Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Labor supports Howard's IR laws in Victoria (87)
We're counting down the reasons why you should put Labor last at the coming election. With 87 days to go, this is reason 87: Labor's support for Howard's IR laws.
Howard sure is a shrewd operator. He knew he was on a good thing with Tampa and he knows he is on a good thing with these IR Laws. Given time, he will even win over the ALP with these laws. After all, he’s already made some real headway in Victoria. He just has to bide his time and the ALP will implode, as those within the ALP who love these laws slowly reveal their true colours, and embrace these laws, as they have in the city of Brimbank.
On 22 August 2006, the Brimbank City Council’s sole Greens’ Councillor presented a motion, that stated:
- the council condemns the Federal government’s so called WorkChoices legislation; and that
- council believes that the legislation will be significantly detrimental to the living standards of the residents of Brimbank.
Councillor Dymott repeated the motion, and the Mayor, Natalie Suleyman asked if there were any councillors who would second the motion. The motion was defeated because no-one would second the motion.
So what happened here? Ten councillors effectively indicated their support for Howard's IR laws. They gave no indication to the contrary. Given the opportunity to condemn the laws, they chose to remain silent. Kim Beazley is out there telling the Australian public that he will tear up these laws. In Brimbank, the Labor councillors want Kim to rack off. They like the laws. But is it just the ALP councillors who like these laws? Is this sentiment more widespread within the ALP? Afterall, these councillors are closely aligned with a number of State MPs.
Brimbank City Council is made up of 11 Councillors, 10 of whom are Labor Councillors, proudly Labor, many of them proudly endorsed by State MPs. For example, the Mayor Natalie Suleyman works for Andre Haermeyer, a Minister in the Bracks Government. Haermeyer even assisted Natalie on election day in November 2005, by handing out How to Vote cards and making it clear that Natalie was “his girl”. A vote for Natalie was a vote for a friend of Haermeyer. A vote for Natalie was a vote for the ALP.
Councillor Sam David is clearly associated with MPs at both the State and Federal level. For example, prior to the Council election, a joint letter from Brendan O’Connor (the Federal Member for Gorton), Bruce Mildenhall (the State Member for Footscray), and Telmo Languiller (the State Member for Derrimut) was sent to all residents of the Ward that Sam was standing for in the election. The State and Federal MPs endorsed Sam David for a position on Council and urged residents to vote for him.
And if Councillor Costas Socratous’s election paraphernalia was anything to go by, he had the support of Premier Steve Bracks himself! The flyers he distributed during his election campaign had a photo of him with Steve Bracks and Telmo Languiller, and a caption stating “Costas is supported by both state and federal Members of parliament (Above): Costas with Telmo Languiller MP and Steve Bracks, Premier of Victoria”.
And of course, Telmo was handing out How to Vote cards for Councillor Socratous on Election Day last year.
I could go on. Suffice to say that every election booth throughout Brimbank during last year’s Council election resembled an ALP convention. The MPs were out in force, supporting their candidates, and making it clear to voters who they should vote for. ALP paraphernalia and How to Vote cards were prolific. Well, their strategy obviously worked. Brimbank’s got 10 of these proud Labor Councillors, fully supported and fully endorsed by the Victorian ALP.
On 22 August 2006, these 10 Labor councillors made it clear that they fully support Howard’s IR Laws. They refused to support the motion put by Councillor Dymott, even after it was put to them a second time.
The obvious question is, does the sentiment of these 10 councillors reflect a view that is more widely held within the Victorian ALP? Or is this simply a view held by these 10 councillors and the MPs who they are so closely associated with?
Labor voters in Victoria have a right to know how widespread the support for Howard’s IR Laws is within the ALP.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Labor's Brimbank City Council: a protected species (88)
Monday, August 28, 2006
The Western Suburbs of Melbourne: neglect of education by Labor (89)
Sheehan and Wiseman state that, “the Victorian Government also spends about $30 million less per annum on schools in the western region than it would on state-wide per capita averages. This is largely because of the low proportion of students (60 percent) in government schools and the high proportion (30 percent in Catholic schools, together with the low level of support for non-government schools.”
Why does this Labor government continue to neglect its supposed "heartland" in the western suburbs of Melbourne?
The Western Suburbs of Melbourne: an ongoing story of Labor neglect (90)
With regard to Regional and Hospital services in the western suburbs of Melbourne, Sheehan and Wiseman found that residents have a higher incidence of disease than other areas of Melbourne (using a measure based on the incidence of illness per 1000 residents).
Despite this greater incidence of illness, the western suburbs of Melbourne (Labor’s heartland) has inferior medical facilities in comparison to other parts of Victoria. Sheehan and Wiseman indicate that the western suburbs of Melbourne contain12% of the state’s population. This means that if medical facilities were distributed equitably, the western suburbs should contain approximately 12% of the medical facilities. But this is not the case. “For example, 8% of Victorian hospital separations are from hospitals in the western region, while only 5.9 % of intensive care beds (HDU and ICU) are in the region. It is still true that, for many of the advanced hospital services, residents of the West must depend on the facilities of inner Melbourne (p.35).”
The Western Suburbs of Melbourne: a story of Labor neglect (91)
It would seem that Labor takes its heartland for granted these days and has no qualms about sacrificing the lives of those in the western suburbs in order to gain political advantage in the marginal seats throughout Victoria. It is taking a long time for the voters of the West to wake up this stark reality, but they are slowly waking up to the realities of life under a Labor government.
There's plenty of evidence of Labor's neglect in the west. Take for example, Victoria University's 2004 report titled Investing in Melbourne’s West, by Professor Peter Sheehan and Professor John Wiseman. While Sheehan and Wiseman steer clear of political arguments or political blame, their analysis of the dreadful funding inequities that the people of the west experience begs the question, “who is responsible for this neglect?” Labor has represented these suburbs for decades, since the early 1900s in most cases. The situation highlighted by Sheehan and Wiseman is an indictment on the Labor party and its abysmal representation of its constituents in the West.
Here’s what Sheehan and Wiseman had to say about Physical activity, sport and recreation. "The proportion of the population participating in organised sport and recreation in the West in 2001-02 was 34.3 percent, 13 percent (or 5.1 percentage points) lower than for Victoria as a whole (39.4 percent) (p.21)".
In their interpretation of these findings, Sheeham and Wiseman explain that “this is likely to be partly due to the direct and indirect effects of limited facilities” (p.9). They go on to explain that “this is yet another sign of the need to build both social structures and community facilities to provide adequate support for individuals and families in the West” (p21 & 22).
The process of obtaining funding for new sporting and recreational facilities in western electorates is different to the process you would follow in most other electorates. As those in the west have come to understand, the process for approval involves many years of intense lobbying, and approvals can be correlated to the “embarrassment factor”. The lobbying must embarrass Labor— by highlighting the glaring inequities to the government, opposition, and community at large—and only when lobbying achieves this is there any possibility of funding being approved.
Friday, August 25, 2006
Languiller's very own Berlin Wall (92)
Coming from Main Road East, you have lights at Alfrieda Street, then lights a block later at St. Albans Road, immediately before the railway crossing, then the railway crossing, then lights immediately after the railway crossing at West Esplanade. As a consequence, crossing from the East to the West (or vice versa) and getting through any of the intersections that converge in this entanglement of roads (including the Alfrieda Street/Main Road East intersection; or crossing from St.Albans Road to East Esplanade; or crossing from West Esplanade to McKechnie Street), is an exercise of frustration and despair.
The only other alternatives for getting from the East to the West are, the dangerous Furlong Road railway crossing (which is about 2 1/2 kilometres away), or the Taylors Road railway crossing (also about 2 1/2 kilometres away). Just going through the alternatives in your head, while caught in the Main Road East/West quagmire, is enough to do your head in. Your destination, which is just on the other side of this impossible to cross railway, is such a tease. It's so close, yet so far. As a consequence, the residents have nicknamed this forbidding (approximately 5 kilometre) stretch of railway line, the "Berlin Wall", which effectively creates a massive division between East and West St.Albans.
Again it falls in Telmo Languiller's electorate. Again they've been campaigning for years for something to be done about it. And again, there are no plans to fix it.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Another debacle in Languiller's electorate (93)
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Furlong railway crossing: more neglect in Languiller's electorate (94)
So, there were three accidents on the same day, at the same level crossing, and one of these was a catastrophic accident in which three people were killed.
Here’s the sad part. Nothing has been done about the crossing and there are no immediate plans to fix it, despite assurances by Transport Minister, Peter Batchelor, to the contrary. Five August 2004 at the Furlong crossing was like a sign from above. The three accidents, including the tragedy, was akin to someone shouting at the Labor government through a megaphone, “do something about this crossing!”
The residents and traders have known that this intersection is an accident waiting to happen for years. They’d campaigned for years, before the accident. And they’re still campaigning. It seems you have to do a lot of campaigning to get anything done in a safe Labor seat. And even when you do a lot of campaigning, it's not uncommon for nothing to be done.
The Labor government is reaping more than $30 Million per year out of the municipality in pokie taxes, but is giving nothing back; even when faced with a high risk to community safety, as we have with the Furlong crossing.
On 6 August 2004, the day after the tragedy, the Age also reported that, “Transport Minister Peter Batchelor said the Government had already introduced a staged program to "grade separate" - with an underpass or overpass - three major crossings in the St Albans area, including at Furlong Road."
The Furlong crossing is just another cruel joke that Labor has played on a safe Labor seat, and Telmo is doing nothing about it. Shame on you, Languiller.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Languiller: the West, a nice place to visit but he wouldn't want to stay (95)
Telmo's known as the phantom in the Derrimut electorate. You rarely see him, unless there's a media opportunity, and then he has to be careful not to embarrass himself. For example, he recently had his head in the local paper, proudly announcing a funding approval for the Albion State School. The only problem for Telmo was, he had a Principal making statements that didn't quite seem to fit with Telmo's proud rhetoric. The Principal welcomed the funding, but couldn't understand why the school had been waiting for the funding for 12 years. Telmo should have been hanging his head in shame, but he's a slick operator, so instead he used the old Labor Unity spin. Turn a negative into a positive. The fools will never know.
Monday, August 21, 2006
Haermeyer and the pokie scam (96)
How did Andre Haemeyer contibute to this scam, you ask? Haermeyer is a major contributor. On 26 June 2003, as Acting Minister for Gaming, Haermeyer released a determination which basically set the ground rules for the scam.
- employment expenses of all staff employed by venue operators, including employment expenses of staff in gaming and non-gaming areas, excluding State and Commonwealth taxes.
- The provision of fixed assets, other than fixed assets used for gaming purposes.
As a consequence, we've got venues claiming major renovation expenses to their hotels as "community benefits." And regular employee expenses can also be claimed as "community benefits". These employees would have been employed anyway! Pokie licences are licences to print money. In order to rake in the money, these venues have to put on additional employees; they would put the employees on anyway. They're not doing it as a favour to the community. Come on, Andre!
Let's not pretend they're doing us any favours by employing additional staff so that they can rake in more money. But the funny thing is, he's allowed all employee expenses to be claimed as a "community benefit", not just the expenses associated with any additional staff required to administer the gaming. It really is a cruel joke. Andre, please.
In addition, the Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation provides examples of the expenses that can be claimed as "community benefits". They actually go into detail about how a venue can't claim heating expenses if those expenses relate to the gaming area. But they can claim heating expenses as a "community benefit" if they relate to heating for non-gaming areas of the venue.
It really is a cruel joke. The venues are actually getting tax breaks for this stuff, so they're double dipping; claiming regular business expenses as "community benefits" and getting tax breaks for it!
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Self regulation: the cruel joke Labor plays on disadvantaged communities (97)
Maybe the government is getting too much out of pokies to 'rock the boat' with the venues.
A Deakin University study confirms this scam. The Sunday Herald Sun reported on this problem back on 4 September 2005 (p.19), in a story titled "Pokies losses shock". The story outlines the results of the Deakin study, which showed that only 1.4% of the funding generated from pokie losses are being spent back in the communities that have lost this money.
The story claims that these clubs receive an 8.3% tax break on the basis that they make substantial community contributions.
To quote from the story, "Deakin University research shows while venues claimed an average of 18 percent of their gambling profits were spent to benefit the community in 2003-2004, only about 1% actually went to outside causes and groups."
"The rest was going on wages, coffee tables, push mowers, plasma TV screens and office equipment, discounts on drinks and meals and other running costs."
"Professor Hancock said it was just a scam."
Well said, Professor. It’s just another Labor scam.
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Labor's Great Pokie Scam (98)
The Bracks' Government’s “smoke and mirrors’ response to this problem is comparable to the ALP’s sham rules on Branch Stacking. It seems that for Labor, all rules are meant to be broken.
The venues that have been granted pokie licences are required to contribute a certain amount of their revenue back into the community, for the benefit of the community, to develop the community. This concept makes sense. While this evil should never have been unleashed on Victorians, now that it has, let's make sure the venue owners that are causing all this damage are also contibuting to some development of the communities where this evil has been unleashed, to offset some of the damage. So that's the basic idea, and Community Benefit Statements provide communities with some insight into how these venues are developing our communities.
So what’s actually happening? What are these venues spending their "community benefit" money on? How are they benefiting their communities?
Let’s have a look at how the Glengala Hotel, which falls in the suburb of West Sunshine (Telmo Languiller’s electorate - surprise, surprise!), supposedly “contributed to the community” in the 2003/2004 financial year.
These items are apparently (somehow!) benefiting our community. These figures were obtained directly from the Victorian Commission for Gambling's website: Community Benefit Statements
New Cameras for security system $926
Fisher & Paykel N388LT Freezer $784
New Menu Board $270
Hobart Gas Char Broiler $2,082
Dual AV modulator for Antenna $562
Antenna works & TV brackets $588
Nec 8 button handsets x 2 $178
Recorded Music System Installed $541
Orion 51 cm Televisions x 5 $203
Canon MP121DTS calculator $111
MATV connection splitters/adaptors $190
Router & Installation $777
New TV's connected $1,132
TAG 2268 new windows & door $4,090
TAG 1994 strongroom alterations $1,442
TAG 2168 del new freezer $81
Brochure racks $176
Geer Fonts, Glycol Tank, chiller plates $392
TAG 1695 Install time clock $96
Sattelite Dish & Decoder $1,087
Projection screen $79
Fisher & Paykel 11360X chest freezer $517
TAG 1832 Install shelving $563
Install Time clock software on PC $98
TAG 1961 new glycols syst wiring $137
TAG 1775 shelving $2,522
TAG 2268 new hot water system $2,414
Toshiba 68cm Teletext & LG VCR/DVD $879
TV antenna system for TV's in TAB $101
Bromic 4 sided bench top glass display $382
Glycol chilled beer disp syst $8,847
Dynamics PC $1,420
Convex Mirror $126
Traverse Bench seat x 2 $595
Barrier Stands, steel with rope x 4 $49
Heater - Function Room $85
Camera at front entry $504
Hotel Van QPM 697 $1,014
NEC CTV 34cm $153
Dynamics PC - Software $406
Redback UHF mic & receiver $710
Step safe stools x 4 $319
TAG 1848 - new handsfree taps $1,569
Bingo Equipment board & console $1,033
Bistro display board & controller $769
Icemaker & Bin $3,908
3 GP Radios & Ear pieces $1,313
Colour Camera for security $68
Additional camera installed $807
Upgrade digital recorder & install camera $1,771
8 x 51cm TV's $871
Keg Trolley $201
Of course, the Glengala Hotel’s management are smarter with their reporting these days. Their reporting of expenses is a lot more vague.
Tomorrow I’ll tell you what happened when enquiries were made to the Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation about how to do something about these venue owners, who are clearly claiming regular business expenses as “community benefits”.
The Labor government’s response will astound you.
Friday, August 18, 2006
Mildenhall's legacy: destruction of the Footscray and Sunshine community (99)
Footscray lost their pool, and Mildenhall fully supported its closure. It is very sad that the Labor dominated Council in Maribrynong were basically puppets of the Labor MPs who are in power at the State level.
Maribrynong is no longer a Labor dominated council (after the last Council election), but it's now too late for them. The pool was sold before the new crew got in. Now the new crew of Councillors (no longer dominated by Labor Unity) are fighting for a new pool in Footscray, with the full support of the majority of the current Councillors!
Interestingly, in Sunshine, which is also part of Mildenhall's electorate, their battle has also been against Labor at both the Local and State level.
It is a disgrace. And Mildenhall has been at the centre of all of this. Without his support, Footscray was behind the 8 ball. Footscray had to get rid of the Labor Councillors, before the Council would put up any sort of a fight against the State Labor government for the pool. Unfortunately, the Labor dominated Council has left them with a mess - one of Footscray's prized assets has been sold.
Make no mistake, the reason for their pain in Footscray is Labor; Labor Unity in particular. And Bruce Mildenhall has been at the centre of it all.
Bruce Mildenhall has also been a major obstacle in Sunshine's fight to save it's pool complex. Mildenhall has been arguing that the Sunshine community should be satisfied with 1/2 the water space they used to have. According to Mildenhall, the Sunshine community should be happy with that!
What sort of representation is that? You don't need a pool in Footscray, go and swim at Highpoint. You only need a tiny facility at Sunshine, and the community should be happy about that (I can't understand why everyone is so worked up, he says), everyone can swim at Highpoint! That's been Bruce's position all along. He's been one of the major obstacles to Sunshine getting its pool facility fixed properly. And his lack of support was a major factor that contributed to the closure of the Footscray pool.
People need to know that this guy is a community destroyer. That is what he should be remembered for. That's his legacay. He has been a major obstacle in both the Footscray and Sunshine community.
He has simply been there to do the bidding of the Labor party, to keep the community at bay, prevent them from getting equity, so that Labor could focus on the marginal seats.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Languiller: stacks on the mill (100)
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Labor's Love Affair with the Branch Stackers (101)
There’s 101 days to go until the Victorian election and we’ve got 101 reasons why you should Put Labor Last on your ballot paper come election day.
But first, I’d like to make one thing clear; this is not a pro-Liberal Party blog; far from it. Our message is not about who you should vote for, only about who you should not vote for. In terms of who you should vote for, the great thing is you have a choice, even if you live in a safe Labor seat. There’s the Greens, Family First, there might even be the Democrats to choose from (if they still have a pulse), there’s the Liberals, and of course there’s the independents. You do have a choice.
Now to reason number 101: Labor’s love affair with the branch stackers. Why’s everybody doing it? And why is nothing being done about it?
As you saw in the previous post, Labor’s rules prohibit branch stacking and the penalties are quite severe: expulsion; suspension; and disqualification from holding any party office. In addition, according to Labor's rules anyone who’s had their membership paid for by someone else (ie. by a branch stacker) shall be deemed not to be a member.
Interesting, isn’t it? When you read these rules, you get the impression that whoever wrote them considered Branch Stacking to be a very serious offence. My, how things have changed.
Maybe the dominant Labor Unity faction just hasn’t got around to re-writing the rule book. Basically, the whole section on Branch Stacking is considered void and should be deleted, in line with standard business practice within the ALP these days. I hear they’ve drafted a new section on branch stacking, and it simply reads:
- Section 5.6.1, Branch Stacking: anything goes.
- Section 20.11, Penalties for Branch Stacking: No penalties, only benefits. Go to the top of the class if you’ve done it well.
I think it’s a sensible re-write, as it captures reality beautifully.
John Cain Ignored
In Labor’s own report (dated 6 December 2004) into 15 complaints brought by 3 members of Labor’s Administrative Committee, John Cain (who heard and decided on the complaints) acknowledged that Branch Stacking was rife in Victoria.
In the report, Cain states:
"Having reviewed the evidence before me, the following seems to me to be apparent:
"Organised branch stacking is going on, and growing;
"Senior Party figures - MPs, their staff, as well as enthusiastic factionally aligned ALP branch members are involved."
And who's doing the branch stacking? Amongst other people, Cain’s report identifies George Seitz:
"There is a factual issue as to whether joint meetings…..recorded as occurring in the office of George Seitz MLA with large attendances approving large numbers of new members actually took place. "
Cain goes on later to state:
"Amongst other things, joint meetings of 3 local branches with a total membership of 496 were held in a small office, which was allegedly incapable of holding the number of members required to form a quorum for each of the branches. Mr Dearicott, the Chair of the Memberships Sub-Committee attempted to attend a number of meetings of the branches in 2003, but alleges that meetings did not take pace at the nominated venue at the nominated times. "
Maybe George Seitz is a magician. He was able to hide 496 people into a tiny office and people who turned up to the meetings would swear black and blue that there was no meeting in progress. He’s got these phantom meetings happening!
And this is what Cain has to say about the phantom meetings:
"Phantom meetings and the fabrication of branch records is of great concern, whether or not directly related to branch stacking. It is fraudulent conduct, which should attract the strongest condemnation and censure. All Party members have an interest in exposing and preventing it. "
We shouldn’t just pick on George Seitz; there’s plenty of others doing it, but it seems Georgey is the Master.
So what did the Labor party do when presented with this damning report by a respected Labor Party elder and former Premier? Absolutely nothing. In fact, worse than nothing.
Seitz was due to retire prior to this year’s election, in accordance with the ALP’s requirement that members retire at 65. This is normal Party procedure, and this requirement provided the Party with as good an excuse as any to get rid of him after 20 years of stacking.
But, according to the Age (13 May 2006) Billy Shorten helped Seitz get an exemption from this requirement. “Mr Shorten chaired the meeting of administrative committee where that decision was made, under controversial circumstances.”
So not only did Labor disregard the evidence, and resist the pressure they had for something to be done about Seitz, Shorten helped get him an exemption from the requirement to retire. So now he's been pre-selected again and they’ve laid him on the Keilor community again.
In addition, the Age exposed George’s branch stacking factory in a front page article on 13 May 2006. But still nothing is done.
Seitz, of course, is not the only one doing it, but his branch stacking factory is the most grand and the most blatant.
Let's pick on someone else tomorrow.
Saturday, August 12, 2006
What is Branch Stacking?
People join the ALP and belong to a branch. For example, you might join the Footscray branch of the ALP. As a member of the ALP, providing you meet a qualifying period (ie. one year as a member) you can vote in the pre-selections. If you were a member of the Footscray Branch you could vote for the pre-selection of the Footscray candidate, along with a whole lot of other members belonging to other branches that fall within the Footscray electorate. When someone is pre-selected, this means they become the official candidate for that electorate. And for an electorate like Footscray, pre-selection basically guarantees that you will become elected to parliament, because it is one of the safest Labor seats in Victoria. So pre-selection is the holy grail in a safe Labor seat. The election is just a formality; the hard part is getting pre-selected.
So what happens if this process becomes corrupted? What if I was a bit shifty? What if I joined the party along with a few of my hack mates? These aren’t ordinary mates. These mates have been involved in shonky business dealings in the past, with criminal records, the works. We decide to work together to get one of us elected. Let’s call this person Jalno. So we’ve all decided that we are going to get Jalno elected. We reason, once Jalno’s elected he can help a couple of us get into Council, help Jerry develop a few properties, make sure a blind eye gets turned to our illegal gambling houses, etc.
We then go around signing people up, only they don’t give a damn about the ALP. So we say, “don’t worry about it, just sign this ALP membership form. It will cost you nothing, because we pay”. We set up a couple of bingo games, under the auspices of a non-profit association, such as a child care centre, golf club, or a welfare association – something like that. So the money starts coming in, and we use the money to pay for all these disinterested people to become ALP members. If they are a bit reluctant, we sling them a few bucks and say. “there’s more where that came from, just keep your mouth shut.” Of course, all these members are signed up for the minimal amount - that's why branches that are stacked are full of so-called "members" who have all paid the minimal membership fee. The sliding scale of membership fees doesn't apply to these branches, because there aren't any real members.
Then pre-selection comes around and Jalno nominates. On voting day we hire a couple of buses and go around and pick up all of these disinterested ALP members. We slug them a few more bucks and promise them a nice lunch. On the bus, we take out the voting card and explain to them all how they have to vote, before they can get their free lunch and we might even sling them some more bucks. We turn up to pre-selection and woe and behold, it turns out that we easily have the numbers. The ALP membership has been decimated, so there aren’t that many authentic members there to challenge Jalno. The old genuine members are sick of the branch stacking and have given up, or joined the Greens.
I spot Huski across the room and see that he’s cottoned on to this system and has bussed in a few disinterested members of his own. He’s trying to get his incompetent daughter in, with the support of some branch stacks from a soccer club. It’s the result of a promise she's made to the soccer club, but that’s another story. But today Jalno has the numbers and is pre-selected, which guarantees he will get into parliament at the November election.
Monday, August 07, 2006
Craig Otte's Prior Convictions
The man that worked for the Police Minister has a colourful background indeed. Here’s what was revealed about Craig Otte’s priors at Sam Tabban’s Committal Hearing:
Craig Ian Otte, Date of Birth: 25 May 1973
3 August 1994
- theft; make false documents to prejudice another;
- use copy of false documents;
- obtain property by deception;
- 3 months on each count to be served concurrently;
- suspended sentence for 24 months;
- restitution: $8,700.
4 April 1995
- Obtain financial advantage by deception;
- case dismissed.
- Obtain financial advantage by deception (5 counts);
- convicted – 12 months suspended sentence;
- 250 hours community service;
- submit to psychological/psychiatric assessment and treatment;
- compensation: $5,969.
21 January 1990
- Obtain financial advantage by deception;
- 14 days suspended sentence for 2 years;
- convicted and fined an aggregate of $750.
9 December 1999
- Obtain financial advantage by deception;
- fail to answer bail;
- make false documents to prejudice another;
- charges withdrawn.
30 May 2003
- 15 counts of obtaining financial advantage by deception;
- sentenced to 3 months’ imprisonment, sentence wholly suspended for 2 years with conviction;
- fined $1000, compensation $495.
The question must be asked, why was a person with prior criminal convictions allowed to work for the Police Minister, Andre Haermeyer?
Craig Otte Reveals All
The previous Brimbank Councillor, Sam Tabban, last week faced a Committal Hearing (on 31 July 2006 and 1 August 2006) regarding allegations that he bribed the current Mayor of Brimbank, Natalie Suleyman. The charges that Sam is facing resulted from a conversation he had with Natalie, which Natalie recorded after being wired up by the police. Intriguing isn’t it? It’s far more intriguing when you examine the political connections that led to this secret recording. At the time of this recording, Natalie Suleyman worked for Andre Haermeyer, the then Police Minister.
So that’s some context. But fortunately, fellow readers, there wasn’t just one secret recording in this tale of intrigue. There was another secret recording, or more correctly, another two secret recordings. Once Sam knew that he had been recorded, he was clever enough to organise for two meetings with a Mr Craig Otte, and he recorded the conversations of both of those meetings.
So who is Craig Otte? Craig Otte is an ALP man, a member of the disgraceful Labor Unity faction to be more specific. At the time that these secret conversations were recorded, Craig was working for Police Minister Andre Haermeyer. So Craig Otte was working alongside Natalie Suleyman, the current Mayor of Brimbank, in Haermeyer’s office.
Interestingly, at Sam’s Committal hearing, it was revealed that Craig Otte has a number of previous criminal convictions, dating back to 1994. It was also revealed that Haermeyer knew this. So why was Craig working for the Police Minister? Intriguing, yes?
Now, if you think the taped conversation between Sam Tabban and Natalie Suleyman was interesting, you haven’t heard anything yet. Natalie’s tape recording of Sam Tabban pales into total insignificance, when compared to the secret tape recordings that Sam Tabban made of his conversations with Craig Otte (on 25 November 2004 and on 16 December 2004).
Ironically, Craig Otte may ultimately prove to be the saviour of the Victorian ALP, as his frank and considered analysis of the ALP, proves what many of us have suspected for a long time. Craig Otte provides the proof that the Victorian ALP is a basket case, a haven for branch-stackers, a party driven by hatred, a party at war with itself, a party full of the most despicable gutter-snakes you could find.
In these secret recordings Craig Otte confirms what many of us have suspected for a long time. The Labor Party is finished in Victoria. This current thing that seeks to call itself the “Labor Party” has no resemblance to the Party it once was. It holds none of the values it once held. It is in dreadful need of an over-haul.
But let’s hear it from an insider. Let’s hear it from someone who was mixing with MPs and Councillors at the time. Let’s hear what this insider has to say about the state of the ALP and about Brimbank City Council. Let’s hear it from the man himself, Mr Craig Otte.
Craig Otte on Branch Stacking
The ALP’s own rules prohibit Branch Stacking. However, in Victoria, the ALP’s rules aren’t worth the paper they are written on. If you want to know more about what branch stacking is, the ALP’s relevant rules are replicated at the end of this article.
So the official line from the ALP is that branch stacking is prohibited and the penalties for it are quite severe. But in practice, there are plenty of MPs that wouldn’t be where they are today if it wasn’t for branch stacking. It’s what we suspected, but let’s hear from Craig Otte, the Labor insider. Here’s what he had to say about branch stacking in his conversation with Sam Tabban on 25 November 2004.
Note: the comments in brackets are my own, unless they simply state “indistinct” in which case this means the person who transcribed this from the tape couldn’t make out what was being said.
Mr Otte: It puts Andre (he is referring to the Police Minister, Andre Haermeyer) in a bad light.
Mr Tabban: Yeah
Mr Otte: Brings the ALP looking bad.
Mr Tabban: Yes. The thing is also that a lot of people is branch stacking.
Mr Otte: And he is.
Mr Tabban: You know that more than me.
Mr Otte: But he is.
Mr Tabban: Yep.
Mr Otte: But everyone branch stacks. I mean….
Mr Tabban: They seem to do it – they dobbed George (Seitz, the MP for Keilor) – they said George is the guy. I feel sorry for George.
Mr Otte: Well see that’s the thing. Hakki (Suleyman) and Robert Mammarella are the two biggest branch stackers.
Mr Tabban: Yeah. But now Hakki and Telmo (Languiller, the MP for Gorton) working together, they want more, stack more, I heard. I don’t know.
Mr Otte: I think he’s working with Hakki. I don’t think Telmo is working with Hakki.
Mr Tabban: Yeah.
Mr Otte: Telmo is working with Brendan (O’Connor, MP).
Mr Tabban: But that’s why Telmo has got Sam David (Brimbank Councillor) to work for Natalie (Current Mayor of Brimbank).
Mr Otte: Because I know Telmo is working with Brendan O’Connor.
Mr Tabban: They’re all branch stacking. You tell me who’s not? Telmo?
Mr Otte: Well Brendan has to. He’s got no members.
Mr Tabban: Yeah.
Mr Otte: Now that he’s in (indistinct) he’s got like five members of his own.
Mr Tabban: Telmo?
Mr Otte: Telmo is always branch stacking that’s how he’s an MP.
Mr Tabban: Yeah. And you got Hakki.
Mr Otte: Hakki branch stacks.
Mr Otte: So branch stacking is where it’s always been. They say it’s good; it’s the biggest branch stack. He’s just making inquiries into branch stacking.
Mr Tabban: I was talking to Charlie just before (presumably, Charlie Apap, former Brimbank Councillor).
Mr Otte: Well Charlie has branch stacked with (indistinct).
Mr Tabban: Yeah (indistinct) one of them.
Mr Otte: Yeah, he did all the branch stacking for Andre.
Then in their second taped encounter (16 December 2004), Craig Otte reveals more.
Mr Tabban: You know what also – you know, I was looking about the branch stacking. Why they only lumped George (Seitz) while Hakki is worse?
Mr Otte: No, the difference is that Hakki has the meeting and George doesn’t.
Mr Tabban: Hakki has the meeting but he’s branch stacking, mate. Every Turkish comes……..
Mr Otte: But that’s not branch stacking.
Mr Tabban: But he pays for them.
Mr Otte: Not all of them.
Mr Tabban: He pays for a few.
Mr Otte: He doesn’t. He hasn’t got any money.
Mr Otte: Either they pay themselves or if they’re in the seat of Maribyrnong, Bill Shorten pays.
Mr Tabban: Shorten?
Mr Otte: But only if they’re in Maribyrnong. If they’re in Gorton they pay themselves.
Mr Tabban: Why a member of Maribyrnong?
Mr Otte: Because Bill Shorten wants the seat of Maribyrnong (which he has now been pre-selected for).
Mr Tabban: Ok.
Mr Otte: ---------candidate to take that (indistinct) off Sercombe.
Mr Tabban: All right. Jesus, mate, politics.
Mr Otte: But just saying Hakki had branch stacked in the last 12 months – Hakki has brought in – we did it the other day, it’s either 36 or 38 members….
Mr Tabban: All up.
Mr Otte: ….in 12 months and George has put through 207.
Mr Tabban: 270?
Mr Otte: Big difference.
Mr Tabban: Yes.
Mr Otte: And Hakki holds the meeting, he sends out the letters…….
Mr Tabban: George sends letters.
Mr Otte: No, George has a selective list.
Mr Tabban: OK. Alright.
Mr Otte: What’s meant to happen is – like to speak – 700 branch members altogether, George is meant to send a letter out to all 700 members and he doesn’t. He’s not the only one, I mean, I’m not picking on George. It happens everywhere like that.
Mr Tabban: Yeah because Charlie is too; Andres Puig is too – all of them.
Mr Otte: Andres, exactly. In the branch that Andres used to run, there was 200 members.
Mr Tabban: Andres Puig.
Mr Otte: There was 200 members and I remember one meeting he got me to send out his invites. He got me to post them, not to do them and everything but to post them, and there was something like 30 envelopes.
Mr Tabban: Out of 200.
Mr Otte: So I mean….
Mr Tabban: Jesus Christ.
Mr Otte: …..the difference is Sam (David) - he branch stacks but he has meetings; Telmo branch stacks but he has meetings; Hakki branch stacks, he has meetings; George doesn’t have the meetings. I mean….
Mr Tabban: Telmo is South American, but Telmo – he pays, as I heard as well, like….
Mr Otte: I don’t know if he pays but he gets them paid. The members don’t pay.
Mr Tabban: The members, they don’t pay, but how he gets them paid?
Mr Otte: I think he’s got – he holds a fundraiser twice a year.
Mr Tabban: Right, from the fundraiser.
Mr Otte: George just doesn’t do anything.
Mr Tabban: Silly George.
Mr Otte: I mean you’ve been to George’s office. The room that they hold the meeting is smaller than this room.
Mr Tabban: I’ve been a few times.
Mr Otte: But he signs the book that there’s like 150 people there.
Then later, Craig discusses a conversation he had with Andre Haermeyer about the allegations brought against Sam Tabban. During this piece, Craig provides some insight into how the preselection process sometimes gets corrupted in the ALP.
Mr Otte: So we asked Andre – like, Natalie, myself and Hakki went and met Andre the next day and said, “What has he done? What are you saying to people?” because Hakki has not liked this at all. This isn’t the way you play politics in Hakki’s world.
Mr Tabban: Yes.
Mr Otte: You don’t do it like that. You stack someone out of you, you know, at the election you steal their votes. That type of stuff he’s into.
Mr Tabban: How do you steal your votes?
Mr Otte: Say you came up to vote, “Yeah, you vote like this, here, I’ll show.”
Mr Tabban: OK.
Mr Otte: So he fills up…
Mr Tabban: He helps them.
Mr Otte: “This is how you do it. Bob told me that you have to fill like this, OK, Box 3 OK.” Because most people don’t speak English.
Mr Tabban: That’s right.
Mr Otte: Sam was fantastic at it. He got like 12 of Sercombe’s votes.
Craig Otte reveals all on what the MPs think of Brimbank City Council
Mr Otte: No, I mean, the council. The Council at the moment has problems in that, for instance, I know at the moment Justin Madden has about $2 Million spare, unallocated. He’s got no more projects to give it to, and they won’t give it to Brimbank because the council isn’t supportive.
Mr Tabban: Rubbish, yeah.
Mr Otte: Like, even – ask George if Justin’s got spare money, even George knows. This is how desperate Justin is to get rid of this money. He’s got until 31 December to commit it to….
Mr Tabban: Shit, we missed on that.
Mr Otte: They won’t commit it to…..
Mr Tabban: Because of us fighting?
Mr Otte: Not just councillors but the council is in pretty bad as well. You’ve got especially poor record systems and very bad officers.
Mr Tabban: Carol?
Mr Otte: Not like they’re mean but they’re just incompetent.
Mr Tabban: Carol is the leader.
Mr Otte: I don’t know if she’s the problem.
Mr Tabban: Lynn?
Mr Otte: I’ve heard Lynn – yes.
Mr Tabban: She’s not the best.
Mr Otte: I think Carol Julian’s too busy trying to fix problems, rather than leaving the things….
Mr Tabban: (speaking about Brimbank Council) But easy to play it shifty in there. They’re playing it shifty.
Mr Otte: It’s too easy.
Mr Tabban: Yes.
Mr Otte: Which is why Brimbank have such a bad reputation. Like, I’ve got councillors in lots of different councils. Whittlesea is my favourite council. It is the best council. They’re all left. There’s two Labor Unities. Everyone’s left. Lara is – was Mayor, Robert’s daughter. Great Council, all the officers are very smart. Everyone likes being there which is why that works so well. Like the lack of arguments with the state government, they’re legitimate arguments. It’s like “You’ve promised this,” they’ve given this six years which is a fair amount of time. Here there’s nothing. You haven’t even got in Brimbank Council someone who looks for grant applications until, I think Marilyn said, it’s six or seven months. It was this year, it’s now part of the process that they have to check to see if there’s a current grant. But that’s still not (indistinct)…
Mr Tabban: Correct me if I’m wrong: Sam David, before he leaves overseas, I sat down with him to explain to me why he done this. He said, “Sam, I had the pressure of Telmo two days – Monday, Tuesday – and he said even Peter Batchelor got involved.
Mr Otte: I don’t know if Batchelor got – maybe Batchelor put pressure on……….
Mr Tabban: Because of the rally that I done in St Albans.
Mr Otte: I speak to Batchelor all the time.
Mr Tabban: He won’t tell you that.
Mr Otte: No, we have good conversations about (indistinct) he is of the opinion that the council is, in his words, rotten, and he’s not saying the councillors, he’s saying the council.
Mr Tabban: Rotten? Yeah, but that’s what Sam David told me. Even they had the pressure from….
Mr Otte: That’s when they put pressure on Telmo.
Mr Tabban: Telmo. He said to Telmo, and Telmo told him, “I had a call from Peter Batchelor.”
Mr Otte: That is possible.
Mr Tabban: Yes. He doesn’t want Sam Tabban at all to be….
Mr Otte: That’s what I’m trying to explain to you. Batchelor doesn’t like you.
What they did to Chris Evans
Chris Evans is a former Brimbank Councillor, who was hounded and bullied from Council. Why? Because he refused to toe the Labor Unity line. They hounded him and hounded him, bullied him until he broke, the Labor Unity way. They even came up with some trumped up charges to get him out of Council. Sound familiar? It’s what they’ll do to Miles Dymott—the new Greens’ whipping boy on Brimbank Council—if he is not careful. The signs are there already.
This is what Craig Otte had to say about this dreadful episode in the sad history of the Brimbank Council.
Mr Tabban: What can you do? That’s her (Natalie Suleyman’s) work. That’s how she works. That’s all she knows.
Mr Otte: That is how she works. She’s done that with Chris Evans.
Mr Tabban: Yeah. What happened with Chris Evans?
Mr Otte: They made him leave council, chucked him out.
Mr Tabban: On the same note, yeah, same thing? “He is no good, he did…” – very bad.
Mr Otte: So Terry and Andre (Haermeyer) and Puig did that.
Mr Tabban: Sad mate, sad.
Mr Otte: And Chris sued council, everything.
Mr Tabban: He couldn’t win, the poor bugger.
Mr Otte: Yeah, and in the end council even said he had to cover legal costs.
Mr Tabban: Poor bastard.
I love the quote by Otte “they made him leave council, chucked him out.”, and the “poor bastard’ comment. This truly reflects the rat infestation that has now infiltrated Brimbank Council. They did it to him, and according to Otte, Haermeyer was involved, and Puig, and whoever Terry is.
They broke Chris Evans. Chris was a dedicated councillor, who cared about his community, who refused to toe the line. So they destroyed him. He still has not fully recovered from their dreadful treatment of him. They make me sick to the stomach, the whole lot of them; the ones that are responsible for these despicable actions, actions that continue today, and the ones that stand by and allow them to continue. All of them, they make me sick to the stomach.
Police Minister Andre Haermeyer’s involvement in the secret tape recording that Natalie Suleyman made of Sam Tabban
In Craig Otte’s second recorded meeting with Sam Tabban (on 16 December 2004), he reveals Haermeyer’s involvement in the secret tape recording (that Natalie took of Sam Tabban).
Mr Tabban: You said to me that day that you want to talk to Andre Haemeyer.
Mr Otte: I did. I had a big argument with Andre, because Andre was the one that started this, not even Natalie.
Mr Tabban: Andre started….fucking hell. How?
Mr Otte: Natalie went to Andre and said that you’d offered her money to vote for….
Mr Tabban: But as you know, it’s not the truth.
Mr Otte: No, no, exactly. Andre goes, “well then, I’ve got Sercombe”, because he thinks that your with Sercombe (Bob Sercombe, the Federal Member for Maribyrnong). So he rang - he’s got someone in Candy Broad’s (the Minister for Local Government) office. He rang to find out if someone offered money against law and they said yes – straightaway they said yes.
Mr Tabban: He rang Candy Broad?
Mr Otte: Someone in her office – he knows someone in her office.
Mr Tabban: Someone in her office, yeah.
Mr Otte: I think maybe one of her advisers, I’m not sure.
Mr Tabban: Right.
Mr Otte: So then she rang the police and….
Mr Tabban: They rang the police in the city, not here.
Mr Otte: Yeah, in the city. Whoever he rings – Andre rang them, so I don’t know who he rings.
Mr Tabban: OK.
Mr Otte: He wouldn’t ring someone at Sunshine.
Mr Tabban: That’s right, because they told me in the city – the report happened in the city. You’re right.
Mr Otte: He rang whoever he knows in the city. He only knows Rod here I think.
Mr Tabban: Yeah, Rod Joiner, yeah.
Mr Otte: That’s how it all started, and I said but – when and what – and he goes, “He offered money,” and I said, “Look, do you want to know what really happened?” and I explained to him what happened, and he goes, “it doesn’t matter. It’s too late now, it’s already started.”
Mr Otte: He didn’t care about you; he was thinking that this was his way of attacking Sercombe.
There’s more, but that’s the gist of it. Basically, Sam Tabban is in the predicament he is in because he has been caught in the middle of a factional Labor Party war. Do these guys play dirty or what?
Insights into the Albion Soccer Club deal
For those who are unfamiliar with politics Brimbank style, the Council voted to move the Albion Soccer Club to Cairnlea Park in early 2005. This included a commitment to funding the development of new club rooms and grounds, to the value of $650,000 from Council and $150,000 from Vic Urban.
At the time that this vote was taken by Council the Mayor, Natalie Suleyman’s brother was on the Committee of Management, and Hakki Suleyman was a previous Public Officer of the club.
Craig Otte shows that Natalie Suleyman was seeking to look after this club, to do them a special deal. This is something that many in the community have suspected and complained about, to Candy Broad the Minister for Local Government. But it seems Labor Unity looks after its own. Natalie got the Soccer Club (associated with her brother and father) a new home, including almost $1 Million in funding (from Council and State funding).
Originally it was intended that the soccer club would go to Green Gully, but there were problems with the proposed site. It had previously been a landfill site and when Council did some testing on the site, it was found to be unstable. But Council, driven by the Mayor, who was desperate to find a home for the Soccer club associated with her father and brother, would stop at nothing to get the club a special deal. In this section they are talking about the Green Gully option falling through.
Mr Otte: Because for one, I know that – committed funds to a sporting oval. Part of that is they have to do a site analysis, like that puts stuff into the ground and….
Mr Tabban: That’s (indistinct) the Turks (meaning the Albion Soccer club, which is primarily made up of Turkish members, and is the club associated with Hakki Suleyman and Mehmet Suleyman).
Mr Otte: They can’t put it there.
Mr Tabban: Why?
Mr Otte: The land is unstable.
Mr Tabban: So what’s happened to the Turks?
Mr Otte: They’ve got nowhere.
Mr Tabban: Natalie won’t be happy.
Mr Otte: No, she’s not happy.
ALP Victoria Rules
This is what Labor's own rule book says about Branch Stacking. But these rules have been thrown out the window. Does this mean the rest of the rules are also meaningless?
5.6.1 Branch Stacking
Branch stacking is conduct unacceptable to the Australian Labor party. Branch stacking is defined as the enrolling of persons to the party by offering inducement or enrolling persons for the principal purpose of influencing the outcome of ballots of members within the party. Party members individually or collectively who engage in, organise or promote branch stacking activities, including any of the following activities will be deemed to have engaged in Branch Stacking:
- To pay the membership fee of a person as an inducement for that person to join the Party
- To pay the membership fee of a person who is unwilling to pay their own membership fee
- To pay the membership fees for any person unaware that membership has been taken out on their behalf
- To pay the membership fee for a person on the precondition or understanding of that member being obliged to vote in a particular way
- To pay for another’s membership in an attempt to influence the outcome of any ballot of members within the Party
- To encourage any person to join the party for the express purpose of influencing the outcome of local preselection ballots or other membership ballots
- To enrol, encourage or assist a member to enrol on the electoral roll at an address which is not the principal address of the member
- To organise or pay for concessional rate fees for a person who is ineligible for that rate without a reasonable belief that the person was entitled to the concessional rate
To recruit members who do not live at the claimed address of enrolment
20.11 Penalties- Branch Stacking
Where members are found to have engaged in branch stacking, the penalty shall be as follows:
- expulsion from the party; or
- suspension from the party; and/or
- disqualification from holding any party office and from endorsement for public office for a period of 5 years.
Where members are found to have had membership fees paid for in contravention of rules 5.6.1 or 5.6.2 such members shall be deemed to be no longer members and all membership rights shall be forfeit.
Countdown to the Election
Right now the dreadful Labor Unity faction has control of the party in Victoria, and due to the despicable characters that make up this faction, the party is fast becoming a basket case.
So the message is: Put Labor Last at the 2006 State Elections in Victoria. It's the only way we will clean the party up. They need a rude awakening.
So between now and the election, we will be revealing why you should Put Labor Last at the election. Don't let them get your preferences. Give them the kick in the pants they deserve.
From Wednesday 16 August there will be 101 days until the election, and we will provide 101 reasons, one per day, as to why you should Put Labor Last at the coming election.