When Nutrasweet suddenly became Equal most were not fooled.
When Kentucky Fried Chicken turned into KFC nobody I know suddenly thought the chicken wasn’t fried anymore.
When Prince changed his name into a symbol, then into Love Symbol, and then into whatever it was formerly known as and what it is now, everyone still assumed he was the same guy who was gonna party like it was 1999, only he looked somewhat ridiculous with his penchant for name changes.
Some may consider it equally ridiculous to rename a faction of a political party, which brings us to Labor’s “Centre Unity”.
Labor’s Right Faction certainly was in desperate need for a make-over. When you had people like Eddie Obeid and Joe Tripodi pulling the strings for years (many would say they still do) you certainly need to do some work on yourself.
The Labor Right currently control Sussex St, just as they have for well over a decade.
If you want to know where things went pear-shaped with the Rudd to Gillard to Rudd debacle, ask those who thought they were smarter than us all on the Right. It was even often referred to as the NSW Right Disease.
If it bothers you that as a Party we lurched to the right with asylum seeker policy, you also know who to look towards.
Even Kathy Jackson was backed by the Victorian Right’s David Feeney, and what a short step it has been for her to walk over to the Liberal side of the fence with all her new pals, although virtually all have deserted her now.
Here in NSW as we head towards an election we have seen some ridiculous decisions come from the Right controlled Sussex St.
In the seat of Seven Hills we have seen a candidate endorsed who has some views on domestic violence that most would find offensive and are most certainly in conflict with Labor’s position. For three months after pre-selection he was not endorsed while he was put through numerous committee’s to assess whether or not he should be endorsed. It has been alleged that he was finally rejected by these committees only to have that decision overturned from above. This decision to overturn rendered the committees both useless and redundant and has left Seven Hills with a candidate that they don’t deserve and nobody wanted other than those whom the candidate had allegedly stacked the branches with.
So seemingly embarrassed are Sussex St over their decision it didn’t even make NSW Labor’s August Political Briefing.
Some may have seen a recent article about the pre-selection in the seat of Lakemba. Actually it’s more the lack of pre-selection.
Former Premier Morris Iemma who held the Lakemba seat for Labor for 10 years came out swinging at those in Sussex St who are tipped to install their chosen candidate and not allow branch members to pre-select their own representative.
Mr Iemma stated that this course of action;
“flies in the face of everything that’s being said nationally and at the state level about making the party more democratic”.
Another bad decision has been the one to allow further branch stacking in the Auburn electorate.
Sitting member Barbara Perry is a Former Minister a current Shadow Minister and is incredibly popular and well-respected within her community and outside of it.
Despite the complaints of many, a blind eye has been turned to the branch stacking that will see her inevitably lose the pre-selection for the seat.
Wondering why? Her opponent is allegedly a good mate of NSW Labor Secretary Jamie Clements, who is once again of course from the Right, although now that has become “Centre Unity”
When you see decisions like this coming from Sussex St you know that no matter what is being shovelled, true reform is still not even visible in the distance.
The public are not stupid, and as a member of the ALP I don’t particularly like being treated as if I am.
Although the claim may be that the faction was formed in 1979 by Paul Keating those of us who don’t drink the Sussex St Kool-Aid know that “Centre Unity” has been a thing of the past until recently. Borrowing Keatings name is just an excuse to claim his achievements as the factions achievements in what appears a desperate bid for credibility.
I probably didn’t listen as much as I should have in school, but I did learn that centre is not to the right. I also learned that unity means all joined together, which would negate the need for a faction at all, we would just be NSW Labor, or Labor. What a revolutionary idea…
Therefore to name a faction Centre Unity is to name it Complete Contradiction.
When I see the amount of time, effort and money spent making ridiculous flyers, brochures and websites branded Centre Unity my heart sinks a little.
The effort and funds wasted on this could have been put to far better use promoting Labor values and the Labor Party.
We should be promoting the Party to the electorate, not wasting resources promoting a faction of the Party to others within the Party that their name insinuates they are unified with anyway.
Some of the conversations I have been part of with people, which go along the lines of “so and so from the Left was chatting with so and so from the Centre about someone from the Far Right” start to sound like an excerpt from Monty Python after a while.
It’s no secret that I am of course from the Left and some may say that makes me a touch biased, and perhaps it does. However I would like to think that if we on the Left dragged the reputation of the Labor Party through the mud just as many of those in the Right have done, my hope would find be that we out what those issues were, debate them, fix them, put new rules in place, and rebuild from there, not just slap a new name on ourselves, pretend it had nothing to do with us and ignore the fact that it is still going on.
I should point out that I know many of those who are part of Centre Unity and many of these are great people with good hearts and they will always have my support, so please do not think this is directed at everybody who are supporters of this faction. I just see this as a distraction from the true reform that we should be pursuing.
The Party reform that we have been promised since those on the Right had us dragged before ICAC for what seemed like forever has yet to eventuate.
A few community pre-selections and the ability to choose our leader in a weighted election does not a reformation make.
If we are serious about Party reformation than let’s start by having a meaningful conversation about it rather than heavily stage-managed conferences.
The upcoming state election in NSW is one we can win or at the very least make some significant inroads with.
We currently have a Coalition government in NSW that is being exposed as the most corrupt government this country has ever seen through ICAC, however questionable candidate choices and ignoring issues won’t help our cause.
On the bright side, we have a leader in John Robertson that is keen to lead a strong and truly unified Party to an election victory, so let’s try our best to give him the tools to do this with.