Sydney Morning Herald revisits the bashing on MP Peter Baldwin on its front page
today – and 20 years on, the story is still shocking. The cast of crims
and grims – everyone from Tom Domican to Richo to Warren Anderson –
shows Sussex Street sleaze at its very worst. Pure Tammany Hall.

Baldwin, who went on to become a Keating minister, tells the SMH:
“From the point of view of the perpetrators, whoever they were, the
whole thing was monumentally counter-productive for their purposes. The
whole composition of the Labor party in the inner city changed as a
consequence. It completely removed the kind of criminally-oriented
machines that held sway in the inner city for so long.”

Is there a subtext there, though?

Baldwin’s correct to say all the carry-on cleaned up the party in the
inner city. What he doesn’t specifically say is how that lead to the
rise of his Left faction – he and his successor Tanya Plibersek in
Sydney and Anthony Albanese and Carmel Tebbutt – and even the success
of Clover Moore and the Greens.

We know what happened when the Sussex Street boys tried to take over
Sydney City Council. Their man, former federal minister Michael Lee, was
humiliated. The got Clover Moore in as Lord Mayor as well as an inner
city MP in what should be safe Labor turf.

And Baldwin doesn’t add how the right moved out west – how master
tactician Richo and his acolytes decided to run the rorts on the city
fringes. In the type of seats that were once safe Labor but have swung
solidly to the Libs since 1996.