Red News Readers,
It is easy to understand the frustration and anger behind the decision by the Alexandria Branch to take this action, but I think they are a bit early. Surely the immediate task after the Conference is to ensure that Iemma and Costa abide by the Conference decision. If they don't, then this action may become appropriate.
Iemma faces ALP censure on power
By Linda Silmalis, Sunday Telegraph
April 20, 2008 12:00am
NSW Premier Morris Iemma could face suspension from the Labor Party after he was formally charged under party rules with disloyal conduct.
The Sunday Telegraph can reveal that Labor's Alexandria branch formally made the charge against Mr Iemmawith the ALP's NSW head office last week.
The charge comes after Mr Iemma declared that he would not toe the party's line over the Government's pending power sale at next month's ALP state conference in Sydney.
The same charge has also been brought against Treasurer Michael Costa.
The action will now trigger a formal process whereby both Mr Iemma and Mr Costa could be forced to appear beforean internal party hearingto defend himself.
Mr Iemma could also face disciplinary action ranging from a formal warning to suspension from the Labor Party.
Labor insiders claim that itis the first time in recentyears that a formal chargehas been brought against a sitting NSW premier.
The move is symbolic of the growing divide between the Labor Party's grassroots membership and the party leadership.
While Mr Iemma has painted the war over his controversial power sale as one being waged with the unions, the growing revolt within party branches suggests otherwise.
Many branches have moved recommendations against the proposed $15 billion power sale and are expected to voice their anger at the May conference.
Mr Iemma has been charged under the ALP rule 35 (a), which relates to acting contrary tothe principles and solidarityof the party, disloyal conduct and not supporting the platform of the party to the bestof that member's ability.
The charge was lodged by Alexandria branch secretary Ben Aveling. Mr Aveling confirmed that he had lodged the charge last week.
"It was lodged by me on behalf of my branch,'' he said. Party officials, meanwhile, yesterday would not confirmor deny whether the party had received the charge.
NSW ALP state secretary Karl Bitar was unavailablefor comment yesterday.
Under party rules, charges lodged with the party are referred to the 35-strong ALP administration committee.
The committee will consider the charge against Mr Iemmma at its next meeting, which is to be held on Friday, June 6.
Labor insiders say it is likely that the committee will refer the case to the party's 15-member disputes committee to conduct a formal hearing.
And both Mr Iemma and Mr Costa could be called toappear before the panel to answer the charge. Following the hearing, the panel will make recommendations that are referred back to the administrative committee.
The Sunday Telegraph has been told the recommendations could range from Mr Iemma and Mr Costa receiving a formal warning to suspension.
The latest development comes two weeks out from the much-anticipated ALP state conference, where it's expected Mr Iemma will be booed and jeered for his refusal to back down on the privatisation plan.
Labor insiders claim the vote against the plan could be as high as 650 against to 150 in support of Mr Iemma.