NSW Premier Morris Iemma’s days are done. His most junior backbenchers are openly criticising him and the Treasurer Michael Costa. Soon it will be senior ministers followed by the party’s elder statesmen, and then it will be time to go.
Today’s critic is Wyong MP David Harris who was elected only 16 months ago. Nobody has ever heard of him but oh how they become lions when there is a smell of blood in the air.
While the bizarre message from Iemma’s minders is that he is staying to fight the next election in March 2011, the headlines in today’s Sydney newspapers tell a vastly different story:
“Last days: Iemma challenge looming” SMH
“Premier a pariah in his own party” Daily Telegraph
Iemma’s rearguard action is in the hands of Treasurer Michael Costa, Health Minister Reba Meagher, Ports Minister Joe Tripodi, Roads Minister Eric Roozendaal, Disability Services Minister Kristina Keneally, Maroubra MP Michael Daley and party fixer, Eddie Obeid.
It is a motley clique without support anywhere among the broader party membership. These are the individuals who have helped Iemma dig the hole of his own self-destruction.
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They are frantically defending him because they know that a post-Iemma administration will result in them being cast out in the cold. Or that’s where they should be if there is any natural justice left in the NSW ALP.
Today’s other headline on the front-page of the “Tele” will have added to Iemma’s nightmare: “Charge them — Police urge DPP to prosecute over Iguanagate.”
Labor “power couple”, John Della Bosca and his wife Belinda Neal, have been interviewed by a special police task force over events at the Iguana waterfront restaurant on June 6 and the subsequent swearing of contradictory statutory declarations about what happened.
Detectives have recommended charges be brought for perverting the course of justice though it is not clear whether they refer to Della Bosca, the former education minister, or Neal, the federal MP for Robertson.
They face suspension from the ALP if either of them are charged and their membership will only be restored if they are cleared at trial. Having this damaging legal entanglement in the midst of the NSW premiership crisis will only strengthen the resolve of powerbrokers to break with the past, jump the generation gap and recommend a cleanskin.
That’s why Nathan Rees, the Emergency Services and Water Minister, suddenly has pole position.