Member hacked 8/3/2006
Returning from a drive down the Great Ocean Road I learn that my Federal Member of Parliament has fallen victim to the shenanigans of Australian Labor Party branch-stacking.
Gavan O’Connor, the Opposition’s shadow minister for agriculture, has lost preselection for the seat of Corio which he has held for 13 years.
O’Connor, a thoroughly decent bloke, was a farmer and teacher before entering Parliament. He’ll talk to you knowledgebly, and with equal enthusiasm, about local footy results and his vision for a multi-transport export hub incorporating Avalon Airport and the Port of Geelong.
His replacement, Richard Marles, is described repeatedly by the media as a rightwing powerbroker in the Victorian ALP.
In contrast to O’Connor’s humble Irish-Catholic onion-growing background, Marles (scroll down) is a son of privilege who attended Australia’s most expensive private school before enjoying a guided career passage through activist legal firm Slater and Gordon and then the ACTU (formerly the peak body for achievers from Australia’s once-proud working class, now the plaything of ex-student politicos not smart enough to make it in the business world).
No one can deny that Geelong and district has been transformed in the period that O’Connor has been its major representative in Canberra.
He has played a pivotal role in seeing billions flow to the area for projects such as the Princes Freeway, the redevelopment of Geelong waterfront, the soon-to-be-constructed Geelong Ring Road, the Melbourne-Geelong rail upgrade and a host of other urban improvements that have made Geelong and the Surf Coast one of Australia’s fastest-growing regions.
He has pledged to fight the preselection result but it would appear an uphill battle. The dogs of Labor are already howling “rat” at reports O’Connor may even stand as an independent Labor candidate at the next Federal poll.
Marles’ candidature indicates how much the political wheel has turned. He’s a Geelong Grammar old boy with no work experience in the real world. These were once essential pre-requisites for a conservative seat in parliament.