Veteran party reformer Eric Dearricott's victory in the Supreme Court on Friday is a big win for democracy in the Victorian Labor Party -- but the battle goes on.
Open Labor welcomes Justice Hargrave's decision to allow Eric Dearricott to retain access to evidence relevant to the illegal use of prepaid gift cards for membership renewals, while also taking steps to ensure that the confidentiality of ALP members is protected.
We note the frustration expressed by Justice Hargrave that the state Labor party had tied up the Supreme Court for an afternoon over a matter that he said could have been resolved by conciliation between the party and Eric Dearricott.
Mr Dearricott had twice sought such conciliation with party officials before the case went to court, and twice been rebuffed.
An Open Labor statement on November 30 described the action against Mr Dearricott as heavy-handed and unwarranted.
Party leaders should thank Mr Dearricott for campaigning against branch-stacking and corruption in the party. Instead, they have embarked on a misguided campaign to shoot the whistleblower.
Justice Hargrave also dismissed the party's application for costs to be awarded against Mr Dearricott.
Members of Open Labor and Local Labor joined former Premier John Cain in court yesterday to support Mr Dearricott and his courage in pursuing a more honest and democratic party.
Yesterday's article in The Age provides a good summary of the case and the court's decision: http://www.smh.com.au/national/labor-loses-legal-bid-to-silence-whistleblower-20151211-gllsi5.html
While Justice Hargrave's findings leave Victorian Party officials red-faced, vital issues of ALP integrity, democracy and reform remain. Party members and supporters deserve to know:
Why did the Party seek to exclude Mr Dearricott from access to membership data which he is entitled to review as a member of the party's Administrative Committee?
- Who decided to pursue the Supreme Court action rather than pursue the conciliation that Mr Dearicott proposed?
- What was the financial cost to the Party of taking the action, and who authorised Party resources to be used for this purpose?
- Who in the Party will be held responsible for this affair, and what consequences will they face?
- When will the Party release the report of its internal investigation into branch-stacking, so that members and supporters can judge for themselves whether the report has integrity?
- What actions will the Party take to protect those who expose branch stacking and corrupt behaviour?
- When Party integrity is undermined and its power abused, questions must be answered. Is the Victorian Labor Party up to that challenge?
More information: Tom Bentley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0400930525 or email@example.com