instrumental in deep-sixing the deal that would have put Jacinta Collins into state ministry and Feeney as #1 on Senate ticket
Minister Tim Pallas – former NUW official and Bracks COS, not really a factional player, friendly to all but still likely to roll with NUW
Robin Scott – likely to chair meetings of the NUW alliance, key strategist and Feeney ally
George Seitz – veteran MP chose to roll with Robin Scott last year, worried that the deal means he could be shafted. But is anyone game to test whether the local legend can be beaten in a local plebiscite? If it was possible to do so, he would surely adopt GO AHEAD MAKE MY DAY as his personalised number plate.
Bob Stensholt – NUW ally
Kaye Darveniza – former Health Services Union official, many rumours that she was planning to retire anyway but is strongly denying that. Expected to be given unwinnable #3 position in her country upper house province.
Nazih Elasmar – understood to have done a deal last year with NUW alliance to support them in return for taking Theo’s #1 northern metro spot in the event he retired. A long-time member of the LRA, he now appears to have gone his own way. Is guaranteed of winning preselection for the #3 spot anyway, which he will probably hold in 2010.
Minister Martin Pakula – thought to want lower house but might be better off staying as there’s less competition for the Ministry. Great things expected of him as Minister.
Jaala Pulford – former NUW official, very worried she’ll lose preselection but affirmative action requirement should help
Adem Somyurek – ally of Robin Scott with a wide network of friends in both NUW and Labor Unity.
Colin Brooks – loyal supporter of Fiona Richardson
Premier John Brumby – has rogue chief of staff who lists factional pyromania as his hobby
Michael Crutchfield – part of Geelong crew
Luke Donnellan – loyal AWU lad
John Eren – the general of Richard Marles’s Geelong Liberation Army
Ben Hardman – solid country MP but faces tsunami in seat over pipeline (apologies for incorrect allocation initially)
Minister Joe Helper – long-time Labor Unity member
A-G Rob Hulls – the faction’s very own Lionel Murphy
Craig Langdon – long-time Labor Unity member, does not likely the Michael Leighton/Robin Scott machine
Speaker Jenny Lindell – strong opponent of NUW tactics
Tony Lupton – the smooth operator of the caucus, should have Sade as his music on hold
Judy Maddigan – Essendon MP some expect to retire, with lobbyist Danny Pearson positioning himself
Janice Munt – highly effective marginal seat holder
Minister Lisa Neville – senior member of the Geelong crew, one of few in caucus wise enough to see through Evan Thornley’s bulldust
Wade Noonan – TWU backed, big future
Fiona Richardson – former Labor Unity faction secretary
Minister Tony Robinson – Potential leader who solved the pokies problem with one swift knee to the groin of the industry
Marsha Thomson – big player in recent factional negotiations, mentor to Fiona Richardson
Jennifer Huppert – recently appointed MP
Minister John Lenders – Treasurer and power behind Brumby’s throne
Minister Justin Madden – Popular minister
President Bob Smith – Told Evan Thornley where to get off in his last caucus meeting, arguably the greatest upper house president ever.
Danielle Green – likely to side with Labor Unity, part of the LRA group
Alistair Harkness – likely to side with NUW but some think he might be unhappy with them
Telmo Languiller – likely to side with Labor Unity, part of the LRA group
Tammy Lobato – likely to side with NUW, friends with Adem Somyurek
Kirstie Marshall – unknown
Theo Theophanous – likely to side with Labor Unity, part of the LRA group
Matt Viney – definitely not with NUW after resigning in spectacular form from their group recently, expected to join Labor Unity