Andrews Calls for More Control over Victoria ALP

Original video from Morgan C Jonas Facebook

The following from The Age:

Premier Daniel Andrews has asked Labor’s national executive to keep controlling the troubled Victorian branch until after the November state election, in an effort to neutralise internal party distractions.

In a move likely to stir factional critics, Andrews has written to Labor national secretary Paul Erickson also asking the party’s national executive to decide outstanding preselections and suspend its state conference until after the election.

Andrews’ intervention comes as The Age can reveal almost 20 per cent of Victorian Labor members did not renew their membership before the renewal cut-off on May 31. The party has lost more than a third of its members since a branch-stacking scandal engulfed it in June 2020.

More than 2200 members did not renew their membership this year, adding to 3500 lost last year and the 1100 expelled for links to branch stacking. The steepest declines in this round of renewals were for the Gorton and Calwell branches in Melbourne’s west, where one-quarter of members failed to renew.

A meeting of a smaller committee of the national executive was expected to be held on Thursday, to discuss preparation for the election. A recommendation would then have to go to the wider national executive.

Senior party figures were tight-lipped when approached about national executive deliberations but most expected backing for Andrews’ request.

In the letter dated May 31, seen by The Age, Andrews explained that a state conference was due by May 31 this year but would probably take another 15 weeks to organise, meaning it could not be held until September.

The state conference is a key policymaking and electoral forum for the party and the setting of some of Labor’s most dramatic and public internal battles. If it had been held, it would have marked the return of voting rights to Victorian members after federal intervention in 2020.

But in his letter, Andrews said that to hold a state conference now would divert state branch resources away from the election effort. He asked the party to delay the state conference and “extend the period” of the national executive’s administration of the Victorian branch until after November.

He noted that preselections were outstanding for Victorian upper and lower house seats and called on the national executive to conduct all preselections as soon as possible.

“I note that the national executive suspended all internal party processes in the lead-up to the federal election at the request of the now prime minister,” the premier wrote.

“I request that the national executive considers a similar resolution in relation to the Victorian branch ahead of the Victorian election,” to give Labor “the best possible chance of success”.

The national executive took control of the Victorian ALP in 2020 after The Age and 60 Minutes exposed industrial-scale branch stacking. The revelations led to the sacking and resignation of a string of Andrews government frontbenchers, including disgruntled former right-factional heavyweight Adem Somyurek.

The Casey Central branch formerly part of Somyurek’s Moderates faction has lost more than three-quarters of its members over the past two years.

Membership in the federal electorate of Lalor has been cut by 20 per cent this year, JagaJaga 12 per cent, Scullin 20 per cent, Wills 15 per cent, Holt 19 per cent and Fraser 21 per cent.

The national takeover of the Victorian branch has opened significant rifts and caused angst within the ALP. It shifted allegiances, sidelined the once-powerful Australian Workers Union – including Bill Shorten – and led to a factional purge of seven sitting state MPs.

MPs Marlene Kairouz, Robin Scott – allies of Somyurek – Luke Donnellan and Frank McGuire were dumped from their safe lower house seats, while Cesar Melhem and Nazih Elasmar were bumped down to unwinnable spots on the upper house ticket. Kaushaliya Vaghela quit the party earlier this year after factional bosses ended her career as a first-term upper house MP.

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