Shorten faces bit­ter branch dis­pute

The Weekend Australian - - POLITICS IN TURMOIL - SA­MAN­THA HUTCHIN­SON VIC­TO­RIAN PO­LIT­I­CAL RE­PORTER

Bill Shorten is star­ing down the bar­rel of a le­gal dis­pute that could tear apart the La­bor Party in his home state, af­ter the fed­eral ALP in­ter­vened to read­mit thou­sands of Vic­to­rian mem­bers sus­pended over al­le­ga­tions of rorts.

Vic­to­rian La­bor has called an emer­gency meet­ing of its state ad­min­is­tra­tive com­mit­tee next week to con­sider le­gal ad­vice against its na­tional ex­ec­u­tive, af­ter it over­rode the state body to re­in­state vot­ing rights of 4600 mem­bers of its on­line “cen­tral branch”.

The na­tional ex­ec­u­tive mo­tion, passed yes­ter­day by a sin­gle vote, was a bid to end a near year-long dis­pute that erupted when fears of branch stack­ing in the on­line body prompted Vic­to­ria to sus­pend on­line mem­bers’ vot­ing rights.

The mo­tion was greeted as a coup for the Vic­to­rian right fac­tion and cen­tral branch power­bro­ker Stephen Con­roy, but has out­raged the party’s left, which claims the on­line branch is a hot­bed of branch stack­ing and rort­ing.

“We now have our party back,” Maribyrnong Fed­eral Elec­toral Assem­bly del­e­gate and Con­roy ally Bas­sel Tal­lal said.

The dis­pute has pit­ted toprank­ing MPs and of­fi­cials against one an­other, with the Op­po­si­tion Leader’s right fac­tion de­pen­dent on cen­tral branch votes to se­cure plum pre­s­e­lec­tions.

“It’s a big fight in a big branch,” a La­bor MP told The Aus­tralian.

An­other member raged that the party could not af­ford the dis­trac­tion of a state com­mit­tee fight­ing with the na­tional body.

The dis­pute is ex­pected to boil over as pre­s­e­lec­tions in the mar­ginal seat of Co­rangamite see a duel be­tween Libby Coker and Diana Taylor. Other pre­s­e­lec­tions also un­der the mi­cro­scope in­clude Dunk­ley, La Trobe and Chisholm.

The on­line cen­tral branch pre­vi­ously al­lowed mem­bers to join by sim­ply com­plet­ing an on­line form. A probe of about 800 signups this year found ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties and rea­sons for dis­missal in more than 600 of the ap­pli­ca­tions.

Mr Shorten de­clined to com­ment on yes­ter­day’s de­ci­sion, but a spokesman said he sup­ported mak­ing it eas­ier to join the party.

Shorten

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.