Sussex Street Circus
The journosphere has focused on the hapless Nathan Rees as Premier of NSW, how unpopular he and his government are, and how they have a kind of reverse Midas touch where everything they touch turns to dross. This is seen as some sort of contrast to the all-conquering feds. This reflects poor framing of the issue, and poor framing will make it harder for people to understand important features of our political system and what looks likely come from it.
However unwittingly, it is Imre who, like an old-school journalist, parades his contacts while keeping them hidden from outsider view. People who care about NSW Labor politics can guess who Imre's contacts are, I can't be bothered: it's just pathetic that he's the world's only Glenn Milne wannabe.
A SENIOR Labor official in NSW was recently heard to observe that "Nathan Rees is one bad Newspoll away from a crisis".
This could be it.
In all pertinent respects, this poll is as bad as those that were seized upon early last year by party and union bosses at Sussex Street who were bent on fatally damaging Morris Iemma - and ended up inflicting more damage on the Labor brand in NSW than anybody since Jack Lang in the 1930s.
The first three paragraphs of Imre's story tell you the real problem with it. Rather than focus on Rees - who never promised anything more than he has delivered - the real focus here should be on the geniuses who comprise the once-mighty NSW ALP machine. The rest of Imre's article rehashes every other article over the past year, another example of zero-value Murdoch content.
"Whatever you might say about the folks at Sussex Street" - what about that they, rather than Rees, are the real story here? These are the geniuses who thought that too much Bob Carr was barely enough. They are the same people who thought that Iemma was an ideal replacement - and when proven wrong, still think they have the right to pop the bonnet and tinker with the engine while considering changing driver. These are the same geniuses who think there's mileage in taking Imre out for a Chinese meal now and then.
The folks at Sussex Street are clowns. All of them.
If Rees is going to avoid a tap on the shoulder, he needs a big policy win, or a spectacular few weeks in parliament between now and Christmas ...
There are no "policy wins". Anyone who knows anything about State politics knows that, and it does no credit to a parliamentary roundsman to pretend otherwise. Nobody gives a damn about "parliamentary theatre".
This can't help but affect the coming federal election, especially given that it will occur before the next state election. There will be a lot of nonsense about state issues interfering with federal issues, when in reality the NSW ALP will stuff up the most promising political environment for Labor in a generation.
NSW has lost a seat in the redistribution; it's a Labor seat. In the olden days, NSW ALP hard-heads (the sort of people who wouldn't piss on Imre) would sort something out and chuck out some dead wood. Instead, the clowns at head office are being upstaged by a jobsworth with a severe case of born-to-rule syndrome: the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia has had to take time out of her schedule to sort this out.
Mr Ferguson served six years in state politics before joining Federal Parliament. It is highly unlikely he will ever serve in the ministry.
You can understand why they thought of him as political roadkill: but did they not count on the Deputy Prime Minister? What else are these clowns not counting on?
Barry O'Farrell has rebuilt the NSW Liberal state office largely in his own image: he's a former State Director, knows where the bodies are buried. If Turnbull keeps going the way he's going then O'Farrell will basically use the federal poll as a test run for the State Election in 2011. Certainly, the money coming into Liberal head office is predicated on state success, and any money coming to the ALP to curry favour with the federal government will go to national head office rather than Sussex Street.
Going by Antony Green's assessment of the next Federal election, let's look at the NSW seats and see just how badly the Sussex Street clowns could balls this up:
- Macarthur: had Pat Farmer been re-elected under the traditional Liberal Reverence For Dead Wood rule, Labor would have a real chance at that seat. Russell Mathieson is a serious candidate and all Labor have are the deadshit councillors they always run in that area. Prediction: Labor FAIL
- Macquarie: Louise Markus will win that, factional squabbling and the Greens will do for Labor. Prediction: Labor FAIL
- Robertson: Belinda Neal. Need I say more? She'll do enough to sail past preselection with the most unlikely Princess Di act ever, but will run out of puff into the new year as her husband no longer has the heft to pull her out of problems she causes. The Libs will choose a local bloke who wears polyester ties with shortsleeve shirts and a $10 haircut. Neal will court the national media, which Coasties don't give a damn about, doing glossy pics that make her look like a rouged-up front-end loader. Prediction: Labor FAIL
- Gilmore: Should be there for the taking, but isn't. Prediction: Labor FAIL
- Paterson: Like Gilmore, except you'll have to pry the seat out of Bob Baldwin's cold dead hands and the Hunter Valley ALP are even more useless than Sussex Street. Besides, anyone who's any good will go after Joel Fitzgibbon rather than Bob. Prediction: Labor FAIL
- Hughes: Oh come on, the redistribution has given a chunk of southwestern Sydney to Labor and Danna Vale is retiring. Even David Hill could win this seat now. Prediction: Labor could still stuff this up.
- Cowper: Held by the Nats, but demographics favour Labor if the economy stays on an even keel. Prediction: Labor could still stuff this up.
- Calare: Held by the Nats, a strong local candidate backed by a well-regarded state government could tip this into Labor's column: but where would they get some of that? Prediction: Labor FAIL
- Lindsay: Might be interesting if Whimpering Troy Craig stays out of it, otherwise it might not be. Prediction: Labor could still stuff this up.
- Bennelong and Eden-Monaro: Will be quarantined from Sussex Street influence. Libs will run no-hopers. Prediction: Labor will not stuff these up.
- Wentworth: Nah. Doesn't swing. Labor's next candidate is likely to be a hack rather than a McKew-style game-changer. Prediction: Labor FAIL
Labor will go backwards in NSW at the 2010 election: you read it here first. Like Andrew Peacock in 1984 it is possible that Turnbull could perform creditably against a first-term Labor government - but only within NSW, apparently.