Renegade Tasmanian Labor MHR Harry Quick sprayed colleagues this morning, telling Crikey that Premier Paul Lennon was too presidential, Education Minister Paula Wriedt could lose her seat in the 18 March state election because she has lost touch with her electorate, and in Victoria, Martin Pakula should fight for a marginal seat if he thinks he is so good, rather than try to oust Simon Crean from the safe federal seat of Hotham.
He even had a go at “PM-in-waiting” Bill Shorten, claiming Bob Sercombe fell on his sword because Shorten “allegedly bought $250,000 of memberships” to win preselection for the safe federal seat of Maribyrnong (Ed: Crikey is aware of no evidence whatsoever to support this claim).
All this and more after serving breakfast to 80 kids at the Risdon Vale Breakfast Club in the working class Hobart suburb of Bridgewater. The club serves breakfast three mornings a week during term time, thanks to a gang of local supporters, with many parents on hand. Their reaction this morning to his support of Greens candidate Nick McKim in a campaign pamphlet was overwhelmingly positive: “They said bloody good on you because he’s worked hard for the community.”
Quick has held the federal seat of Franklin since March 1993, an electorate which covers the state seats held by Lennon, Wriedt, Economic Development and Arts Minister Lara Giddings, McKim and Liberal deputy leader Will Hodgman. The polls indicate that McKim will be re-elected, while Labor will lose one of its ministers to the Liberals. Quick says he told all three Labor members that they should get back to the grass roots, but only Giddings – who pollsters think the most likely to lose her seat – had heeded his warning and he reckons she has a good chance of being returned.
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“People at the coal face can’t get to see their members because they are all ministers,” he says. “They don’t do electorate work. Paul has adopted a presidential style, sweeping around with minders and cameras, unveiling statues and handing out cheques. Paula has taken no notice and I also think teachers in Franklin will punish her at the ballot box because they can’t speak out about their concerns (over education issues). Lara’s the only one of them who’s listened: she’s out working in the community and was at the Breakfast Club this morning pouring out orange juice.”
Quick says he has given his support to Giddings, Labor candidate Ross Butler – a retired school principal, now a taxi driver – as well as McKim, saying “it’s a load of bullshit” that one party has a monopoly on political wisdom. And he thinks the Lennon Government is in trouble – which is why it trotted out “icon” Gough Whitlam for its official launch on Sunday. “Desperation stakes,” he says.