The Carr Government may be derailed, but NSW Liberal leader John Brogden isn’t guaranteed a smooth ride into the premier’s job.

Yesterday
he got some good news – that shopping centre giant Westfield has
stopped defamation proceedings against him over allegations the company
paid a bribe to NSW Premier Bob Carr during the Orange Grove fiasco —
after a “personal apology” to chairman Frank Lowy.

But the
perpetual mutterings about Brogden’s office continue. He has a high
staff turnover – never a good sign – and the usual senior Liberal
sources worry out loud that he has too many yes men on board, rather
than advisers who give him honest advice.

The issue has reached
a head over a series of controversial television attack ads marking the
tenth anniversary of Carr’s assumption of power. They carry an
“authorised by Steve Murphy”. Murphy is one of Brogden’s staff. Some
Liberals are asking why acting state director Bede Fennell – a noted
straight shooter – didn’t authorise them. Others are saying that he
thought they were a waste of money. Indeed, there are even claims that
Brogden and his staff are having to do a whip round of their own to
foot the bill, estimated at $250,000. Expect more from a right-wing
dominated executive on spending this sort of money two years out from
an election.

PS. Fennell’s stocks seem to be rising. With former
director Scott Morrison moving on to Tourism Australia, NSW Libs are
wondering how much of a power behind the throne Fennell actually was.
Some mutterings regarding a Tourism Australia appointment are only
accentuating this mood.

Peter Fray

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