I’ll start out this post by apologising for the lack of links in this post. I’m writing this post from up in Newcastle which has alas been left behind as far as infrastructure is concerned now that we have a Coalition government in NSW and have had corrupt Liberal members serving their own greed rather than their constituency’s needs.
I had to head to the nearest McDonalds in the hope for half-way decent internet, although that ended up an epic fail.
Now I end up using my phone as a 3G modem with one bar of signal, hence the lack of links. An issue that Malcolm Turnbull doesn’t have any sort of decent plan to resolve…
However, crappy infrastructure is not what I wanted to discuss today, what I wanted to talk about is the woes NSW Labor finds itself in.
John Robertson was the Labor NSW Leader up until a few days ago after he came forward and told the media that he had once signed a letter of representation for the Martin Place siege gunman.
Robertson resigned from his position as leader as he explained that he had lost the confidence of some members of caucus.
Unfortunately for Robertson I don’t think he ever had the confidence of those members he speaks of. However in coming forward with this admission he has presented those members with an opportunity they have found impossible to resist, the chance to rid themselves of him.
Robertson has clearly failed to have the psychic abilities that some desire, and it is now a matter of public record that his middle name is not Nostradamus.
Robertson has clearly struggled for a long time to gain the attention of the media and now as soon as he has some media attention for coming clean on doing his job, he is punished for it.
It should not really matter that Robertson provided a letter of representation for the future gunman, as he was a constituent, and that is what MP’s do, the same thing could have happened to any MP from any Party. The man he wrote a rep for was at the time a free man, allowed to be out on bail via conditions set by a Coalition state government. Any former crimes had seen him allowed to roam the streets freely in decisions made by a judge. Unfortunately for Robbo his crystal ball did not give him enough information to second-guess a judge’s decision.
If looking after the needs of a constituent who was seeking access to their children via Dept Of Community Services is not an MP’s job, than I don’t know what is. There was nothing at the time that indicated the possibility of violence, and even later after his crimes did become increasingly violent a judge and a Coalition government thought it best to leave the future gunman out in public and surely that is the more reckless of any of the decisions made regarding the gunman.
No matter what your views on Robbo or the way he led the Party, this was no way for him to go.
So where does this leave Labor? In a great bloody mess is where.
There are two members who could lead the Party and maybe even lead it to victory. Unfortunately for the Party however both Nathan Rees and Carmel Tebbutt have decided to resign from parliament, leaving the Party with two option B’s.
Those two option B’s are Michael Daley, and Luke Foley. Both of these men are more than capable however both lack the public appeal of Carmel Tebbutt and particularly Nathan Rees, someone who the public regard as a great leader who was knifed for fighting the corruption that plagued Labor and now plagues the Liberal Party.
What we are now witnessing is NSW Labor in damage control, and in a way we have all become accustomed to the cure is seemingly worse than the cancer.
I have written in the past of some of the pre-selection drama’s that have caused the Party membership so much anguish. One of those is the plight of the Member for Auburn Barbara Perry.
Barbara as you may know was facing the Auburn pre-selection running against the suspected branch stacker Hicham Zraika, someone from Labor’s Right being backed by the Left’s Laurie Ferguson in a display of a seemingly desperate grab for power via a right-wing puppet over any sort of loyalty to his faction or to his parties best interest. People can have their own opinions but mine is this makes Laurie a traitor.
Barbara Perry has now become the target of yet more backroom deals as those who wish for Luke Foley to be leader desperately try to find him the lower house seat he requires to be elected.
The Auburn pre-selection debacle, which I shall write about in more detail in another article soon, is as yet undecided with there being an appeal in process currently.
However sources claim that without the outcome even been decided yet, Barbara Perry is to suffer the indignity of being discarded like the prawns leftover from Xmas lunch.
It appears the powers that be are seeking to parachute Luke Foley into the Auburn seat and are doing a deal to hand Hicham Zraika an upper house seat despite his not been elected to anything by the public or the Labor rank and file. It would appear that his backers have an allergic reaction to rank and file elections for upper house seats.
This move would rob Barbara Perry of the democratic process that Hicham backer Ferguson likes to talk about but avoided when parachuted into his own Federal seat. It would also see a right-winger backed into an upper house sea by the Left’s Ferguson while someone who has the greatest level of respect and support, Helen Westwood from the Left loses her position in the upper house.
This is exactly the kind of behavior and dodgy dealing that the rank and file despise. I thought we were a Party set to embrace reform?
Bear in mind there is still an independent appeals process underway into the Auburn pre-selection currently that could end up showing that Hicham Zraika has broken numerous party rules, yet before we find out the result a deal has been done to gift him an upper house seat.
Should Luke Foley be foolish enough to do a deal rather than wait a few months to put his hand up for the leadership he will be playing straight into the hands of the right.
He will not only be robbing Barbara Perry of due process, he will be handing Zraika a gift before we even know if he’s broken Party rules. He will also be handing NSW Secretary Jamie Clements a lifeline as the findings of the independent committee could prove embarrassing for him.
Luke would also take a massive dive in the opinions of the rank and file whom he will need the support of next year to hold the position should he try to rush things. I’m sure the people of Auburn won’t like being taken for granted, and neither will the rank and file.
Luke would do well to remember the old saying that goes along the lines of “All good things to those who do a dodgy deal with the faceless factional power-brokers and try and short cut democratic the process that you have spent your life fighting for and in doing so rob a long serving loyal member of due process and protect and reward a suspected branch stacker”.
Oh, hang on… upon reflection I think it’s actually more like “All good things to those who wait”.
In the scheme of things it’d not long to wait and should Luke be democratically elected by the rank and file he can be opposition leader from the upper house and worry about a lower house seat in three years.
In my humble opinion, there is a better solution and that is to do absolutely nothing.
We know that we are not in a position to win this election so just leave things be. We will be having a rank and file election for the party leadership after the election anyway, so leave Robertson in as leader, his public profile while low, is still greater than that of Foley and Daley. Let the rank and file decide.
In Auburn allow the democratic process to continue and if Hicham wins we will know not to waste union resources or send any volunteers to the seat for campaigning or handing out on election day as he apparently already has so many new members who will support him given the number that were seeking to vote for him in the pre-selection.
It may seem like a novel idea, but let’s try standing behind the leader we have for once.
Whatever his failings he has led the Party through arguably through it’s toughest period after the humiliation of the last State election. Robertson should be given credit for being open on this matter as well as showing a willingness to fall on his sword.
To lose a leader for merely doing his job shows that there is one thing NSW Labor needs above all else.
A bit of self-respect.