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.