For almost two decades, the NSW ALP right-wing faction known as the “Terrigals” has played a dominant rule in making and breaking premiers, ministers and MPs, manipulating pre-selections, guiding policy, raising campaign funds and appointing favorites to jobs.
That era is over. The Terrigals, led by upper house MP Eddie Obeid and his bruising lieutenant Joe Tripodi, are dead. At a specially convened caucus meeting to be held at State Parliament tomorrow to select two new ministers, it will be buried.
The demise of Obeid and Tripodi has been a long time coming — too long for most ALP members.
It started on July 27, 2005, when then Police Minister Carl Scully, a loyal Terrigal, announced that he was a candidate to replace Premier Bob Carr who had just resigned.
A few hours later, Obeid and Tripodi met Scully in his office to tell him that they had decided to switch their support to virtually unknown Health Minister Morris Iemma.
They knifed Scully in what has become known in NSW politics as “one of the greatest acts of bastardry of all time”.
Now roll forward to September 5, 2008. A struggling Premier Iemma has lost his electricity privatization legislation and has drawn up a list of ministers for a renovated Cabinet.
On the eve of a critical caucus meeting, Obeid and Tripodi tell him they cannot support his ministerial changes and that he has lost the backing of the majority of the parliamentary party. Another act of political bastardy.
Iemma resigned and Nathan Rees was installed as the new Premier.
Now, after just five months in office, Rees is proposing to fill two ministerial vacancies in his Cabinet. One spot is already promised to John Robertson, the former secretary of Unions NSW who took a seat in the upper house last October.
The race for the second spot is between Monaro MP Steve Whan, son of Whitlam Government MP Bob Whan, Heathcote MP Paul McLeay, son of Hawke Government MP “Leaping” Leo McLeay, and Parramatta MP Tanya Gadiel, the Cessnock-born achiever who holds arts and law degrees.
Once again, Obeid, Tripodi and the dregs of The Terrigals are trawling through the corridors trying to promote their cronies, but who is listening?
With the blood of Scully and Iemma on the caucus floor, what MP with any self-respect would be lining up for another round of intrigue?
Tomorrow’s vote will plunge a stake through the Terrigal beast and a new right-wing grouping led by Health Minister John Della Bosca, Police Minister Tony Kelly, Campbelltown MP Graham West and Maroubra’s Michael Daley, will be calling the shots.
Moves are afoot to include the left, a pathetic rump which is currently divided like Nestle chocolates into “soft” and “hard”. It remains to be seen who from the left will join the new factional realignment.
What about the sub-faction known as the Troglodytes? I hear you ask. Regrettably, it has been reduced to an embarrassing cabal of old men mumbling about old issues that have not the slightest consequence for the citizens of NSW.
Someone should tell them that Obama is in the White House, Rudd is in The Lodge, Rees is in charge of NSW and then turn off the lights and let them have a good night’s sleep.