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‘Total bloodletting’ for state Labor as seven MPs shown the door


Several MPs have spent the week urging Premier Daniel Andrews to step in, but on Thursday Mr Andrews said preselections were not his concern. This is despite The Age confirming on Wednesday he had several lines of communication with factional bosses deciding preselections.

“You can form a view about what’s appropriate or what is or isn’t my role … but that’s a matter for national executive and I’m not a member of it,” Mr Andrews said.

The dominant Right faction had offered the Australian Workers Union a candidate from their faction to replace Mr Donnellan in his Narre Warren North electorate to avoid a byelection, but The Age has confirmed Mr Donnellan has nominated for the seat and will not be pressured by the AWU to withdraw his nomination, exposing him to a challenge.

A number of upper house MPs could move to the crossbench, further destabilising the government’s agenda in the Legislative Council, where Labor holds 17 out of 40 seats.

The moves against sitting members comes after Mark Gepp and Jane Garrett were placed on a list of MPs to be pressured not to recontest, but they resigned in recent weeks for personal reasons.

Fourteen of Labor’s 72 MPs will not contest the next election, including retiring MPs Richard Wynne, Jill Hennessy, Dustin Halse, Danielle Green and John Eren.

The dominant factions within Labor fear having Somyurek-aligned candidates – all of whom have been named in an anti-corruption commission investigation centred on Mr Somyurek’s Moderates faction – could hurt Labor’s prospects in 2022, raising further integrity and probity questions.

Pascoe Vale MP Lizzie Blandthorn will probably move into an upper house spot replacing Mr Melhem, while Ender Erdogan will move into a different upper house seat. Ms Blandthorn is likely to be replaced by Jana Stewart, who would become Labor’s first lower house Indigenous MP, while Mr Erdogan is set to be replaced by Transport Workers Union boss John Berger.

Mr McGuire urged the national executive, who will vote on the contested ballots on Monday, to make responsible decisions and “not be weaponised as part of a factional power play”.

He will be challenged by Kathleen Matthews-Ward, who is aligned with the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association. Mr Scott will be challenged by Nathan Lambert, who is also aligned with the SDA and was a former Cleo Bachelor of the Year contestant.

Two Victorian cabinet ministers expressed concern about the growing number of MPs entering Parliament with the support of the SDA, which tends to pick candidates who are socially conservative and oppose euthanasia and abortion reforms.

One cabinet minister said the Left faction was turning a blind eye to the group of three or four SDA members entering Labor’s caucus.

“[Euthanasia and abortion laws] were legislated on the thinnest of margins. The faction, led by Deputy Premier James Merlino, opposed assisted dying legislation in 2017,” the minister said.

“There’s a social conservatism that has gripped the Liberals and two or three more no votes in Labor’s caucus could be determinative. For people violently opposed to these reforms, these matters are never settled.”

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The Premier’s electorate officer Emma Vulin, a firefighter and stroke survivor, will run in the seat of Pakenham. Lauren O’Dwyer, a former staffer to minister Martin Foley, will be Labor’s candidate in the seat of Richmond, while ex-Andrews staffer Martha Haylett will likely be preselected in the ultra-marginal seat of Ripon. Left factional secretary Mat Hilakari will be Labor’s candidate in Point Cook.

In the new northern suburbs seat of Greenvale, Oxford-educated Iwan Walters will run.

In a last-ditch attempt to shore up support, former Hume City Council mayor Joseph Haweil, who helped lead efforts on driving up vaccination rates in Hume, which was ravaged by COVID-19 earlier this year, urged the Premier to support his preselection for the newly-created seat of Greenvale.

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The son of refugees and a Greenvale local, Mr Haweil said: “Greenvale is my home. I know the community and its needs intimately and am best placed to represent it in the challenging years ahead. I don’t need Google Maps to find the electorate.”

A member of the dominant Right faction said: “The Socialist Left and Labor Unity are working together, in good faith, to implement the principles that underpin the stability agreement in ensuring we put the best candidates forward at the 2022 election. Labor Unity is going to achieve a historic high in terms of female representation in caucus and in safe seats.”

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