So, who’s going to be the new leader of the NSW Labor Party?
Michael Daley has already stepped aside as leader, given the comprehensive non-success of his campaign to unseat the Liberal Party’s Gladys Berejiklian as premier on Saturday.
The party have issued a statement that “The NSW Labor Party Officers have resolved to hold the rank-and-file ballot for Leader of the NSW Parliamentary Party, after the 2019 Federal Election. The NSW Labor Party is on official campaign footing and is committed to the task of electing a Shorten Labor Government over the next seven weeks,” with deputy leader Penny Sharpe acting as the NSW Labor leader until the ballot happens.
The plan is that Labor will keep a lid on things until after the federal election in May, since a five week leadership ballot will definitely overlap with the federal campaign and give ammunition to the portrayal of the party as riven by disunity, but one should never underestimate the power of Labor to be sprinting to victory and then abruptly decide to pick a fight with their own shoes.
It’s just possible that a few weeks of letting passions subside and uniting everyone in the battle for the federal prize might soften internal opinions of the man who’s catastrophic final week of campaigning guaranteed Labor more time on the opposition benches, but let’s be honest: it won’t.
So, as party embark of two months of I’m-not-campaigning-for-the-leadership-you-are-no-you-shut-up, who are the options?
The Shadow Minister for Water was a strong and vocal critic of Daley’s leaked claim that “Asians with PhDs” were threatening jobs for ‘Straylian yoof. On the other hand, he did only just hang onto his seat by the very skin of his fingernails and fared badly in the last leadership spill following the allegations that preceded then-leader Luke Foley’s resignation late last year.
Still, as Daley’s most vocal critic he’s the one most people are picking – not least because men in politics are rewarded for being combatitive in public.
The former journalist is the party’s most senior female shadow minister and is Shadow Minister for Transport and also Roads, Maritime and Freight. So key Sydney obsessions, in other words.
Then again, Strathfield’s not that safe a seat either. And NSW Labor haven’t exactly been great about putting women into leadership, except when they know that defeat’s on the horizon and they want someone to maybe save some of the furniture. Isn’t that right, Kristina Keneally?
She’s got plenty of campaigning experience as a former strategist, and Londonderry is one of the ALP’s more secure seats.
However, she’s not even in the shadow ministry, and has also not exactly thrown her name in the hat as far as the media are concerned – although given her background in the arts of politics, maybe she’s thinking long game here…
The acting leader is in the upper house following her failed tilt at the seat of Newtown, so she’d need to be parachuted into a safe lower house seat first. And it’s not like there are heaps of options lying around right now. Unless the member for Marboubra – one M. Daley – happens to decide to spend more time with his family come May…
NSW folk of a certain age still speak fondly of “Nifty Nev”, who enjoyed a decade as the second longest serving premier of the state from 1976 to 1986, before resigning undefeated.
The only things standing in the way of a triumphant return would be both that he’s not currently a sitting MP, and also that he died in 2014. Still, he’s got more name recognition than anyone else on the list. Except maybe…
While James Giggle has been notoriously unpolitical in his public utterances on the ABC, his strong pro-owl stance and strong interest in ensuring that they have access to the nighty-night sky would likely play well in a capital city obsessed with the flightpath and increasingly worried about environmental degradation.
Sadly, he has yet to throw his hat in the ring. Also, it turns out he’s from Victoria, so there’s that.