A former Labor supporter, now with the LDP remarked the other day that nobody stays in Labor without learning how to swallow it. This seems to be the case with preselection of candidates for seats at the next federal election.
Recently The Northern Territory supporters were effectively disenfranchised by the PM, who decided to attempt to shore up the indigenous vote by dumping a popular hard working senator, Trish Crossin in favor of Indigenous Olympian, Nova Perris who was not even a member of the party. Party members had no say in the matter; it was dropped on them from above.
Now in what is normally the safe Labor seat of Capricornia, a similar action has taken place, although this time it is a factional matter pushed by Julia Gillard’s union henchmen. Former state MP Paul Hoolihan, a Rudd supporter won handily in the branch member’s vote but was ousted by unions in favor of a Gillard supporting councilor:
A UNION deal delivered Labor preselection to a former country mayor for the Gillard government-held central Queensland seat of Capricornia despite his rival, a factional ally of Kevin Rudd, convincingly winning the rank-and-file vote on the weekend.
Former state MP and lawyer Paul Hoolihan, who won 64 per cent of the branch members' vote in the Rockhampton-based federal seat, lost in the face of Australian Workers Union opposition in the electoral college ballot following a factional deal over campaign support and future division of state seat endorsements.
Mr Hoolihan said the preselection of former Belyando Shire Council mayor Peter Freeleagus was a "disgrace" and that unions had too much power in the ALP. "There have been calls for internal reform for years, including from Kevin Rudd, but unions are still able to impose their will over the majority of branch members," Mr Hoolihan said."Many of these people in the unions are not even members of the ALP, but they have more say than the rank and file, who are virtually being told that their opinion doesn't count."
Mr Hoolihan won the branch member ballot by 65 votes to 37, but could not overcome his 41 to nine defeat to Mr Freeleagus in last Thursday's electoral college ballot -- which is made up of 48 union delegates, as well as a vote from Julia Gillard and state president Dick Williams.
Former Beattie and Bligh government minister Robert Schwarten, who held the state seat of Rockhampton, said the preselection of Mr Freeleagus made it even more difficult for Labor to retain Capricornia, held on a 3.7 per cent margin, with the retirement of incumbent MP Kirsten Livermore. "This is a case of the tail wagging the dog," Mr Schwarten said.
"The local members are disgusted that they are being ignored and will still be expected to go out and campaign for a bloke imposed on them by a group in Brisbane. "The unions are dominating the party, despite having less and less members across the country."
Labor seems to be prepared to sacrifice this seat rather than allow a Rudd supporter to win it for the party. Capricornia has been Labor held for so long that the only interest it poses at an election is to see how much they won it by this time. Despite Queensland resembling a slaughterhouse for Labor at the last election, they held the seat with a 3.5% margin.
Now with the incumbent retiring and the membership denied their choice of candidate, it will be harder for them. While the majority of members will suck it up and do what they are told by the party elite, those who are angry about may make a difference especially with the Liberal Democrats and Katter’s One Australian Party in the mix.