Victorian Labor facing the return of party leader Clare Burns from maternity leave
Five state Labor politicians said Age Ms Burns’ association with Mr Somyurek meant she would not be supported by the party majority. Some have said his performance as secretary of state, including his implementation of the new state donation laws, was substandard. Complex donation laws have been a problem for many Labor secretaries of state and have caused persistent confusion over how MPs’ campaigns will be funded.
Two members of the administrative committee that oversaw the party when Ms Burns was secretary said she initially did not disclose to the committee her relationship with a Federal Councilor on Nationals. They said the relationship could pose a conflict of interest if it handled preference negotiations that affected domestic applicants – for example, in competitions between nationals and a freelance where job preferences could decide the outcome.
Ms Burns, whose defeat to Lidia Thorpe in the by-election for the Northcote seat in 2017 ended 90 years of Labor’s grip on the electorate, said conflict was common in organizations and could be addressed through regular conflict management processes.
One MP said Acting Secretary Ford spent the past year building relationships with ministers and the prime minister’s office while building campaign infrastructure to fight the federal election, which could be triggered as early as September. The party secretary of state acts as campaign manager during elections.
“We were impressed with him and what we need is continuity. Changing course now would be silly, ”said the MP.
The MP acknowledged that blocking a woman returning from maternity leave would not be in line with the party’s progressive views on increasing women’s participation in the labor market, but said it was a special case.
Darren Cheeseman, MP for South Barwon and member of the Socialist Left faction, backed Mr Ford, saying there was a close relationship between the seat and MPs. “This relationship is what constitutes the most formidable political team in the country,” he said.
The disagreement is the final proxy battle in the war for control of the branch of state, which was dissolved following Mr. Somyurek’s departure from the party last year. Some of the unions and faction leaders fighting the Labor Party in an ongoing court case – including the Australian Workers Union and officials aligned with former leader Bill Shorten – are in favor of Ms Burns’ return.
The forces that took advantage of the power vacuum created by Mr. Somyurek – including the socialist left, the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association and those aligned with deputy federal party leader Richard Marles – are not in favor. .
The stoush is about to reignite a latent argument over affirmative action within the party, particularly if factions attempt to install Mr Ford in Ms Burns’ place.
The outcome of the trial, expected in the coming months, could blow up the power-sharing structure recently hit by a majority of factions and unions in the party, making it more difficult for Ms. Burns’ opponents to block her return.
The party governance committee has no desire to fire Ms Burns, and some members of the five-person committee support her return.
If she returns to office, there is a chance that she could lead the party’s election campaigns alongside Mr. Ford, who would take on a so-called “executive cadre” role created by the national executive when he stepped into the branch. state.
Another MP said Ms Burns did not leave a good impression on the state caucus because of her handling of the party’s implementation of reforms to donation laws that capped donation amounts.
Ms Burns attended an MPs retreat in March last year and answered questions from MPs on how their campaigns would be funded.
“There was a lot of hostility,” the MP said.
“His return will not be a unifying event given the whole context. Adem went to see all those who were listening to him, saying that she was his person. He didn’t mince words when he said he felt like he was in control of her.
Victorian Labor and Prime Minister Daniel Andrews’ office declined to comment.
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