I’m missing Lote Tuqiri from my local Balmain café — the regular sight of the giant man, his tiny wife and two adorable children was one of the great local tourist attractions, along with the newly famous Adriano Zumbo.
But last weekend we had a whole new scandal to discuss — Michael McGurk and any links to the ALP. Although the standover man and his cohorts are not locals, the aftershocks from McGurk’s shooting on Thursday night quickly spread to the Balmain shoreline, and could wash over the the ALP in 2011.
It didn’t take too long for McGurk’s body to take on a political smell — look at the roll-call on today’s front page of the SMH . Former NSW Planning Minister Craig Knowles, “The Fixer” Graham Richardson, someone called Richard Vereker, a “former butcher and bookmaker and a major donor to the Labor Party” and, best of all, Joe Meissner and the Love Boat! Where is Virginia Perger?
It’s a free kick for Greens senator Lee Rhiannon and her relentless campaign to get rid of corporate electoral donations, and she’s been on the radio all morning, pressing her point. The bad news for Sussex St is that the state electorates of Balmain and Marrickville are the most vulnerable to fall to the Greens at the next state election. Verity Firth is an excellent local member, and anyone who can get around an electorate, hold down a cabinet position and look after a toddler has my respect and sympathy. But she is now in real trouble, and if the Greens put up a halfway decent candidate next time round, the birthplace of the ALP could fall.
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On paper, the ALP’s margin is 7.1%, which looks manageable. But you don’t need access to confidential polling to know that the Green vote is rising, leading to unbelievable amounts of local pork-barrelling. Last year the State Government handed back Callan Park to Leichhardt Council after a five-year campaign from the locals to stop any development on it. In fact, I thought the perfectly workable plan from the University of Sydney to put some of their faculties and student housing there was a good one, but local naysayers and dog-walkers got their way and now my rates will pay for its crumbling infrastructure and rolling lawns — it costs $2 million a year just to mow.
Now, the latest insanity is a multibillion dollar Metro which will stop at the corner of Victoria Road and Darling Street, Rozelle. I’m all for trains, but we are already the public transport capital of Sydney. There’s the Lilyfield Metro, several ferry wharves and the buses on Victoria Road; not to mention that I can cycle to the city in 10 minutes and walk in 40. I’ve been to the Hills District and those people have almost no public transport at all. Why hasn’t the government given them a Metro?
According to election guru Antony Green, “(NSW) Labor now holds 51 seats to the Coalition’s 36, the balance of the 93-seat Legislative Assembly being six Independents.
Forty seven seats are required for majority government. Assuming a uniform swing, Labor would lose its majority on a loss of five seats, a uniform two-party preferred swing of 4.9%. If Labor loses seats to the Greens or Independents, Labor would lose its majority with a smaller swing, and if the Coalition wins seats back from Independents, the swing for majority Coalition government is reduced.” It’s not looking good, is it?
So it was a busy weekend in Balmain, pulling out our solar calculators and working out exactly how the latest state scandal is going to play in our seat. Personally, I will vote for anyone who can rid Balmain of its plague of dogs, especially those ones that come into cafes when I am trying to have a cup of coffee And bring back Lote, please, we miss him.