first_imgOn Monday May 11, Costas Socratous arrived around 9 am to his work, the electoral office of Theo Theophanous in Melbourne’s inner northern suburb of Northcote. The previous week was a difficult one for the Victorian Labor Government, as daily negative reports saturated the media, after the release of the Ombudsman report on the Brimbank City Council investigation. Socratous, also a former Councillor in Brimbank, had testified to the Ombudsman. Around 11:30am that Monday, Theo Theophanous unexpectedly came into the office. Half an hour later he called Costas into his office, and in the presence of another staffer, acting as a witness, he announced his decision to fire Socratous from his position as electoral officer for disloyalty. Theophanous’ decision was founded on the fact that Costas’ testimony to the Ombudsman suggested that Theophanous had pressured him on at least two issues debated in the Brimbank City Council. Regardless of factional loyalties, most Labor people see the Brimbank scandal as having damaged the entire Labor apparatus. In his 200 page report the Ombudsman, George Brouwer paints a bleak picture of the dealings in the Brimbank Council. He highlights, amongst other things, the influence exerted on the council by outsiders, especially Labor Party operative, Hakki Suleyman, Labor MPs George Seitz and Theo Theophanous, as well as Andrew Theophanous, Theo’s brother the disgraced former Federal MP, and husband of former Deputy Mayor of Brimbank Kathryn Eriksson. The Obudsman’s report has again shone a light on the darker politics plaguing the grassroots organisation of the Labor Party. The report forced Federal Labor to take away preselection processes from the Victorian ALP and hand it over to the party’s national executive. What is ironic is the fact that Labor MP George Seitz prompted the Ombudsman’s investigation, through his parliamentary outburst naming the Brimbank City Council’s ruling faction as an “underbelly”, and calling the former Mayor of Brimbank and daughter of Hakki, Natalie Suleyman, “the Robert Mugabe of Brimbank”.“This whole saga has a lot…. of history dating back when Seitz and Theophanous were still members of the Left faction of the Party,” suggested a senior Labor official who wished to remain anonymous. “With the Brimbank byzantine politics as a background, political careers were built, not excluding that of Premier John Brumby,” emphasised the same official. The critical issue is whether Brimbank has wounded the Victorian Labor enough to impact on its electoral chances. “On it’s own, probably not; but combined with a mounting sense of disillusionment in the electorate relating to many dysfunctional infrastructure areas that affect everyday life, it has the potential to seriously challenge Brumby’s might depicted presently at the polls,’ said this official.As for George Seitz, and Theo Theophanous what will the future hold for these mighty powerbrokers? Another senior Labor official dared to predict with brutal honesty: “The reality is we have got to evaluate the continuous offerings that some individuals, as Members of Parliament make to the party; everyone has their use-by date!” Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img