Get Butler’s seat sorted, Shorten tells bickering factions
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.’’