I rise to speak about ongoing instability and factionalism within the Labor Party. At the start of each parliament, the Leader of the Government engages in a series of discussions with the members of the Legislative Council about matters of mutual interest, committees and committee processes, standing orders, etc. On most occasions, the Leader of the Government meets, generally by himself, with the individual members.
The intriguing issue on this occasion is that, when the Leader of the Government met with individual members of the Legislative Council, he was accompanied by a constant companion—he had his faithful St Bernard dog at every meeting, wagging his tail and trying to sound authoritative in relation to the ongoing discussions. I am not sure whether or not the St Bernard had the flask of wine around the collar the St Bernard dog generally has when it is embarking on missions of saving lost souls. The lost soul on this occasion, I understand, is indeed the minister—minister Holloway himself.
Labor MPs are openly discussing in the corridors that the Hon. Mr Holloway has been told that he has one or two years left as minister and Leader of the Government in this chamber and that, at the end of the one or two year period, the constant companion, the St Bernard dog, the Hon. Mr Finnigan, will be taking over as the Leader of the Government. Heaven help this chamber and heaven help the government if indeed that were to occur!
The Hon. Mr Holloway, as one would expect, is very, very unhappy about the set of circumstances unfolding for him. I understand that he complained that the right, under Senator Farrell, had promised that it would support him for four years as a minister. I understand that he was then told, ‘That promise was made when we thought we were going to lose the election. Now that we have won the election, surprisingly, all bets are off. The four year guarantee has gone. You’ve got one or two years before you go.’
I understand that part of this plan is also, through a casual vacancy organised through the right, for Michael Brown, the Secretary of the Australian Labor Party—a man who thinks he has considerable talent—to come to the Legislative Council to assist those people in this place he thinks need assistance.
The Hon. I.K. Hunter interjecting:
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: All secretaries of the Labor Party overstate their degree of importance. Time will not permit on this occasion, but I do hope to organise, as I have in the past, an appropriate motion to look in more detail at matters of interest in relation to the factions in the Labor Party.
However, there are many other issues. I see the Hon. Mr Wortley is in the chair. Who, indeed, leaked the information in relation to the Hon. Mr Wortley and the mobile phone bill? First, let me say that I do not think anyone believes that it has come from the staff. They are loyal and conscientious and certainly would not engage in those sorts of games. The Hon. Mr Wortley, I understand, is very concerned and has some clear ideas and thoughts as to exactly where that information that was used to try to embarrass the Hon. Mr Wortley came from.
The Hon. Mr Wortley, of course, has been engaging in a series of high level—high level for him, anyway—lunches and discussions. The Hon. Mr Wortley was having what was hoped to be a quiet lunch with Senator Farrell and minister Conlon, who had just left the left faction of the Labor Party (and we will talk about that in greater detail as well), at the Aldgate Pump Hotel.
The question can obviously be asked: does it relate in any way at all to the preselection of Senator Wortley and the potential view of the right faction in relation to that issue? I am sure the Hon. Mr Wortley has some strong views on that issue that he will share with colleagues.
Why did minister Conlon leave the left faction? What, indeed, are the activities of the President in our chamber, the Hon. Mr Sneath’s new faction in the Labor Party? What role will it be playing in some of the ongoing factional discussions? These are important issues which I am sure we will have an appropriate occasion to discuss in the not-too-distant future.