Labor locals dumped by city factions

FOUR high-profile Labor Party candidates from the North East fear they could be rolled by Melbourne-based candidates in their pre-selection bid for Victoria’s upper house.

Meanwhile Labor members have threatened to boycott helping run next year’s state election campaigns after they were stripped of their chance to vote directly in upper house pre-selections.

Wodonga councillor Lisa Mahood, former Wangaratta councillor Lauren McCully, former Benalla candidate Rowena Allen and former Indi candidate Zuvele Leschen had all nominated for pre-selection to the upper house seat of Northern Victoria.

The two Labor seats are held by retiring members Candy Broad and Kaye Darveniza.

But it’s strongly rumoured the party executive will instead install two factional picks when it votes on Monday.

Among the eight contenders are Steve Herbert, who is retiring from the lower house seat of Eltham in Melbourne’s north and has been linked to the Labor Left.

Another is Daniel Mulino, also understood to be based in Melbourne.

Mr Mulino, a financial adviser, was an adviser to Opposition Leader Bill Shorten in his previous role as Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation.

Reports during the past week indicate Labor’s faction bosses have been wheeling and dealing, and backed letting the national executive pick the members instead of allowing a rank and file vote.

Leader Daniel Andrews supported the move. Mr Shorten is able to vote but was not at Thursday’s meeting.

Ms McCully, who does not belong to a faction, said it flew in the face of the party reforms Labor had promised to implement.

“We had the opportunity to choose the federal leader ... but to have the factional warlords now decide for local people is disgraceful,” she said.

“There are many talented people who have put their hand up, who have local area knowledge ... it’s scary to think what’s happening behind the scenes.”

Ms Leschen said she found it disappointing and feared the pre-selection vote was “a done deal”.

“They still expect us to man the polling booths, campaign and do all the hard work but not even have a chance to vie in winnable seats,” she said.

“If the unions, as I understand it, want the seats they can run the campaign themselves.”

Ms McCully said local members would start turning away from the party.

“We’ve just been through this with Sophie Mirabella (former Indi Liberal MP),” she said.

“People kept saying she was parachuted in, it haunted her and in the end it came back to bite.”

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