Bitter political infighting within the Labor party is the root cause of the challenge against Maria Vamvakinou for the ALP safe seat of Calwell.

Mrs Vamvakinou is the only Federal MP being challenged at the preselection party vote that will be held on Sunday and next Monday, July 19 and 20 respectively.

The challenger is Andrew Richards from the ultra left splinter group of the Metal Workers Union, The Workers First. Mr Richards was only recently elected at Geelong City Council but seems poised to abandon his home base for the electorate of Calwell.

This move by Cr Richards has raised eyebrows within the party, including Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research Senator Kim Carr.

“This is purely and simply a power play from a small group within the Labor Party aimed at leveraging further concessions,” Senator Carr said to Neos Kosmos English Edition (NKEE).

Senator Carr stressed the fact that Mr Richards as a Geelong Councillor is a long way from home seeking nomination in Calwell.

The Rudd government Minister praised Maria Vamvakinou for her work in Parliament in general and in her electorate in particular.

“Maria [Vamvakinou] is an outstanding Member of Parliament and she is the Chair of the House of Representatives Innovations Committee and I work very closely with her as the Minister.

She has been critical in working closely with us in developing new programs for manufacturing and innovation… in the last 18 months she has attracted, $288 million worth of new investments to the electorate” Senator Carr highlighted.

He reiterated that Cr Richards’ nomination for preselection is a manipulation of the system and a “nuisance nomination” and urged every member of the ALP party to “turn up and reject with their vote this kind of politics.”

Meanwhile, members of Greek branches of the ALP are up in arms and express their frustration over the political argy-bargy.

Stella Karyiofyllidis who is a member of the Anstey Greek branch of ALP for over 20 years suggested that the challenge against Mrs Vamvakinou was a “low blow” for Greeks.

“I’m very surprised and shocked and very disappointed that they are targeting Maria who has worked very hard for her electorate and the Greek community in general.”

Mrs Karyiofyllidis was the first Greek born woman to become Mayor for the City of Moreland where she continues to serve as a Councillor.

She appealed to the party apparatus to support Mrs Vamvakinou’s nomination and called on the Greek members of the ALP to react to this challenge.

“Enough is enough… we only have one Greek woman representing us and they are trying to take this away from us,” Mrs Karyiofyllidis stressed.

The fact that a woman politician was targeted in this apparent power play angered Thekla Scarcella. Mrs Scarcella has been a member of the ALP Greek branch of Broadmeadows East for over 10 years.

“This is outrageous because there aren’t many women representing us in politics as it is,” she said. Mrs Scarcella, a long time resident of the Calwell electorate highlighted that the challenger of Mrs Vamvakinou is not only an outsider to the area but more importantly has not even proven himself to the residents of the City of Geelong where he lives and was elected as a Councillor.

“Maria knows the area and its problems. She has worked hard for its constituents,” stressed Mrs Scarcella.

“In a multicultural area such as this, Maria has built bridges between the different ethnic communities and religions or the area” she added.

Mrs Scarcella was adamant that the Labor party needed to stand behind Maria Vamvakinou, or else she cautioned “of electoral disillusionment with the ALP.”