O’Donohue on the ropes
Ian Quick’s factional numbers are threatened in the Eastern Region of Victoria. The man most vulnerable is Victorian Upper House MLC Edward O’Donohue. He is an O’Brien supporter and very uneasy with the mood of the party in the lower house seats within his region.
This last 2021 AGM season, O’Donohue went from state electorate conference AGM to state electorate conference AGM seeking to re-connect with the members. His PR exercise completely backfired.
In Mornington, which should have been the most receptive, he became embroiled in controversies surrounding local identity Steve Holland, and questions around a scandal involving Peter Angelico who has been accused by factional opponents as being a “cowboy”. O’Donohue hasn’t had much to sell as Shadow Attorney General, but was happy to take his rightful place at the head of that meeting, an opportunity he did not have at most AGMs. (It may be that at one AGM, on attempting to sit at the front of the room, was genuinely enquired about by a leading member in that electorate, “Who are you?”)
In Nepean O’Donohue was grilled by the members why he supported Daniel Andrews’ draconian Gay Therapy Conversion Bill. Needless to say O’Donohue, who vacillates between the centre and left on ideological issues, was tongue tied.
In Bass, Narracan, Morwell and Gippsland seats, meetings went the same way. O’Donohue would sit quietly in the meetings. When questioned by angry members about his pro-Dan views, he would go red and soon exit. All up, reports are that O’Donohue attended at least nine of the AGMs (besides his own REC AGM).
In the recent past Gippsland South SEC members have openly discussed voting below the line at an election, so as to place the well-liked Melina Bath above O’Donohue. However, the mood has changed, and O’Donohue is now seen as persona non grata. Not so much for what he has done, but for what he hasn’t done. Living in the past glories of being Police Minister is not going to impress lockdown-ravaged members in 2021.
The Gembrook SEC meeting was particularly tense for O’Donohue, seeing as he and the local sitting member Brad Battin are factional enemies. Once again, O’Donohue was humiliated for his support of Daniel Andrews’ Gay Therapy and Omnibus Bills.
Evelyn SEC was a real fight, with factional chair, Ben Zerbe on one side supporting O’Donohue, while strident questions came from Joan Vanderhorn who utterly pasted O’Donohue into silence.
However, the most trouble for O’Donohue was at the Monbulk meeting, where the chairmanship of the SEC was up for grabs. O’Donohue, who was supporting local witchcraft expert Sarah Kulkens, came into brutal conflict in the meeting with Martin Dieleman, Nigel Lau and others questioning his activities and motives.
Senior members of the party, even within O’Donohue’s own faction, are coveting his seat. With O’Donohue’s dismal performance and so many ambitious members O’Donohue is now on increasingly borrowed time. Brad Battin supporters and the conservative members throughout the Eastern Region are eager to see O’Donohue replaced.
It is understood that Georgie Crozier has told O’Donohue it is imperative he holds the line. They know they have the party bureaucracy machine on side for now. But will that be enough to hold back the groundswell of the members?