Is
the premiership of Morrie Iemma (AKA Morrie the Lemur) cursed before it
even starts and doomed to die in March 2007? Yesterday, Morrie walked
away from a press conference
after little more than four minutes of question and answers, then lost
deputy premier and state treasurer, Dr Andrew Refshauge, this morning.
This throws up the tantalising proposition of a second by-election in a
seat that might be snaffled by the Greens in a mid-term protest result.
Premier Bob Carr leaves the Cabinet today and parliament tomorrow and
there will be a by-election in his seat of Maroubra.

It was the
way Morrie revealed his very thin skin after walking out of the press
opportunity that has the Sydney gallery media sniffing blood. When
questioned about the amount of time he’d spent away from parliament on
sick and personal leave, he said that one instance involved parental
leave for the birth of his twin children. But Morrie became short
tempered when the questioning persisted – he abruptly ended the presser
and walked away with Carl Scully, the man he undermined to get the top
job.

Refshauge said he wanted to remain treasurer but clearly
he’s been pushed by Morrie and his right wing backers and by his own
Left faction which has promoted Transport Minister John Watkins and
Upper House-based Education Minister Carmel Tebbut to be deputy.

Tebbut
will have to move to the Lower House to contest Marrickville,
Reshauge’s soon-to-be-vacant seat. With the Greens doing well in recent
federal elections around Marrickville and in the neighbouring seat of
Port Jackson (held by minister Sandra Nori) there could be an upset
protest vote against the Labor government in the by-election. The ALP
should retain Carr’s old seat, but even there the protest vote will be
strong.

It will also be a big test of the ability of opposition
leader, John Brogden, to take advantage of the changed political
landscape and prove himself.

Peter Fray

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