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Branch stacking and dirty tricks in Melbourne Ports

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Pulling the strings (Screenshot The Australian Jewish News, Friday 13 July 2018)

Dirty tricks in Melbourne Ports as, once again, rank and file ALP members are locked out – this time literally – by Labor's ruling class.

'Political junkies would cross the Simpson Desert on their hands and knees to get a safe seat.' 

Graham Richardson, The Australian, 12/9/2018. 

The 2018 ALP pre-selection for the Federal seat of Macnamara (previously Melbourne Ports) is like many ALP pre-selection battles for winnable seats. This is because the ALP is less a broad church and more a rolling civil war. Much like the current Liberals.  

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. Even more so if it’s an internal factional fight where the waste matter really flies and the stakes are high — a seat in Parliament. Nowadays, there is no discernible difference between the 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 ,then later, if you are halfway smart, a multimillionaire.

As sure as night follows day, Comrade Michael Danby, the Member for Israel and Melbourne Perks, obliged and organised just such a bun fight when he organised a Labor Unity (LU) faction meeting  at the Caulfield RSL on 19th July. The meeting was to select his replacement as the Member for Melbourne Ports / Macnamara now that he was forced to retire at the next election by Labor heavies. One source claims it was the Victorian ALP Administrative Committee. Danby wanted to run again, but was forced out.

Danby's intention was to anoint Nick Dyrenfurth, a fellow Mt Scopus student, as the next MP for Macnamara and to make it extremely hard for a female candidate — in this case, Mary Delahunty, a popular former local Mayor. Danby sent the invitations on his parliamentary letterhead to 138 LU faction (80% male) members out of the 500 plus Melbourne Ports ALP members (real members plus LU stacks). The other LU male candidate was Josh Burns, a former Danby staffer, who now works for the Socialist Left beholden Premier "Dan the Man" Andrews.

Lo and behold, to Danby's horror, enter Nicollò di Machiavelli. A text message was sent out to non-LU faction members, requesting they come to the pre-selection meeting mentioned above and that the event would be hosted by M. Danby. No-one seems to know who sent the text, but clearly an ALP member who has access to the local ALP membership list. I'm 99% sure of one long time Labor stalwart being the culprit. 

At the start of the meeting, there were about 35 LU faction members in the meeting room with 45 non-faction members being physically barred from trying to get in. We all called out "Shame!" when the door opened to let someone in or out. After that, we mostly went down stairs to have a "cleansing ale" or three with all the candidates, but not Michael, coming down later to talk to non-LU faction members. The first vote was, I'm told, was Josh 55, Nick 37, Mary 16.

The meeting ended at 8.30, to Michael's horror, with Josh Burns eventually winning 61-49 on Ms Delahuntly's preferences. The number of attendees increased during the meeting after frantic phone calls to LU members to "turn up" and vote.

Ms Delahuntly reportedly described the meeting as

"... an indication of nothing more than what a select group of people think. This bears no resemblance to a democratic process.”

Delahunty was not permitted to see the voting list even though she is a LU faction (God only knows why) member, such is the distrust between the hard-Right Likud Danby-ites and general LU faction members. Supporters of Ms Delahuntly have raised concerns that Mr Burns's pre-selection would represent a serious blow to the Party's (and Shorten's) affirmative action policies or initiatives.

Less than a week later, Josh received the nod from the ALP National Executive, which meant that 55 LU members in Macnamara have won over the nearly 500 other ALP members (real members plus stacks) in Macnamara. Once again, real members have no say in Labor selection processes.

From memory, Labor had problems in staffing the polling booths in Melbourne Ports at the last Federal election, which is surprising, given the claimed ALP membership. Given the above, will local ALP members say, "stuff it" and not staff the booths, as in 2016, and privately vote Green? 

"You get nothing in the Labor Party without getting up to your armpits in blood and shit." 

~ Neville Wran (reported in 'The Life and Soul of the Party: A Portrait of Modern Labor', By Brett Evans, 2001, p57)

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