Yesterday we suggested that if ALP national secretary Tim Gartrell really wants to chop out the dead wood from his party, as he said last week, he should nominate some starting points. Crikey readers have been quick off the mark with some handy hints – with that notorious sinkhole of Labor nepotism, the Hunter Valley, at the very top of the list.

“How about any federal or state member in Newcastle and the Hunter?” a Labor-voting subscriber writes. “The Hunter has a population of 600,000 and the most ineffective parliamentary representation in the nation. It drives most us nuts that a handful of old Labor left families run the branches, the local councils, the remnant unions. The only thing they don’t have is the ear of the NSW and Federal right powerbrokers. So Newcastle is a stalemate between the two.

“People wanting things done invite the old dears along to everything. Michael Costa fronts up and chats to them, they all go home for an early nap and the deals are stitched up. Amazing, really, when you think that 230 or so geriatrics decide the fate or more than a dozen state and federal seats in the Hunter. I can vouch personally for at least four Newcastle Electoral Council voting members who are well into dementia and yet are still allowed to cast a preselection vote. I imagine they’ll still be doing so long after they’re in their graves.”

Hear, hear – but note the diplomatic silence about that great scion of the Hunter, Iron Mark’s pal Joel Fitzgibbon.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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