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Victoria: Bob Sercombe withdraws from ALP preselection for seat of Maribyrnong.



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This transcript has been prepared by a source external to the Department of the Parliamentary Library.

 

It may not have been checked against the broadcast or in any other way. Freedom from error, omissions or misunderstandings cannot be guaranteed.

 

For the purposes of quoting verbatim from a transcript, it is advisable to verify the transcript against the broadcast.

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PM

 

Tuesday 28 February 2006

Victoria: Bob Sercombe withdraws from ALP preselection for seat of Maribyrnong

 

MARK COLVIN: The bitter pre-selection brawls in the Victorian Labor Party have got even more dramatic today, with one sitting member falling on his sword. 

 

The frontbencher Bob Sercombe withdrew from the pre-selection contest for the seat of Maribyrnong, when he realised he didn't have the numbers to hold off a challenge from the union leader Bill Shorten. 

 

For the Government in Question Time, the Labor Party's internal woes provided welcome relief from the bribes-to-Saddam affair, with the Treasurer Peter Costello accusing Opposition leader Kim Beazley of defending "sleazy deals".  

 

There are still five more Melbourne ALP seats to be decided next week, including Simon Crean's, and it's likely more of those sitting members will lose their places in Parliament. 

 

From Canberra Gillian Bradford reports. 

 

GILLIAN BRADFORD: Treasurer Peter Costello likes the theatre of Parliament, especially when he has a soft target on the other side 

 

PETER COSTELLO: He's standing by, whilst he lets the sleaze of the Victorian Labor Party, run them out of their seats.  

 

GILLIAN BRADFORD: Today it was Opposition leader Kim Beazley who had to endure a string of taunts about Labor's internal dramas. 

 

Labor frontbencher Bob Sercombe has pulled out of his pre-selection fight in Victoria, because he thinks sleazy deals in the party have left him without hope in the battle with union leader, Bill Shorten.  

 

Peter Costello, knowing a good punch line when hears it, suggested Mr Beazley was doing nothing to stop the sleaze.  

 

PETER COSTELLO: The former leader of the Opposition, the Member for Werriwa, promised that if he was elected he would ease the squeeze. Mr Speaker, this Leader of the Opposition doesn't want to ease the squeeze, he wants to ease the sleaze, Mr Speaker.  

 

Worse than that he wants to grease the sleaze, Mr Speaker. Grease the sleaze in Maribyrnong, grease the sleaze in Corio, grease the sleaze in Hotham. He stands back, as if this has got nothing to do with him. 

 

GILLIAN BRADFORD: Bob Sercombe is the first casualty of the right faction's battle to get more seats in Parliament and he hopes by pulling out, the right may back off challenging other sitting members, including Simon Crean. 

 

BOB SERCOMBE: I hope that my withdrawal will act as a circuit breaker to get this nonsense fixed. You see, this group of candidates, this cabal of candidates running against sitting members, really are essentially led by Bill Shorten. I am making a significant gesture by acknowledging that Bill will win simply because of the deals that have been done and the locals will be ignored.  

 

I think that now is the time for Bill to show real leadership and put the interests of the party first, not his own interests and the interests of his little group. 

 

GILLIAN BRADFORD: Kim Beazley has refused to back the sitting members under challenge. Today he wished Bob Sercombe well but nothing more.  

 

That left the Government's Kevin Andrews to state what many people, even in the Labor Party, think about these challenges in Victoria. 

 

KEVIN ANDREWS: The reality is that the power bases of these three challenges are entirely predicated upon branch stacking, upon union linked slush funds… 

 

SPEAKER: Order, the Member for Grayndler. 

 

KEVIN ANDREWS: …and on sleazy deals between themselves, which freeze out ordinary members of the Australian Labor Party.  

 

GILLIAN BRADFORD: None of the five other sitting members are holding out any hope Bob Sercombe's withdrawal will inspire the other challengers to pull out.  

 

The Member for Isaacs Ann Corcoran is one of those under threat. 

 

ANN CORCORAN: I think this is gutless behaviour by a group of men, and they are all men, who are simply interested in promoting the strength of the right in Federal Caucus.  

 

They're not the least bit interested in getting out there and tackling the Liberals and the Liberal-held seats. They're not interested in forming a Labor government federally. They're only interested in one thing, and that is increasing the power of the right in Federal Caucus. 

 

GILLIAN BRADFORD: According to Mrs Corcoran this whole debate is clearly hurting Labor's chances of getting back into government, and many in the party worry she's right.  

 

One Labor MP pointed out Victoria is the jewel in the crown for Labor. They hold 19 out of the State's 37 Federal seats. To get back into government, this MP says, they need to hold those, and the party won't do that by imposing what he calls "factional hacks". 

 

MARK COLVIN: Gillian Bradford.