Labor battles against itself

LABOR members in the Macedon Ranges are trying to remove their party’s candidate for the seat.

But Mary-Anne Thomas, who has lived in the electorate for about a fortnight, says she is not going anywhere.

Ms Thomas was endorsed in the seat of Macedon for the state election despite the vast majority of local rank-and-file members voting for former federal MP Christian Zahra.

What has happened in Macedon is the single worst abuse of factional power at the expense of rank and file ALP branch members that any of us has ever witnessed - John Goullet

Branch members have launched a petition calling for Ms Thomas to resign or be removed and replaced with Mr Zahra.

The petition says Ms Thomas has “negligible local support” and said the preselection decision was “likely to prove disastrous for the party’s electoral prospects”.

But Ms Thomas told The Bendigo Advertiser there was no chance she would give up the position.

“I won’t be stepping aside,” she said.  

“I’ve been preselected under the rules of the Labor Party, which gives 50 per cent of the vote to local members and 50 per cent to the Public Office Selection Committee.

“I won that preselection and I plan to continue to work as the endorsed candidate.”

Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews gave measured support to Ms Thomas.

“(She) is the duly preselected candidate for that seat and she, like me, is completely focused on wining the trust and support of the Macedon community,” he said.

"I’m not a preselector in that seat.

"As you well know, I left these matters to proper processes."

But branch president John Goullet said in a statement it was “unheard of” that Mr Zahra not be endorsed.

“What has happened in Macedon is the single worst abuse of factional power at the expense of rank and file ALP branch members that any of us has ever witnessed,” he said.  

“We were all energised and hopeful about party reform when we were able, for the first time, to vote for the federal leader.

“But this decision is a kick in the guts for local branch members.” 

Member for Northern Victoria Candy Broad said the decision went against the wishes of Macedon ALP members.

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