It’s official – NSW Premier Morris Iemma is living in a parallel universe, the accusation made against him in June by the MP for Camden, Geoff Corrigan.
At the end of a Labor caucus meeting on 2 June, Corrigan told Iemma to his face: “I don’t want you to leave here today believing everyone’s happy about the way the government’s going. There are some people in this room who are living in a parallel universe, thinking the government’s going well.”
Now we have confirmation that there is life on “planet Iemma” after an email was sent to all Labor MPs last Friday from the “Save Morris” faction stating:
Basic Principles of the Australian Labor Party (NSW Branch)
Clause 0.3 The Leader and Deputy Leader in the Legislative Assembly and the Leader and Deputy Leader in the Legislative Council are elected by members of the Parliamentary Labor Party. These leaders cannot be removed during the term of Parliament for which they were elected except with the agreement of Annual Conference.
The email was unsigned and came from an unidentifiable sender. It’s meaning is clear: to warn Labor backbenchers that there is no point in plotting to remove the Premier because his position is fireproof.
Naturally, the “back-off” strategy using a clause from the party’s “basic principles” has been greeted with a mixture of hilarity and disdain.
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It is Iemma, after all, who has rejected the annual conference decision to oppose the privatisation of the state’s electricity industry. In so doing, he has flouted the most basic rule of ALP membership: i.e. upholding the party platform as decided by annual conference, the party’s supreme policy-making body.
Giving himself feudal powers, Iemma wants to choose those parts of the party’s rules that he likes, and reject the ones that he doesn’t like. If all NSW ALP members claimed those discretionary rights, the party would cease to exist and become a free for all.
Meanwhile, life on Planet Morris is now verging on the bizarre:
- He is depending on the opposition parties, the Liberal and Nationals, to secure his power sell-off plans when parliament resumes in September;
- In the upper house the passage of crucial government legislation is dependent on deals with the hard right Christian fundamentalist Fred Nile and the two Shooters Party MPs;
- His biggest infrastructure project — the $16 billion Metro between the city and the city’s north-west — is being marketed in government advertising by Vic Larusso, the commercial radio and television traffic guy who broadcasts updates on traffic snarls from a helicopter;
- Apparently on the advice of Labor fixer Eddie Obeid, he’s placed his comeback media strategy in the hands of a group of former Channel Nine newsroom operatives led by John Choueifaite, now the Director of State Strategy on more than $200,000 a year.
Apart from Corrigan and a handful of other sceptical backbenchers in marginal seats, the majority of Labor MPs and the Cabinet have accepted life on Planet Iemma and are clinging to the Iemma-Costa-Watkins team like fungoid life forms. The Anthony Albanese so-called “left” faction has ordered its supporters to stick with Iemma to the very end.
This could end with the caucus cultists catching a plane and flying to Guyana with a cargo of Orangeade.