The last two weeks have been the end of an era for many politicians.
Many have been preparing and then giving their valedictory speeches before parliament.
In NSW on the Liberal side we have seen and heard valedictory speeches from MP’s such as Greg Smith, George Souris, and the star of ICAC Chris Hartcher. From the Labor side we have had MP’s such as Helen Westwood and Former Premier Nathan Rees, who spoke of how he stood against corruption and brought in political donation legislation that was ahead of its time and it’s perhaps only now we are coming to realise that. Ironically as Rees was preparing his speech, so too were a long line of crossbenchers that were very recently Liberal members, that is until ICAC exposed their behaviour.
Valedictory speeches can be a sad thing and many a tough MP will tear up when giving one, however possibly the saddest of the valedictory speeches this year was that of the Labor Member for Auburn Barbara Perry.
Barbara Perry’s speech was sad not because of what she said, although it was a moving speech, but because of the circumstances under which it was given.
A politicians job security is always decided by the public, and due to the nature of the political process it’s fair to say that many politicians won’t know when they are going to be shown the door, whether they are voted out by their constituents or turfed out by their own Party in a pre-selection.
Barbara Perry is an MP who in an age where there is such a high level of distrust for politicians, stands out as someone other MP’s should look up to for her work in her electorate. Barbara is absolutely adored in her seat. The community, which she has always put first since it first entrusted her to look after their interests when electing her in 2001, has never wavered in their support of Barbara even when support for the Labor Party sank to unprecedented lows.
Barbara gave her valedictory speech in NSW parliament not because she was going to retire but because the NSW Labor has betrayed her.
NSW Labor has Party rules that say that candidates should be preselected 12 months ahead of an election. The Labor Party has utterly failed in this regards and as yet Auburn is one of the seats where five months out from an election has yet to have an officially endorsed candidate.
However it would be nice if that were Barbara’s only issue.
Barbara’s real issue is former Auburn Mayor Hicham Zraika.
Barbara was forced into the unfortunate position of having to give a valedictory speech just in case Sussex St, under the watchful eye of Jamie Clements, allowed Mr Zraika to stack branches and stab Barbara in the back. With all of the indications pointing towards the possibility of Jamie Clements throwing his support behind the candidate that has broken Party rules to stack the branches rather than the immensely popular incumbent front bencher and Shadow Minister.
Barbara Perry after so long serving the community did not want to take the chance of missing out on giving a valedictory speech.
Hicham Zraika’s alleged branch stacking efforts are infamous. Regents Park branch suddenly received new members in the hundreds. Multiple supporters were all living in a PO Box according to Party records and multiple families all living in another house.
This behaviour as I have said before should see him expelled from the party not endorsed by it.
Things turned ugly once Zraika’s branch stacking became publicly known with those supporting him now claiming that Perry is tied with Eddie Obeid. This is based on an old mail out from 2001 that was organised by Sussex St not Perry, a mailout authorised and organised by the same Sussex St that is now betraying a loyal Party member and effective MP.
This week Sam Dastyari threw himself into the debate claiming Perry had agreed not to contest the 2015 election in a deal done a few years ago. Perry has denied this claim and Dastyari has called her response “bullshit”. Dastyari claimed:
“The undertaking could not be more explicit. Barbara was desperate to go around once more. We did everything we could to support her”.
I disagree Sam, it would be more explicit if it were in writing, but given it clearly isn’t we will have to rely on our own judgement to make the call as to what is bullshit and what isn’t.
Speaking of Obeid, McDonald and Tripodi, it was under the watch of Dastyari and his former deputy Clements, we saw their rise.
Zraika does have a couple of other supporters however aside from fictional super-heroes.
Federal Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen is one of these. Bowen’s letter of support describes Zraika as
“honest, trustworthy and appropriate at all times”.
Well, that’s pretty good coming from the Shadow Treasurer.
This weekend Chris Bowen was at a branch bbq in Sydney’s Western suburbs I am told by branch members in the electorate.
However, this branch is no ordinary branch. It is an old branch that Bowen is supporting to be re-opened so that the candidate he supported for the State seat of Prospect can start stacking the branch after losing his pre-selection recently.
This candidate Bowen supported is a man by the name of Ninos Khoshaba. Khoshaba is a long-time ally of Joe Tripodi, as has been well reported and Bowen knows only too well.
Khoshaba even owns a property development company which would make him ineligible to run for parliament, but Bowen backed him anyway. Not only that as you can see from the document linked below, that development company is also owned by Carmine Tripodi.
Despite all of this Bowen still backed Khoshaba but fortunately the bulk of the Labor members in the Prospect seat chose to shut down Joe Tripodi’s influence despite all of Chris Bowen’s efforts, and ironically preselected a corruption buster for a candidate instead.
Another backer is Laurie Ferguson, who stated Zraika
“would be a fitting representative, attuned to the area’s constituents”.
Laurie thinks he knows what electorates require.
Laurie Ferguson has supported the candidate described by many as a domestic violence apologist Susai Benjamin for the seat of Seven Hills which will undoubtedly see the area fall into the hands of the Liberal Party for the first time in over half a century. Good call Laurie.
Members rely on the State Secretary and Sussex St to ensure that we have the best candidates so that we will end up with a strong Party and strong leadership contenders.
With candidates such as this it is no wonder members are now looking deeper into who is backing candidates that are happy to seemingly breach Party rules. Those who back them may soon find themselves running out of support if member’s comments are anything to go by.
In these cases and other controversial pre-selections State Secretary Jamie Clements has shown himself to be part of the problem rather than part of the solution. What the Party needs now is someone who will make the tough decisions the membership are longing to see made, not someone biding their time as the Party suffers.
Let’s hope common sense prevails and those in Sussex St choose to show that branch stacking efforts will no longer be rewarded, after all, it is against Party rules.
By December 6 the good people of Auburn will know if Labor are a Party that stands by their own rules or one that turns a blind eye to them.