Christian Kerr writes:

The news that South Australian Liberal Party state director Graham Jaeschke is taking the top job in NSW is filling up the inbox.

“The Fed Sec is happy (except John Burston),” one subscriber says. Burston, of course, is a former organisational heavy in both NSW and SA. Will he get the job in South Australia? “The greatly under appreciated John Burston – former right hand man of (former SA Liberal leader) Dale Baker who has been less than happy with his treatment in the nation’s capital. He’s very much a Minchin man and would be a coup for the Iain Evans for Leader faction,” another says. “He doesn’t seem to have fitted the Lynton Crosby mould”.

There’s news of friction in the sub-factions of the dominant NSW right in the wake of the appointment, with vice-president Rhonda Vanzella feeling the heat. There’s also talk that former NSW director Scott Morrison might be about to cop flak over appointments in his new role heading the Tourism Task Force.

Jaeschke takes over at a good time for the NSW Liberals. Bob Carr’s government hasn’t had the happiest tenth anniversary. However, he will have to deal with factions going hammer and tongs. “Some State Libs are expecting him to play a straight bat, unlike his predecessor Scott Morrison who was focused on his own image and political career and selectively ignored partisan game playing,” a NSW mole writes. “There are a few federal and state MPs who hope that Jaeschke might apply a little blowtorch to the bellies of factional warlords to stop being the lead in the saddlebags and to focus on helping the Parliamentary wings. Both state and federal arms are raising money at record rates yet the Party organisation is sitting on its laurels. With two elections due in 2007 there is no time for cruising.”

There are other warnings, too: “The team that helped build the NSW division may be fragmenting which is concerning many who are not yet completely convinced Jaeschke can handle the job,” another source says. “Rumours are circulating that Burston disciple (and campaign manager in NSW) Reg Chamberlain is not thrilled with the Jaeschke appointment and will probably leave. There is much speculation on whether or not Bede Fennell (deputy state director) will leave. As the manager of the Division’s legal and internal affairs his role will be crucial in preventing factional warfare breaking out. Paul Nicolaou (the division’s fundraiser) is confirmed to be staying to the relief of many. He has done an excellent job so far, providing security for the division from a financial point of view.”

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Peter Fray
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