Opposition Office rorts for faction
Strange things sometimes happen with memberships and factions in the Liberal Party.
Most Party members would not be aware there is an office building in Spring Street called the Opposition Office. It is a regular looking elevator doorway at the back of a florist and grocer shop with cafe, between Turnbull Alley and the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child souvenir shop.
While at Party headquarters there is a membership department and other staff at the Secretariat who operate the membership database, there are also some staff members in the Opposition Office, under the orders of Michael O’Brien himself, who freely use and consult this database. (Some staff at this office have legitimate roles undertaking genuine Parliamentary work.)
Party members would be justly alarmed if the Party’s records were open to tampering and the Party’s constitution was not followed properly. The State Director is ultimately responsible. He in turn is hired and fired by the Admin Committee. So if there was a bad State Director, in theory, members at State Council could vote for different Vice-Presidents, Treasurer and President on Admin, and the new Admin team could change State Directors. (Currently there is a bad Admin, so Party members have their opportunity to vote in new Vice-Presidents, Treasurer and President.)
Unlike that democratic process, the Opposition Leader’s Office staff are paid by the taxpayer. They are employed at the discretion of Michael O’Brien. If they make changes to Party database records, if they, for example, changed the status of someone from “lapsed” to “financial”, who would know? And how could they be held accountable? The fact is so far they have escaped any scrutiny or accountability. This means there are vulnerabilities to systemic abuses. (This was outside of KordaMentha’s recent costly investigation.)
It gets a lot, lot worse.
A person who is not a member could be made a member. A person who has one name could be made to have another. Resources of manpower, factional communications could all be organised for a whole faction of hundreds of Party members. There are many possibilities on top of the evidence of activities that are already being undertaken.
Put this disturbing idea to the side for a moment.
In February and March 2021 the Federal and State Electorate Conferences across Victoria held their Annual General Meetings. As members are aware, different groups of people cooperate together, encouraging people to nominate as delegates for one role or another. Also members might be given instructions about how to vote and who to support for office bearing positions like Secretary and Membership Officer.
Each area will have these leading people who coordinate activities. Above them may be power brokers exercising their influence across the Party.
It is no secret that sitting at the top of these aggregations of numbers of people is Ian Quick, at the very centre of this web of darkness.
If Ian Quick is making the executive decisions, who is doing all the secretarial work? Mr Quick doesn’t do all the legwork himself. It would be improper that Sam McQuestin’s team be forced to do this factional dirty work, especially considering their workload and budgetary limitations.
After all the Opposition Office does not sit in the Party’s administrative hierarchy. On a very practical level, someone has to check memberships, and has to do the behind the scenes practical work with the database and spreadsheets providing information to factional people at the coalface, whether they are staff in Quick faction MPs’ offices or the local area powerbroker.
There is a vast collage of evidence that certain people do this for Ian Quick’s group, and internal information identifies that they work in the Opposition Office.
Say if Michael O’Brien and Ian Quick wanted to make sure that someone in a certain State electorate didn’t get the role of Secretary at a particular AGM. They could use the manpower of the Opposition Office plus contacts on the ground in that SEC through leading people in their faction to attempt to achieve certain results.
Now it happens that the respected Chair of a particular electorate was stepping down, and the Secretary “Sarah” (not her real name) was ambitious to take the role of President.
The Opposition office staff could help on the back end, for example, helping with the numbers ensuring that “Sarah” (not her real name) would become Chair as well as their new preferred Secretary. Further, they deliberately planned to have their AGM at the most inconvenient time for the people not in Ian Quick’s group.
Opposition Office staff are funded by the taxpayer which itself is a legal issue for IBAC and federal authorities. These staff and what exact role they are performing can really only be challenged with a change of Leader of the Party. In theory, they could quite easily do a lot of things, for example, transfer people from one electorate to another in the database so that they could vote in that AGM, change dates of membership periods, chase up unfinancial members who might be on side with them, get nomination forms sent out so that Ian Quick’s people could ensure that they send in their nominations for delegateships before a deadline and so on.
With upcoming preselections for Federal and especially State seats, the role of this ultra-secretive unit in Michael O’Brien’s Opposition Office is only going to increase. This could even include factional media releases, gathering data on the internal voting patterns of Party members, smear campaigns and so forth. Party members have already observed some of the results of the current activities of this shadowy bureaucracy with strange people coming forward in some AGMs. This will take Ian Quick’s manipulation to a whole new industrial level.
It is readily recognised that the current talent pool of sitting State MPs is quite shallow. The manipulation in preselections of people chosen by Ian Quick and Michael O’Brien makes a joke of the democratic process and inevitably will lead to more of their kind of candidates running in seats. If this problem continues to fester, by the time State Liberals with the Nationals are ready to win an election, so much irrevocable damage will have occurred by having more bad MPs and a Party membership base so modified by Ian Quick that the future Liberal Premier would foreseeably be worse and more incompetent than Daniel Andrews.