tip off

The (attempted) exorcism of Eddie Obeid

The NSW Labor Party wants to present Eddie Obeid as one bad apple. But this, of course, is nonsense, writes NSW political reporter Alex Mitchell.

We had gathered in New South Wales Parliament to launch a new book that records, in magnificent detail, the corrupt political career of ALP powerbroker Eddie Obeid. But it felt more like an exorcism.

After the official speeches, the assembled members of the Labor and media classes went upstairs to Obeid’s former parliamentary office to dance on his political grave. The mood was upbeat and reminiscent of a happy-clappy Hillsong service: Hallelujeh! The Evil One is no more.

Celebrations had actually started last weekend, July 26-27, when delegates at the NSW Labor Party conference voted to expel Obeid for the term of his natural life. But try as they might, Obeid’s toxic name and odious reputation will haunt the Labor Party for some time to come. It is surely wishful thinking to believe otherwise.

There is a NSW election on March 28 next year, and Obeid could be on trial as voters go to the polls. In any case, Premier Mike Baird’s campaign team is certain to make destructive use of TV advertisements reminding the electorate of “The Sheik’s” multiple appearances before the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

Labor’s preelection strategy of singling out Obeid and metaphorically burning him at the stake isn’t going to purify NSW Labor, nor will it convince a majority of voters to switch back to the ALP. Not yet, anyway. Casting him as the “bad apple” in an otherwise healthy barrel and as a “rogue politician” in the last Labor caucus is a travesty of the truth. It is tailored to suit the make-believe histrionics of former premier Bob Carr (1996-2006), who is consumed by grandstanding and personal vanities.

History shows it was the culture of the NSW ALP in the latter part of the 20th century that nurtured Obeid and promoted him into Parliament, and then cabinet and invested him with immense factional powers. Labor’s new elite is delusional if it believes fresh electoral success can be achieved by simply airbrushing away Obeid’s 30-year career. It won’t wash.

To paraphrase Bill Clinton, one individual didn’t engineer Labor’s public disgrace and electoral downfall — it’s the party, stupid.

5
  • 1
    leon knight
    Posted Thursday, 31 July 2014 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Sadly this is very true, the only good news is that there will not be that much joy at election time for the LNP either, as they are in the filth up to their chins as well.
    And the Federal LNP ideology is borderline corruption on a far grander scale.
    At least Labor can be seen to be cleansing itself a bit, the LNP reckon they are entitled to much more of the same and believe have better deception skills..!!

  • 2
    bushby jane
    Posted Thursday, 31 July 2014 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    Yes, I agree. In Tasmania, one senior Lib in the Federal Govt rules the roost, and oversees everything including preselections with great vigor. Ask Guy Barnett several years ago.

  • 3
    CML
    Posted Friday, 1 August 2014 at 1:28 am | Permalink

    @ leon knight - I agree with your comments.
    This article has been written as though the other side of politics are lily white. For dog’s sake, they even lost a Premier!
    Now, voters in NSW may well say a pox on both your ‘parties’, but I don’t think they will only be concerned with Labor.
    VERY BIASED, ALEX!!

  • 4
    AR
    Posted Friday, 1 August 2014 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    Perfect exposition, precisely put- now that is journalism as it once was, aka writing.
    My view of the decline was after Hawke won in 1983 - the rise of the SussexSt Lubyanka wherein men-wthout-navels were able to rule “because it was us wot won”.
    The branches were steadily ignored & then gelded, esp the Phillip branch which was astonishingly vigorous for such a locale of silvertails & surfies.
    As with bringing down Krudd, the simulacrae of SussexSt were into the power, whether in office or opposition didn’t seem to matter as long as they had control.
    Obeid was not an aberration but the norm and, like the Bourbons, I doubt that anything has been learned, memory hole or not.
    The apotheosis was usedCarr, getting out while the getting was good, all spin & no substance.

  • 5
    Val Theisz
    Posted Monday, 18 August 2014 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    I started reading the “He Who Must Be Obeid” book, by Fairfax journalist Kate McClymont and ABC broadcaster Linton Besser. Anyone still claiming that Obeid is one bad apple should take a look at this whole compote that is the current political system. Hopefully the ICAC will be strengthened and followed by appropriate criminal prosecutions.

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