Angela D’Amore, the Labor MP for Drummoyne in Sydney’s inner-west, has fired a warning shot over the bows of Premier Morris Iemma. Coming from a backbencher who is only five years into her political career, it may seem like passing grapeshot that carries no menace.

That would be a mistake.

D’Amore is a fully-fledged product of the NSW Labor Party. Head office gifted her the Drummoyne seat in 2003 without a pre-selection and gave it to her again in 2007. Little wonder she’s a fierce party HQ loyalist.

Her working career before parliament was in the trade unions. She was as an officer of the Municipal Employees Union and later became an industrial officer with the NSW Nurses’ Association.

Giving her inaugural speech in the Legislative Assembly on May 16, 2003, she said:

I thank the Nurses Association, the Municipal Employees Union, the Australian Workers Union, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, the Public Service Association, the National Union of Workers and in particular the Labor Council for always standing by my side during the campaign.

Little wonder she’s a Unions NSW loyalist too.

At a personal level, she is married to Richard Tripodi, who happens to be the brother of Ports and Waterways Minister Joe Tripodi, one of the right-wing faction’s heavyweights.

The daughter of first generation Italian migrants, she shares the same cultural heritage as Premier Morris Iemma, Tripodi and Planning Minister Frank Sartor, the sons of first generation Italian migrants. In private conversation they slip easily into Italian and exchange “buon giornos” and “ciaos” in the corridors.

So when D’Amore decided to unload on the Premier and his ministers in an “exclusive” in yesterday’s Sun Herald, then significant shifts are occurring in the NSW ALP.

She accused ministers of being out of touch and when asked if she was directing her comments at Iemma, D’Amore said: “It’s directed at the whole Government but people know who’s at the head of the Government.”

ALP general secretary Karl Bitar called on D’Amore to give her damning assessment to the media after Iemma’s extraordinarily rash decision not to accept the invitation to attend last Friday’s meeting of the party’s governing body, the administrative committee. His non-attendance has deepened the split between the Iemma-Costa Cabinet and the party.

This is an unprecedented situation: having lost the support of the ALP rank and file and the unions for the privatisation of the state’s power industry, Iemma and Treasurer Costa are now relying on the Opposition parties, the Liberals and Nationals, to secure the sell-off.

The question must be asked: without the backing of the ALP and making itself a hostage to the Coalition, can the Iemma Government continue to call itself “Labor” in the full meaning of the term?

In this explosive political environment, the ALP’s message delivered via D’Amore is this — “We’re coming for you, mate.”

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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