Just as DPM Julia Gillard’s office lives down the sharing of her staff’s expression of f*ck off hostility to pesky journalists with the wider world, comes an excellent report by Rick Wallace at the Australian that has exclusively revealed the potty mouth of Victoria’s Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu during a brief conversation between him and the Kooyong preselection candidate Josh Frydenberg.
RED TED’S RED FACE
Our sources confirm that Baillieu abused the Parliamentary hopeful after the Leader was brutally done over at the Kooyong Liberals Annual General Meeting saying “F*ck off, just f*ck off” as he stormed out of the meet in the company of mentor Petro Georgiou.
All Frydenberg had done was approach the blueblood with extended hand as a peace gesture. Baillieu responded with all the courtesy and grace of a Hamas backed “militant” setting up a rocket-launcher near the swing-set at the local kindergarten.
With Liberals blabbing about what gets divulged within the cone of silence and privacy of elite golf courses and uttering profanities at each other within the strained hearing of elderly suburban branch members, it’s all enough to have Sir Robert Menzies and the late grand old men of Liberal spinning in their graves.
What would Charles Goode say? Oops, he’s not dead, although he does a fair imitation.
In what the Australian described as a ‘wild night’, Wallace reports that the Baillieu forces jeered former cabinet minister Richard Alston when he sought to reassure the well-stacked meeting that he was not there to prosecute a partisan or divisive agenda.
Indeed, long-term Liberal observers confirmed that Alston was never a Costello faction devotee and in Canberra was considered a Howard man. The antics of the Red Ted Brigades might change his attitude though. Nothing like glares of accusation, profane outbursts, jeering, pouts of piety and stares of sullenness to win people over – to your opponents.
KOOYONG STILL UP IN THE AIR
We are inclined to agree though with Baillieu faction folk who say that Alston’s victory by no means guarantees merchant banker Josh Frydenberg a successful preselection campaign. It remains a complicated exercise, entirely dependent on whether the Baillieu side can find a knock-out candidate. Believe me, they’re looking.
Indeed, under the Libs’ old preselection system, the chair and vice-chairs (male and female – reflecting Bob Menzies commitment to affirmative action long before Joan Kirner had thought of it) had a vote as preselectors and a big role in the process. Now they just get the same vote as the thousand members in Kooyong.
All the same, it was still seen as an impressive show of force by Frydenberg such that it might discourage people like well-regarded IPA boss John Roskam who would be keen to avoid the label that he is a serial failed preselection candidate.
It is true that the Frydenberg and Kroger camps united in what could be a temporary marriage of convenience to cause the Baillieu faction grief. It certainly worked. They were shattered by the result, reflected in Baillieu’s angry reaction to Frydenberg.
There’s a clear Kroger group modus operandi here. Dig up and dust off the elder statesmen to run as candidates and support them to the hilt, even if they occasionally show annoying independent streaks on some issues. It’s smart. And maybe even good for the party So far they’ve got up Old Man Winter David Kemp as state President, Alan Stockdale as federal President and now Alston as electorate president in what is meant to be the Baillieu faction’s stronghold. Perhaps the only former federal MP safe from being drafted out of retirement is Ken Aldred, despite the anti-semite’s best efforts.
NO GUTS NO GLORY
Stealing control of the Kooyong Liberal hierarchy was an aggressive and brilliant move. And it has/will drive current state Liberal leader even more crazy.
But as some ALP comrades who’ve enjoyed smashing Pyrrhic victories could report, sometimes the fruit of victory can be ashes in your mouth.
One month, you’re crowing over necking a state secretary, the next you’re like the Mayor of Hiroshima surveying the damaged ruins while fielding phone calls from concerned upper house MPs worried about their futures and blaming it on you. Such is life.
What was significant about the evening was that it was the first ALP style slug-fest under new Liberal party rules.
Hundreds of people were present. Making no pretence about being one big happy non-factional family.
Frydenberg’s dudes arrived in suits, fresh from counting their losses in Collins Street. They sat in one big intimidating block, in a manner perfected by the NUW Group years ago when they were known by al-Qaeda’s name “the Network”.
Shortly after the vote, these stacks quickly departed, reflecting their understandable lack of interest in having tea and scones with the old dears of Hawthorn.
One observer remarked to VEXNEWS “This was the biggest meeting of its kind in living memory.”
Another said “This is the downside of opening up the party’s structures, we’ll have bigger and increasingly unruly meetings like the ALP.”
The other highlight of the splendid evening of carnage was that there were no printed ballot-papers (because candidates could nominate during the meeting). This meant the punters had to indicate their preferred candidates on a blank piece of paper with limited instruction.
For many of Josh’s merchant bankers, who have presided over the destruction of untold billions in recent times, this was a huge intellectual challenge.
One observer remarked that it was a “miracle” there were only nineteen informal votes, with some of the bankers being confused and listing people who spoke in order of who they liked the most and so on.
Perhaps voting by SMS in the style of Australian Idol might work better for a mass-market.
As a result of the free-form voting method, the count took over an hour and a half causing some to be concerned that Petro might have been up to some dirty tricks of the kind he used to talk for hours about late at night with Michael Kapel with a wicked look in his eye.
But more of that another time.