The meteoric parliamentary career of Jodi McKay, the Labor MP for Newcastle, continues to amaze her caucus colleagues in Macquarie Street.

Entering parliament in March last year, she is now the Minister for Tourism, the Hunter, Small Business, Science and Medical Research and Minister for assisting the Health Minister — a total of five portfolios.

For a former TV news reader, this has been a whirlwind entry into politics. And she owes it all to former Premier Morris Iemma, now unemployed, and former NSW ALP general secretary Mark Arbib, now a senator in Canberra.

One week before the ALP selected her for the safe Newcastle seat, McKay was lined up to become the Liberal candidate for Port Stephens.

At the 11th hour she dumped the Liberals when the ALP head office agreed to gift her the Newcastle seat without a rank-and-file pre-selection, causing an outcry among local branch members loyal to the sitting MP Bryce Gaudry.

Two months ago she claimed the tourism portfolio when Kiama MP Matt Brown was promoted to Police Minister. He was forced to step down within three days after revelations that he danced in his underpants in his ministerial office on Budget night.

When Bankstown MP Tony Stewart was sacked 10 days ago for inappropriate behaviour towards a female staff member, McKay became the beneficiary of his portfolios as well.

By coincidence, the new Police Minister is Tony Kelly and one of his senior advisers has become McKay’s closest confidante.

Much earlier, McKay’s escort around Newcastle was a police officer who has since left the force. Sadly, that friendship didn’t survive.

Cessnock-born Tanya Gadiel, MP for Parramatta since 2003 who holds an arts and a law degree, sits on the backbench watching in astonishment as McKay’s career rises irresistibly.

Others are counting the ever-changing personnel on McKay’s staff and wondering how it will all end.

Peter Fray

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