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SA factional fallout as Left stalwart defects

Politics

EXCLUSIVE | The fallout from Labor’s federal election debacle has hit home in South Australia, with veteran MP Steve Georganas quitting the Left faction in a shock move.

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While it’s unclear why the long-serving Left-winger has turned his back on his former faction to join the Right’s Labor Unity, it’s understood he was incensed by recent machinations that saw Left powerbroker Mark Butler take over his Hindmarsh electorate, after his own seat of Port Adelaide was abolished in a boundary redistribution.

In the event, Georganas was allowed to shift into the neighbouring seat of Adelaide, vacated by retiring Right-winger Kate Ellis.

Ironically, Labor sources at the time insisted the Right would not give up Adelaide, telling InDaily: “Steve could leave the faction and take three delegate spots with him.”

In the event, that is exactly what has happened, with Progressive Left Unions and Sub-branches [PLUS] factional convenor David Gray confirming Georganas contacted him yesterday to confirm the split.

“It’s extremely disappointing,” Gray told InDaily.

“I’m unclear as to the reasons behind it, because when he called he was unable to articulate the reasons.”

Georganas has a long pedigree in the Left: he was a staffer to Jay Weatherill when he was a minister in the Rann government, and held Hindmarsh for nine years from 2004, before winning it back in 2016.

He is perhaps the highest profile of Left defectors to the Right in recent years, after state MP Tony Piccolo jumped ship for a ministerial post in 2013, and former candidate Jo Chapley left the Left to run in the state seat of Adelaide at last year’s election.

However, Gray insists the setback won’t upset the factional stability that has been a hallmark of SA Labor in recent years, saying Right powerbrokers had “assured me it alters nothing”.

Nonetheless, it dramatically shifts the dynamics of SA Labor’s federal caucus, giving the Right a clear majority of MPs.

Ironically though, it comes at a time when the Left is on the rise in the federal party, with Anthony Albanese taking over as leader, Penny Wong set to retain her senate leadership role and the faction now holding a majority of the ALP national executive.

One Labor Unity source said the Left faction “didn’t help Georganas at all” and “basically shut him right out” when his preselection was threatened, while the Right “came to his rescue”.

Georganas did not respond to inquiries.

Veteran Right-winger Tom Koutsantonis, whose West Torrens electorate cuts across Georganas’s boundaries, did not comment on the factional machinations, but said: “His commitment to the Labor Party is clear.”

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