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Archive for August, 2009

Rees terminal

Breaking: The Daily Telegraph will report tomorrow that Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid has told Nathan Rees he no longer has his support and also that Rees’ staff have no idea where he is.

If this is the case, I expect a spill this week or next.

Update: Here’s the story:

The Daily Telegraph can reveal Labor kingmaker Eddie Obeid met with Mr Rees and told him he should consider resigning.

Mr Rees has not surfaced since taking a week-long holiday on Saturday. Bizarrely, the official line from Mr Rees’ office yesterday was: “I don’t know where he is.”

Update 2: Channel Nine’s political reporter has apparently been briefed by a number of MP’s, including a “senior cabinet minister” confirming that Rees will be thrown out early next week and replaced with Planning Minister Kristina Keneally.

Update 3: It appears that Nathan Rees has issued a statement effectively declaring that he isn’t going anywhere. If we take the last couple of developments at face value you can come up with a fairly plausible scenario. The Obeid/Tripodi faction that were supporting Rees have now thrown their weight behind Kristina Keneally. Rees is digging his heels in and counting the numbers. No word on whether the non-Tripodi Right will back Rees, Keneally or their own candidate (Della Bosca?).

This article seems to suggest that the Labor Party is trying to quell rumours of an imminent spill. It suggests that John Della Bosca is spreading rumours of a Tripodi-Keneally deal to spread disarray within the party.

I don’t think Della Bosca is that stupid. But any political journalist stupid enough to take what Della Bosca or his supporters say about leadership issues on face value should be sacked.

To me, this smacks of damage control. If the deal to push Rees out was made and it was going to happen next week, the last thing the plotters would have wanted was the story leaked days before, creating and exposing all sorts of tensions within the party.

Update 4: It looks like we were right to be sceptical of any deal. The Daily Telegraph, who broke the story, are backtracking very quickly.

The rumours that a deal had been done for Mr Rees to resign next week in favour of Ms Keneally – who is holidaying in the US – appear to have stemmed from a bizarre text message sent from Indonesia.

Rebel MP Tony Stewart sent a text to backbenchers yesterday morning from Jakarta claiming to have knowledge of a deal. Labor head office also swung in behind Mr Rees last night to protect his leadership amid reports a deal had been done between factional warlords for him to resign.

The leaking of a supposed resignation deal is believed to have also been pushed by MPs in the camp of Health Minister John Della Bosca, who is believed to be manoeuvring to challenge Mr Rees for his job.

But Labor MPs said yesterday it was still too soon – mainly because there was no obvious replacement.

I always find it hilarious that our widely read and supposedly respected newspapers can make an unequivocal statement one day, contradict it the next and continue to act as though they are the irrefutable bastions of truth.

I don’t think is the end of leadership speculation for this week.

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It looks like that unless a leadership challenge is brought on competing elements of the Labor Party will continue to leak and leak and leak. I’ve provided my analysis on the topic of the leadership and the state of the Labor Party here and here.

Today I’m going to share this surreal article that manages to present half the Labor caucus as potential leadership candidates.

Highlights after the jump.

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Reports tonight suggest that Premier Nathan Rees may reshuffle his cabinet as early as next week to flush out those plotting against him.

The NSW cabinet is a poisonous den comprising of at least half a dozen factions and sub-factions, most of whom are at war with each other. It’s fairly obvious why Rees would want to clean it out. The difficulty he faces is that he doesn’t have the numbers or the personal support to dictate to the party and hand out positions as he sees fit. His tenuous leadership is built on keeping powerbrokers on both sides happy and he simply can’t risk making any more enemies.

Rees’ goal is to crush the plot to unseat him. The problem is, there’s more than one plot. Sacking John Della Bosca or Tony Kelly would escalate tensions and probably bring on a spill sooner. The reports today were predicting that Energy Minister Ian Macdonald is in Rees’ sights. Macdonald has been tainted by an expenses scandal in which he spent $150,000 on various lunches – earning him the title of ‘Sir Lunchalot’. Macdonald is a weak minister and, following the scandal, electoral poison. Rees probably should throw him out but the fact that he’s close to Della Bosca means that any move against him will be interpreted as a warning shot against Della Bosca.

Nathan Rees has to be very careful. Given the continuous undermining of him by various elements within the party, he has a legitimate reason to reshuffle the cabinet and restate his authority. But if he goes too far he risks forcing his enemies to come out from the shadows, knives in hand.

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NSW Redistribution

On Friday the Australian Electoral Commission released the draft boundaries for NSW for the next Federal election.

Due to population shifts NSW lost one seat and Queensland picked one up. The AEC have proposed abolishing the seat of Reid in Sydney’s west.

Election analyst Antony Green has estimated the margins for the new seats and suggests a Labor gain of 2 seats and a Coalition loss of 3. I don’t consider myself a psephologist so for more detailed analysis of the redistribution see The Tally Room here and here and Antony Green.

One of the changes being discussed a fair amount is the return of Rosebery to the seat of Sydney and the consequence of this on The Green’s vote. Sydney is regarded as The Green’s best chance in NSW to win a Federal lower house seat.

Rosebery has traditionally been dominated by working-class and migrant communities, both strong Labor blocs. In recent years the northern part has been undergoing gentrification along with suburbs like Alexandria and Waterloo. A new demographic is moving in, typically younger, higher income professionals. This group tends to be stronger for The Greens. However the southern end of Rosebery hasn’t changed very much and the gentrification that is taking place is generally slow.

The return of Rosebery to Sydney was something The Greens were hoping to avoid, preferring the seat gain western parts of Wentworth that are weaker for Labor. I personally am sceptical of Sydney being winnable for The Greens in the next few electoral cycles so the current demographic makeup of Rosebery is not that important.

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This week saw the return of much missed leadership speculation within the NSW Labor Party. Both The Sydney Morning Herald and The Daily Telegraph ran front page stories on a supposed imminent challenge to Premier Nathan Rees by the Health Minister John Della Bosca.

Every couple of months the media in NSW run a story about an upcoming leadership challenge. If it’s not Della Bosca, it’s former Planning Minister Frank Sartor or Deputy Premier Carmel Tebbutt. So it’s a good idea to take these reports with a healthy dose of scepticism. The motivation of the “sources close to the plot” have to be scrutinised before we can determine how accurate the story is. Previous attempts to topple Rees by Della Bosca have been scuppered by the latter’s enemies leaking the story to the paper before the numbers had been counted. I’m curious as to why both the Herald and the Daily Telegraph are so eager to be used as pawns in factional brawls.

Before we look at the numbers in the Labor Party and the credibility of John Della Bosca as a potential Premier, there’s a point raised in both articles and again today in The Australian that should be discussed.

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