Batchelorâ€™s retirement had been frequently speculated about here and elsewhere as early as the months prior to the last election in 2006. Bob Cameronâ€™s departure is more of a surprise and is believed to be due to him wanting to spend more time with his son who has autism.
Under the cross-factional stability agreement, it is internally agreed that the Left will continue to put up candidates in those seats.
Victorian Trades Hall staffer Bronwyn Halfpenny is likely to receive her factionâ€™s support. Halfpennyâ€™s husband is Gary Robb, the secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and her Dad is the late former national secretary of that union, John Halfpenny.
As such, Halfpenny hails from the wobbliest part of the SL, that part linked with the AMWUâ€™s Steve Dargavel. Left sources say relations are a lot more positive than they have been with the prospect of them splitting off with the right-wing unions the SDA and NUW now greatly diminished. Electing Halfpenny is seen as cementing the Left together on stronger terms.
Rumours circulated today that the Premierâ€™s Chief of Staff Dan Oâ€™Brien was urging the Left to put up Legislative Council member Brian Tee. Tee is well-regarded in government circles but isnâ€™t any longer well-linked in the industrial base of the Left so their response was a firm â€˜no thanks.â€™ Tee was once thought to be close with the leadership of the CFMEU although he is thought to no longer be on their atheist version of the Christmas Card list.
Tee isnâ€™t expected to be troubled in his bid for re-election to the upper house, even allowing for a reduction in primary vote to the marauding and frequently uncriticised Greens party and the Liberals who once dominated the eastern suburbs of Melbourne and are expected to make some gains in the November poll.
In Bendigo West, Bob Cameronâ€™s electorate officer Maree Edwards is seen as most likely to replace him, with support from other Bendigo state MP Jacinta Allan too. Edwards is believed to have previously worked for Mark Latham, something now probably in 4 point size on her CV.
But Left sources tell VEXNEWS that Steve Gibbons isnâ€™t that keen on Comrade Edwards and instead favours Bill Murray, a party activist and Gibbons campaign director at the last poll.
One source described the situation as a bit messy although noted the mood for a fight though is not great with the stat election less than two months off.
One scenario considered out of the question is Jacinta Allan swapping seats because it would all but concede the more marginal seat of Bendigo East currently held by Allan, seen as a Brumby favourite in the ministry.
There has been more talk throughout today that other ministers were contemplating departure including enviro-enthusiast Gavin Jennings, a fitness enthusiast who suffered from a heart attack earlier this year who is thought to be in good health now. Heâ€™ll be under no pressure to go now though, as he occupies an upper house seat that can be filled by casual vacancy at any time.