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DLP Senator John Madigan Quits Party; Alleges Cancer Of Political Intrigue; Will Sit As Independent

Senator John Madigan has announced his resignation from the Democratic Labour Party, alleging a “cancer of political intrigue” and declaring he will sit as an independent for the remainder of his term.


Madigan told the Senate this morning that his former office manager had been in contact with the Liberal Party about forthcoming preselections. Madigan told the Senate: “That person systematically ran a campaign of disinformation and disharmony in my office.”

Later, Madigan tabled a series of emails between his former office manager, Rachel Carling-Jenkins, and Liberal Party officials.

Madigan claimed “confidential information was leaked and lies were told”. He said attempts by him to undertake “normal communication” with party members were thwarted. The “cancer of political intrigue clearly has infected the Victorian State Executive of the DLP”, Madigan said.

The DLP immediately turned on Madigan. The party president, Paul Funnell, is reported as saying Madigan is a “disgrace and should hang his head in shame”.

Madigan said he will sit out the remainder of his term as in independent. Elected at the 2010 federal election, Madigan polled 2.33% of the primary vote and was elected on preferences. His term began on July 1, 2011 and will expire on June 30, 2017.

In a statement reminiscent of the Labor split in the 1950s that led to the formation of the DLP, Madigan said: “I haven’t left the DLP, the DLP left me.”

Listen to Madigan’s statement (6m – transcript below)

Watch Madigan (6m)

Hansard transcript of Senator John Madigan’s statement about his resignation from the DLP.

Senator MADIGAN (Victoria) (09:31): by leave—Since I was elected in 2010, I have been acutely aware of the historic significance of my position. I was the first DLP member in the federal parliament for almost 40 years. At the height of its representation in 1970, the party had five senators. History has been my compass in the past three years. In the foyer in my office are the photos of Frank McManus, Jack Little, Jack Kane, George Cole, Vince Gair and Condon Byrne. I pass them on my way to the Senate, on the way to committee meetings and every time I leave or arrive at my office. They are reminders of the responsibility I carry. They are reminders of the people I represent—the people of Victoria who feel let down by traditional politicians and politics.

The DLP has been the party of principle in the face of opposition, and no other political party in Australia can say its founders were prepared to sacrifice promising political careers to uphold their commitment to freedom from undue and corrupt influence. I have been a member of the DLP since 2006, so I have arrived at my decision today only after deep introspection and consultation with trusted friends and colleagues. It has become apparent to me that the DLP’s own worst enemies are within its own ranks. Ever since my election, I have witnessed firsthand attempts by those in the party to assume power through any means, even if it means the very destruction of the party itself. This will not be news to many. A simple internet search will reveal part of what I have been talking about.

But more recently that attack moved into my electorate office. Earlier this year, at the strong recommendation of senior party members, I employed an office manager. This person already had a relationship with the DLP and was involved with the party’s senior members. It has now become apparent that that person systematically ran a campaign of disinformation and disharmony in my office. Attempts by me to undertake normal communication with party members were thwarted, confidential information was leaked and lies were told. Even more alarmingly, it has emerged that, two weeks after joining my staff, that person sent an email to the Liberal Party asking about preselection in the forthcoming Victorian election. The cancer of political intrigue clearly has infected the Victorian state executive of the DLP. That person suddenly resigned from her position in July, three days after being elected Victorian state president of the DLP. I have sought answers from the state executive about these events. I have sought a plausible explanation. So far, I have received none.

My commitment to the party has, I believe, been second to none. So it is with a heavy heart but with resolution that today I announce my resignation from the DLP to continue my term as an Independent senator. I look back at my achievements, such as they are, over the last three years and know that I could have achieved more. I could have achieved more with less distraction from party politics and from the culture of complaint, disruption and undermining that now exists in the DLP amongst senior members.

I remain committed to DLP values. I remain committed to supporting manufacturing and farming jobs and supporting those in our country who are the most vulnerable. I remain committed to the sanctity of human life, from conception to natural death and at every stage in between. I remain committed to those long-term and loyal DLP party members who are unquestioning in their support and faith in DLP principles. I remain committed to the people of Victoria and Australia, and I confirmed to them that I will not rest in my efforts to represent them and to fight for those things we equally believe in. I seek leave to table documents in relation to this matter.

The PRESIDENT: Is leave granted?

Senator Abetz: No. Just so there is no misapprehension in relation to this, as I understand it, the coalition has not seen all the documents as yet. Therefore, this is not a blanket denial; it is just subject to inspection of the documents, and then we will make our position known. I understand that I reflect the ALP’s view on this. On behalf of all senators, I send our best wishes to Senator Madigan on the very difficult decision he has come to.

Leave not granted.

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Malcolm Farnsworth
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