Tuesday, September 26, 2006

 

Branch stacking? We love it. We're Labor (60)

This week I want to explore my favourite topic, branch stacking. This time I don't want to explore the fact that it is going on. We all know that it is going on, in serious proportions. That's a given. This week I want to explore the things we don't know about it. I want to try to extrapolate from the things we do know (ie. that it is going on in serious proportions) to try and uncover some of the unknowns.

It seems that many people have spent a lot of time and energy trying to gather evidence to prove that it is going on. A lot of good, dedicated Labor people have spent a lot of their time trying to catch the branch stackers out. Their focus has been on exposing it. Many are still hopeful that if they expose it to the upper echelons of the ALP hierarchy in Victoria, the leadership will be shocked into action and will then do everything in its power to solve the problem. After all, the ALP’s rules prohibit branch stacking.

But I want to start from a fairly safe assumption, and that is that the upper echelons of the ALP hierarchy in Victoria know that it is going on and choose to do nothing about it. You can read some of my previous posts and make your own mind up about whether this is a safe assumption. Branch stacking appears to be rife in the safe Labor electorates and it is particularly bad in the Western Suburbs of Melbourne. There is no question that this practice is going on and that the ALP in Victoria allows it to go on.

The average punter doesn't know what branch stacking is and, therefore, doesn't comprehend the serious impact it can have on a community. In effect, the practice allows corrupt individuals to buy their way into parliament. But these corrupt individuals couldn't buy their way into parliament unless the organisation (in this case the ALP) itself was corrupt, because there are rules in place to prevent the practice. In the face of strong evidence that the practice is rife, the rules must be deliberately disregarded by the organisation for an individual to get into parliament on the back of a branch stacking racket.

So why is it happening? How does a relatively unknown Labor shonk come out of nowhere to run a branch stacking racket—which ultimately becomes a key factor in the subsequent election of the shonk to parliament—and get away with it?

There are a number of possible reasons for why these shonks are getting away with their branch stacking rackets. I have already disregarded the first possible reason, which is that those people who have the responsibility for managing the party and upholding its rules, don't know that it is going on. We know that those in power do know it is going on. Their own reports has told them that it is going on. So if they know it is going on (which they do), there has got to be a reason for why they allow it to continue. One possible reason for this is that they don't think it is that serious.

I know some people within the ALP think this way. But of course Labor's own rules indicate that branch stacking is serious and prescribes quite serious penalties for it (including expulsion, suspension, etc).

Branch stacking is serious and that's why the penalties are serious. Taken to its extreme, branch stacking would allow anyone who has the money to buy their way into pre-selection. Sure, pre-selection isn't just based on member votes. The ALP's Executive Committee also have a big say in who gets pre-selected (I believe their input accounts for ½ of the final outcome). But if you have stacked the numbers really well, you may only need a small amount of support from the Executive Committee to get up.

So if you happen to be a rich shonk, you can pay for people’s ALP membership and pay them to vote for you.

Taken to the extreme (as it has been taken in some electorates), pre-selection no longer has any basis in democracy. The process becomes a joke. And what about those stackers that do it really, really well, the ones that are so good at it (or just willing to put so much money into it) that they can buy off or introduce large numbers of "Labor members” into several electorates. They wield so much power that they can become the ALP’s factional leaders.

Branch stacking is serious and Labor’s leadership group knows it’s serious. So we can disregard this as a reason for why it is going on. Tomorrow we’ll explore another reason for why Labor allows branch stacking to go on.

Monday, September 25, 2006

 

Labor sells Telmo a seat in Parliament (61)

It's old news now, but it's still interesting and relevant today. In 1998, Channel 9's Sunday program ran a story called Labor Seats for Sale. That's where yesterday's quote comes from. The story covers Labor's branch stacking antics in general, but a fair portion of it relates to Victoria, and the Western Suburbs of Melbourne in particular.

I am only vaguely familiar with the story and the fallout that followed it, so I would be interested in any insights people have on this.

The transcript to this story is very interesting with regard to what it says about Telmo Languiller. He's been stacking branches since 1998. Labor has known about it and has done nothing about it.

This is what the Sunday reporter had to say about Telmo at the time:

...Telmo Languiller is an unknown imposed on the electorate by the right wing of the party. Languiller featured in an earlier report on Sunday in which he was accused of branch stacking. Disturbing questions were also raised about the conduct of the pre-selection ballot in which he won endorsement.

At the pre-selection people were intimidated, they had cards ripped out of their hands and were told how to vote.

Pre-selection for the seats that take in the Western Suburbs of Melbourne was a joke back then and it's still a joke today. John Cain's report from 2004 also implicated Telmo Languiller in serious branch stacking activities.

This is just further evidence that Labor has a love affair with the branch stackers and that Labor's branch stacking rules aren't worth the paper they are written on. The branch stacking operations that occur in the west are blatant and rampant.

No-one should make the mistake of thinking that this is something that Labor doesn't know about. The ALP in Victoria fully understand that this is going on and allows it to continue. Effectively, by allowing people like Telmo to run a branch stacking operation in the Western Suburbs - as Labor has done for Telmo since 1998 - they are selling Telmo a seat in parliament.

So what's the trade off? What did the ALP get for the sale? Has Telmo guaranteed a few other MPs the numbers in their elecorates as well? They must have got something.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

 

What Labor thinks of the Western Suburbs of Melbourne (62)

This is what a former Labor Minister said back in 1998:

"The Western Suburbs of Melbourne has been used as a dumping ground (by Labor) for a number of thugs. Little better than that, a number of thugs who make no impression on the Parliament."

Ian Baker, former Treasurer of Victoria (1998, on the Sunday program)

It's no different today of course. Labor treats its heartland in the Western Suburbs of Melbourne with complete contempt.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

 

Labor's branch stacking shonks (63)

The following quote from the ABC's (March 6) World Today radio broadcast relates to a story on branch stacking in Victoria. But the quote comes from former NSW Labor Minister, Rodney Cavalier:

"I think Rodney Cavalier in New South Wales has a wonderful test. He says that when you see people coming into a Labor Party preselection room, you must ask them two questions - where are you and what are you doing?"

You can read the entire trancript here: Labor shonks. It's just a further insight into where Labor is at in Victoria.

You really have to laugh at Rodney Cavalier's suggestion. Labor has allowed the party to sink so low that a lot of people turning up to vote in the pre-selections don't even know what they are doing there. The anwer you'd get from a lot of them is "I just have to tick this box because the guy on the bus (of course they've been bused in, otherwise they wouldn't be there) told me to, then he's taking us all for a nice lunch." They're there either because they've been paid to be there or because they've been coerced by Labor's so called "community leaders". We'd call them Labor shonks, but I guess that's just a difference of opinion we have with Labor.

Friday, September 22, 2006

 

Resist until the death: Labor's approach to corruption (64)

Labor continues to resist calls for an independent Crime and Misconduct Commission. They have one in New South Wales and they have one in Queensland. Why oh why can't we have one in Victoria?

The Age ran a great article on the need for a Commission of this type a few years back (How we must fight organised crime), which is still relevant today.
Victoria did set up the Office of Public Integrity, which investigates allegations of corruption in the police force, but this doesn't go far enough and has been criticised for being under-resourced.

In Queensland and NSW, these commissions have had a major impact on reducing corruption, not just within the police forces in the respective states, but in reducing corruption in all of the the public sector institutions that come under their jurisdiction.

I guess the difference in Victoria is that in both Queensland and NSW these commissions were set up following recommendations that resulted from far reaching inquiries into corruption in each State.

Victoria needs a similar inquiry. In many respects Victoria today is reminiscent of pre-Fitzgerald Queensland, and that is saying something. The Fitzgerald Inquiry in Queensland was a watershed for the State, so much so that people today regularly refer to life in Queensland pre and post Fitzgerald.

Why is it that Labor continues to resist calls for an independent commission of this type? What are they scared of?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

 

Police out of control under Bracks (65)

Yesterday's report on police corruption, which appeared on the front page of the Age, was no surprise to many who live in the West. With the previous Police Minister Andre Haermeyer leading the way, is it any wonder that the police force is in the state it is in?

We can only hope that the Age continues to expose these corrupt practices. Maybe if enough pressure is applied to the Bracks government, something will finally be done about the illegal gambling houses in Sunhsine. God knows the local police have been asked to do something about these places for many years, but for some reason they seem to be above the law.

I know a lot of people think it's all a bit of harmless card playing for money, which is true enough. But it's still against the law. The bigger concern is the additional illegal activity that occurs within and around these venues in Hampshire Road. These venues appear to be the hub of various illegal activities, including drug deals that occur on a daily basis, often in broad daylight.

Various thieves also take their stolen goods up to these illegal gambling venues to sell to the patrons (and owners). Again this is done quite blatantly, and shop assistants in the area are often accosted by these theives and asked if they would like to purchase various stolen items.

We know that the complaints to the local police about this (by the local shop keepers) have been next to useless. The illegal trade continues, often blatantly, day and night.

So the past experience of many in the West shows that going through the proper channels is unlikely to get you anywhere with the Bracks government. We can only hope that the media pressure continues and the government is shamed into doing something about the corruption.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

 

Labor's numbskulls in Brimbank (66)

Labor’s councillors in Brimbank have gone and embarrassed the ALP again. It's becoming a habit with this dysfunctional mob, a habit that just can't be broken because they have the full backing of a dysfunctional Minister for Local Government, Candy Broad. These imbeciles on Council also have very strong connections to Labor’s Federal MP, Brendan O’Connor, and Labor’s do-nothing State MPs, Telmo Languiller, George Seitz, and Andre Haermeyer.

Make no mistake, Labor’s MPs and these councillors have a symbiotic relationship; they’re inseparable. These councillors are a true reflection of the state of the Labor Party in Victoria, and the reflection is not a pretty one.

As you may have read in one of my previous posts, Brimbank’s councillors failed to support a motion, moved by a Greens councillor, condemning Howard’s industrial relations (WorkChoices) legislation.

It is a bizarre turn of events, to have Labor councillors in Brimbank, fully endorsed and supported by Labor MPs, refusing to condemn Howard’s IR laws. It’s been so embarrassing for Labor that Brendan O’Connor has had to write to the Council offering to “educate” these numbskulls on the ramifications of Howard’s IR laws.

The whole lot of them should have been sacked a long time ago, we all know that. What we have with these councillors is a bunch of carcasses swinging in the breeze, but Candy Broad refuses to step in and cut them down.

They really are an embarrassment and, with such strong connections to Labor MPs, a sad reflection of the state of the ALP in Victoria. The effect they are having on Beazley is comical. Beazley is pinning all his hopes of re-election—and it is his only hope—on Howard’s atrocious IR Laws; it’s all he has going for himself and the Labor Party at the Federal level. It is his golden opportunity to become Prime Minister, not because of great leadership ability, but because Howard has ballsed this up big time. It’s his only hope and he needs everyone in the Labor Party, at every level, to be united on this issue, otherwise it could all start unravelling.

Without the IR laws and a united Labor Party at all levels, Labor at the Federal level will be mince meat at the next election, as it has been for several previous elections.

O’Connor’s offer to “educate” the Councillors is code for “pull your heads in you idiots. Just because you’re all nongs, don’t taint us with your idiocy (we've already been tainted enough by our own)”. It wouldn’t surprise me if O’Connor’s so called "education" program was a directive from Beazley himself.

To top it off, the unions have now written to the Brimbank Council, demanding that they condemn the WorkChoices legislation. The Australian Services Union are terrified of this rabid mob of councillors, led by Mayor Natalie Suleyman. They’re terrified that this loose cannon will have all the Council’s employees on Australian Workplace Agreements if given half a chance.

They’ve got to cut these carcasses down, for Christ’s sake.

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