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New South Wales

Feb 6, 2013

Eddie has Labor in his grip and will carry it to its doom

While innocuous, Tony Burke and Stephen Conroy's contacts with Eddie Obeid symbolise how NSW Labor is likely to drag the Federal party to its doom this year.


Yesterday might have been the first time federal Labor figures were dragged directly into the Eddie Obeid-Ian Macdonald saga currently playing before the corruption commission in Sydney, but for many months Obeid and the NSW Labor culture he represents has had federal Labor’s fate in his clutches. Together with Macdonald he’ll almost certainly carry it to its doom in September.

Labor’s current polling is, in anyone’s language, dire; its momentum in the second-half of 2012 has faded and while it’s no longer at the absolute nadir it reached in 2011 and early 2012, it’s still well short of being competitive on its primary vote.

But even if Labor could lift its national share of the primary vote — to say 38% or a little higher, the sort of territory where it starts to become competitive with Greens preferences — NSW will kill it. It is facing the loss of a number of seats in that state. The toxicity of the NSW Labor brand is the key reason — although the Liberal Party’s under-performance in 2010, which cost Tony Abbott the prime ministership, also means there’ll be a rebound there against Labor.

The core of Labor’s problem is that, without a Liberal Party meltdown, there just aren’t enough seats elsewhere in Australia to make good the losses Labor will suffer in NSW. It may pick up seats in Queensland, where the LNP overperformed in 2010 and where Campbell Newman is alienating voters in droves. It might pick up a seat or two in net terms in Victoria. It may come out even or lose one in Tasmania and will probably stay on level terms in South Australia and Western Australia. But even if Julia Gillard manages to pull Labor back to level pegging, NSW looks like it will kill her government.

That can be sheeted home directly to the NSW branch and its antics in government, from the rotating premiership to the power privatisation debacle to the long series of scandals and now, the biggest one of all, allegations of truly staggering malfeasance. And the Obeid family’s performance under the Independent Commission Against Corruption’s scrutiny will only make voter impressions worse.

Tony Burke and Stephen Conroy’s enjoyment of Obeid hospitality was undoubtedly innocuous from their point of view and may indeed have been below the threshold of what’s reportable under the respective disclosure requirements of the House of Representatives and Senate. Indeed, Burke may not have even been in federal Parliament when he took advantage of one of the Obeid family’s apparently limitless collection of properties.

Instead, it’s a potent symbol of how hard federal Labor will find it to escape the toxic legacy of its years in government in NSW. Having handed Barry O’Farrell victory in 2011, NSW Labor appears set to ensure, no matter how well federal Labor performs, that Tony Abbott secures victory later this year. The only risk for the Liberals is if someone on their side has had dealings with the Obeids and becomes an Ian Campbell-style casualty in the rush to judgment.

If only Labor had an alternative leader who was fixed in the public mind as someone profoundly at odds with Labor powerbrokers …


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34 thoughts on “Eddie has Labor in his grip and will carry it to its doom

  1. ggm

    “If only Labor had an alternative leader who was fixed in the public mind as someone profoundly at odds with Labor powerbrokers …”

    HO HO HO.

    You mean Gough, right? because Kevin might be fixed in the *public* mind as somebody at odds with labor powerbrokers, but to be elected, he’d have to become somebody who was profoundly in bed with labor pawnbrokers.

  2. klewso

    Who introduced this screw-worm (Obeid) to this host?

    As for “Rudd again”? With his maladroit attempts at leadership? He would have been a good “2-3 IC” but his ego gets in the way.
    He had the right idea but neither the skills nor charisma to do the necessary lopping – when you’re up that high, cutting off a branch, check which side you’re sitting on.
    What they need is a good tree surgeon with the right personality – not someone with a dinky chain-saw – to save their stand. And that sort of leader has been thinned – because they don’t fit in to this present monoculture.
    Now we’ve got secondary stunted growth coming through – the “Shortened” scraggly sort of stuff, good only boxes.

  3. klewso

    Presently the party is stuck in 2007 time – when they could get away with what they did, because “Howard” was the alternative.

  4. JMNO

    Rudd isn’t a good option. He is an ideas man and, at times, a good communicator but he couldn’t run a government to save himself.

    He was the one spooked when Abbott was elected and started his 3-word slogan campaign. Rudd was the one who initially conceded Abbott’s agenda on boats by making some early panicked and ill-judged decisions (suspending processing of Afghans and asylum seekers, turning the Oceanic Viking around and sending it back to Indonesia). He showed an increasing panicked response with his frenetic and hasty moves to introduce new policies/processes – health reform, mining tax, etc. Labor’s poll numbers were in free fall before Rudd was overthrown. Additionally, he alienated most of his front bench.
    If Gillard went, she would need to be replaced by someone other than Rudd

  5. Suzanne Blake

    The fires being fought by Laor so many fronts and now with the ICAC corruptions enquiry spreading to federal Labor and with the extra Thomson charges, how could it get any worse.

    Jimmy, I am no certain they will replace Gillard, they have NO alternative to save seats.

  6. Apollo

    Democratising the ALP? Fanciful or achievable?

    I don’t think the public want to see another knifing, and JG isn’t going to voluntarily resign for someone else. She could throw caution in the wind, show us the real J, champion gay mariage, fuk de Bruyn and the rightwing Labor and union factions. Stop being robotic and be her more bubbly self, Australians aren’t that keen in a stern overly vaneered leader anyway.

    Or Labor could fulfil Blakey’s dream and install lover boy Stephen Smith as the leader. Dreyfus also seems to have a spark.

  7. Milanion20

    The only thing Labor has going for it in NSW are the shooters & fishers and the godbotherers.

    If it wasn’t for the fixed term in NSW the Libs could call a quick election and get rid of those minority maulers, and rule for ever or maybe 20 years!

    But Labor has consigned itself to the dust-bin of history. Even now I see no effort to rush through the necessary changes that Labor needs to start the long sorry path to total reform.

  8. zen kowalewycz

    Its clutching at straws to suggest NSW Labor is the cause of the federal governments consistent low popularity;they cut their own throat when Gillard cut Rudds and to suggest anything else is nothing shot of ostrich mentality.

  9. klewso

    Back in ’07, Howard’s hare was so jugged and past it, that even St Rupert’s Positive PR Defibrillators couldn’t pump life back into the carcase. So they jumped – to “help” start Rudd – whilst saving their reputations as well.

    Rudd was scared of negative, mocking media PR – not being taken seriously :-
    he being Labor : Limited News with their edited limited views – what did he expect?

  10. cairns50

    didnt i read some where that arthur sinodonis father was involved in dealing with the obieds ? sinodonis was formely john howards chief of staff, so at least someone from the liberal side of politics has been involved with the family

    another question i would like to ask is how many journalists have enjoyed the obieds hospitality ?

  11. Stephen

    Even if you delete their Obeid associations, yea even their Gillard associations, the sheer boofheadedness of Conroy and Burke, their colossal arrogance in the face of such limited ability, is almost enough to make you yearn for Tony Howard.

  12. Liz45

    I find it very interesting the contrast the ICAC Inquiry and the allegedly crooked Obeid etc, but have to recall the lack of the same media’s reporting of the AWB Scandal? Not only did all Fed Govt people (Howard, Downer, Vaile and people who worked in Foreign Affairs) repeat ad nauseum that they ‘couldn’t recall’? Not one of them have been charged with anything, and the amount of money was over $300 MILLION of OUR money paid to Saddam Hussein? An awful scandal one would think? Nup! Not really was MSM’s response!

    I wonder who people in the NSW Govt and the No-Alition met with 8 years ago? Wow! Who did I meet with 8 yrs ago, and were they squeaky clean?

    Imagine if the tables were turned, and Thomson was a No-Alition person? I’m quite content to wait for the EVIDENCE to come out in the trial or pre hearing or ????I’m not convinced of his guilt, particularly when I hear his Lawyer state that one of the charges is for a $12 ice cream? AND the comment on the National News for the rest of the day that he was charged was just plain WRONG! Thomson did NOT refuse to avail himself for interview etc? The Police person corrected that statement yesterday, or was it the day before? Too late! Damage done as was the intention! The Police in bed with the Coalition it would seem? Now fancy that?

    I have no time for the Obeids of this world – but at least I DON’T discriminate along party lines!

    It’s interesting, that with so many apparent legal people on the No-alition front bench, they don’t even know the protocols of a person charged with crimes let alone the most important presumption of innocence doctrine!

    I find Brandis as repugnant as Abbott, Ruddock and Obeid! All corrupt and will prostitute our justice system when it suits them! How disgusting!

  13. Liz45

    Oh yes, how could I forget Abbott’s role in the demise of Pauline Hanson? Not that I’m a fan of hers by any means, but Abbott refused to tell us that he organised the ‘cashed up’ account etc and his role in this debacle? He wasn’t treated as he should have – at best as a low life of a human whose lust for power showed once again, that it rules everything he does!

    When I saw him in the church yesterday I nearly threw up? It should’ve caved in over the top of his bald patch! Anyone notice that his hair no longer has any grey? Or is it just me?

    I don’t think Stephen Conroy is buffy at all, in fact, I like listening to his explanation about the NBN? As for he and Tony Burke staying at Obeid’s ski lodge 8 YEARS AGO? So bloody what? 8 years ago? Was they supposed to ask Obeid what his plans were for the next 8 years?

    How many in the Opposition met with the now bankrupt bloke who owned ABC Learning, and what role did they play in ensuring that he became an almost overnight millionaire? Allegedly, those in the Howard Govt were ‘duchessed’ by a ride in his Ferrari, from all acounts?

    The hypocrisy of the Libs and their supporters is just revolting! If they’d been ‘punished’ as they should have over the years, half of them wouldn’t now be in the parliament! Pays to have MSM on your side doesn’t it?

  14. shepherdmarilyn

    For all the prattle and witch hunt against Obeid there is not a single actual crime yet identified.

    Why do all our frigging media have to jump on the same weird bandwagon of nonsense without having learnt a thing from the last witchhunt?

    Slipper comes to mind.

    And Thomson who was illegally arrested without a legal warrant, illegally strip searched simply to abuse him, set bail that was ridiculous, forced to travel to Melbourne when it could have been done by video link only to have no set of claims, no witnesses, no case.

  15. shepherdmarilyn

    It wasn’t $300 million of our money Liz, it was $300 million stolen from Iraqis who were starving to death and living on rations for years.

    Tens of thousands died during the years AWB were stealing from them.

    Where it became our money it was applauded because it increased the price of wheat for our scabby farmers who never bothered to ask how come we got so much trade from Iraq.

  16. jmendelssohn

    In July 1980 the Art Gallery of New South Wales Act (1980) led to a new Board of Trustees to be appointed by the Premier, Neville Wran. Because of earlier scandals the Premier took particular care in the composition of this board. Members included Edward Obeid and James Spigelman.
    Obeid has been well connected with government for a very long time.

  17. JM

    Don’t be too certain that the O’ Farrell Government is travelling too well at the moment. For a barely two-year-old government it has managed to rack up a number of problems for which it cannot blame Labor.

    The Orica farce under dimwitted Environment Minister Robyn Parker is one, as her boss lets the rednecks loose in national parks to cull excess bushwalkers and picnickers. Getting both NSW teachers and parents offside on a number of issues is a big task but Barry seems to have managed to do that as well. If anything the success of the BER (yes it is a success) seems to have slightly helped him as he struggles with venal old Fred Nile in the Upper House on the issue of school chaplains and angry teachers preparing to strike on the issue of giving more power to Principals (read: devolving responsibility to already stretched school Principals and admin, then blaming them if things go wrong).

    O’ Farrell is increasingly seen also by irate inner and outer Sydney people as being in thrall to the likes of Jamie Packer and a new generation of shonky developers. The trains are as bad as ever. Add to that the basket of dreary one-term seat-warmers who came in with the 2010 landslide and perhaps O’ Farrell might be casting envious eyes at Philip Ruddock’s seat.

  18. JM

    Mistake there, I meant Nile’s objection to ethics classes, NOT school chaplains – though both are contentious and associated in the minds of parents and schools with an alarming tendency for god-botherers to muscle in on public education .

  19. Richard Koser

    Come on folks, He Who Must Be Obeid is as guilty as OJ. Wishing it weren’t so can’t change facts.
    I agree with the main thrust of the article but I have to wonder, why would Kev want to come back now? He’d do better waiting for Labor to lose the election and then fall into the leadership by default. To make a charge now is suicidal and party-cidal. Unless he thinks he can toss out the hacks and pre-select a bunch of bright young things. Wishful thinking.
    Bring on the independents. Vote for people who don’t have faceless paymasters in the unions and boardrooms.

  20. Hamis Hill

    A disinterested observer judging Obeid by his actions would conclude that he was a conservative politician.
    “Fake” Labor, in other words.
    So when will the media become disinterested enough to report the facts?
    In fact with a “Fake” Liberal leading that party federally
    shouldn’t readers reasonably expect some “realpolitik” in this sort of reporting?
    What is this, the “Snugglepot and Cuddlepie Times”?
    Have you not read Gerard Henderson’s “How Menzies’ Child Has Changed” SMH article which accompanied his book “Menzies’ Child”?
    We can’t afford “Infantile” anymore, “Bush Babies”.
    In this cruel political forest Fake Labor and Fake Liberals
    make a whole new species of a single political animal altogether, though some might argue they have been introduced post WWII. Do catch up Kiddies!
    Branch stacking, a form of “genetic engineering” responsible for this brave new world of Fake Liberal and Fake Labor, so cleverly disguised for the local political environment?

  21. Hamis Hill

    Einstein said “Imagination is everything”.
    Has anyone noticed how an education in the Humanities, typical of journalists, has produced a desert of banality, bereft of the least imagination, that would not sustain the intellectual appetite of the most benighted citizen.
    Is it not important that standards in political reporting at least reflect those of the serious intellectual disciplines in which Australians regularly strive and achieve?
    Stop dumbing us down! We cannot afford this simpering, simplistic foppery dressed up as sophistication by lazy, ill-educated twa-ts.

  22. klewso

    Some of these annointed Labor politicians use the party to advance their own circumstances – how would they get such well paid jobs on Civvy St? Skinning everyone else in the party to line their own pockets.

    But parts of this (while O’Farrell is gasping for breath) is like that original “Burkegate” (starring Kevin Rudd) all over again – written and composed by Murdoch and Murdoch?
    So Conroy and Burke the Younger used his chalet – how many shared Slipper’s conservative largess? Or mixed with Ashby – and don’t get much mention in the same press?

  23. David Hand

    Writing as someone who supports the Liberal side of politics, I want to say that when the Rudd government was elected, I genuinely believed that Labor would form a competent government that would lead the country well.

    The shameful events since then show how Labor is captured by an elitist clique of insiders, branch members are disenfranchised, B grade apperachiks are appointed to safe seats and the entire focus of almost everyone is to keep the gravy train rolling. This has brought me to conclude that Australia will be a better place with the obliteration of the ALP in its current form.

    I concede that the right side of politics has its own problems and weaknesses. But I think there are enough people of left persuasion that an electorally competitive party can emerge that is free of the corrupting influence of patronage and power broking.

    I am merely repeating what statesmen in the ALP have already said.

    The most compelling sentence in McKew’s book “Tales from the political trenches” was when Roozendaal met her as she was being wooed for a safe ALP seat for the 2004 election and asked her “Who owns you, Maxine?”

  24. Liz45

    @shepherdmarilyn – Sorry Marilyn – of course you’re right! I understand about the Iraqis, and because of us, they’re still suffering! I also know of the 500,000 children who died due to the sanctions that we agreed to! There’s more than 1-5 million of them dead now, and who knows how many Afghanis? I’d say that 500,000 wouldn’t be an exaggeration. Of course, we don’t even have the decency to keep a ‘body count’?

    @JM – Do you live in NSW? I do, and I’m really pissed off that prior to the election, O’Farrell clearly stated that there’d be NO coal seam gas mining in water catchment areas.

    What’s happened now? He’s gone back on his word big time. all along the escarpment of the Illawarra are water catchment areas that feed local dams with out drinking water. To even walk in these areas brings a fine in excess of $40,000, BUT if you look at the areas that either have a licence or can apply for one, it’s right along that same area.

    Keep in mind that the mining companies have to cut down trees to enable their trucks and other equipment in; then add the 1 square kilometer (at least) for the drilling equipment, then factor in the gross LACK of scientific investigation of the dangers, and what do you have? The very real risk that aquifers and dams via the catchment areas contaminated by the toxins used to explore for gas!

    What makes the O’Farrell Govt really clever is the fact that they haven’t introduced Legislation into the Parlt. What this means is there’s no real Law or Act to use as legal challenge. Then, in order to cover all bases, they’ve removed the funding to the Environment body that concerned citizens/groups could enable so they could (with financial assistance from this body)take the Govt to Court? How’s that for cleverness! Oh yes, there’s the cut to Education of $1.7 billion over the next 4 years?

    Those who can’t wait for Abbott to win Govt should keep in mind what the Victorian, NSW, Qld, WA and now the NT Govt are doing to peoples’ jobs and the areas in which they live! If you vote for Abbott, you’ll be responsible for job losses, a cut in funds to health and education, the further ruin of sole parents and others on Centrelink payments etc! I disagree with many of the Labor Govt’s policies etc, particularly the lack of decency in relation to asylum seekers; lust for money via mining coal, uranium etc; cuts to sole parents benefits that will mainly affect women, and selling out to the wealthy mining companies – just a few examples!

    Don’t say you weren’t warned. And if you vote for the bastard, don’t whine to me when you lose your job or house or ?????I won’t want to know! Workers voted for the bastards in State/Territory Govts now! They’ll never learn!

  25. Paddy Forsayeth

    Liz45, I have a cartoon in mind… viz: Newman(as Mum) is caning the Qld. child over his knee; in the corner are the other children Vic, NSW, Tas, SA, WA, cowering and sobbing; in the background window we see Abbott getting out of his car; Newman says “You wait ’til your father gets home!!”
    Pardon my domestic upbringing but the looming Federal fiasco chills me, especially that the zombies will march to the polling booths none the wiser before or after.

  26. Steve Clarke

    Craig Thompson and Eddie Obeid will be the public face of Labor that Australians see right up to the election.

    The next federal election is going to be the defeat that Labor has to have. Perhaps it will finally face up to the factionalism that has created a monoculture of ex-unionists and ex-lawyers. Perhaps it might even take the report written by the party elders more seriously.

    I had hoped that poor polling might panic the Liberal Party into changing leaders, however I now fear that The Lodge is destined to have a skinny guy in Speedo’s running around the garden.

  27. Karen

    @ Steve Clarke – why should Craig Thomson and Eddie Obeid be the “public face” of Fed Labor? What’s the link and where’s the logic?

    Even the biased MSM have not been able to establish a link, try as they desperately might right up until election day.

    In the case of Thomson, the allegations relate to a union and well predate his entry into parliament. And no Fed reportedly knew about it at the time. If they did, he wouldn’t have been preselected for Dobell. And when the Feds did know, he was suspended from the party. End of story.

    As for Obeid, he was the face of NSW Labor Right, corrupt as it was at the time.

  28. Mike Flanagan

    The Obeid saga being played out in ICAC is the final cleansing of the disgraceful Richardson imprint on the Labour movement.
    This disciple of Kerry Packer and party to many of Packer’s underhand business dealings, and close associate of Rene Rivkin was never a genuine laborite.
    Nor did he ever have the working masses of the nation in his focus or interest.
    He is self promoter with a very murky history of associates, political conniving and business history.
    He has wielded inordinate power in the NSW Labor right faction, that at long last maybe coming to an end with the Obied and Campbell inspection.
    He deserves the ire and approbrium of people all political persuasion.

  29. Suzanne Blake

    @ Karen

    Incorrect they knew about Thomson well before the 2010 election, agree not the 2007 one

  30. David Hand

    Thinking of voters as zombies betrays the elitist world view that gave us Thompson and Obeid. There is a destructive sentiment deep in Labor that elections can be won through smart slogans and clever tactics. In that world, having a vision or standing for something is not really necessary.

    Having their values dictated by the output of Western Sydney focus groups has brought the ALP to the brink of annihilation because no one knows what they stand for any more.

    Obeid and Thompson appearing on the 6 o clock news regularly for the next 8 months will damage the ALP brand far more than any slick PR campaign McTernan and his team dream up.

    When it comes to integrity, voters don’t make the destinction between State and Federal parliaments.

  31. Steve Clarke


    You are in denial if you think the news stories over the coming months linking Craig and Eddie to the Labor party are not going to be very damaging. It is not “End of story”.

    The Labor party is also in denial because it does not see the destructive factionalism within the party as the serious problem that it is.
    We are now likely to end up with Tony Abbott as our Prime Minister, despite having little vision and few policies.

  32. Hamis Hill

    Fake Labor behaves exactly like Abbott’s Ugl ies(look it up).
    So voters cannot tell that the right of labor and the Right od Liberals are the same?
    As for zombies look up the revelations from recent years in the Carribean; an individual was given certain drugs and was later given an antidote,and upon recovery waa able to report his symptoms. An actual zombie!
    In Australia voters are being subjected to a dumbing down from the palace eunuchs(look it up) of the press which ammounts to a depression of the central nervous system.
    Why? because Australia is a rich country whose riches are easier to acquire if the locals don’t notice they are being robbed.
    At present Australians have been robbed of their major parties which have been cynically replaced by “Fakes” on the take.
    All enabled by “fake” journalism.
    Sick, sad and true and no amount of fake left versus right tribalism will sort this out.
    Wake up Bush Babies, you are not in kindergarten anymore!
    Your very sovereignity (look it up) is at risk.
    You are personally in hock for trillions of dollars and have to watch as Abbott and company sell what is left.
    WAKE UP!

  33. Liz45

    @Steve Clark – I’m getting fed up with all you ‘moralistic people’? Gee you have a short memory! I can remember the Fitzgerald Inquiry; the Royal Commission into the Police force/NSW LIBERAL Govt (not that long ago); there’s still a nasty smell in Victoria re the allegations of the police union and ????Bjelke Petersen; the scandal over Nick Greiner, not to mention the huge stink of Askin and his mob of thugs! AWB and others! Honestly, ask the doc to reverse your lobotomy – you have a serious memory fault – it’s called convenient amnesia!

    Just remember – the higher up the lofty perch you sit, the longer the drop! You realize that at the first sniff of a scandal you’ll have to leave the country! There’ll be nowhere further enough away to run and hide!

    And I remind the Abbott lovers that he’ll be worse than Newman/O’Farrell/and the blokes from Vic to WA/NT. Abbott won’t elaborate on any policy etc prior to the election, and after it – wham! Straight into the venus fly trap will all the workers go; not to mention sole parents, pensioners and kids!

    NSW 1.7 BILLION cut to Education(over 4 years) will be a lot worse when Abbott also uses his axe!

    If I hear the Opposition carry on about how good they are at managing the books I’ll scream? Where would they be if Howard didn’t sell off the farm? Apart from Telstra and Sydney Airport, what else did he sell (apart from the citizens that is).

    Tonight on Q&A Brandis spoke of Labor increasing present taxes or introducing new ones is in the 20’s? Costello went back on his word of not doing this, and he brought in or increased 30+? Hypocrites every time they open their mouth.

    My local member is a Liberal, and I received her newsletter? today and she’s whining over how Labor has neglected Education???WTF did her Govt do for almost 12 years?

    Abbott & Morrison are blatantly calling asylum seekers arriving by boat “illegals” when they know damned well that it’s a lie! But where’s our ‘independent’ media????

    As I said, one more bit of bs and I’ll scream!

  34. Steve Clarke

    I am not quite sure what I have said that has set you off. I am very much against corruption in political office. It is irrelevant to me whether it is Labor, Liberal or the National Party.
    I wrote about the Labor party because this article is about the Labor party.

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