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WHY TED FLED: The faction master fell on his sword to put the knife into his foes


The Herald Sun’s giant-killer political reporter James Campbell has written an interesting column on the extraordinary week that was in state politics..

Modestly, he doesn’t reprise his own role and the sensational yarn the Herald Sun based on what appear to be recordings by Tristan Weston, a former top Police officer turned boned fall-guy ministerial adviser.

He attempts to explain what takes some serious explaining: why does a Leader who had the numbers quit anyway?

When people on Spring Street told me Ted’s numbers were deteriorating, I’d usually respond by saying who had gone from Baillieu’s column to Matthew Guy/ Michael O’Brien’s and it was clear his numbers weren’t deteriorating much at all, it’s just there were concerns. Many, many concerns.

Concerns about how the Premier had unnecessarily and unilaterally ordered his own office to be probed for corruption when it seemed clear enough none had occurred, concerns about the arrogance of some of those working for Ted and ministers in dealing with backbenchers, concerns about the performance of key ministers, like Treasurer Kim Wells and Deputy Premier/Police Minister Peter Ryan and Education Minister Martin Dixon, Transport Minister Terry Mulder, concerns about inequitable superannuation arrangements where some MPs are on a defined benefit and some are not, concerns about the polling and whether those numbers were locking in for Labor, lots of concerns. Concerns about what else Tristan Weston and the Herald Sun had on the government. But none of them really coming close to being a catalyst for a challenge to Baillieu’s leadership despite the very active and loud maneuverings of those supporting Matthew Guy, the obvious stand-out political talent of the show.

Campbell suggests a number of reasons for Baillieu’s decision to jump but drills into one that few really understood with Red Ted, except Liberal insiders who had to deal with him.

As VEX has extensively reported over the years, Red Ted was a factional operator, who’d never really let go of factional activities. Yes, Ted Baillieu, the one some were saying wasn’t that into politics. Nonsense.

He made the decision that staying on would have 1) made it tough for the Libs to be re-elected next year and 2) made it possible for one of his factional enemies to emerge as Leader. It was a self-sacrificing decision, to be sure, but it’s equally sure that it was a decision that shafted his enemies.

We think it was the latter that really motivated Baillieu. And it’s rather ominous for the prospects of talented Planning Minister Matthew Guy because it shows the extent of the opposition to him from the Baillieu forces – and its factional boss, Red Ted.

Ryan should do a Baillieu and make it easier on the new Premier. But if he refuses to leave, Dr Denis country vet needs to make the tough call and put the ailing Police minister out of his misery.

If you believed all the lines this week about how Ted Baillieu was too nice for politics, not a natural politician, never really wanted it, that shows a thorough misunderstanding.

Those who had to be on the receiving end of him know that – in a way rarely seen in political party leaders – he was very much the factional player, a former party division president who never quite let go of that role.

James Campbell reminds us also of the “star chamber” that VEXNEWS extensively reported on at the time that vetoed apparently more than 250 active Liberals from working as ministerial staff on what was largely seen as a factional square-up. People like former state party director, now deputy federal party director, Julian Sheezel, were vetoed as not being good enough to work in ministerial service, for his mate Michael O’Brien. Sheezel had his critics but that did some a rather big call. An outrageous indulgence, most thought.

It was a big mistake, depriving Baillieu’s government of the best and brightest operatives and ensuring that there was little buy-in into the government’s activities.

Quite the contrast between now and the Kennett era where even Liberals associated with Michael Kroger and others competing against Kennett/Baillieu’s faction for power would wear those little gold Victoria badges to signify their support of what their government was doing.

Campbell is polite enough to blame it all on Michael Kapel, but he was clearly just implementing Baillieu the faction-master’s stupid, petty, vengeful, small-minded, paranoid, self-indulgent, power-mad will.

He also rightly points to the slashing of the number of ministerial staff at the consequent delay in getting briefs approved by ministerial offices. A do-nothing government that is wisely and judiciously choosing to hit only the balls they know they can hit for four  or six (like Bracks in the early days) is very different from a do-nothing government that doesn’t know what it’s doing at all and delays decisions endlessly and stands for nothing.

Premier Napthine has it all to play for now. If he puts a bit of stick about with a big reshuffle and makes some tough personnel changes in his ministerial line-up and in the Premier’s office, he’ll be taking the first essential step towards re-election. They all say Dr Denis has some mongrel in him, a lot more than Baillieu, they all say.

Now is his chance to show he can make tough, uncomfortable decisions for the greater good.

He appears to have already ruled out tapping the scandal-plagued National party leader Peter Ryan on the shoulder. Ryan’s position is he’s done nothing wrong and can tough it out. He’s probably right but it’s an awfully big risk for the new Premier to take. Tristan Weston is still out there, still cut loose, still angry about being shafted by Ryan. As soon as Ryan goes, whatever Weston has got on him suddenly becomes irrelevant. Until then, Weston is a time-bomb, a distraction and a source of future crisis.

How it is the party of free enterprise couldn’t get someone to give the highly credentialed senior cop a job relevant to his skills is beyond me. They’ve shafted him and he’s convinced Peter Ryan lied about him repeatedly. And word on the street is that there are more recordings, hours and hours of them, taken by a fellow well-trained in gathering evidence on targets.

Removing Ryan is a decision that makes itself, in our view, although we accept that  persuading the firmly-entrenched  leader of another party to give up his spot, when he also appears to have strong party room support among National party colleagues is also easier said than done. Ryan should do a Baillieu and make it easier on the new Premier. But if he refuses to leave, Dr Denis country vet needs to make the tough call and put the ailing Police minister out of his misery, for the good of the government.

If Premier Napthine squibs it, and these changes are easier to talk about in the cheap seats and bloody hard to implement, then he’ll be positioning himself as just more of the same from a government that didn’t so much lose its way but barely had any idea where it was, how it got there and where it ought to be going in the first place.


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  1. Ted WAS a factional warrior. However when he became leader that all stopped. He refused to get involved. More so when he became premier, he not once got involved in any factional fight at all. There are many in the so called Baillieu clan that can testify to this.

    Posted by Anon | March 10, 2013, 10:47
  2. Which Peter they going to replace Peter Ryan with?

    Posted by C U on the tram | March 10, 2013, 12:18
  3. we will know things have changed for the better when some utter drongo advisers are given the push, ditto some senior public servants not worth feeding, and when this government starts acting like a coalition government rather than labor-lite & ditches the many useless labor legacy programs it has continued to fund. not holding my breath

    Posted by evil bastard | March 10, 2013, 13:15
  4. Ryan out, crook, bigger than all the other crooks in the Liberal/Coalition g’mt. You will all be sorry when u end up with Tone, God from on high, so as to speak.

    Posted by Alison | March 10, 2013, 14:00
  5. Even by Vex News standards of journalism (lol)? op-ed? trolling for reaction? this article is absurd in its main point about timing and rationale.

    Ted always had a significant number of people in Parliamentary Liberal Party who due to long running bitter Kroger led personality ego feud hated Ted more than the ALP. Liberal Party office blogging against its own leader before 2010 election just one small but publicly exposed example.

    Kroger couldn’t quite get the ALP in and defeat Ted in 2010 but he kept him to a 1 seat majority win. With people continuing to undermine and leak from within, let alone Shifty Shaw in the mix, Ted always had big internal party problems. 1 seat majority made this untenable and unstable. A lot of Ted’s issues in public perception were actually due to the demands and misbehaviours of the internal underminers.

    Shifty Shaw quitting the party and attacking Ted in his capacity as a morally righteous good local member independent was check mate. No way possible way Ted could govern from that position. Ted did not choose this timing, Shify Shaw did. Ted’s exit speech was all grace and dignity – free at last from the factional haters within holding him hostage given they were part of the only 1 seat majority power base.

    The Vex News spin is just rubbish.

    Posted by Rubbish spin Vex News | March 10, 2013, 14:09
  6. It remains to be seen how Denis will handle this fragile power base full of haters of him too. Ted’s loyalty to Denis years back will still be paramount in Denis’ mind. Will the factional hate wars slow down, seems doubtful. Denis probably has 3 months before the undermining starts against him again.

    Posted by Rubbish spin Vex News | March 10, 2013, 14:15
  7. Baillieu and Ryan Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber.

    Posted by Argus Tuft | March 10, 2013, 16:43
  8. Gosh, I’m tired and am in need of a nap.

    Thankfully, MJG will be running for leader at the next election, whilst I will be put out to pasture.

    I can’t be expected to compete against PHC’s money!


    Posted by Naptime Zzzz | March 10, 2013, 17:44
  9. When the press quotes senior Liberal sources they have had a phone call from Mr. Kroger. The poor bastard thinks he is relevant. He was so cock sure he would get his ex to the top of the senate ticket. He wants pay back. He will eventually be tossed out of the party. Back in 2001 when they rolled Denis and put the short arsed prefect in charge that was a mistake. He presided over the biggest defeat the Party has suffered. Got is ex up as president so she could get her senate spot. I susupect he now wants a spot for his son. His game is over.

    Posted by Polster | March 10, 2013, 19:50
  10. Kroger is a wannabe. A failed backstabber highly motivated to destroy successful politicians like Costello because his ex wife didn’t breast feed him and the Ronaldson faction didn’t show him enough love. Breaks every rule in the Liberal Party constitution but the weak Administration protects these cockroaches. Cockroaches are often depicted as dirty and vile pests in the Liberal Party. They live in such high numbers, recruiting young liberal misfits, once they infest the administration it’s hard to get rid of them.

    Posted by Pestaway | March 10, 2013, 22:22
  11. Vexnews has nailed it. The Vet’s elevation was weeks in the making. Only Murray Thomspon was willing to stand up and be counted. His colleagues let him down.

    Posted by wtf | March 10, 2013, 22:45
  12. Expulsion of Michael Kroger for the Liberal Party would go along way to healing wounds and allowing Liberal Party to dominate Victoria and Federally for decades to come. The damage that man has done is quite astonishing. Hire the best QCs, subpoena documents, make the case – and get the big rat kicked out.

    He can then form his own Kroger Party or just be a Rat on TV..

    Posted by Needs to be done | March 10, 2013, 22:46
  13. f only Ryan had kept his mouth shut. If only Nutt had kept his word and helped Weston out. If only……If only. One of the most frustrating phrases in the English language

    Posted by Anonymous | March 10, 2013, 23:14
  14. Expulsion of Michael Kroger from the Liberal Party is a very interesting idea.

    He’s been disloyal to two wives.
    He’s been publicly disloyal in spectacular fashion to his best friend Peter Costello.
    Ted served under Michael as his VP many years ago. Michael was disloyal to Ted once Ted took over the Presidency and has never stopped just getting worse and worse when Ted became leader and despite Michael the Premier.
    He was disloyal to Denis when he was leading the party last time. He will soon be stabbing him in the back as Premier.
    He’s been disloyal to anyone he feels he cannot control which is symptomatic of a psychopathic personality.

    How can the Liberal Party ever stand for honour integrity and decency with Michael Kroger involved as some kind of senior statesman?

    What would the process be to get him kicked out? Legal eagles reading Vex News please put your thinking caps on.

    Posted by How to do it? | March 11, 2013, 7:30
  15. Ryan is good in front of the TV cameras. Just because he had a immature and up himself policeman (seconded to Ryan’s staff) as a staffer does not mean Ryan is a liability at all.

    Victorians are glad to see the end of imports from other states and from overseas that have never fitted into the roll of Chief Commissioner or Deputy.

    Having a junior policeman as an adviser is ridiculous. The adviser to Ryan is the Chief Commissioner.

    Posted by Adrian Jackson | March 11, 2013, 13:26
  16. Kim Wells is one of only two treasurers out of all Federal, State and Territory governments presiding over a budget surplus. He is an outstanding Treasurer. Suggestions to the contrary are absolute rubbish.

    The other State Treasurer that can boast this achievement is WAs’ – ably assisted by massive mining royalties – something Victoria does not have.

    So arguably Kim Wells is by far the best Treasurer across the Federal, State and Territory governments.

    Go Kim!

    Posted by Anonski | March 11, 2013, 19:09
  17. I will only smile when Kapel is kaput.

    He is a disgrace to the Party of freedom of belief and freedom of speech and defence of the right to hold a contrary opinion. All the other little baby Kapels need to be weeded out as well.

    Anyone who attacks Michael Kroger, the hero who saved the Liberal Party in Victoria from complete irrelevancy in the late 1980’s, is a petty minded value-free intellectual midget.

    Posted by Giuseppe De Simone | March 11, 2013, 19:43
  18. Anonski you are a proven imbecile and wanker, Dim Wells was handed that to him by the state’s best Treasurer in years John Lenders. As for Well’s why do you think Caucus avoids him in the media at ll costs? As he is a nuff nuff.

    Posted by anon | March 11, 2013, 20:21
  19. [DELETED – Sickening]

    Posted by anon | March 11, 2013, 20:22
  20. ‘anon’, you truly are filth.

    Posted by WTF | March 11, 2013, 20:42
  21. And aren’t Crs Heagney, Kontelj x 2 and Nelson going so well, now that the have been elected in Geelong….. Knockles is not exactly setting the world alight at Surf Coast either. If this is the future of the Liberal party in the south west… Never mind Stretch, you will be going into the upper house to replace David Koch at the next election. Might be a bit lonely there without your donut eating buddy, Katos….

    Posted by Moorabool Street Kebab Shop | March 11, 2013, 22:45
  22. Murray, you had five votes against Denis – your time as Member for Sandringham is coming to an end.

    Posted by Rivers | March 11, 2013, 22:57
  23. Rivers you idiot – you are making the age old mistake of counting your own member in addition to yourself.
    Murray only got four votes.

    Posted by RDR knows the numbers | March 11, 2013, 23:31
  24. “Needs to be done ” aka Scott Ryan and KOD need to be expelled from the Victorian Party. Ryan a snake oiled little toad and KOD to close to Cossie who is facing jail.

    Posted by Anon | March 12, 2013, 9:43
  25. What number comes after one, I forgot. Muzza only got one vote.

    Posted by Rivers | March 12, 2013, 12:29
  26. If it is true that Ballieu believes that multiculturism is Victoria’s greatest asset, he should never have been in the top job.

    Posted by David | March 12, 2013, 13:51
  27. Dean Mighell or Eddie Obeid both would be great leaders for the state.both fucken thieves and liars.

    Posted by jimmy | March 12, 2013, 17:01
  28. So Baillieu believes that multiculturalism is Victoria’s greatest asset? I am laughing all the way to the Lib pre-selection conventions for safe seats where if you are not white and anglo, you’re stuffed.

    Posted by Anon | March 12, 2013, 17:45
  29. Media Release! I am on my way back shortly you will see me as the preselected liberal candidate in a very familar seat to me.

    Posted by Boofa | March 12, 2013, 19:35
  30. Kim Wells is doing a good job in a difficult situation. My advice is that the Govt does spend more on infrastructure and teachers (we did make a promise). The AAA rating isn’t as critical as it appears.

    Posted by Sad businessman | March 12, 2013, 21:14
  31. Kim Wells is brainless dirty worthless scum with very little ability.

    Posted by anon | March 12, 2013, 21:33
  32. Sad businessman, Ted made a ludicrous promise which has already been broken. Napthine would look silly and cost the State bucketloads if he made ALP/Green voting teachers the best paid in the country. Screw the lefty teachers as much as you can. It’s what they deserve.

    Posted by Anonymous | March 12, 2013, 21:53
  33. The new Mayor of Port Phillip Council in Victoria, Amanda Stevens, could be in trouble. Apparently one of her HTV cards stated it was registered with the VEC returning office when it wasn’t.

    This is in the courts currently and if found guilty she could be fined big time or worst (for her) banned from standing for council for 4 years I understand.

    Stevens has been to university, a member of the ALP and is a lawyer but she appears to have problems with attention to detail and the electoral laws.

    This follows some outragious and untrue statement in the local fairfax press saying the F1-GP being bad for business and that local residents (who mainly vote Liberal or Labor) dont want the GP. Both statement are untrue.

    Whether its in federal, state or local government most womyn “leaders” are not up to the task in Australia.

    Posted by Grim Reaper | March 12, 2013, 22:56
  34. Michael Kroger is almost 60 years old.

    When will he go away?

    Posted by Tick tock | March 12, 2013, 22:59
  35. Tick tock – the media constantly refer to him as a former President of the Victorian Division of the Liberal Party but that was before mobile phones and home computers were invented.

    Posted by Adrian Jackson | March 13, 2013, 0:01
  36. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fn1JUCFobBM
    Let the Doctor fix Victgoria

    Posted by The Doctor | March 13, 2013, 11:13
  37. hmmnn…a bob each way reshuffle, but pretty good nonetheless…kimba the white lion gets the boot from Treasury and OBI1 gets his gig…Ryan booted upstairs to fully control the Ministry for snouts in trough

    Posted by horrie | March 13, 2013, 11:54
  38. Kim Wells doing a godo job???? Biggest deficit in state history???? Just got dumped from the treasurer positin by Dennis…Wells is finished and on the way out. He will now never go higher than the portfolio of Police Minister…a position that he had previously butchered in opposition. Congrats Kim….finally you get what you deserve…PS hows are those 1 on1 ‘tennis games’ with a female branch member going in the evenings?

    Posted by Kiss of Death | March 13, 2013, 14:17
  39. Is Murdoch snoop Janet Albrechtsen still a Kroger item? Provides a strategic avenue for some Tall Tory Stories don’t you think? Word is JA’s got dirty washing on Rabbott but is staying mum. For now.

    Posted by RupertsHackers | March 13, 2013, 16:01
  40. Teddy gone, Ryan GONE, this little duck outlasts them all! PS: I am very happy, (for now).

    Posted by Alison | March 13, 2013, 16:45
  41. ‘anon’ – are you some delusional Gidley for Scoresby supporter?

    Posted by Anonski | March 13, 2013, 20:07
  42. Michael very disappointing in the cot, he oddly had to look at himself in the mirror during the unfortunate experience.

    Posted by Janet A | March 14, 2013, 12:25
  43. clayton’s reshuffle except for o’brien. ore balsa & knotty pine need to be shifted before we get a decent cabinet. although it was good to see rdr relegated

    Posted by evil bastard | March 16, 2013, 13:06
  44. oops, more balsa

    Posted by evil bastard | March 16, 2013, 13:07
  45. evil bastard | March 16, 2013, 13:06

    ore balsa & knotty pine ??? please explain????

    Posted by Anon | March 23, 2013, 17:21
  46. Quite pleased too more time to offer young teenage ladies a ‘ride’ home.

    Posted by RDR | March 23, 2013, 19:10


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