A fraction shy of a decade since returning Labor to power in Victoria after its only term in the wilderness this century, Daniel Andrews has called it a day, effective 5pm tomorrow. This will result in a by-election for his loseable south-eastern suburbs seat of Mulgrave and the choice of a new Premier at a caucus meeting to be held at midday tomorrow. (UPDATE: It is noted that party rules require a three-day nominations period.) Deputy Premier Jacinta Allan has long been the heir presumptive, reflecting the dominance of her and Andrews’ Socialist Left faction, although her CV carries the unfortunate entry of “Minister for Commonwealth Games Delivery June 2022 – July 2023”. However, the Financial Review reported in May that Ben Carroll of the Right had been “canvassing support in the event of an early exit” by Andrews.
The party has a strong incentive to fall behind a consensus choice, since party rules require a ballot of the membership unless 80% of caucus supports the winning candidate in a contested vote. Making Carroll deputy would restore factional balance to the leadership positions, but the Herald Sun reported in June that Mary-Anne Thomas, Gabrielle Williams and Lily D’Ambrosio of the Left might also be in contention. However, the latter’s stocks may have declined in light of recent branch-stacking controversies.
UPDATE: The Australian reports today’s caucus meeting is likely to choose an acting leader from among those who are not planning to nominate for the leadership in the three days available for them to do so, but the Financial Review hears different, saying the meeting is likely to hand the role to Jacinta Allan. An acting leader could be in place for some time if the leadership is contested, which would require a second contender to have their nomination endorsed by 20 per cent of the party room. There would follow a two-week campaign period before ballot papers were sent out to party members, whose votes would account for 50% of the result alongside the result of a party room vote.
The question would appear to be whether Ben Carroll of the Right, who is said to be canvassing support, goes the distance against Allan. Labor sources cited by The Age say the leadership is “Allan’s to lose”, but the Right could play hardball in forcing a vote if it is not assured of the deputy position. Anthony Carbines and Natalie Hutchins are mentioned as potential Right contenders along with Carroll, but Mary-Anne Thomas and Gabrielle Williams of the Left are also said to be interested. Carbines, Williams and Thomas, together with Colin Brooks, are further listed by The Australian as “possible but unlikely” contenders for the leadership.