Malcolm Turnbull’s ascension to the Liberal Party throne – Ok, Opposition Leader – was quicker than he had initially planned. ... Turnbull has already said that he doesn’t intend to change policies, including those set by former leader Brendan Nelson. So the only change is a change of image. The substance, the policies and characters tarnished by Howard’s insistence on blind loyalty to him remain. The Liberal Party has changed leader, but it is still lost in the desert.
Yesterday, after handing out how-to-vote leaflets for NSW Council elections, Reba Meagher announced her resignation from the NSW Parliament. She would have been dumped from new NSW Premier Nathan Rees's ministry, but resigned first.
After resigning as Minister for Health, she indicated she had always acted in the interests of "the (Labor) Party". She was elected, as a party-parachuted candidate, for the seat of Cabramatta, in west/south-west Sydney, in 1996. She has held Ministerial positions in Fair Trading, Community Services, Aboriginal Affairs, and Health. Health, especially Public Hospitals, has been beset by myriad problems, including embarrassing deaths at RNS. She will retire with a Parliamentary pension of about $130,000 - about 3 times the average annual income of her constituents.
The following lyrics should be sung to The Monkees' son 'Mary, Mary'. (with apologies to Mike Nesmith and The Monkees)
Reba, Reba, where you goin' to? Reba, Reba, is it Coogee? This one thing we know ‘bout ya We will live better, without ya Reba, Reba, where you goin' to?
Reba, Reba, tell us truly What did we do to make ya leave us? Whatever it was, it wasn’t us You knew from “The Party”, ya had to go Reba, Reba, where you goin' to?
Reba, Reba, where you goin' to? Reba, it’s not Cabramatta Reba, Reba, Reba, Reba, Reba, where you goin' to? [Repeat adlib]
Morris Iemma had told his Right wing faction that it (the cabinet reshuffle) was his way, or no way. "No way!' said the faction, and Morris resigned.
Enter newly-elected Premier of NSW, Nathan Rees. He gets his way, and both Reba Meagher and Frank Sartor are left out of cabinet! "Cranky Frankie" issued a press statement saying that dumping him was a mistake - a political tantrum.
The irony of Reba Meagher's omission is that she had reportedly called Morris Iemma at 6am Friday to tell him she was not resigning, and still wanted her job in cabinet. She then went to right-wing power-broker Eddie Obeid, and this helped precipitate the events that led to Iemma's resignation, Nathan Rees's election as Premier, and Meagher's dumping from cabinet.
Both Morris Iemma, at his press conference on Friday, and Reba Meagher, in her press release last night, said that they had always put "the interests of the party" first. In saying that, they are reminding "the party" that they are available for other appointments; now, or in the future!
And that, dear reader, is the single biggest issue with our politicians: - "the party" and their political careers, are more important than the interests of the people.
Postscript - The new ministry, announced on Mon 8/9/08, is: Premier, & Arts: Nathan Rees Deputy Premier, Commerce, Climate Change & Environment: Carmel Tebbutt Attorney-General: John Hatzistergos Transport: David Campbell Education & Training, Women: Verity Firth Planning & Redfern: Kristina Keneally Health: John Della Bosca Roads: Michael Daley Roads & Waterways, Regulatory Reform, Finance & Infrastructure: Joe Tripodi Police: Mat Brown Housing: David Borger Water, Rural Affairs and Regional Development: Philip Costa Industrial relations, Emergency Services, Land: Tony Kelly Tourism, the Hunter: Jodie McKay Aboriginal Affairs, Ageing and Disability Services: Paul Lynch Small Business, Science and Medical Research, Assistant Health Minister (Cancer): Tony Stewart Community Services: Linda Burney Primary Industries, Energy and Mineral Resources, State Development: Ian Macdonald Gaming and Racing, and Sport and Recreation: Kevin Greene Juvenile Justice, Youth, and Volunteering: Graham West Local Government, Assistant Health Minister (Mental Health): Barbara Perry Fair Trading, Citizenship, Assistant Arts Minister: Virginia Judge
In February, (http://truepolitik.blogspot.com/2008/02/nsw-labor-set-to-supernova.html), I wrote that the NSW Labor Government, led my Morris Iemma, was set to supernova. (other media use the term 'implode') Then, the main issue was corruption; in, and outside, Wollongong City Council. I raised other issues, including incompetent project management, the proposed privatisation of electricity, and incompetent Health Minister (Reba Meagher).
I August, (http://truepolitik.blogspot.com/2008_08_01_archive.html), I suggested that the embarrassment that ensued when Morris Iemma's early recall of Parliament backfired, and it became obvious that Parliament would not allow the privatisation of electricity, was "unsustainable".
Yesterday, 5-Sept, that supernova occurred. The Right faction would not allow Morris Iemma to dump Reba Meagher, & others, in a cabinet reshuffle. The opportunity occurred because of the sudden resignation of his Deputy Premier John Watkins on Tuesday. Certainly the NSW Labor Party executive had a hand in the behind-the-scenes politicking, given Morris Iemma's defiant stance against party policy over electricity. Morris Iemma's own Right faction withdrew support for him, because he wouldn't accept their (suggested) cabinet. Iemma resigned, rather than suffer a Party-room bloodbath. Like Costa, he has indicated he will resign from parliament, too.
Meanwhile Michael Costa held a 25-minute press conference, essentially to say that only he could have made the tough budget decisions; and unloading bucketsful about the state of NSW's finances / budget.
So NSW has a new Premier, Nathan Rees, and Deputy Premier, Carmel Tebbutt, both of whom are from Left-wing factions. The new Cabinet will likely be announced today, after a full caucus meeting. The supernova has, as with stars, been slow to build, but quick and brutal in its effects. The Right faction's grip on Parliamentary power, in Leadership and behind the scenes, seems to be broken. You could only shed crocodile tears for right-wing power-brokers Joe Tripodi and Eddie Obeid.
Carmel Tebbutt, the former NSW Education Minister, is set to become the new Deputy Premier. The sudden resignation of her left-faction colleague, John Watkins, left a hole to be filled. John Watkins was seen as the "nice guy" - he was Education Minister for a short time, charged with calming troubled waters. He has, however, been unable to successfully master union control within the NSW Transport portfolio, especially the railways.
Carmel Tebbutt is "good news" for Premier Morris Iemma - she is seen as hard-working, a mother who put her young family ahead of her career as a Minister for more than twelve months. Caucus will approve her appointment tomorrow, following her left faction colleagues voting to support her.
Morris Iemma will also announce his "new" reshuffled ministry. If Reba Meagher, Frank Sartor, Michael Costa and John Della Bosca stay, it will be like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic! The last 3 of those WILL stay, and Costa will stay as Treasurer, party bully, and scourge of infrastructure investment - Iemma needs their influence and followers to stay, so they will remain, although not necessarily where they are. Reba Meagher is not only unpopular with voters as Health Minister, but is seen as incompetent: she will be lucky if she is moved to an outer Ministry, and not dumped to the backbenches. There is a growing perception that Sartor approves developments that suit donors to the ALP, and which are contrary to his senior Departmental Officer's advice.
Media report suggest Ms Tebbutt is being groomed to take over as Premier. Morris Iemma is unpopular, and seen as ineffective, by voters; unpopular with NSW ALP Executive; and Labor MP's and MLC's because of his defiant stance over the "sale" of NSW electricity assets.
In 2009, Iemma will have served long enough to qualify for extra "retirement benefits" as a long-serving Premier. These include an office; staff; and car. It would be an opportune time for him to stand down, giving Carmel Tebbutt 15-18 months to establish her image before the next election. Cynical? Probably, but that's the reality of how politicians work for their own interests.
John has been commenting on political and current affairs in Australia since 2006. Before that he discussed some of these issues with family & friends. Now, he comments on this blog. He has a strong interest in Australian politics (National & State)...
John is concerned about the ethics of Governments and politicians, and is driven by a strong sense of social justice. His politics are best defined as centrist, but vary between centre-right and centre-left. He has no affiliation, direct or indirect, with any political party.
Quotes I Like:
1) "You're only young once, but you can be immature forever."
2) "you have 2 ears and 1 mouth: use them in that proportion"