Where is Verity Firth, the phantom number two on Michael Lee’s ticket?

Alexandria the Great writes:

The City of Sydney is plastered
with posters depicting a presidential Michael Lee and the ALP’s
operative in position Number 3, Tony Pooley, a former Macquarie Street
staffer, who made it as South Sydney’s mayor for a term. But where is
Number 2 on Labor’s ticket, Verity Firth? Looking down benignly from
literally thousands of illegal posters lining streets in Newtown,
Alexandria, Redfern and other suburbs are the smiling faces of
right-wing machine-men Lee and Pooley.

Perhaps there are
reasons for Verity’s peek-a-boo? Who is Verity? In her self-publicity
she boasts she is a “lawyer-campagner-activist”. Campaign literature
calls her “a solicitor specializing in asbestos claims”. She says she
works for reputable Melbourne-based firm of Slater and Gordon. Is this
true Verity? Did someone really get onto a NSW ticket with a life
outside party incubators?

Yes, Verity does have a law degree
which took her ten years to get. It’s true, she did briefly work in the
Sydney branch-office (being a member of a Macquarie Street royal family
certainly helps!) But not exactly the CV of a bona fide battlin’ “labor
lawyer”.

Until 2001, Verity was a staffer for Anthony Albanese
MP, Eric Roozendaal’s little mate on the left. Then she did her cameo
at Slater and Gordon before “taking a leave without pay to manage
Labor’s campaign” in the northern NSW federal seat of Richmond in 2001.
After dumping the popular candidate for Jenny McAllister (a former
staffer of Tanya Plibersek, wife of former Meredith Burgmann staffer
John Graham, and another protégé of Albanese), the ALP lost what was a
winnable seat to Larry Anthony.

But of course it wasn’t the
fault of Princess Verity and Albanese’s Precious Gang. At the pathetic
State Conference in October 2003, Verity denounced NSW agriculture
minister Jack Hallam for “costing the ALP the seat of Richmond”.
Hallam’s “crime” was to complain about factionaism in the local paper
and attend the launch of the Greens campaign to support a friend. Nasty
stuff. But Verity can’t stuff up.

After the disaster of
Richmond it was back to Sydney. Albanese and Roozendaal created a
pozzie for Verity as Sussex Street’s Campaign Co-oridinator. The
position was neither advertised nor endorsed by the ALP left, but then
Verity is Meredith Bergmann’s niece. Just all in the happy ALP family.

Party
members are paying for Verity’s labours towards her goal of being the
next MP for Bligh. But first, she needs to be elected to Sydney City
Council for some profile. So the mayor of the old South Sydney Council,
Tony Pooley, had to be pushed down to third place behind her on Michael
Lee’s ticket.

And guess what, Verity came in second in the “rank
and file” ballot for Sydney City after 6 months full-time paid
campaigning and pretty speeches at branch meetings while members were
fighting the forced amalgamation between the City and South Sydney. So
poor Pooley is out there reassuring the locals that South Sydney is not
the NSW ALP’s Iraq.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes again Verity
runs a nasty Young Labor-style campaign. Shit sheets are circulated
about frontrunner and Member for Bligh, Clover Moore. But there is no
public acknowledgment that it comes from the ALP. They all come from an
A. Jones in Leichhardt Street, Glebe. Verity is branch secretary in
Glebe.

So much for Verity’s vaunted “campaigning and activism”.
Who will cop the blame for Verity’s overreaching ambition after the
City of Sydney debacle? The natives don’t exactly appear to be throwing
flowers and sweeties to their liberators. Perhaps the “shock and awe”
radio adverts will work.

Peter Fray

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