A factional war has erupted inside the Labor Party after a damaging week of revelations about MP Pierre Yang, which party president Carolyn Smith believes was partly driven from within and smacked of “xenophobia”.
Accusing “senior members” of her party of leaking information to undermine Mr Yang, the president blasted the insiders for fuelling a media storm over the Chinese-born backbencher, including details of his recruitment of new Labor members.
“It is disappointing that senior members in the party are leaking confidential membership information,” Ms Smith said. “It seems that this is internally driven with a tinge of xenophobia.”
It is understood WA Labor’s powerful administrative committee held a heated meeting yesterday in which members discussed moves by Mr Yang — who comes from Labor’s Left — to create a new branch inside the party’s Curtin electoral council.
“I am proud of our efforts to increase diversity in our party,” said Ms Smith, who is a Left faction powerbroker. “We are an inclusive organisation which aims to represent the whole community.”
Mr Yang, 35, found himself in the headlines this week after he was forced to cut ties to Perth-based pro-Chinese Communist Party groups, which he had failed to declare to Parliament.
It has since emerged that members of Labor’s Right complained Mr Yang was allegedly using large numbers of Chinese-born members to branch stack and win influence on the party’s State executive committee, which rules on State and Federal preselections.
WA Labor State secretary Matt Dixon said the administration committee held its regular monthly meeting and approved Mr Yang’s “Churchlands” branch, but it is understood a number of his nominated members were ruled ineligible.
Premier Mark McGowan normally sits on the administrative committee, but was not there yesterday due to other commitments.
Traditionally the Left and the powerful United Voice union have held sway inside WA Labor, but last year unions from the Right and some from the Left formed a new faction called Progressive Labor in an attempt to assert control.