JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Labor factions keep the flame of failure burning brightly

Video settings

Please Log in to update your video settings

Video will begin in 5 seconds.

Video settings

Please Log in to update your video settings

ICAC inquiry 'as big as Rum Corps'

Former NSW premier, Nathan Rees, right, to front the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

PT0M0S 620 349

TWO days after Labor's devastating 2011 election loss, the party's NSW general secretary, Sam Dastyari, publicly called for an end to the notorious factional system that had contributed to the defeat.

''Government office resembled a spoils system, not a high public duty,'' he said. ''Chopping and changing ministers and premiers showed a party dominated by internal factional politics. It was an ugly sight for the voters.''

Tuesday's evidence at the Independent Commission against Corruption showed how bad things had become under the previous government.

Former planning minister Frank Sartor attended the Operation Jasper inquiry on Tuesday.

Former planning minister Frank Sartor attended the Operation Jasper inquiry on Tuesday. Photo: Kate Geraghty

The former premiers Morris Iemma and Nathan Rees gave evidence that Eddie Obeid and Joe Tripodi, as the then leaders of the dominant ''Terrigals'' subfaction of the Right, essentially ran the place.

Rees, of the Left faction, described being assured in front of the Labor caucus by the woman who had just knifed him as premier, Kristina Keneally, he would be kept in cabinet. He was called a couple of days later by a ''delegate'' of Keneally, the leading Right faction MP, Eric Roozendaal, to ''revise'' that.

Dastyari called for the ''defactionalisation'' of the parliamentary party and for the factions to stop holding separate caucus meetings. The unfortunate reality for Labor today is that Dastyari's plea has ultimately fallen on deaf ears.

Gave evidence … former premier Nathan Rees.

Gave evidence … former premier Nathan Rees. Photo: Kate Geraghty

It is an open secret the Right has met regularly under the guidance of its convener, the Wollongong MP, Noreen Hay.

The Left has met informally and irregularly. Until last month, that is, when the resignation of the then roads spokesman, Robert Furolo, a member of the Right, sparked a reshuffle of the Labor leader John Robertson's front bench.

The result was four new right-wing MPs and none from the Left were brought into the shadow cabinet. That the factional split had been tipped back to the one third-two thirds ratio in favour of the Right has not gone unremarked upon.

The decision, taken by Robertson as is his entitlement as leader, prompted the first formal meeting of the Left since Dastyari's edict. It led to some questioning whether Robertson, who is aligned with the Right but does not meet with them, is once again a leader being influenced by factional power. It's tempting to view this as less of a concern because Labor is in opposition and is likely to be there for some time.

But as the evidence of Iemma and Rees showed, the power of the factions relies on a gradual build up of influence by factional powerbrokers sponsoring new MPs into Parliament through preselections.

This is the culture that was so ruthlessly exploited by Obeid and Tripodi and what Dastyari has been trying to stamp out. If it is allowed to flourish this early in opposition, there is a real danger Labor will be back to the bad old days by the time it is ready to reclaim government.

Follow the National Times on Twitter

 

44 comments

  • "there is a real danger Labor will be back to the bad old days by the time it is ready to reclaim government"

    Wouldn't that suggest that they wouldn't be ready to reclaim Government?

    Commenter
    Jimc
    Date and time
    November 14, 2012, 8:21AM
    • I just re-read what I wrote and laughed at the notion that Labor would ever be ready to govern...

      Commenter
      Jimc
      Date and time
      November 14, 2012, 8:29AM
    • Probably Jimc, but as the current government is also faction-ridden, the faction variable is probably taken out of the equation.

      Commenter
      Ross
      Location
      MALLABULA
      Date and time
      November 14, 2012, 8:50AM
    • Why laugh?

      These things go in cycles. Governments rarely change after 1 term. The ALP will become re-electable, just as state Libs have. It is even possible that Federal Libs are becoming re-electable.

      Commenter
      Ross
      Location
      MALLABULA
      Date and time
      November 14, 2012, 9:22AM
    • Ross,

      I didnt say they wouldnt be re-electable, I scoffed at the prospect of them ever being ready to Govern.

      Commenter
      Jimc
      Date and time
      November 14, 2012, 10:16AM
    • @ Ross - You are right in what you're saying however the point of this article is there just is no end to the organised "factions" in the ALP. I'm not sure if this was the case 50 years ago but the way its done both State & Federally is the party's greatest weakness.
      Truly able people miss out on the perfect job for them in government because they're in the wrong faction. This is a mentality from a Primary school yard, not thinking adults.
      The Libs sort of had it with the loony religeous Right in NSW (dead now under O'Farrell) but it was amateur hour compared to Labor.
      I know you're from Qld, and I am not up to speed with how things worked there, but the rorting here was common discussion in NSW for years and nobody, NOBODY, in the ALP did a thing about it. It's all coming out now after the event.

      Commenter
      wennicks
      Date and time
      November 14, 2012, 10:29AM
    • thanks Wennicks, but actually I am from NSW and the right faction in NSW only recently was in the Courts over a branch stacking or pre-selection issue - so there is no evidence that it is dead under O'Farrell. Branch stacking in the Libs is as dangerous to promotion by merit as it is in the ALP, even if arguably it has not been institutionalised for as long.

      jimc - I assumed you meant re-electable, because to say that they would never be fit to govern is not a very intellligent thing to say.

      Commenter
      Ross
      Location
      MALLABULA
      Date and time
      November 14, 2012, 10:55AM
    • Actually Wennicks, I would like respectfully to remind you of the movement of Liberal 'drys' to remove the 'wets' during the Fraser - Howard interregnum. It may be going too far to refer to this as a purge but people like Peter Baume would testify to its brutatlity.

      This seems to indicate a long-standing factionalism within the conservatives.

      Commenter
      Ross
      Location
      MALLABULA
      Date and time
      November 14, 2012, 11:07AM
    • @ Ross - Sorry about the erroneous location statement.
      Fair enough on your points however, would you not agree the Libs are small time in this game of factionalism?
      O'Farrell, no matter what you think of him, was bottom of the eclesiastical right group's list. He should have run against Iemma the previous election but the nutters put their man Debenham who proceeded to lose the unlosable election for them. And rightly so.
      As bad as the ALP had become his victory would have been a disaster.
      They, the Lib factions, will always be around but BOF is not their man and they're back in their box for a while. Hopefuly a long while.
      As for the ALP, if this BS continues it could finish them as a relevant force, which won't work well for the country as a whole. I think we need them to be relevant to what we need and not focus on internal postureing most of the time.

      Commenter
      wennicks
      Date and time
      November 14, 2012, 11:27AM
    • Labor just has to much drama (State or Federal level) to ever be an effective governing body, the PM is not in more hot water about her lawyer days, so when do they have time to come up with policies?

      Ross, I'm surprised by some of your comments, Labor especially this Federal government have not done much for doctors, even the ex-Minister Roxon has dropped the ball on many of the current problems doctors face as a profession. Maybe you need to wake up to the reality of how this particular party treats doctors.

      Commenter
      Frank
      Date and time
      November 14, 2012, 11:46AM

More comments

Comments are now closed

Related Coverage

Featured advertisers

Special offers

Credit card, savings and loan rates by Mozo