Baird Quits: NSW Libs’ One Chance To Get It Right

THE RESIGNATION of NSW Premier Mike Baird today was not really unexpected; with several immediate family members gravely ill, Baird’s decision to quit to enable himself to help more is entirely in character. But NSW’s Liberal government — arguably two years from defeat until this morning’s news — now gets one chance to aright itself under a new leader. Either way, the instability that marked 16 years of ALP rule continues apace.

Yet again, the half-finished piece on the Turnbull government is being delayed on account of things that just happen, and yet again, I am going to be circumspect: not through any shortage of time for a change but because really, the political ramifications of today’s change can be well and truly picked apart over the coming few days. It is probably a little more decent, in the circumstances, to keep discussion of those to a minimum.

But the news that NSW Premier Mike Baird has decided to call time on his decade-long career in politics — including three years as Premier — was to be expected; the poor health of his mother and father has not been a secret, and the revelation his sister Julia has relapsed in her cancer battle is very sad indeed.

Whatever people think of Baird, his devotion as a family man is the stuff of legend; a deeply religious man not always comfortable with personal interactions, he has been misrepresented at times as aloof or dour (or as one newspaper piece put it today, “a dictator).

I have consistently argued in this column that MPs of every stripe, love them or loathe them, are human beings first and foremost: and whilst some have sorely tested my inclination to treat them as such, and others proved undeserving of such basic courtesies at all (Bill Shorten, please note) the fact is that bad things happen to people from all walks of life, and our elected representatives are no different.

I wish Baird the very best for a happy and healthy retirement from public life, and I hope he enjoys the extra time he has to spend with his kids (you don’t need to be in politics to have too little of that). He can walk away knowing that despite the political difficulties that have lately engulfed it, he was jointly the leader of a government that over six years has restored NSW (and Sydney in particular) to the position NSW people believe they should occupy as the drivers of Australia’s economy and the engine room of the country’s growth.

(I could say something viciously parochial as a ferociously proud Melburnian about everything that is wrong with Sydney, but I won’t. This time).

It is always upsetting when elderly relatives enter declining health, and in this sense — with parents only slightly younger than Baird’s — I both sympathise and can relate. Bruce Baird (again, agree or disagree with his political views) was, like his son, a gentleman of politics, and widely liked throughout the Liberal Party. Clearly I know nothing of Baird’s mum, but to have both parents seriously ill simultaneously is a cruel blow.

Add in his sister too, and the Bairds have had more than their fair share of grief to deal with, quite literally.

We wish their family the very best as they work through these very grave health issues.

Despite the successes the NSW Coalition is able to point to in terms of outcomes, it has also mishandled an adequate number of issues to suggest that provided the opposition Labor Party can get its…self…together, the Liberals’ second term in office might well be its last.

Council amalgamations and the ridiculous attempt to ban greyhound racing — along with stunts like the lockout laws in Kings Cross, which have merely transferred drunken and miscreant behaviour to other parts of Sydney in the wee small hours — have added up, and the Coalition now trails in reputable polling of state voting intent just six years after winning two-thirds of the two-party vote at an election.

To date, there is little to suggest the attempts to fix these mistakes has cut much ice with the NSW electorate.

And whilst the junior Coalition partner, the Nationals, has had three leaders of its own in six years (and lost one of its safest seats anywhere in the country through the Orange By-election), the selection of Baird’s replacement — almost universally anticipated to be the treasurer, Gladys Berejiklian — will signal the seventh Premier of the Premier State in just ten years.

The rotating door on the Premier’s office in Macquarie Street, which spun like crazy during the 16-year tenure of the ALP and was credited as a contributing factor to that party’s demise in 2011, is still revolving now: and it is to be hoped that whoever replaces Baird will, election results permitting, stay in the one spot for at least five to seven years to provide some sorely needed stability.

As I said, however, we will leave the politics of today’s announcement for another time; aside from this brief recap, it’s really not the time to explore these issues thoroughly.

But in closing, I think Baird’s departure buys the NSW Liberals one chance — and one chance only — to aright the ship and retrieve their standing under a new leader.

For reasons that extend well beyond the state’s borders, they had sure as hell better get it right.

Time To End The Annual Daylight Saving Farce

THE FARCICAL MISHMASH of four time zones for 24 million people resumes tomorrow; coming just hours after the AFL Grand Final and coinciding with the finale of the NRL season — marking, obliquely, a passage from the sublime to the ridiculous, as Australian sport moves on to horses and pretty girls in dresses — the inefficiency, waste and confusion caused by daylight saving is again upon us for six months. It’s time for the circus to end.

It’s a less “heavy” post from me this morning, and I begin with a familiar apology to readers on account of the dearth of time I have had for posting comment; whilst the heavy workload I’m under is manageable, the additional impost inflicted by the medical fright* I have obliquely alluded to over the past two months will shortly be resolved as well: and whilst I’ll still be busier than a swarm of bees, the time I have been carving out to attend to the latter is about to draw to a close, and this is probably the difference between the three articles I’ve been delivering each week and at least another couple, so do bear with me.

I’ve read the editorial from this morning’s Brisbane Courier Mail, and whilst it contains a couple of errors of fact — Queenslanders (including, then, me) voted in a Daylight Saving referendum in 1991, not in 1992 as stated — I have to say I couldn’t agree more.

When those north of the Tweed last had their say on the permanent adoption of Daylight Saving, I voted against it.

But I did so with the explicit rider that had I lived in Melbourne, I would have been unreservedly supportive; I have of course lived in Melbourne now for almost 18 years, and whilst I don’t like the “extra hour of afternoon heat” that comes with Daylight Saving during the most unpleasant excesses of summer, the fact it remains twilight until almost 10pm during the longest days of the year (and is light enough first thing in the morning) outweighs that concern.

When I lived in Brisbane, it was still dark by 7.30pm — even during the three-year trial of Daylight Saving introduced by the Ahern government in 1989.

But time, experience, and the passage of more of life’s journey can evolve perspectives, and it certainly has in my own case.

True to its reputation of being “different” — a euphemism if ever there was — some of the arguments advanced against Daylight Saving in the so-called Sunshine State back in those days were ridiculous; the birds at the Currumbin Bird Sanctuary on the Gold Coast, for example, were said to be disinclined to show up an hour early to be fed.

The same was said of country cows, who lacked comprehension of time zone changes, and would supposedly fail to arrive for milking at 4am…because they would still believe it to be 3am.

And my favourite was the effect Daylight Saving would have “on the curtains,” and watching Gerry Connolly’s Gerrymander Joh And The Last Crusade at Brisbane’s Twelfth Night Theatre in December 1989, audience members were treated to the disgusting spectacle of “Flo” hanging the most flatulently garish curtains at the Bjelke-Petersen ranch in Kingaroy, assuring the neighbour who had “popped in for a cuppa” not to worry about the hideous pattern on them because “they’ll be bleached white in no time with all this extra daylight we’re having.”

It is difficult to believe intelligent people could ever come up with this sort of rubbish. But the truly deleterious effects of Daylight Saving are no laughing matter.

In the almost quarter of a century that has passed since that ill-fated 1991 referendum, Brisbane has changed; no longer the archaic backwater that closes at 5pm and all weekend every weekend, the Brisbane lifestyle has evolved to make far more use of the daylight hours for recreational purposes than has ever been the case.

Businesses on the Gold Coast (which have traditionally driven any Daylight Saving push in Queensland) these days simply ignore the time change, and turn their clocks forward to synchronise them with their neighbours south of the Tweed River.

The cost in lost economic output and waste from the hotchpotch of time zones that exist for half the year has been estimated at $4 billion — a lot of money at the best of times, and inefficiency and waste that can scarcely be justified as the economic climate turns decidedly sour.

And the instrument of Daylight Saving itself seems to have become a de facto vehicle for state chauvinism and the persistence of States’ Rights that are becoming increasingly difficult to demarcate or even justify in a modern, integrated society such as Australia’s.

In theory, I spend a day each week commuting to Brisbane and back at present: and from this coming week onward, airline schedules become truly confusing, as flights to Brisbane take (on paper) one hour, whilst the return leg takes a little over three.

I am dependent on the latest departure possible on the return leg, on account of what I’m going for; to ensure flights arrive and depart in Melbourne at the same time all year round (and by extension, on other routes to the southern states) all of those departures become one hour earlier tomorrow — which scarcely helps business travellers requiring a full day interstate.

And having alluded to the little medical issue I have been working against of late, after the most recent incident Qantas barred me from flying until the condition was diagnosed and resolved (which will happen this week) — and I spent the following two days driving the length of the Newell Highway to get home: I raise this because Australia isn’t a series of petty fiefdoms, but a continuous, rolling plain that merely changes the further you go; there is no border checkpoint at Goondiwindi, or Tocumwal, or anywhere else. To arrange the country as if there were is fatuous, and a relic of a bygone era that belongs in the history books and not in the 21st century.

It’s only a few weeks since we last looked at Daylight Saving: through the lens of vacuous expediency and cheap political frippery deployed by South Australia’s Liberal Party to scuttle a move to permanently align that state’s time zone with New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania; filled with imbecilic righteousness and a sadly misguided sense of self-importance, serial embarrassment and senior Liberal Vickie Chapman spoke of a need to remain “in sync with northern trading partners” (in Darwin, of all places) and to avoid becoming “a western suburb of Sydney” as the Liberals’ brain-dead reasons for torpedoing what was objectively a pretty good idea.

The same sense of faux righteousness emanates out of Queensland irrespective of who is in office these days; the LNP claims to be defending the small business community by acting to preserve the status quo, whilst Labor simply claims there is no consensus on the issue despite its platform committing it to Daylight Saving for decades.

I understand there are parts of Queensland — its rural west and its far north, for instance — in which Daylight Saving really isn’t a fit; these are the areas that hardly depend on efficient or harmonious accord with what goes in in the southern states, and which can and indeed should probably be left to their own devices.

But the south-east — say, from Noosa and Coolum to the border, and west to take in Ipswich and perhaps the Warwick/Toowoomba arc, depending on local sentiment — really should be brought into line with the vast majority of the population that lies south of the Tweed, and as the Courier Mail correctly notes, majority support in the south-east for such a move existed even at the time of the 1991 referendum.

But there is a bigger issue here; does Australia remain a series of disparate former colonies that reluctantly tolerate each other’s existence, or is the country evolving toward being a united, single nation?

Some express surprise whenever, as an unabashed conservative, I express my view that the states are basically redundant; far from the mad centralism the likes of former Queensland Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen would accuse anyone of if they dared suggest abolishing state government, I actually advocate the opposite: a federal government devolving responsibility wherever possible to a system of beefed-up local authorities, and getting rid of one tier of government in a ridiculously and indefensibly overgoverned country.

It’s an argument for another time, of course. But this internecine sniping over daylight saving is a symptom of national dysfunction, not some machismo expression of the bona fides of states’ rights.

If you look at any global map of time zones internationally, these are not crisp, clean, and do not run in straight vertical lines: there goes that theory, and debunks the cretinous argument of Vickie Chapman for good measure.

It’s high time someone took some leadership, moved South Australia and the Northern Territory onto the same time zone as the eastern states — ignoring mental midgets like Chapman and charlatans like everyone in the Queensland Parliament, it seems — and bring as much of the eastern half of the country into sync.

There are ample provisions in the Constitution to justify the Commonwealth instituting such a change, even if the charge of riding roughshod over “sovereign” states becomes the next irresponsible political fraud to be kicked around the place as a consequence.

Frankly, if an elected federal government using the mechanisms available to it to override the irresponsibility and posturing of hillbilly state politicians whose usefulness in the big scheme of things is a colonial relic ruffles a few feathers, then so be it.

AND ANOTHER THING: with the Grand Final set to begin in a few hours in Melbourne, my tip; with no disrespect to my old mates in Brisbane, I am not interested in what happens in the NRL  — having grown up a Carlton supporter many years before God invented the Brisbane Bears — but I wish those who love their rugby a great game tomorrow.

Obviously, with my beloved Blues not playing in finals this year, I don’t have anything invested in what transpires at the MCG this afternoon.

Yet by the same token — and this used to rankle friends when I lived in Brisbane and refused point-blank to abandon Carlton (or even find my way clear to make supportive utterances of the Bears when they sputtered into the competition in 1987) — I only ever support an interstate side when they play Collingwood and especially Essendon, which I utterly and absolutely despise (and would barrack for a freight train en route to the MCG against the Bombers if I thought there was some prospect it could prevent them winning).

Seriously, the present iteration of the Hawthorn Football Club is the best football side the national game has seen since the Brisbane Lions of 2001-03, and probably the Hawthorn and Carlton sides of 1979-1991 before them; that brown and gold outfit that has already won three flags from four Grand Finals over seven years has another opportunity today, and I am convinced Hawthorn will prevail.

The West Coast side they face is a seriously impressive unit, and cannot be dismissed out of hand today; there is the realistic prospect they will score a lucky strike this afternoon and will be worthy winners if they do.

But I see the Weagles as potentially next year’s champions rather than today’s, and faced with a battle-hardened opponent at its ruthless best almost every time the big occasion demands it — and especially when backed into a corner — it is impossible to believe Hawthorn won’t add to its legend as one of the best sides to ever play Australian football when it lines up against West Coast at the G this afternoon.

Hawthorn by 27 points.

*For those who’ve expressed concern in comments, I can assure them I am perfectly all right — perfectly all right — but the “stroke” symptoms that triggered a flight diversion to Sydney when I was returning home from Brisbane seven weeks ago have turned out to have been caused by one of the myriad of harmless (albeit unpleasant) afflictions that mimic a stroke but which have nothing to do with the brain or a stroke at all: I have the extremely rare condition baroparesis facialis which is believed drastically under-reported (I’m the 24th confirmed case worldwide) that is simply an ear problem in which pressure changes caused half my face to collapse at 37,000 feet — and would have righted itself upon return to sea level if unattended to.

Regrettably, confirming that diagnosis (at considerable expense) has had me spend some days in total with a raft of specialists and included a whole-day field trip down an MRI tunnel last week…the “cure,” at age 43 (which may or may not relieve the problem) is a grommet — the sort of thing I never had as a child — but then that should be that.

I’m lucky it was nothing sinister (and with excellent BP and blood numbers, it shouldn’t have been anyway) but it’s better for medicos to err on the scary side first and work backwards rather than the other way around…thanks for the concern people have shown too. Happily, it seems it has been a false alarm this time. 🙂

Newspoll Confirms Thumping Liberal Win In NSW

NSW PREMIER MIKE BAIRD is set to be convincingly re-elected today, with final opinion polls suggesting a ten-point advantage over the ALP after preferences; Newspoll — published in The Australian — reinforces a trend of slight movement away from Labor picked up by a Galaxy poll yesterday, and the consistency of polling suggests an easy win for the Coalition that will provide both the Liberal Party and the ALP with much to ponder federally.

I am going to try to keep this brief, as I have a Liberal Party State Council meeting to attend in Melbourne this morning and I am going to have to get my skates on; with polls opening in NSW shortly and the final (much-awaited) Newspoll now released it’s prudent to make a few remarks about the outcome of today’s state election.

As I noted yesterday, the trend (to the extent there has been one) in NSW polling over the past month or so has seen a slight firming of support for Mike Baird’s Coalition government, with Galaxy’s final findings suggesting a 54-46 margin after preferences, which in turn widened the projected margin of victory from 53-47 results recorded earlier on; today’s Newspoll continues and reinforces the theme, and shows the government ahead by a 55-45 margin and set for an easy state election win.

Readers can access the final Newspoll results here.

It does rather seem that unlike its counterparts in Victoria and New South Wales, the NSW Liberal Party is not going to be forced into the kind of post-election recriminations and involuntary restructuring that now awaits its northern and southern siblings: and it is, to an extent, ironic that the State Council I am going to today will formalise a sweeping overhaul of the party’s elected executive in Victoria, with powerbroker and strategist Michael Kroger to return as state President unopposed in a sorely needed restoration of some real political nous to the division.

It is true the NSW branch has its problems; even so, it is perhaps a tribute to the party’s state director, Tony Nutt — a “Mr Fixit” in the party, who has doubled as the campaign manager for the NSW Coalition — that in spite of whatever obstacles these, and the so-called “Abbott factor” might pose, NSW will continue to be governed strongly by the Liberal Party and in the kind of shape most incoming governments will kill to enjoy at a first-up election win.

Yesterday I noted the numbers polling had produced suggested a win for the Coalition of between 50 and 55 of the 93 lower house seats in NSW, and barring some late and undetected movement that appears out of nowhere, today’s Newspoll — reinforcing both the general quantum of Coalition support and the ongoing mild trend toward the Coalition as the campaign has progressed — makes me think the government’s tally will be nearer the upper end of that range.

For a little perspective, if the Coalition wins 53 or 54 seats, it would compare favourably with the landslide result that swept Nick Greiner to office in 1988 with 59 of the (then) 109 lower house seats; for the ALP — which one might expect to emerge with perhaps 35-37 seats — the result would be only incrementally better than the 31 seats the Coalition held onto in the big Labor win over Kerry Chikarovski in 1999.

Newspoll’s findings, as readers will see, almost perfectly match those identified by Galaxy yesterday.

But Labor has squandered a big opportunity to punch Prime Minister Tony Abbott on the nose again today, for prior to the ill-advised and insidiously race-tinged “fear” campaign it embarked upon over electricity asset leasing, the numbers had hovered dangerously close to the point at which Baird’s government faced the real risk of being forced into minority.

Its leader, Luke Foley, is likely to survive, at least in the sort to medium term; yet after the likely defeat he is going to suffer tonight, it is impossible to imagine he will lead the ALP at the subsequent state election due in 2019.

Foley (as most observers expected, including me) has prosecuted an irresponsible election campaign that tugged a forelock to the union warlords who dictate what the ALP says and does these days; the central issue of the election campaign — Baird’s plan to lease 49% of the state’s electricity assets to generate funds for infrastructure and development — posed a test that the Labor leader has failed, and failed badly.

The appeal to anti-Asian prejudices as a pretext to elect the ALP deserves to be answered with the scorn and contempt of the hefty electoral loss it appears certain to elicit.

And as simply another cardboard cut-out yes man prepared to do and say anything the unions want him to, Foley is hardly positioned to offer NSW voters an exciting alternative at this election or, indeed, at any other.

It remains to be seen just how comprehensive Baird’s win today will be, and in some respects the real contest is for control of the state’s upper house, where the government needs to make gains in the seats last elected in 2007 to make control of both houses a realistic prospect.

But either way, the instant trigger for another move against Abbott in the federal party room is not going to materialise from this election in the form of the loss of another Liberal state government.

The federal Liberals, of course, face their own challenges in the months ahead; not least on account of the looming budget in May. Anything, of course, could result from this, and as I have consistently opined, last year’s shocker inspires little faith that this year’s effort will be any better, and it disturbs me that in “resetting his government neither of the two most glaring problems — Chief of Staff Peta Credlin and Treasurer Joe Hockey — were removed.

On the latter, Hockey will probably get the breathing room he needs to make it as far as his very last chance as Treasurer to turn in a budget that addresses both the ballooning debt and deficit quagmire bequeathed by Labor, and the Coalition’s own political needs: if he is as good as Abbott continues to insist, all I can say is that based on last year’s effort there can only be upside for the government in this regard should Hockey deliver something of real value for once.

But on the former, I am encouraged that Nutt is said to be returning to Canberra after this election in what seems to be at least the partial assumption of Credlin’s duties; anything that diminishes the presence and influence of to ubiquitous Credlin can only be a good thing, and right now Nutt is one of the few senior advisers in the Coalition’s ranks with a sound record of achievement wherever he has been deployed by the Liberals: a reputation that can only be enhanced by the successful oversight and navigation of what presented as a surprisingly difficult state election when it should, of course, been a walkover from the beginning.

Anyhow, I said this morning’s post would be brief: some final remarks ahead of what should be a very strong re-election showing by the Coalition in NSW, and whilst surprises can always materialise where votes and voters are concerned, the nightmare scenario of a repeat of the NSW Liberals’ 1991 debacle appears, happily, not to be in prospect in any way today.

I will of course be watching Antony Green’s analysis of the count tonight — beer, red wine and pizza are something of an election night trifecta in my house on state election nights — and may post again late in the evening or the Sunday small hours but either way, I am certain the Coalition will win this election and win it strongly, the natural correction that was always going to happen after a one-sided walloping four years ago notwithstanding.

 

NSW: Racist Labor Campaign Steers Baird To Certain Win

THE BRAZENLY RACIST campaign deployed by the ALP in New South Wales — attempting to frighten voters about Chinese investment in the state’s utility assets, and appealing to base human prejudice — is rightly set to explode in Labor’s face, with Premier Mike Baird now certain of victory in tomorrow’s state election. It terminates Labor’s slender hope for a cheeky election win, and should bring questions over Labor’s methods into open question.

Say anything to win an election:” when it comes to perceptions of politics and politicians, this dubious “principle” ranks near the top of any list of voters’ gripes about the people who govern them, but in recent times the practice of telling the electorate literally anything to accrue votes — with scant regard for the responsibility, accuracy or decency of such statements — has underpinned a ballooning proportion of Labor’s communications with the voting public.

Now, it seems set to cost them.

NSW Premier Mike Baird can go to the polls tomorrow assured of victory, barring some cataclysmic unforeseen disaster today; in the wake of NSW Labor’s idiotic and reprehensible attempt to damage the Coalition with suggestions Chinese participation in the government’s asset leasing program would compromise national security and drive up electricity prices, the latest Galaxy poll for the Daily Telegraph has found the government’s final standing rests at a 55-45 lead over the ALP.

Coming after two other polls in the past week showing the Liberals ahead by a 54-46 margin on the two-party measure, the three polls more or less validate each other, and confirm two things: one, that the decline in the state Coalition’s vote over the past year was arrested before it plunged into the electoral red zone of uncertain outcomes; and two, that the NSW Coalition — unlike its LNP counterparts in Queensland in January — has actually widening its lead over Labor by a couple of points during the campaign.

It also means that in the event of an unexpected late Labor surge or the “accentuation” of the swing away from the government by NSW’s optional preferential voting system, the Baird government has a buffer of a couple of points before it can be put at risk of losing its majority (a prospect that comes into play with a 2PPV of less than 53%), whereas the LNP in Queensland fronted up on polling day already well inside this prospective killing zone, with final polls showing it on 51% (in the event, the ALP scored 51.1% in Queensland after preferences).

Galaxy finds Baird preferred as Premier over Labor’s Luke Foley by better than a two-to-one margin, leading on this measure by 53% to 25%, and whilst this measure is historically difficult for opposition leaders to head, Foley’s position in the death throes of this state election campaign compares extremely poorly with similar results from other state Labor leaders in Queensland and Victoria (and even the Liberal Steven Marshall in last year’s ill-fated election in South Australia) ahead of the most recent elections in those states.

Readers can access the Tele‘s breakdown of the Galaxy results here; accounting for the final election polls we’ve seen thus far, it seems a swing of 9-10% against the Coalition is in order, which should see it returned to office with between 50 and 55 of the 93 seats in the NSW lower house. Based on the election result in 2011, it faces voters with a notional 69 seats, the results of a number of by-elections since then notwithstanding.

For Baird and the Liberals, it seems the widely anticipated “Abbott factor” will be at worst insufficient to cruel their electoral prospects, and whilst a portion of the swing against the government will inevitably be ascribed to the unpopularity of the Prime Minister and his government, it won’t be decisive: and unlike the election in Queensland in January, this consideration was really NSW Labor’s only real hope for causing another boilover in yet another Liberal-held state.

Just like the unexpected Newspoll on Monday — coloured as it probably was by NSW state voting intention rubbing off on findings around federal support — a state election win in NSW could provide a fillip for the Abbott government which, if skilfully exploited, could see this week used as the bedrock upon which to mount a sustained political recovery (although with another Hockey budget and the patent risks associated with it coming up, we’re not going down that tangent this morning).

I think — despite its problems, the most obvious of which has been the loss of 10 MPs over donations scandals uncovered at ICAC, including former Premier Barry O’Farrell — that the government deserves to be re-elected tomorrow; after a slow start and especially since Baird took the reins last year, the Coalition has gone some way to repair the mess left in NSW after 16 years of Labor government, and has taken steps to kick-start Australia’s largest state economy after the torpor and dysfunction in which it was left in 2011.

I should be clear, however, that had Labor not made an unbelievably unprincipled slip this week — pandering to racial prejudices over the Baird government’s plan to lease 49% of the state’s electricity assets — that tomorrow could well have been on track to see a much different outcome, with an incrementally larger swing enough to at least force the Coalition into minority and with it, inflict a rerun of the infamous 1991 result on the conservatives.

I’m not at all surprised Labor has been crass enough to try to fan anti-Chinese sentiment as a way of garnering support; the increasingly amoral campaign methods used by the ALP have been surfing very close to the line insofar as acceptable political conduct is concerned for some time, and arguably crossed it in Victoria last year as militant unionists donned facsimiles of emergency services uniforms to masquerade as ambulance drivers and firefighters (and to harass and bully people into voting Labor at polling booths, no less).

It is a credit to prominent NSW Labor figures such as Paul Keating and Michael Costa that their has been a blunt and unequivocal put-down of Labor’s latest campaign tactic.

The wanton politics of race have no part in a campaign like this — if there was some actual issue that sat squarely in the middle of legitimate community disquiet over actual events and/or actions, it might be different.

But Labor’s talk about security concerns stemming merely from the fact Chinese companies are interested in investment opportunities the asset leasing program will present is tasteless, to say the least.

Perversely — for all its talk of commitment to minorities and the championing of diversity — Labor has shown its true colours, more than willing to brazenly play the race card when political need suits it. It will be interesting indeed to see whether this shifts votes to the Coalition in the seats that house Sydney’s Chinese community, which is the largest in the country.

But really, this seemingly isolated issue is symptomatic of the insidious disease afflicting Labor more widely.

In NSW, it seeks to win votes by fanning anti-Chinese sentiment, and by threatening to cancel the very licences for coal seam gas exploration in the north of the state it issued itself in its last term in office just a few years ago.

In Victoria, it lined up rent-a-crowds composed of union thugs to pretend to be trusted emergency services personnel, in a ruse that worked, although voters in Melbourne are unlikely to fall for it a second time, and voters elsewhere now know what to expect.

Labor graduated to that disgusting ploy from using union members to pose as “sick” patients on hospital trolleys in Melbourne’s Alfred hospital to advance a wage claim.

Federally, Labor prosecutes a fallacious and malicious personal crusade aimed at destroying Abbott not just politically, but personally as well.

It flatly denies the consequences of its mismanagement of federal finances, and spent part of its last term in office setting up the situation wherein exploding residual federal spending steadily worsens a budget deficit to the point it kills off a Liberal government (so Labor itself, presumably, can return to government to wreak even more damage as a bulwark against “next time”).

On and on it goes. Labor will say, and do, literally anything to win office.

As I have always said, Labor cares about power, not people: and happily enough, this shameful flaw in its priorities is set to explode in the party’s face tomorrow.

When the dust from tomorrow’s election has settled, the Liberal Party across Australia will have been charged with a fresh obligation: to stop shadow-boxing and obsessing over risk aversion, and tackle the hideous Labor ogre for what it is: an unprincipled and reprehensible stain on governance prepared to compromise or sell out anything, literally, in the naked lust for power and the indulgence of union cronies whose violent and wanton militancy should have been left in the 1970s where they belong.

Baird deserves his election win tomorrow, and I have no reluctance in providing an unqualified endorsement for a vote for the Liberal and National parties, albeit one that would have been more difficult to make were his predecessor still Premier.

Yet these considerations are based on issues, facts, and the balance of political realities; Labor’s campaign has ended with a racist taunt and a xenophobic smear.

NSW voters should be thankful that the ALP will not be returning to the Treasury benches in Macquarie Street for at least the next four years.

NSW: ALP-Greens Deal A Precondition For Labor Win

FOR A PARTY whose offering is largely predicated on the destruction of the ordered decency of contemporary society, it is ironic the Communist Party Greens should emerge to masquerade as anti-corruption agents; yet such a posture to some extent underpins their lunatic arrangement with NSW Labor as it favours the ALP in Liberal seats touched by ICAC in return for upper house preferences. NSW voters can — and should — just vote “1.”

It is true that we have not spent as much time examining the impending NSW state election — now 10 days away — as I would have liked; between the leadership travails of the federal government and a fairly tight squeeze on the time I have had available to post articles of late, the third election in the eastern states in the space of 15 weeks has inadvertently been “a little neglected.”

And the perception (incorrectly held, in my view) that Premier Mike Baird is coasting toward an easy and thumping win has meant this particular state election has not resonated around the country in the way the bitterly contested contest in Victoria did, or the bated-breath observation directed toward Campbell Newman in Queensland to see how far, and how hard, the LNP was hit by angry, resentful voters.

Yet the NSW Liberals — even more securely ensconced in government than the LNP was in Queensland if measured on its share of the two-party vote, even if this equates to a smaller parliamentary majority — remains vulnerable on 28 March; there are a number of factors that could contrive a narrow Labor win in the Premier State, and these appear to be aligning to what anyone other than a sycophant of the Left ought regard as an alarming degree.

Critical to this equation is the share of the statewide two-party vote required to push Baird’s Coalition government into minority, which past experience (and the NSW electoral boundaries, which lock a huge portion of the Liberal vote into a clutch of seats north of Sydney Harbour) suggests is anything more than 47% for the parties of the Left.

For readers’ interest, the latest electoral pendulum from the ABC’s Antony Green can be viewed here: and note that the ten safest Liberal electorates all sit on or above Sydney’s North Shore.

I make the further observation that the two-party swing to the Coalition four years ago of 16.5% will be reversed to some degree on Saturday week, and whilst the extent of the correction obviously remains an unknown until the votes are counted, the fact opinion polling (to date) suggests an outcome in the vicinity of 53-54% for the Coalition should add some perspective to the huge margins currently buffering the safest government seats on that pendulum, and bearing in mind the Coalition was sent into minority in 1991 with 52.5% of the two-party vote and lost office altogether four years later with 51.8%, the fact this election is going to be close despite the 2011 result should already be accepted as a given.

Much has been made, in mainstream media and elsewhere, of the influence the unpopularity of the Abbott government might exert on the NSW result, and in an echo of the recent state elections in Victoria and Queensland, it seems inescapable that whilst the federal Liberals and the Abbott factor will by no means prove decisive on 28 March, they will nonetheless be “a factor.”

In a mirror image of Queensland Labor’s cynically dishonest anti-privatisation campaign, NSW Labor is running hard against the Baird government’s plan to lease 49% of the state’s electricity assets — the so-called poles and wires — to generate funds to pay for badly needed investment in infrastructure in Sydney; pandering to prejudices that the divestiture of state assets is “bad” and misleading voters with breathtakingly contemptuous talk of higher power prices in a privatised electricity system that is quickly disproven by even a cursory glance south of the Murray, the ALP’s fight against Baird’s asset leasing program is biting hard — just as the equivalent campaign did for Labor in Queensland.

And in this campaign — in a contrast to 2011 — it is the Liberal Party fighting off the corruption tag rather than Labor, with 10 of its MPs being forced to step aside or leave Parliament altogether after being adversely dealt with in ICAC’s relentless crusade against public wrongdoing, especially where laws around the acceptance and disclosure of election donations from property developers are concerned.

Yet whilst all of this might appear to make for rich and fertile soil for Labor to till, it must first be pulled together: and not least in view of the fact that primary support for the ALP sits in the mid-30% range (albeit roughly 10 percentage points higher than the abominable result it recorded in 2011).

Enter — to the surprise of nobody — the Greens.

The evidence of the Greens’ destructive influence, both over the ALP and over governance generally, is well-known and evidenced, with the most recent example being the notorious “Coalition” between the hard-Left party and the Gillard government, which contributed to the destruction of the last federal Labor government as Labor was forced to do the Greens’ bidding as the price for “control” of the Senate: an arrangement that heavily damaged the ALP, but from which the Greens emerged in comparatively robust shape despite the loss of a couple of percentage points of its support.

This time (and a selection of articles from today’s Sydney press can be accessed here, here and here) the Greens have struck a deal with Labor aimed at securing themselves control of the NSW upper house, for like any party mostly disinclined toward assembling a majority of voter support in single-member lower house electorates, the Greens in NSW are happy with the prospect of playing the wrecker in yet another ghastly, proportionally elected upper house on a comparative sliver of the statewide vote.

Telling, however, is what the Labor Party gets in return: a binding agreement to exchange preferences that is skewed toward the NSW Central Coast — and thus toward Liberal-held seats at the epicentre of ICAC findings against sitting MPs that might seem ripe for the taking — and toward a handful of marginal seats lost by the ALP four years ago that constitute the sort of low-hanging fruit the ALP must harvest first if it is to stand any prospect at all of regaining significant ground in NSW next weekend.

The benefits to the ALP are obvious: provided Greens voters follow the card, the prospect of winning an increased number of seats from the Coalition is enhanced by the deal between the two parties.

But what the Greens stand to receive amounts to yet another eye-popping itinerary of wasteful excess and indulgence: a million dollars for Koalas in Campbelltown. A “koala summit.” The declaration of new national parks that would decimate the fishing and coal seam gas industries, the latter being particularly cynical given it was the last NSW Labor government that granted most of the coal seam gas licences in the north of the state in the first place.

And of course, the retention, in state hands, of NSW’s electricity assets: infrastructure that will decline in value in coming decades as new technologies progressively render it obsolete. The value of the land and the proceeds from asset leasing are arguably worth more to the state than the poles and wires are in the longer term. And of course, NSW consumers would be denied the savings from cheaper electricity, but Labor and the Greens — beholden to unions and incapable of telling the truth — don’t care about that.

It is no coincidence that for the first time in its history, the leadership of the state divisions of the ALP up the eastern seaboard (and elsewhere) is held by the party’s Left faction; in turn, this equates in practical terms to excessive influence and control by the union movement, and especially where militant unions such as the CFMEU are concerned.

An object lesson in the destructive course such a government would likely chart in NSW can be found south of the border in Victoria, where the new-ish Labor government of neophyte Premier and imbecile Daniel Andrews is scuttling infrastructure projects at a ten-figure cost to the state whilst deferring or abandoning other election commitments ostensibly built around the safeguarding of Melbourne’s prized and renowned status as the most liveable city in the world.

Ominously, Andrews has flagged funding future projects in Victoria by ramping up state sector debt: a misadventure tried by Labor in the 1980s, that resulted in the near-bankruptcy of the state.

And the little excursion by unions through Melbourne a couple of weeks ago — supposedly in the name of workers’ rights — was contrived purely for political purposes and aimed squarely at a conservative federal government, and was explicitly sanctioned and tolerated by the new Labor state government.

This is a mere glimpse of what awaits NSW voters if Labor triumphs on 28 March. It is what awaits already in Queensland, as that state’s new Labor regime — also elected on the back of Greens’ preferences in an optional preferential voting system — finds its feet, and flexes its muscles.

NSW voters still have the opportunity to avoid all of this, and those soon to vote who do not wish to see their state held to ransom by the ridiculous whims of the Greens or NSW’s militant and thuggish trade unions have a choice.

“Just Vote ‘1’,” as another Labor figure from the north implored Queenslanders 15 years ago: if there are no preferences distributed there can be no Labor win in NSW, and even those voters angry with the Abbott government and disinclined for whatever reason to see their state’s electricity assets leased to private interests would fare better under a re-elected Baird government than any alternative cobbled together by Labor and the Greens.

 

Fallout From Abbott Gaffes Hits On Many Fronts

AS THE DUST SETTLES from Tony Abbott’s Australia Day own goal and the so-called “Prince Sir Philip” fiasco, the fallout is being felt in some unexpected places — to say nothing of support for Abbott himself. Today we provide some context on where the Prime Minister finds himself at the start of a pivotal year for the government, and how snafus of the kind that took place on Monday are a luxury he, and the Liberal Party nationally, cannot afford.

What a day it was, yesterday, to be a high-profile Liberal Party member and supporter in Melbourne; after the ridiculous and self-indulgent decision by Tony Abbott to basically derail Australia Day by awarding Prince Philip a knighthood under the Order of Australia, my phone rang hot with angry, disgruntled and/or bewildered Coalition voters in my circle calling to vent their frustrations, express their disbelief, or both.

The interesting thing is that not one was prepared to defend the Prime Minister’s leadership of the Liberal Party — in contrast to some of his federal colleagues, some of whom were no doubt motivated by a sense of obligation rather than enthusiastic endorsement — and, equally, the unanimity with which the sentiment was expressed that not only was it time for Abbott to be dumped as PM but that Foreign minister Julie Bishop should replace him.

For clarity, these calls amounted to perhaps 20 personal contacts (many of them with varying degrees of grassroots involvement in the Liberal Party across the country) and none on this occasion were elected representatives.

But as an exercising in gauging the mood of the Coalition base, it was instructive — and it says to me, weighted against the outpouring of opinion expressed in media outlets around Australia yesterday, that Tony Abbott now has a major problem to deal with: and one mostly of his, and his office’s, own making.

I should just point out that contrary to appearance, I have not — yet — withdrawn my support for Tony Abbott as leader of the Liberal Party and Prime Minister.

Readers (especially those who have been with me since I started this column almost four years ago) will know that I have been supporting Abbott since it was deeply unfashionable to do so, well before he became Prime Minister, and I remain of the view that viewed in isolation he represents an excellent candidate to hold the highest office in political life in Australia.

But I am close — an indication with thumb and forefinger will quantify the distance — to doing so, and whilst the knighthood handed to Philip might seem innocuous on one level, it crystallises every reservation held against Abbott in his party and the broader electorate around his judgement, political smarts, and sense for what the Australian public is prepared to stomach.

I don’t believe federal factors were decisive in the defeat of a first-term Coalition state government in Victoria in November; far from it.

Yet they scarcely helped, either, with fuel indexation reintroduced in the first week of a state election campaign (and before the bottom fell out of world oil prices).

If federal factors were worth, say, 1% of the two-party vote, the Coalition could well have retained an extra two or three seats: putting new Labor Premier in the same numerically excruciating position endured by his Liberal forebears in Parliament, beholden to a single-seat majority (or worse, minority) and powerless for four years to control anything that lobbed at him from left field (Geoff Shaw, an obvious case in point).

But Abbott’s — and the federal government’s — standing is arguably lower now than it was even a few months ago, and it is harder to argue that any odium emanating from Canberra cannot influence the fortunes of the next Coalition state government to face voters: Queensland’s LNP, which goes to the polls this Saturday.

Especially given Queensland is, after Western Australia, the federal Coalition’s strongest state — and the one which provides fully a quarter of the Abbott government’s lower house representation.

As I have argued in this column previously, a poor result (or loss) in Queensland will rebound savagely on Abbott — perhaps taking out his leadership in the process.

The short LNP campaign in Queensland (bookended by the Abbott government’s Medicare fiasco on one hand, and the “Prince Sir Philip” debacle this week) has enough ranged against it, courtesy of the LNP’s own handiwork and political misadventures, without being caught in the friendly crossfire from a fellow conservative government.

Yet so defective has the strategic and communicative mindset of Abbott’s government been that state elections featuring conservative governments almost seem to have been an open invitation for some of Canberra’s wilder and more outlandish excesses and errors of political judgement.

It remains to be seen what lies in store for Mike Baird’s government in New South Wales, which goes to the polls in March: and which, for now at least, seems assured of re-election by a comfortable margin.

I still maintain that by gutting the Prime Minister’s Office and starting again that Abbott can reset his political fortunes, and that of his government, but the time for doing so — quite clearly — is running out.

Errors of policy, strategy, political tactics and effective communication all arguably derive from this crucial unit of governance, and as admirable as Abbott’s loyalty to his Chief of Staff (and in turn, to the hand-picked foot soldiers who answer to her) might be, it is misplaced.

That misplacement of loyalty now threatens to terminate his political career.

One storyline goes that with a rearrangement of the government behind the scenes and a sound 2015 budget, and an effective sell job to back it, the Coalition can yet restore is position with the electorate ahead of an election now just over 18 months away at most: time, on yet another front — this time the electoral cycle — is beginning to run short.

But I am increasingly of the view that this simply won’t happen because the change that matters most — fixing his office — is the one Abbott refuses, bar cosmetic changes, to undertake.

The clamour for his head — unthinkable just a month or two ago even in spite of the growing litany of errors and misjudgements — is growing.

Almost anyone who cares to name names is united in the view that Bishop should replace him, and that seems to be a constant whether encountered in my personal contact circle, the mainstream press, or (from what I understand) in the rumblings going on within the inner sanctums of the federal Liberal Party itself.

The most critical month of Tony Abbott’s Prime Ministership to date kicked off in spectacularly underwhelming style on Australia Day this year.

It beggars belief that his colleagues will allow this to drag on for much longer — at the risk it poses to some of their own careers — if nothing changes, and quickly at that.

 

Ridiculous Free-For-All Over The NSW ALP Leadership

FOR A PARTY boasting 35 MPs, the brewing free-for-all over the vacant NSW ALP leadership might make sense if Labor was in striking distance of taking office; coming off its worst defeat in 80 years and needing a swing of 16% to win, however, the “who’s who” of would-be leaders is as unedifying as it is ridiculous. Meanwhile, a vicious missive from Paul Keating to outgoing leader John Robertson that has resurfaced has proven uncannily prescient.

Less than a week ago — as revelations emerged that the then-leader of the NSW ALP, John Robertson, had signed a constituent letter on behalf of Martin Place siege perpetrator Man Haron Monis, despite grave questions that already existed over his character — I wrote in this column that Robertson was a dead man walking for a range of reasons, and that the sooner his colleagues put him out of his misery, the better.

Robertson resigned his leadership later the same day.

And in one of those delicious coincidences of timing that can hardly be construed as accidental, a copy of a letter sent by former Prime Minister Paul Keating to Robertson the day the latter was sworn into the upper house seat he initially held in the NSW Parliament quickly resurfaced, and upon reading it I was stunned by how eloquently vicious — and how thoroughly prescient — Keating’s words have proven.

Keating's letter to Robertson

LIVE AMMUNITION…Paul Keating’s assessment of John Robertson has proven devastatingly accurate. (Source: australianpolitics.com)

 

(As an aside, I should like to acknowledge Malcolm Farnsworth’s site at www.australianpolitics.com, from which the copy of this letter republished here was sourced; Malcolm’s site is an excellent resource for political and electoral material, and a veritable treasure trove for political junkies that I thoroughly recommend readers take some time to explore. If your browser is being temperamental about loading the letter, regular reader gregdeane has kindly pasted a text-only version of it into the comments section of this article).

Keating was motivated by Robertson’s positioning and behind-the-scenes handiwork — as a union heavyweight and backroom player in the NSW ALP — in helping to scuttle the Premiership of former Labor leader Morris Iemma, his privatisation program for the state’s electricity sector (a suppurating public policy sore that continues to weep six years later), and in engineering the departure of Iemma’s Treasurer, Michael Costa, from the upper house sinecure into which Robertson had that day been sworn.

Yet beyond that, Keating’s observations were not far wide of the mark about electricity privatisation, an issue that pursued the then ALP state government until it was slaughtered at the polls in 2011 even if, to be sure, it wasn’t the primary catalyst for the defeat that Keating foretold.

The “new…and good leader” Keating alluded to — former Premier Nathan Rees — was indeed destroyed by the ongoing machinations that Keating saw had marked Robertson’s own entry to Parliament via Costa’s seat.

But Keating’s brilliantly eviscerating comments about a putative move by Robertson to a lower house electorate and thence the Labor leadership were deadly in their precision, accuracy and prescience, and to be blunt — for all the reasons we discussed here on Monday, and then some — Keating’s “shame” in sharing common membership of the NSW ALP with Robertson was probably a well-placed sentiment.

I have included the letter today partly on account of its topicality and relevance, but also because (like so many aspects of the tribal beast that is the NSW Labor Party) it highlights issues that trickle down into the present leadership contest and at least one of the candidates vying to succeed Robertson as leader of state Labor.

But before we move onto that, a word about Keating: I always hated the bastard, politically of course, on account of what he did to the Liberal Party during the 1980s and — in a wound that still smarts — destroying its prospects comprehensively ahead of the 1993 federal election to win an undeserved fifth term for Labor (although I am on the record with more than enough explicit and strident criticism of John Hewson as Liberal leader, and his thorough unsuitability as a political front man).

From a purely impartial perspective it is impossible not to marvel at the sheer eloquence of Keating’s turn of phrase, the almost graceful use of invective and abuse, and the sheer hard, cold savagery with which this missive was crafted. Keating hit his target with bullseye precision, as he so often did. But to imagine any major party leader today exhibiting the same mastery of language and using it with such skill is quite literally an undertaking that defies belief.

Anyhow, I digress.

Having said all of that, the leadership ballot now set down for 5 January is beginning to look like an unmitigated farce, with (proverbially) every man and his dog apparently readying to stand to replace Robertson.

One of them — upper house MP Luke Foley — has, subsequent to Keating’s prosaic bullets being fired at Robertson, gone on to secure “a parliamentary seat at the public expense,” although as a replacement for disgraced and allegedly corrupt former Labor minister Ian Macdonald, it’s difficult to split hairs in view of Keating’s appraisal of Robertson.

Even so, for a party almost certain to face another shellacking at the state election to be held in March, the number of Labor MPs apparently fanciful of themselves as leaders and bent on indulging their delusions of grandeur is a surprise, to say the least.

Foley doesn’t even have a seat in the lower house, a prerequisite for leadership of his party: the word today is that the NSW ALP’s notorious Sussex Street headquarters is to see to that by fixing Foley up with preselection in the disputed Labor-held seat of Auburn.

Another contender, Steve Whan — beaten in his lower house seat of Monaro in 2011, kicked upstairs to fill a casual vacancy ten weeks later, and now preselected to recontest Monaro in March — presents as such a convoluted option as to best be given a wide berth.

Whan at least offers the prospect, somewhat refreshing as it is for Labor, of a potential leader from regional NSW: a consideration not to be trifled with, so poor is Labor’s performance in the regions compared to its Sydney heartland.

Yet there is no guarantee he will even win Monaro, and even if he does, a leader insecurely seated in a marginal seat is hardly a guarantee of stability or continuity if any kind of serious advance were to be achieved under his leadership.

Further, the fact he seems prepared to go up and down between the two houses of Parliament at will is a poor look, to say the least.

Maroubra MP and former minister Michael Daley is free of these drawbacks, and probably deserves to be the frontrunner in what is at best a mediocre and lacklustre field of candidates.

Yet just as Sussex Street appears set to fix up Foley in a lower house seat, it also appears determined to fix him up in the leadership, too; and if this comes to pass, Daley’s initiative in setting the ball rolling to get rid of Robertson in the first place will, in terms of his own interests, have been for naught.

Robertson’s deputy, Linda Burney — who is acting as leader until the ballot is held — has also indicated her intention to contest the leadership.

It must be remembered that disgraced former Premier and outgoing Toongabbie MP Nathan Rees had been slated to retake the leadership from Robertson, and probably would have done so had details of an illicit affair that also intersected with his portfolio responsibilities as a shadow minister not emerged last year.

And just to further heighten confusion, Labor has preselected a fellow called Chris Minns to its marginal (but usually safely held) seat of Kogarah; it is an article of faith both in Labor circles and among political commentators generally that Minns is the “chosen child:” selected now, well in advance, as the “star signing” who will enter Parliament and lead NSW Labor back into government, possibly as soon as 2019.

Of course, this kind of succession plan can easily come unstuck: especially in a political environment, and especially in a bearpit like the NSW ALP.

But for a party that boasted 20 lower house MPs and a further 15 in the upper house after the last state election — and whilst Labor has won three by-elections in Liberal-held seats since then, at least one of those has been abolished, as has Rees’ seat of Toongabbie — it is ridiculous that no fewer than six potential leaders are coming out of the woodwork at a time the party is virtually assured of a second successive drubbing at the hands of voters.

There is no guarantee more of their colleagues won’t also succumb to excessively well-developed self-importance complexes and nominate, either.

The truth is that whilst the Coalition government has not been invulnerable, its replacement of do-nothing Premier Barry O’Farrell with an outstanding substitute in Mike Baird has shut off a potent line of attack for Labor in the coming election campaign.

Whilst the Coalition has not been untouched by ICAC and misconduct findings, either — with no fewer than 10 of its MPs sidelined, some having already departed Parliament, and the remainder mostly set to do so in March — the Liberal Party has acted swiftly to excise this cancer wherever it has appeared; the fact Labor continues to be saddled with bad press from the likes of Macdonald and the ubiquitous Eddie Obeid vigorously proclaiming their innocence (and in Obeid’s case, waving the threat of defamation proceedings around as a bullying tactic against anyone who suggests otherwise) simply underlines just how entrenched the culture of dirty politics really is in the ALP’s DNA, and how even the fast action taken by the Liberals, if copied, could not have removed the stench of corruption from the NSW ALP’s entrails.

This, in effect, closes down another potential avenue for Labor to attack.

And — in an exquisite irony — Baird seems set to be handsomely re-elected, in part, on a solution to the electricity privatisation question that has variously bedevilled and skewered individuals and parties on both sides of the political divide in NSW since at least 1999, when the issue was largely responsible for the slaughter of the Coalition parties under then-leader Kerry Chikarovski.

In the years since, however, it has been Labor — and not the Coalition — that has been forced to endure the most agonising contortions over what, in public policy terms, should have been a fairly straightforward issue from the outset.

It is against this backdrop that Labor finds itself burdened by a glut of contenders to lead it into the abyss in March; one potential leader for every six of its MPs.

If that sounds like an expression of a seriously divided party racked by factional interests, manipulated at the whims of its union slave masters, and marked out by the pursuit of petty personal fiefdoms, there’s probably a good reason for that.

In the end, the race to lead Labor in NSW that will culminate on 5 January is in essence merely a pageant to determine who will be king — or queen — of their own dung hill.

A smart party would have quietly lined up behind Daley, who put his hand up to blast the liability Robertson out in the first place, and waited for the dust to settle after its defeat in March before turning to Minns as planned in due course.

But there are few people who would accuse NSW Labor of being “smart.”

There is good reason for that, too.