The Labor faithful,
friends, hanger-ons and gate crashers with gather at Sydney’s Westin
Hotel tonight to celebrate Bob Carr’s milestone as the longest
continuous serving Premier of NSW. By his side will be Dr Andrew
Refshauge, his deputy since 1988. Quietly, Refshauge has also passed a
milestone – he is the longest continuous serving deputy premier of NSW.

Their partnership as leader and deputy has also become the
longest to survive the bear bit of NSW politics. It’s worth remembering
that Carr was not front-runner for the job after the landslide defeat
of “Cardigan” Barrie Unsworth in 1988. In fact, he was not even in the
race. Neither was Refshauge as deputy.

George Paciullo,
Unsworth’s Police Minister, thought he was a shoe-in. Most senior Labor
ministers were either defeated or too battle-scarred to take up the

But the thought of the dull po-faced Paciullo leading them
through hot coals and brimstones frightened the bejeezus out of the
small band of what was left of the Labor caucus. They began to gather
in corridors; names were thrown around. Carr’s name was put forward,
followed by Refshauge as his deputy. A Right-Left ticket to unite the
battered party.

The idea gathered momentum and created a
mini-tsunami that swiped George Paciullo inland and back to the
wetlands of the western suburbs. Paciullo was furious. He blamed the
ALP Head Office for interfering; he even blamed the caucus for not
supporting him because he did not have an anglicised name.

reality, for the first time in years the ALP HQ was in no position to
interfere or impose its will – not after the massive defeat at the
polls. Carr and Refshauge happened to be at the right place and right
time; a reminder for embattled opposition leaders everywhere that in
politics, it’s never wise to give up hope.

And George Paciullo?
He lost his seat in 1989. Five years later, after a series of
appointments on the public purse, he took over Mark Latham’s old job as
Mayor of Liverpool.