Today’s decision by Labor’s head office to protect Newcastle incumbent, Jodi McKay, from a local preselection shows that nothing has changed in NSW Labor since Ms McKay was imposed on Newcastle four years ago by the party’s Sydney-based powerbrokers, according to The Greens candidate for Newcastle, John Sutton.
“However Sydney Labor might try to spin it, the fingerprints of the sinister “leadership group”, identified by the former Labor state Minister, Rod Cavalier, in his recent book Power Crisis, as the real powerbrokers in NSW Labor preselections, are all over this decision.
“In the Epilogue to his book, Mr Cavalier asks “Does party membership matter” in the modern Labor Party, observing that “a leadership group has presumed to determine preselections for any seat that Labor has a chance of winning wherever the local membership might select a candidate unacceptable to that group”.
“Those same powerbrokers have now been cavalier in stomping on the right of Newcastle Labor members to nominate and preselect their local candidate because they obviously know that genuine rank-and-file Labor members in Newcastle aren’t as impressed by Ms McKay as they are,” Mr Sutton said.
“This same leadership group is now rewarding Ms McKay for dutifully toeing the Labor line on electricity privatisation, Tillegra Dam, and the unimpeded expansion of the coal industry; for supporting local vested interests on issues such as cutting the Newcastle rail line; and for being such a consistent apologist for Labor’s many failures in public transport and planning.
“This is a slap in the face for any Labor members in Newcastle who thought they still mattered in the modern Labor Party, beyond their practical usefulness in raising money, handing out how to vote cards on election day, and applauding when the leadership group says “clap”.