Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.
Rule number one of all leadership challenges is simple: Make sure that the leader-in-waiting is better than the leader you want to terminate.
Rule number two: if your horse is having difficulty finding its footing and a donkey swims by, don’t change animals midstream.
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.
These self-evident propositions seem to have escaped the fevered plotters in the NSW Parliamentary Labor Party as they blather on their mobiles about replacing Premier Nathan Rees who has been in office just 10 months.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald’s Andrew Clennell, former Planning Minister Frank Sartor is organising a spill with the backing of Health Minister John Della Bosca.
He wrote with all the certainty of a racing tipster:
“A supporter of the former planning minister gave three options: Mr Sartor would challenge before the winter session of Parliament ends on June 26; he would get signatures to call a special caucus meeting for a spill in the winter break; or he would move against Mr Rees in the new year.”
Or there’s a fourth option. Sartor could be forced to undergo a reality check and recognize that all the people who support his premiership bid are in the boardrooms and they don’t have a vote in Caucus.
The following day The Australian’s Imre Salusinszky boasted that he had obtained an “exclusive interview” with Sartor when everyone in the media knows that Frank will talk to anybody who’ll listen:
Mr Sartor will this week present a NSW upper house committee with a grand plan to unblock the planning and infrastructure bottlenecks that have plagued the state.
A draft version, seen by The Australian, calls for a radical overhaul of planning laws in NSW that would depoliticise development decisions, rejuvenate key infrastructure and deliver on Kevin Rudd’s call for an Olympics-style push to get Sydney moving.
This begs the question: why didn’t Sartor do all this when he was planning minister? He was dropped from the Cabinet after the demise of Iemma to the general acclaim of ministers, left, centre and right, because he was regarded as such a divisive and disruptive figure.
Salusinszky, an unreconstructed Howardite, has distinguished himself in the Press Gallery by writing puff pieces about Morris Iemma, the ex-Premier, Michael Costa, the ex-Treasurer and Joe Tripodi, the soon-to-be ex-Finance Minister.
His gushing pro-Sartor piece merely unveiled the ex-planning minister’s fan club and his constituency — the fat cats in the infrastructure industry, the investment banks and the development lobby.
There isn’t a single vote in Caucus or in the community for “Supremo” Sartor to be allowed to rule NSW like SOCOG, the Olympic Games corporation, with government departments being hoovered of funds to build impractical transport monuments and allowing big construction giants to run amok.
The absurdity of the premiership media speculation is apparent in Clennell’s piece when he writes:
A leadership challenge could trigger a mood for leadership change in coming months which could lead to someone such as the Roads Minister, Michael Daley, who was embarrassed by the leak of his roads budget last week, or even the Planning Minister, Kristina Keneally, backed by the Right Terrigals subfaction leaders Eddie Obeid and Joe Tripodi, becoming premier.
HSC social science exam: Re-read the above paragraph and then discuss in terms of Old Uncle Tom Cobley and All having a revolving premiership.