As many of you would be aware I have been following the actions of the NSW Member for Wollongong, Noreen Hay’s actions over the last few months.
On Tuesday night there was a significant event, Noreen Hay stepped down from her position as convener of the Centre Unity faction.
Currently there is the usual argy-bargy and phone calls going on to secure support for whoever will fill Noreens shoes.
The question facing many within the faction will be do they really want someone in Noreens shoes? After all, those shoes of Noreens are smelling more and more like she has stepped in something. Some would say that they stink so bad that Noreen should perhaps have been wearing gum boots.
Clearly there are some major issues being addressed at the moment within the party and the faction. These issues are having a major impact on NSW Labor’s ability to move forward from the public perception of corruption and the old-guard protecting each other. The two names associated with these issues are Noreen Hay, and state secretary Jamie Clements.
Those who wish for things to continue as they are as we see the party’s reputation dragged through the mud will no doubt be happy to back in the candidate being pushed by Noreen and Jamie, her name is Courtney Houssos and is a current Member of the Legislative Council.
It is my humble opinion that in times of unrest, confusion, and where there is a dark cloud hanging over the party, I believe that it is wise to turn to a trusted and well-respected member in order to boost confidence, to me that person would be Michael Daley.
Those who wish to see Noreen with her fingers on the strings would be supporting Houssos.
Noreen has stated that her reason for stepping down is that the position is a conflict of interest with her position of Opposition Whip, a position Jamie Clements backed her for.
Noreen Hay has held her position as Opposition Whip for a while now and yet it would seem she has only just discovered a conflict of interest now? This is odd indeed.
So why else would Noreen consider stepping down? What else has occurred lately that may have brought this on?
On 26th May Liberal Party Whip Dr Peter Phelps addressed the parliament and spoke of some allegations regarding Noreen and Shinyway Education Group, a company that allegedly accepts forged school transcripts from overseas students to lobby for university positions.
This has been referred to by some as Noreen’s China Syndrome.
Noreen’s response to Dr Phelps was a brief statement where she promised to be able to provide documentation, something I understand has yet to be provided to the parliament.
Noreens relationship with Shinyway goes back at least as far as 2013 when she was part of a delegation of three that travelled to China on 18th September 2013, then on 24th October she was the guest of honor at a Shinyway launch in Sydney.
The trip in September was so important that Noreen took her then staffer Kiley Martin, who was charged with a high range drink offence earlier this year. Questions remain as to who paid Ms Martins travel expenses.
If the delegation was travelling on official business where is the report on the trips outcomes? If it was as many suspect either a junket or a private matter for Noreen why the need to take a member of staff that has publicly funded wages
Questions also regarding who the mystery third delegation member was remain given Noreen’s response failed to address this question. Some have suggested that the third delegate may have been Randy Lu who was appointed as a business advisor to Illawarra Regional Development Board in 2005.
The board also had as members two local councilors that were found corrupt by ICAC during the Wollongong Council corruption scandal in 2008. Another former board member who there are questions being raised of whether or not she was involved in the trip is Michelle Greig, a former Shellharbour Deputy Mayor, Noreen shadow and factional ally, and an alleged frequent traveller to China.
However there is speculation that the relationship with Shinyway has been for longer than that.
Questions are being asked relating to a previous scandal involving Noreens associates in 2008 related to prospective Chinese students paying $80 to sit a test as a scouting exercise for Wollongong University, and how this scandal may have involved Shinyway, Randy Lu, the Regional Development Board and Noreen Hay.
Randy Lu was in Australia recently, I wonder if Noreen caught up with him while he was here.
While Noreen Hay tries to pass all of this off as smear, to most it feels more like smoke, and as we all know where there is smoke there is usually fire.
Something tells me that this story has a long way to run yet.
This afternoon Courtney Houssos became convener of Centre Unity faction unopposed.
Michael Daley has been criticised for failing to stand.