When Senator Mark Arbib, the former general secretary of the NSW Labor Party, delivered his inaugural speech in Federal Parliament there were some gaping omissions from his monologue.
The NSW party’s kingmaker — he put Morris Iemma into the premiership in 2005 and raised the numbers for Kevin Rudd to overthrow Kim Beazley in December 2006 — clearly decided to steer clear of his nefarious Sussex Street activities as he launched his new Canberra career.
For example, there was no mention whatsoever of former premiers Bob Carr or Iemma who he served between 2004 and 2007 giving political advice, choosing election candidates and raising millions of campaign dollars.
Not even a passing reference to the Sussex Street staff, the new general secretary Karl Bitar or the assistant secretary Luke Foley, or the many trade union leaders who helped secure his No 1 spot on the ALP’s Senate ticket.
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While most incoming senators thank a list of political mentors and read their names into the parliamentary record, Arbib only mentioned his grandmother, his mother, his wife and two daughters.
The NSW Australian Hotels Association president John Thorpe and Sydney’s top property developers, all of whom worked closely with Arbib over the years, didn’t rate a even a cursory howdy-do.
While his two predecessors, John Della Bosca and Eric Roozendaal, had to accept places in the NSW Legislative Council, aka the looney lounge, Arbib made sure he followed Graham Richardson’s path to Canberra.
Next stop? Emulate “Richo” by finding a place in the Cabinet. To this end, his media contacts are working brilliantly to boost his profile.
Virginia Trioli, who should know better, had him as a guest on ABC’s Friday Lateline, Tony Jones, ditto, invited him onto one of his Q&A panels while Sunday Telegraph editor Neil Breen has given him a column. Last Sunday Arbib wrote about Peter Costello’s memoirs saying: “But in the end it’s his economic legacy and the issue of nation building where I part company with him.”
Arbib, of course, was never in Costello’s company and is never likely to be.
He has moved to Canberra leaving the wreckage of the NSW Government behind him. As the parody of the Internationale goes: “The working class can kiss Mark’s a-s, he’s got a senator’s job at last.”