Get But­ler’s seat sorted, Shorten tells bick­er­ing fac­tions

The Australian - - THE NATION - MICHAEL OWEN

Bill Shorten has urged La­bor’s fac­tions in South Aus­tralia to get the Mark But­ler “sit­u­a­tion” sorted quickly as in­ter­nal un­rest over his fu­ture seat threat­ens to boil over.

Spec­u­la­tion about sce­nar­ios in­volv­ing Mr But­ler have run ram­pant since Fri­day’s sur­prise an­nounce­ment by the Aus­tralian Elec­toral Com­mis­sion to abol­ish his seat of Port Ade­laide in a draft re­dis­tri­bu­tion.

The pro­posed bound­ary changes will take the num­ber of House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives elec­torates in South Aus­tralia down to 10, leav­ing the ALP with five seats.

Mr But­ler, the party’s na­tional pres­i­dent and cli­mate change and en­ergy spokesman, is a left fac­tion boss who must now find a new home.

The most likely sce­nario, as re­ported by The Week­end Aus­tralian, is that Mr But­ler takes neigh­bour­ing Hind­marsh from his fac­tional col­league Steve Ge­or­ganas. This raises ques­tions about the fu­ture of Mr Ge­or­ganas, who held Hind­marsh from 2004 un­til 2013 and was re­turned in 2016.

Yes­ter­day, the right fac­tion moved to end spec­u­la­tion that Mr Ge­or­ganas would move to its seat of Ade­laide, where Kate El­lis is re­tir­ing, in re­turn for the left’s va­cant sec­ond Sen­ate spot.

“It’s crazy — Ade­laide is ours, why would we give it away?” a se­nior right power­bro­ker said.

Se­nior right fig­ures also re­jected talk that for­mer Ju­lia Gil­lard staffer Marielle Smith, who is friends with Ms El­lis but has lim­ited fac­tional sup­port, was a fron­trun­ner for pre­s­e­lec­tion in Ade­laide.

“She’s friends with Kate, she’s not re­ally from the right — no one is dy­ing in a ditch for Marielle Smith, I can tell you. She is not an ap­pro­pri­ate can­di­date,” a se­nior right fig­ure said. “The most likely sce­nario is they (left fac­tion) shaft Steve (Ge­or­ganas) or Tony Zap­pia in Makin, one of the two. And none of them get Ade­laide.”

Left fac­tion sources said “ab­so­lutely noth­ing” had pro­gressed since Fri­day and this had led to wild spec­u­la­tion, which con­cerned the fed­eral Op­po­si­tion Leader.

“Shorten is keen to get this sorted as quickly as pos­si­ble,” ALP sources said.

Mr Ge­or­ganas yes­ter­day said Hind­marsh was a “key seat and its con­ti­nu­ity is vi­tal to a Shorten gov­ern­ment … I have a very strong con­nec­tion, and a strong per­sonal vote, in the elec­torate.

“There are still op­tions to ne­go­ti­ate but my pref­er­ence is (to re­main in) Hind­marsh. I will go in with good faith at the mo­ment to ne­go­ti­ate.”

Mr But­ler said he was in no rush, as the party con­sid­ered an ap­peal. “This is a draft de­ci­sion so we will be con­sid­er­ing that care­fully and mak­ing some sub­mis­sions,” he said. “I’m not go­ing to re­act too quickly to this. I’m go­ing to take it one step at a time and dis­cuss my op­tions with party col­leagues and see what the fi­nal de­ci­sion of the com­mis­sion is.’’



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