Former MLA wants party spill

by Chris Griffith
Written 11 May 1996


my face


Outspoken former state Labor MP Peter Pyke yesterday accused his old AWU faction of conducting "illegal meetings" and stacking branches in its bid to undermine his grass-roots support in the Mt Ommaney electorate.

Mr Pyke, who wants to re-contest Mt Ommaney at the next election, again hit out at state secretary Mike Kaiser and called for a major spill of party positions at Labor's state conference next month.

In February, Mr Pyke earned the wrath of the AWU faction when he publicly criticised former Premier Wayne Goss and state secretary Mike Kaiser for their performance leading up to the Mundingburra by-election.

Shortly afterwards, he resigned from the AWU faction after accusing it of threatening several Labor caucus members with disendorsement if they supported Peter Beattie over Wayne Goss in a leadership spill.

Yesterday he said reform of the party had stalled and the status-quo had prevailed despite the ascendancy of Peter Beattie into the Labor leadership.

"There is widespread perception both within and without the Labor Party that, if this was private enterprise, all these heads would have been lopped by now, and we'd be getting on with the job of doing what we need to do -- better.

"Instead, to the disbelief of many branch members and supporters, and the Queensland constituency, it appears as if nothing has changed, and it is business as usual for Mike Kaiser, and the AWU faction."

"I believe a reason for this is many people fear rocking the boat because they do not wish to disadvantage the party's chances at the next state election -- Others fear the payback."

Mr Pyke said the AWU faction had executed an "illegally attempted branch take over" which was "nothing but a blatant attempt by the AWU faction to have one of its own members, Howard Neilsen, instated" in his place.

"Two people elected to positions of secretary and treasurer actually live well outside the area, and one had never before attended a Centenary Branch meeting."

He predicted a sudden influx of new AWU-aligned members into the Centenary Branch prior to preselection for Mt Ommaney, held by the Liberal Party by two percent.

But Mr Kaiser said he would not be drawn into conflict with Mr Pyke.

"In the interests of party unity, I'm not responding. "And I've got no knowledge of what occurred in the local branches."