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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 comments

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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 ?

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