It’s official. ACTU secretary Greg Combet is in the Hunter Valley to confirm that he will stand for Labor in the safe seat of Charlton at the election. But spare a thought for the woman he hopes to oust, Kelly Hoare, and her pain.

“In this area, we have families, three-generation families who are involved with the Labor Party,” she said this morning. “This is Labor Party territory and the reason that it is is because you have commitments from families over generations in this area.”

Indeed. Charlton provides the perfect example. There have been only two members for the seat — Hoare and her dad, Bob Brown. Hoare worked on his staff before her own election to Parliament in 1998.

She’s only really distinguished herself since then by being the first daughter of an MP to inherit her seat. And she clearly regards it as family property. “I am the sole income-earner in our family. I have got a daughter at university and a son on first-year apprenticeship wages,” she said today.

“If we lose this income, we lose the house.”

Is that an admission that Hoare believes that if it wasn’t for nepotism, she’d be otherwise unemployable? Labor needs to demonstrate its competence — or semi-competence, anyway — to win government. In NSW, it’s putting up high-profile candidates like Maxine McKew, former state minister Bob Debus and senior military man Mike Kelly.

Dumping Hoare looks like a step in the right direction.

Peter Fray

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