Poor old Kelvin Thomson. It appears that there’s giving references and giving references in the Labor Party.

Thomson was tossed off the front bench on Friday when it emerged he signed a reference for Melbourne gangland fugitive Tony Mokbel in August 2000 extolling the drug lord’s contribution to his community.

But what about the allegation raised in the NSW Parliament in November 2005 that Premier Morris Iemma, as a junior minister, provided “a personal reference on his ministerial letterhead to Mamadou Mamadou Ndaw, deported last year, the man who introduced Willie Brigitte to his wife, Melanie Brown, and described by Brigitte as his closest and most trusted friend,”?

Ndaw was a Labor Party member who requested a reference from Iemma’s Lakemba electorate office in 1997 as part of a bid to be granted residency.

Iemma supplied one, and declared when the story broke he did nothing wrong. “You provide information on the submission based on what you believe at the time,” he said.

In contrast, Thomson admitted last Friday “I’ve made a mistake, I’ve ‘fessed up to it, I accept responsibility for it.”

Ndaw overstayed his visa. He was not been charged with any offence.

However, around the time Ndaw went knocking on Iemma’s door, the current NSW Premier was involved in a massive branch stack that involved hundreds of Muslim Lebanese Australians.

A media report claims “on one critical day, more than 400 people joined a single ALP branch. This generated a large-scale counter-stack, and hundreds of people recruited by a rival faction turned up to vote, only to be told the meeting was over. Much milling and jostling followed. Both sides had gone to the imams in Lakemba to get them to drum up rank-and-file numbers.”

There’s the tang of Tammany in both the Thomson and Iemma cases. These are stories of sleaze and slovenliness overlooked thanks to the power of political patronage.