Dumped MP ’grateful’

Disendorsed MP Luke Donnellan says he's grateful for the opportunity to represent Narre Warren North for the past 20 years.

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

Labor MP Luke Donnellan says he will possibly stay in Parliament for the remainder of his term after being sensationally ousted from his Narre Warren North seat ahead of the 2022 state election.

“I’ve been very fortunate and lucky to represent the community for 20 years. And I’ve had the support of the community for 20 years.

“The lasting memory I’ll always have is the people and the care they showed one another.

“The party has made its decision. I don’t necessarily agree with the decision – but that’s life.”

As part of a ‘clean out’ of seven Labor MPs, Mr Donnellan was defeated by Belinda Wilson in a preselection contest decided by the ALP national executive on 13 December.

Former factional allies and Ministers Marlene Kairouz and Robin Scott were also disendorsed.

Local branch members were excluded from the vote due to a branch-stacking scandal currently being investigated by IBAC.

The same inquiry exposed Mr Donnellan’s role in a Labor branch-stacking operation in the South East – which led to him resigning as Child Protection, Disability, Ageing and Carers Minister in October.

He and ‘Moderate Labor’ factional allies Adem Somyurek and federal Holt MP Anthony Byrne admitted paying for other people’s party memberships and membership renewals, contrary to party rules.

An MP for the seat since 2002, Mr Donnellan spent the past seven years on the Government’s front bench.

He had recently expressed confidence he’d hang on to the seat again.

“Maybe my assessment was incorrect,“ he told Star News after his shock disendorsement.

“I’ve been there for 20 years so I can’t complain. Much of my life has been spent serving the community of Narre Warren North and I’m terribly proud and privileged.

“Ninety-nine per cent of the time, it has been incredibly enjoyable. I’ve been able to watch the area grow and pursue my interests along the way.

“I certainly did not expect to have that opportunity for 20 years.”

His personal highlights were the “marvellous people I’ve met” in Government and Narre Warren North, such as Doveton Special Soccer School head Juan Carlos Loyola.

He thanked his staff and family for their “great support” over two decades.

As a Minister, he was proud of his reforms in child protection, early intervention and child support.

He also nominated the “enormous amount of infrastructure” initiated as Roads and Ports Minister from 2014-‘18.

Mr Donnellan wouldn’t be drawn on how many other Labor MPs would be guilty of the same party breaches.

“I’m not Robinson Crusoe but that’s life.

“I didn’t think it was appropriate – as I indicated at the time – to be Minister if I breached the rules.

“I’ll leave it to others to make their own decisions.”

Over the next 12 months, Mr Donnellan said he’d “keep doing the work I’ve done” as a Narre Warren North back-bencher.

“I plan to continue on until November (2022) – well, as certain as I can be at this stage.

“I don’t know where I’ll go next. I’ve got interests in transport, possibly one of those areas.

“I’ve got ample time to think about it.”