New South Wales

Aug 19, 2014

John Robertson: don’t give up on NSW Labor — or me

Yes, there have been problems with corruption in the NSW Labor Party. But NSW Labor leader John Robertson says things have turned the corner.

Yesterday's Crikey editorial failed to acknowledge the serious reform effort underway in New South Wales Labor to restore public trust in politics. The recent revelations at the Independent Commission Against Corruption don’t just affect the Liberal and Labor parties -- they affect confidence in our entire system of government. In NSW Labor’s case, there is no doubt that several individuals disgraced the party’s cause during its last term in office, and the public expects strong action to ensure this can never happen again. From February 2013, when I announced the “New Standard” package of reforms, Labor has worked hard to attempt to restore that confidence and trust in politics. That is why I have:
  • Expelled Eddie Obeid, Ian MacDonald and Joe Tripodi from the Labor Party for life;
  • Established a committee of senior party figures, chaired by respected former deputy premier John Watkins, to interview all potential Labor candidates and ensure they are people of integrity, worthy of community support;
  • Directed all NSW Labor shadow ministers to publish their full taxable income (including investments, trusts and outside business interests and those of their spouses and dependents), effective immediately;
  • Banned NSW Labor MPs from holding second jobs, removing potential or perceived conflicts of interest, effective immediately;
  • Committed to full public financing of election campaigns and offered to work with Premier Mike Baird to make this happen in time for the 2015 election;
  • Committed to a ban on ministers, their departments and staff meeting with lobbyists in a future Labor government;
  • Committed ministers in a future Labor government to publish monthly online diaries -- disclosing every meeting or interaction that relates to a commercial decision or transaction;
  • Committed to establish an independent probity panel that will scrutinise the granting of all new mining licences under a future Labor government; and
  • Committed to establish an Inspector General for Parliamentary Standards with unprecedented powers to investigate and penalise MPs who breach the Parliamentary Code of Conduct.
Under my leadership, NSW Labor has also begun genuine and meaningful reforms aimed at engaging with the community and opening up our party to new voices. These include:
  • Direct membership election of the NSW parliamentary leader, commencing next year;
  • Community preselections -- already trialled successfully for the City of Sydney mayoralty and the seats of Balmain, Newtown, Campbelltown and Londonderry (with another shortly to be held in Ballina); and
  • The NSW Labor Policy Forum -- a vehicle designed to drive new ideas from the grassroots membership up.
In light of the 2011 election result and the revelations seen at ICAC, I take the task of restoring integrity to NSW politics extremely seriously. I have also said to Mike Baird and the government that I want to work in a bipartisan way to ensure the next election -- and the next NSW government -- can be the cleanest ever. Unfortunately, Baird has so far failed to embrace many of the reforms that I have put on the table. The “New Standard” reforms I have announced build on the important ban on developer donations introduced by Labor in 2009. Former federal Liberal MP Ross Cameron has described them as the toughest anywhere in the country. Certainly, they are the most stringent ever seen in NSW politics and squarely in line with what the public has a right to expect. With the continued revelations coming out of ICAC, now is the time for action -- and Baird should take up my offer to work with him to restore trust in politics and government in NSW.

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12 thoughts on “John Robertson: don’t give up on NSW Labor — or me

  1. krissd6

    Very good John. Now explain how it is you saw fit to employ an advisor who previously had worked for three people named before the ICAC. From my perspective its either business as usual or you don’t have the political skills needed to lead this state.

  2. Barbara Bradshaw

    I think that is a pertinent question.

  3. Brian Williams

    “In NSW Labor’s case, there is no doubt that several individuals disgraced the party’s cause during its last term in office…”

    Are you fair dinkum John????….are you that stupid that you want us to believe that Obeid, Tripodi and their fellow travellers were a bunch of craven bribe-taking scumbags ONLY during the last term of the Labor government??

    I thought Daniel Andrews was a hopeless bumbler down here in Victoria, but if you’re the best they can come up with north of the border, then NSW is in serious trouble if it’s seeking any kind of alternative government.

  4. Djbekka

    Two of the many outstanding issues: 1. Strong membership involvement in the preselection of candidates for the upper house in either the State or nationally. (Why should a stint in the Senate or Legislative Assembly remain a reward for faction warriors?) 2. Democracy within branches, not just the semblance thereof.

    Oh, I know democracy takes time and sometimes ‘leaders’ have to compromise, but that seems to be a small price to pay for a public confidence in politicians and growing, robust parties. (a light blub just turned on!) Or maybe that isn’t the goal…

  5. Scott Grant

    Mate, Crikey has got it in for you, as you know doubt know. It is because you opposed electricity privatisation while you were with Unions NSW. Crikey disapproves of such socialism. Given the stampede of politicians of all colors rushing to sell any income producing asset the government owned, whatever the consequences, I thought your position on that was a principled one, that had enormous support in the electorate. I take it you have not yet lined up a post-political career with an investment bank?

  6. paddy

    Oh John Robertson, even from the far shores of southern Victoria. I laugh at your pathetic efforts to distance yourself from the stinking carcase around your own neck.
    I fart in your general direction sir.

  7. Yclept

    What about full disclosure of all donations – when they happen?

  8. krissd6

    Scott I’m not questioning Robertson because he opposed electricity privatisation when he was with Unions NSW. Its when he was in Government that the state owned retailers were sold and the generators were leased to private companies. So its fine to support government ownership when in the union movement but then once ain government its OK to seel off whatever you can. Again back to the original question why employ someone with links the evil three?

  9. fractious

    John Robertson – maybe you sincerely believe what you write, maybe it’s just PR – whatever. The fact is many of us gave up on Labor years ago, when your predecessors completely folded and gave Big Business what it wanted. Yes the current LNP mob are despicable, but in most spheres they are simply carrying on where you lot left off. Every single ALP state government, from Carr through Iemma to Keneally, did its utmost to ease the lot of vested interests, and especially property developers whose flag you sailed under – finally and at long last, your lot and the LNP have been caught by ICAC which has revealed you to be but two peas in a pod.

    I acknowledge you may well be sincere, but it’s too little, too late Mr Robertson. Come back to us when you and the ALP develop a spine that enables you to stand up for principle rather than principal.

  10. Crikey Fan

    Nice laundry list for an election campaign Mr. Robertson. The question is: how come these promises never end up materializing in legislation? Labor was in power for so many years in NSW and all they did was to corruptly enrich themselves. By now no one believes there were just a few isolated cases of bad apples, it was the culture of NSW Labor. This morning I read that He Who Must Be Obeid book by Kate McClymont and Linton Besser was pulled from shelves over defamation allegations. REALLY?

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