SWITCHING OFF LAMPE: Democratic uprising in ALP prompts re-think about National Secretary

Phil Coorey put the cat among the pigeons when he broke the interesting story this morning about Amanda Lampe, the former Gillard Chief of Staff, emerging as the next ALP National Secretary. A prestigious job that is regarded as being particularly tricky at the best of times, without looming Lefty demands for “reforms” championed by John Faulkner who wants to seize an historic opportunity to shaft his old foes in the NSW Right when they are at their weakest and the next federal election described politely as “challenging” even assuming the formidable conservative Liberal leader Tony Abbott is necked by the majority moderate forces and replaced by Joe Hockey, Julie Bishop or even a revived Malcolm Turnbull.

The Lampe story followed a day of high drama in National ALP circles as Queensland State Secretary Anthony Chisholm suddenly withdrew his name from consideration for reasons that seemed to primarily relate to the job being based in Canberra. What is it about boring company towns with nothing-to-do that alienate potential newcomers and their spouses?

chisholmAnyway, few could blame Chisholm at a personal level even though politically he’s managed to annoy some non-Queenslanders in the National Right caucus and the PMO who were willing to back him in and had publicly done so. Some were puzzled by an article that appeared in The Australian yesterday where he seemed to be planning on running the National Secretariat from Brisbane, while simultaneously running the Anna Bligh’s state campaign.  We’ve lived in Queensland before and entirely understand those who don’t wish to depart. God’s own country. Others thought it all a bit indulgent.

Meanwhile, in response to this vacuum created by Chisholm, the Prime Minister’s Office were putting up names left, right and centre before apparently settling on Amanda Lampe, who had given up the COS job to the well-regarded Ben Hubbard who along with the arrival of battle-tested Greens-busters from Victoria is already putting a bit of stick about including barbs aimed at the dominant Zimmer-frame faction of the Greens party, in the form of old man Bob Brown and his nasty old sister-comrade Senator Lee Rhiannon. Like good atheists, they have nothing to which they can look forward.

Lampe isn’t especially well-known in ALP moderate circles despite her previous high office at the PMO and history with NSW Right ministers for whom she was a long-time staffer. We suspect her absence of much active involvement in the party will count against her. It’s a valid criticism. Running the party is not for enthusiastic amateurs and know-all staffers in sharp suits. Lampe isn’t either but nor is she active within the ALP, that we are aware. Some say she doesn’t even want the job, with two new kids to supervise.

Far from being a hostile or ill-intentioned or factionally motivated scheme, those in the PM’s office talking her up have been trying to rescue the National Executive from the situation of not having a candidate. But not everyone has been pleased with the intervention, pointing to Victoria and WA as an example of what can go wrong when the party leader meddles too much in the composition of party administration at Head Office. Even with the best of intentions and personnel, this is seen not to work out very well, as a general rule.

The dominant view among many senior ALP figures is there needs to be some creative tension between the Leader’s office (who exist to promote the leader’s interest) and the Party which has its own interests too, which would only very rarely be different. One example cited is the 1996 election where Paul Keating was large and in charge as PM but due to meet the outer burbanites waiting for him with baseball bats who clashed wildly with then party boss Gary Gray over campaign spending.

Gray thought prudence was the order of the day. Keating thought every last dollar should begged, borrowed and stolen to be thrown at a multi-million dollar extravaganza of TVCs he’d personally crafted with images of his clocks, set to the tune of his favoured pianist. Or so the legend goes. With someone as great an eminence as PJK sometimes the stories do get embellished, sometimes for him, sometimes agin’ him. We’ll remain a fan forever, he inspired our interest in politics and of most Labor and Liberal folk we know, of a certain age. But love Keating or not, the point is the Leader’s interest can – ever so occasionally – diverge from the Party’s interest and as a result the party needs to appoint its own management, not delegate it to the Leader’s office, for the good of everyone, including the Leader.

The head of the SDA, Joe de Bruyn has since come out and said that he thought Amanda Lampe was from the Left and wasn’t a “suitable candidate.” A pretty tough criticism but many seemed relieved today that he made it. And it seems that she’s not really from the Left, she’s not really been active in any faction or at any level within the Party. Perhaps that counts as a qualification these days.

Not everyone agrees with de Bruyn in the national Right on a variety of issues but we’ve yet to encounter anyone who doesn’t respect his judgment or take him very seriously. He picks his moments pretty carefully and his intervention is widely presumed to be going – at the very least -  to have the effect of delaying a decision on the national secretary so that a wider group of candidates from moderate ranks can be considered. Contrary to common conception, there are plenty of good names from the party organisation in a number of states and many National Executive members are keen to have a good look at them, we hear, before making a crucial decision that will impact on the next election campaign and the internal dynamics of the party going forward.

The current Assistant Secretary Nick Martin is a slick and sneaky character, who hails from the Left. Sadly for him, his history of factional atrocity has caught up with him and the one thing the occasionally fractious Right appear to agree on is that the smooth operator won’t be being promoted because he’d get up to all manner of no good in the organisationally pivotal role.

Because he’s been around as the Assistant for a time, and spent much more time in Canberra than Karl Bitar, he has been carrying on as if he’s already in charge and he has some serious backing from the NSW Left who’d like him to wield the scalpel on their foes in the NSW Right by changing the Rules in an attempt to obliterate them. With the government fighting for its life, there is no time for that kind of indulgence and factional square-up, most think. Hands-on campaign experience on the ground and at a strategic level, a long history of active participation at senior level in the party organisation and a broad sympathy with Labor’s moderate majority are surely the criteria the National Executive will consider.

Heaven help them all, if they don’t.



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71 responses to “SWITCHING OFF LAMPE: Democratic uprising in ALP prompts re-think about National Secretary

  1. geelong

    steve newnham is a fine man. can the victorian right with the backing of the SL in vic over come NSW…..

    worth considering!

  2. H the B

    You’re not putting your hand up are you Andrew?

  3. geelong

    National campiagn office could then be moved to king street! vic is the jewal in the gillard crown.

  4. Anonymous

    That would have to be Shirton and karr greatest ever move. If heneey joined in that would stick it to the sticking ship NSW.

  5. greens hater

    ALP need to build bridges with the the greens polical party. Newnhams eats greens for breakfast. don”t think that stevie boy would be the right player for that. He would move to intervene in NSW. shorton won’t allow him to play factional games in victoria, might allow him in NSW. It would stengthen Howes and the AWU.

    Joe D would live with it!

  6. Anonymous

    labors dealing with greens issue was raod tested in vic, develpoed by Stephen N. It was effectively used in vic and south wales state elections. why can’t nat sec be vic…….

  7. richo-for-ever

    get stuff victoria!NSW right and albo (NSW Left) left will never alow it. We are New south wales, you are the mexicans.

    it all happens in sydney. melbourne is a back water.

    there has never been a victorian patiot running labor nationally and there never will be.

  8. the don

    i will run the show and happy to do it from canberra or sydney. Joe will back my.

    my boy will move to either place, he’s happy to leave south australia.

    first item on the agenda is the ets.

  9. hepless

    is that a rug or a wig!

  10. Anonymous

    Bring back George Seitz!

  11. siitz by name

    he left the left. and destroyed the right on his exitit.

  12. Anonymous

    “get stuff victoria!NSW right and albo (NSW Left) left will never alow it. We are New south wales, you are the mexicans.

    there has never been a victorian patiot running labor nationally and there never will be.”

    So last time I checked, the Prime Minister and the National Convenor of the Right are both Victorian.

    The last leader the state of NSW provided was Mark Latham. Thanks, guys!

  13. Listen to your heart

    Marco it’s time, you know Katrina sold you a lie, there is another path to travel

  14. Anonymous

    Nathan Lanbert is clearly the man for the top job.

  15. Anonski

    With JooLiar as PM, her ex COS as National Secretary of the ALP and the polls with the Libs ahead 55/45, the only matter to be resolved is how large will Abbott’s majority be after the next federal election?

  16. The truth hurts

    Marco it’s what Williamson is not telling you

  17. Anonymous

    What about Elias Hallaj?

  18. Don't be willows dick

    Marco they stole the branch from you, stand strong take it back

  19. Anonymous

    Nickel-ass says he’ll give it a go.

  20. Anonymous

    Hallaj or Lambert for sure!
    Or that other bloke from SA

  21. Ben

    ALP: Australian Labor Pontificators. They can all go back to their soy lattes. Our nation is threatened by illegal immigrants, green extremists, and anti-father social engineers (as crime stats indicate). Give them all the NSW treatment, I say .It’s becoming increasingly difficult for Labor voters to refer to themselves as patriots, when there is a For Sale sign on our borders. What a feral mob.

  22. Ben

    PS> And can a Canberra resident please convert Julia Gillard to Christianity? I’m busy this weekend.

  23. Ben

    PSS> Why are people too scared to identify themselves on this site? If Julia is bullying you, send me an email. You don’t have to keep it a secret and live in shame. Or fear. I’m all rightwing ears.

  24. Harry The B

    @Anonymous: Is that you Burhan?

  25. Helen

    “Not everyone agrees with de Bruyn in the national Right on a variety of issues but we’ve yet to encounter anyone who doesn’t respect his judgment or take him very seriously…”

    “steve newnham is a fine man..”

    Wow, VexNews really is an alternative bizarro world.

  26. Far rightie

    Stephen Newnham is clearly the man for the job having masterminded the 2006 Victorian campaign. He also possesses real clarity about how to deal with the Greens.

  27. Micky D

    What about Tammy Lobato. She wrecked Victorian Labor. Now she can destroy Labor nationally

  28. Shambles

    I am a respected political strategist.

    My own record of success speaks for itself – 2007 state election, 2010 federal election, and most illustrious of all, 2010 federal preselections.

    I bet the ALP wishes it had someone as respected as me to run their party.

  29. Pulp fiction

    Separated at birth: Amanda Lampe and Jarvis Cocker.

  30. Grover

    Labor’s only hope is to dump the carbon tax. And quickly. Ferguson to replace Gillard, he’s a global warming sceptic along with the majority of Australians and will have plausibility which has been lacking on all fronts. The rot is in too deep.

  31. Anon

    Nick is not slippery but a complete dope. If the Nat Sec job lands in his fat mits, god save the ALP

  32. Saving juliA from herself

    Idea of leader picking nat sec is flawed. Look how well that went when Nick reece was put in place n Victoria.
    Nat exec needs to pick winners who can do job not favourites who are simy nice losers.

    Why is homeless howes backing middle class no hopers any way?

  33. Hey nick

    Don’t give up mate.

  34. Undertaker

    The national secretary’s job is to bury federal labor.

    So picking a candidate who can lose with dignity is important.
    Nick Reece would be better than the lamp .. Let’s lose with dignity.

  35. senior

    I noticed Elias Halaj mentioned earlier. I hear he’s doing a good job as ACT Secretary but hear he’s far too polite and consultative to be a strong national secretary. The party needs someone who can stand up to the powers that be. Bring Geoff Walsh or Gary Grey back.

  36. Vacancies at political grave yard

    Feds are carving a joint tombstone. Here lies the carbon tax and federal labor.

  37. The great pretenders

    Long list of no hopers mentioned so far. Abbotts smile just got bigger.

  38. Theo Mousseagas

    What about the northern suburbs own campaign genius – Lambros Tapinos?

  39. ACT

    Nick Martin couldn’t even win preselection in the ACT against Andrew Leigh. Nick couldn’t even get the votes in a Territory dominated by the Left. Now that’s a loser.

    And to the bloke who mentioned Elias – I recommend 5 minutes alone with him in a room. That will convince you about how a man with 36 brain cells can be appointed as State Secretary. Elias took the ACT Labor party from majority to minority government.

  40. RDR

    She can walk I will never offer to ‘drive’ her home.

  41. senior

    Sorry but the misinformed ‘ACT’ who obviously doesn’t know much about the ACT, claims Elias only has 36 brain cells… I hear several good changes have happened since he became Secretary at the end of 2009.

    And Labor became a minority government in teh ACT in 2008. So you have your basic accusations wrong. Besides which, isn’t the PR system they have in the ACT and Tas designed to make minority governments the norm? I was in the ACT in 2004 and it was an unusual election with Stanhope as the hero following the tragic bushfires and the local Libs in bloody disunity and disarray. Very unlikely to ever happen again.

  42. Jeff

    Marco you it’s time to dump mad Katrina

  43. Seitz fan

    @Anonymous: I second that motion,the best man for the job.He will tell those useless MP’s to pull there Fingers out of there bums and statr work for the People who elected them and not seat on there fat bums and do bugger all.

  44. Carols brother

    Marco, Katrina lied to Jeff in the bed and she lied to you in the hot bed of politics. Right a wrong!

  45. Anonymous

    Nick Martin couldn’t win a preselection in a non aligned seat.

    He had deal and he needed about 30 out of 100 non-aligned votes (or his faction, that has show and tell, to actually vote for him.)

  46. dodo

    What has Elias achieved in the ACT?

  47. Jeff

    Marco stop being willows puppet, be a man, stand up for the Vic members


    Glad Gillards deposed chief of staff is scuttled so was Ju- liar trying to lampe-oon us
    Gillard we are not goons the only goons are the gullible ones that belive one word you say on anything
    you have zero credibility hey the temperature wont change because of your con-job carbon tax
    enjoy your very short time as Pm because you are like a firecracker you will soon fizz out!

  49. anon

    Is Lampe the lovechild of Amanda Vanstone and Piggy Muldoon?

  50. Ruth with the truth

    Marco, you know what number to call, there is a better future

  51. anon

    Mickey d your very right about tammy tanty. Problem is she doesn’t have a friend in the world to vote for her

  52. ACT

    Senior, you must have dementia. Elias couldn’t run a meat raffle, let alone the National Capital’s ALP branch. He’s about as talented as John Robertson.

    And Nick Martin, nobody’s ever heard of him. He says he’s “left” but I’d love to see his CV. has he worked anywhere but behind a desk? Held a job that wans’t with the ALP?

  53. Anonymous

    I reckon give it to Conrad French

  54. politicalrealist

    The NSW ALP is like a cancer on the party across Australia. Nuke em!

  55. politicalrealist

    Does this Amanda Lampe know how to smile. Or is she another hard face bitch leftie with no sense of humour?

  56. George Seitz fan

    @politicalrealist: That should also happen to Victoria,the branchstacking State

  57. karma karmelion

    Oh dear. Looks like Laurent Gbagbo is destined to be the Pauline Fegan of the Africa. Lost the election but still can’t accept the result.

  58. not happy julia

    Smiling is for plebs in subs. Leftwing elites never smile. Must be the mortgages in those rich inner urban ghettos.

  59. not happy john

    Brumby could not smile either.

  60. Labor loss

    Yes misery guts brumby was a good mean treasurer but premier….. What was labor thinking….

  61. Regrets

    Many will regret trashing brumby.
    Andrews makes him look good.
    Has anyone done a poll on bringing back brumby?

  62. Ted of toorack

    Yes brumby for niddrie ….I’ll get the byelection ready….

  63. Brumby to ride again

    Well if da RUdDster can keep prancing to his own merry tune why not bring back the wild brumby…..

  64. Ruddsta rappa

    Da ruddsta is inda house
    you gotta say it’s grouse
    he innit the dude
    who pulled da plug
    and switch dat eetee ess off
    na he was da salvation of nation
    he loved us all and wanted more
    did not try to make oz small
    now we got dat jooliya
    who don’t like a big oztraliya

  65. Once bitten

    Can someone tell Rudd’s staffers to stay off vex with their fake rapping…..

  66. Wrong time wrong place

    Vexnews is the wrong place to campaign for a rudd rerun…

  67. Victory

    The ruddster is no duddster now he has his boy sitting the chair.

  68. Titanic brains trust

    U mean deck chair…..

  69. Fatty B

    why they didnt go for the guru in Brownie i dont know, was it because he is about as useful as a steaming pile of shit in a candy store? only the almighty knows.

  70. George Seitz fan

    i just want brimbank council, and a seat for a friend of mine in the west, any guess who ??

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