In 2008, at the height of the electricity privatisation saga, former Unions NSW secretary John Robertson took his seat in the NSW Upper House. Former PM Paul Keating took exception to how Robertson helped orchestrate the dumping of the man he replaced in parliament, Michael Costa, along with the premier, Morris Iemma. So he penned a scathing letter to his party comrade. It’s worth recalling:

“Let me tell you, if the Labor Party’s stocks ever get so low as to require your services in its Parliamentary leadership, it will itself, have no future. Not a skerrick of principle or restraint have you shown. You have behaved with reckless indifference to the longevity of the current Government and to the reasonable prospects of its re-election.

“It may be a novel concept for you, let me say that the conscientious business of governance can never be founded in a soul so blackened by opportunism.

“The people of New South Wales may have their problems, but they would be way better rattling through than turning to someone like you in some hope of redemption.

“I am ashamed to share membership of the same party with you.”

Later this week, with no challenges among Labor’s miserably depleted ranks, Robertson will be elected leader of the NSW parliamentary Labor Party, charged with fixing a political movement he helped break.

As Bernard Keane wrote yesterday:

“Robertson is what went wrong with Labor. From his derailing of electricity privatisation, which cost the state billions, to his destruction of Morris Iemma and his determination to inflict himself on the parliamentary party, Robertson is the problem, not the solution.”

Good luck, Labor.

Get more Crikey, for less

It’s more than a newsletter. It’s where readers expect more – fearless journalism from a truly independent perspective. We don’t pander to anyone’s party biases. We question everything, explore the uncomfortable and dig deeper.

Join us this week for 50% off a year of Crikey.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
50% off