August 25th 2018

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Current policies leave farmers high and dry in drought

CANBERRA OBSERVED Captain and Lieutenant's $444 million munificence

MEDICAL ETHICS Changes to AHPRA's code of conduct would gag doctors

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Trump delivers for U.S. economy and workers

CHILDREN AND SOCIETY Treating depressed children: How will history judge us?

PRIVACY Big Brother is marketing you

THE FAMILY Humanae Vitae: a prophetic document at 50

SOCIETY AND MORES Novel features of child sexual abuse in our time

EUTHANASIA International expert emphasises palliative care

BIOGRAPHY The trouble with Harry (Freame) is that we've forgotten him

OPINION Just asking ... sauce for the goose ...?

HISTORY Christianity has died. Agreed, and yet ...

MILITARY HISTORY The volunteering spirit proves best in the test


MUSIC Chilly exposure: The sound and the fury

CINEMA Mission Impossible: Fallout: Ethan Hunt, knight errant

BOOK REVIEW A good diagnosis enables the cure

BOOK REVIEW End of the American empire?



OPINION The Victorian ALP observed from up close

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The Victorian ALP observed from up close

by Marcus L'Estrange

News Weekly, August 25, 2018

The Victorian ALP has recently been in real disarray and now has a surreal air about it. The factional battle in Victoria between the Socialist Left (Kim Carr), Labor Unity (LU) (Bill Shorten/Stephen Conroy), now split into two factions, the Adem Somyurek (who is he?) Moderates, the Shoppies (SDA) and the renegade industrial left (CFMEU) faction, was getting out of control, with the more feral elements of all the groups tearing up stability pacts.

The ALP factional culture at work.

Because of that undermining and worries about the media “Kill Bill” campaign, and the usual all-in brawl over state and federal pre-selections, the Albanese challenge was well under way. However, Bill “won” the Super Saturday by-elections, which has saved his skin for the time being.

A temporary truce was brought about by the ALP National Executive taking over the pre-selection of ALP candidates for parliaments, at Bill’s request, but at the expense of local party democracy. One National Executive member told me that whatever Bill wants, Bill gets; which prompts the question, why have a National Executive?

Now the Red Shirts rorts scandal has hit the fan, adding to the unease about Victorian Labor’s chances in the Nov­ember state election, although Labor has hit back by referring a case to the Ombudsman regarding Liberal Party shenanigans somehow tied to the a former Victorian Liberal Party state secretary being in jail for fraud.

However, and above all, none of the factions can ever discount the ability of any of the others to plunge itself into self-inflicted madness given the internal hatreds based on next to nothing. Plain and simple, the fights are driven by personality clashes, historical animosity, vengeance and ambition.

As a member of an ALP faction – the Kim Beazley Snr faction, or “The cream of the working class” faction – I just love watching a good old factional fight between other ALP factions.

No one seems to want to explain why branch stacking and the other shenanigans occur. One glaring example is “the Somali Stack”, where the Heidelberg ALP branch membership leapt from 13 to 325 over a number of years. This phenomenal increase is largely made up of Somalis, with many “living” at just one or two addresses.

In Jagajaga, where this stacking took place, a person who joined the party only one week before and was not an SL faction member defeated a local SL activist for pre-selection. A non-faction member being endorsed by a faction over a faction member! Work that one out if you can.

In days of old, factions clearly had distinct philosophies regarding how to achieve a largely classless society. Those factions were largely the Fabians, the Catholic Right, the multitude Communist Party of Australia (CPA) members/fellow travellers and the various dissident groups, factions breaking away from the CPA, the ALP Socialist Left (for example, “Baghdad” Bill Hartley and co), the pro-Whitlam “Intervention”, moderates and so on.

Nowadays, given that there is no discernible difference between the ALP factions. They exist only as grubby job-creation schemes for those within the factions who would, metaphorically speaking, kill their own mother to become an MP and from there a millionaire or multimillionaire.

To get on in a faction, one has to learn the dark arts of politics, such as branch stacking or simply no promotion, and remember that there are many factional opportunists but too few opportunities, such as safe seats, so consequently the massive bloodletting prior to selection for a safe seat.

The next step up in proving your worth to a factional warlord is to come up with schemes such as the Red Shirt rorts. After that, and once you are an MP, rorting your travel allowance is the next step. Nothing energises an MP’s research skills more than researching travel allowances. Many Labor MPs are multimillionaires, often via the defined benefits superannuation scheme.

Remember also, if branch members want a say in pre-selection of MPs, the factional warlords will simply refer the matter to Labor’s National Executive, who will then rubber-stamp the warlords’ preferences. ALP members such as myself should ask why a handful of factional warlords is allowed to divide up the cake between them but then expect the 50,000 ALP members nationally (real members plus stacks) or 16,000 members in Victoria to do all the grunt electoral work, such as door-knocking, staffing the booths and so on so that a small number of factional lackeys get jobs as MPs and then be in the top 1-3 per cent of income earners in Australia?

Governments composed of the “cream of the working class”, not the “dregs of the middle class” who dream up such rorts, should be the ALP’s reason for existence.

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