A factional brawl has erupted within Tasmanian Labor, after a new timetable for preselection was adopted at what's been described as a "heated" pre-Christmas meeting of the party's administrative committee.
Members of the Labor left successfully moved a motion at the meeting to split the preselection process in two ahead of the state election, due by March 22 next year.
While the resolution is ostensibly designed to improve the party's chances of winning more seats and allow some candidates to start campaigning as soon as possible, it's angered people in the right, who are all but convinced it's part of a plot to diminish the prospects of one potential right-aligned candidate.
IN OTHER NEWS:
- How the coronavirus pandemic disrupted drug importation and distribution across Tasmania
- Sole survivor remembers mates lost at sea
- Comment | Early poll would be a nightmare for Labor
- Two reasons why home values have skyrocketed in regional Tasmania
- Gibbo gets surprise homecoming through NBL training bubble
That person is Dean Winter, the mayor of Kingborough and formerly an economic adviser in Opposition Leader Rebecca White's office, who some in the right believe would be a strong candidate for the seat of Franklin.
"The big unions from the left in Tasmania, the Health and Community Services Union being the dominant one, and also the United Workers Union, have taken a disliking to Dean," a Labor right source said: "And they basically ... are trying to bring this forward in order to keep him out so he won't have enough votes within the branches in order to get that preselection."
"I think he's got the message that people don't want him, basically."
The controversial resolution would see nominations for the first round of party preselection open this Friday, with ballots being issued to local rank-and-file members and delegates of Labor's state conference.
This phase would involve the preselection of three candidates in each of the five electorates. The second round, meanwhile, would commence in April, in the lead-up to state conference, expected to be held in early July. The remaining ten candidates would be preselected during this stage.
The concern among those in the right is that having a smaller pool of nominees - as opposed to all candidates being preselected at once, which is the usual practice - would make it difficult for some worthy candidates to garner enough votes to win preselection.
I think he's got the message that people don't want him, basically.A member of the Labor right
Sections of the party's left believe Mr Winter is "anti-worker" - an assertion he has previously denied - and that his principles don't accord with traditional working class values.
One Labor left source said if Mr Winter was elected, the party would "just be internally fighting for another 20 years".
"At the end of the day, there's no use us electing people just because they can get elected," the source said. "We want people who are actually going to change the lives of working class people."
Mr Winter said he was "enjoying being mayor of Kingborough" and did not have "any plans to run for state politics".
It's understood a special meeting of the administrative committee will be held tomorrow. Sources say the preselection timetable is likely to be amended, making it so that the first round involves the preselection of incumbent MHAs alone.
Tasmanian Labor secretary Stuart Benson said preselection discussions were ongoing.
"Labor will be communicating the details of its preselection process in due course," he said.
What do you think? Send us a letter to the editor: