Matter of Interest: Labor Party
Wednesday, 17 June 2009
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (15:30): I want to talk about a major factional brawl within the Labor Party at the moment in relation to the Legislative Council preselection. Mr President, as you would well know, based on seniority the four sitting members would be endorsed: minister Holloway, if he goes on (although he will be 60 in August and would be almost 70 at the end of his next term), minister Gago, and the Government Whip, the Hon. Mr Gazzola. The fourth member is the junior member, the Hon. Mr Finnigan, who is only a recent addition to the Labor Party ranks.
We are told that the Hon. Mr Finnigan is saying to all and sundry that he is not happy and will not accept the fourth position on the Legislative Council ticket. He is telling everybody that he is going to shaft the Government Whip, the Hon. Mr Gazzola, and that there is no way in the world he will accept the No. 4 position. He is insisting that, because of the arrogance of the numbers of the right, he wants to shaft the Hon. Mr Gazzola and take his position.
The Hon. Mr Finnigan is also telling everybody that, if he is successful in shafting the Hon. Mr Gazzola and putting him down to No. 4 on the ticket, if the government is re-elected he intends to shaft you, Mr President, and become the President of the Legislative Council. He is stamping the corridors, holding onto his copy of standing orders (which he has nicely annotated so that he can remember them when he attends committees and other meetings), and, rather bizarrely, being supported by the Hon. Mr Wortley to help shaft the Hon. Mr Gazzola.
A bitter factional dispute is going on in the party in the Legislative Council at the moment. Of course, the only hope for the Hon. Mr Gazzola, as you would well know, Mr President, is if the left manages to gain the support of a few unaligned unions within the convention to try to eke out the numbers on the left to try to roll the Hon. Mr Finnigan.
The Hon. Mr Finnigan, the Hon. Mr Wortley and the other factional powerbrokers (not that I would refer to the Hon. Mr Wortley as a factional powerbroker; he is merely a humble foot soldier, a pawn who is occasionally trotted out to do some tasks on behalf of the faction) are saying that they have the numbers and will first roll the Hon. Mr Gazzola and that, should they be re-elected—sadly, from your viewpoint, Mr President—they intend to roll you, and you will not be the President.
The second issue I raise is in relation to the member for West Torrens (I have referred before to this gentleman as the Welcher from the West) and a significant unpaid gambling debt. In recent months, in the various revelations about his traffic and speeding offences, I note that he is indeed a serial offender in regard to unpaid debts.
We have heard of a significant unpaid traffic offences amounting to many hundreds of dollars, and perhaps on another occasion we can go through the detail of some of those. We have also heard reference to a series of other statements. We understand that there was a judgment debt of $7,509 against Mr Koutsantonis for monies owing to AGC.
The record shows that a warrant for sale was issued in March 2003 and that a payment was subsequently made to a AGC. The Sheriff was directed 'to sell such of the real and personal property of the defendant as are within the state of South Australia to satisfy the above total owing plus interest'. Mr Koutsantonis said that this case related to a dispute about a loan he took out and did not have anything to do with his traffic offences.
Further evidence in relation to the Courts Administration Authority reveals that on 24 October an order to issue a warrant of arrest was issued in the case of Modbury Press Proprietary Limited v Tom Koutsantonis for a judgment debt of $3,887.
Mr Koutsantonis's defence was that that was an entirely personal legal matter and does not bear on his duties as an MP or a minister and that it related to a dispute in 2002 over a printing contract particular agency.
As I have said, this gentleman is a serial offender. Not only does he have this significant unpaid gambling debt he owes to me but we now see from his record that he had significant unpaid fines for traffic and speeding offences and a number of specific unpaid debts in relation to a number of financial transactions he had taken out with other companies.