That the factions drive and control the Australian Labor Party
is a well known truism in politics. If you doubted this, then this fragment in the story by Miriam Cosic, 'Rann the Man
', in the Weekend Australian Magazine
, (March 8, 2002, p.10ff) should ease any doubts. The SA ALP
is controlled by the left and right factions combining into a machine that runs the political party led by Bob Ellis,
who says the factions:
"...were devastated when Mike got so many extra seats in '97---their plan was for him to be the fall guy. And when the Lewis
thing was happening [in 2003], the leader of one faction said, "Rann's got two more days, then we are going to neck him', he says."
Okay, its political gossip, Mike Rann survived, and the Machine backed off because Rann delivered what they desired ---power, power and power.
But it speaks volumes about democracy in the ALP. This account
of Sussex Street spells out the totalitarianism in the ALP. The event iinvolves Ms Deirdre Grusovin –--- an active NSW ALP member with 24 years' experience, who increased Labor's majority in Heffron at the past two elections. She isSussex Street's first victim of the controversial N40 preselection rule, a strategy that is used to deny the rank-and-file a vote on the preselection candidate and installs head office's preferred candidate, Kristina Keneally, 33. Deidre says:
"You have to do as you are told (by Labor's executive) and have unquestioning loyalty or you don't get anywhere, and unfortunately this can have an effect on the quality of the candidates who do make it...Don't ever think there's a sisterhood in Labor, there's no real support because it's too difficult for a woman's career path."
There is a tragedy here. Ms Grusovin earned her political stripes in the early 90s after exposing the failed police pursuit of the now notorious "Mr Bubbles" child sex abuse
allegations. But after naming alleged pedophiles in parliament, she lost support within top-level Labor ranks in late 1994, after making unsubstantiated allegations of pedophilia against prominent Sydney lawyer John Marsden.
Sleaze: private vices and public virtues. Its old one. There are many untold stories in the pages of that sandalous chronicle.
Another story is told by Margo Kingston in her Meanwhile, in the NSW Election ...
post. She reports that ALP member David Borger, was a talented up-and-comer in Parramatta with the support of his local branch for pre-selection. it was not to be. Margo says:
'The NSW Labor right machine said no and abused the good intentions of an affirmative action rule to install Tanya Gadiel, chief of staff to NSW Right Police Minister, Michael Costa, wife of Labor Council assistant secretary, Michael Gadiel, and sister-in-law of Mr Obeid's chief of staff, Aaron Gadiel. The machine rules, OK? It's in the family.Machine money-man Eddie Obeid then rang Borger and offered him the spot if he'd defect to the Right faction. "I declined his offer because I do not trust him," Borger said.'
Borger than offers this comment on the state of the ALP in NSW:
"The rank-and-file preselection process is dead and one of the reasons is because the party is so dependent on funding from corporate sources. The ALP no longer rely on local supporters, on people putting things into letterboxes any more. They rely on the big fund-raisers and use those resources to run campaigns. There is a disconnection between branch membership; they are owed less now, have less input and, as an extension, now do not have their say in the selection ballot process."
There are many untold stories in the political sleaze chronicle. Poor democracy. It has been destroyed by its guardians whose embrace of machine politics sanctions totalitiarianism. The self-discipline of the criminal is what the political culture of Sussex Street signifies in civil society these days.