Jan 21, 2016

Albo’s fall from grace? Grayndler could go Green

Grayndler may no longer be the rolled-gold Labor seat it once was.

Alex Mitchell — NSW politics correspondent

Alex Mitchell

NSW politics correspondent

Final changes to the boundaries of the federal seat of Grayndler that reinforce Labor’s vote have convinced sitting MP Anthony Albanese to seek re-election in the seat he has held since 1996. When preliminary boundary changes were released last year, Grayndler lost some traditional Labor-voting suburbs, and Albanese supporters urged him to switch to the neighbouring Barton electorate to protect his parliamentary career and fulfil his ambition to succeed Opposition Leader Bill Shorten as the next ALP leader. Even though Albanese will soon announce he intends to remain in Grayndler, once regarded as Australia’s safest Labor seat, his victory at this year’s federal election is by no means secure. To remain in federal Parliament, Albanese will need to defeat strong challenges from two directions -- NSW Greens candidate Jim Casey and the Liberal nominee (yet to be named). There are now two state Greens MPs within Grayndler’s boundaries -- Jenny Leong (Newtown) and Jamie Parker (Balmain) -- and proactive community Greens sit on Marrickville and Leichhardt Councils. Casey, state secretary of the Fire Brigades Employees’ Union, is a career firefighter who lives and works in the electorate. He is a committed environmentalist and socialist who will run an “unashamedly left campaign”. If Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull decides to fight the election on curbing union rights and cutting penalty rates, 45-year-old Casey will be a formidable opponent and will probably poll in second place. By collecting sufficient preferences, Casey could overtake Albanese, the frontrunner, and win the seat. While Liberals were few and far between when the late Fred Daly held working-class Grayndler between 1949 and 1975, the newly gentrified seat is now home to many Liberal supporters as well. They are buoyed by consistently favourable polling for the party’s current poster boys, Turnbull and NSW Premier Mike Baird. If the Turnbull-Baird voter popularity continues until election day, the Liberals could easily grab second place with a primary vote of around 28% and surge ahead of Albanese with the addition of second preferences from minority candidates. Although Albanese and his partner, Carmel Tebbutt, the local state MP from 2005 until 2015, have ruled local Labor branches for more than 25 years, the “left” rhetoric is wearing thin. Albo’s previous populism has given way to a suspicion that he is an ambitious numbers man absorbed by Canberra politics and not the problems of the voters of Grayndler. Under electoral siege from the left (Greens) and the right (Liberals), Albanese appears to have forgotten the advice given to budding politicians by former Grayndler MP Fred Daly: “I always worked on the principle laid down to me by Ben Chifley: always be available to your constituents.” Albanese is currently in Rome attending a Vatican-sponsored roundtable organised under the auspices of the Global Foundation, founded by prime minister John Howard in 1998. The opening keynote address was given by Cardinal George Pell, former archbishop of Melbourne and then Sydney, who is now the Vatican’s prefect of the secretariat for the economy. Pell, 74, appears to have made a recovery from the illness that prevented his appearance at public hearings in Melbourne last month before the royal commission on child sex abuse. Pell shared the limelight at the Rome roundtable with Rupert Murdoch heavyweights including Gerard Baker, editor-in-chief of the Wall Street Journal and Robert Thomson, CEO of News Corp, plus Mark Cutifani, CEO of the mining giant Anglo American, Oliver Pawle, chairman of Korn Ferry, Dominic Barton, the international head of McKinsey & Company and senior officials of the IMF and the World Bank. The London Financial Times headlined Pell’s speech: “Vatican finance chief sings praises of free markets”, and said:
“A senior cardinal chosen by Pope Francis to manage the Vatican’s finances has launched into a spirited defence of free markets, countering the perception that the Catholic church under the Argentine pontiff has turned against capitalism.”
Sadly, none of the Rome attendees are registered to vote in Grayndler and the official two-page guest list contained no names of voters from Marrickville, Enmore, Newtown, Ashfield, Leichhardt or anywhere else in his constituency. One Labor supporter interviewed by Crikey was angry that Albo appeared to be junketing while hundreds of jobs were being lost and the sharemarket was in free fall. “Who is paying for his trip -- the ALP, Parliament, the Catholic Church or Anthony?” Good question.

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16 thoughts on “Albo’s fall from grace? Grayndler could go Green

  1. CML

    What is this, Alex? An attempt to destroy the Labor Party one politician at a time?
    The Labor Party is the oldest political party in Oz, by a country mile. Better journos than you have tried to engineer its downfall…P=SS OFF!
    And get your grubby digits off Albo…he’s a good bloke!!

  2. James O'Neill

    Albanese used to be thought of as on the “left” of the Labor Party. I have not heard a genuinely left wing policy come from his lips, or the Labor Party for that matter, since Whitlam pulled out of Vietnam. The steady growth of the Green vote reflected in their representation (state and local) in and near his electorate sounds a clear message. I for one will not be sorry to see the demise of a once proud left of centre party which has only itself to blame.

  3. zut alors

    What uplifting news to hear that Cardinal Pell has bounced back & appears in good health once more.

    He should be cautioned to take things easy lest he has a sudden relapse when due to be recalled to give evidence at the Royal Commission into Child Abuse.

  4. AR

    AA has had to fight for preferences against a Green for at least the last 3 or 4 elections, even the Kruddslide.
    I doubt that he has the balls to be a leader, he’s much more comfortable in backrooms and at the backdoor, with thugs to do the persuading.
    If anyone thinks he he has integrity or courage, think about he he stood by the Customs whistleblower who gave him the goods in 2005.
    Utter silence, head down.

  5. bushby jane

    But contradictory, Albo’s left rhetoric wearing thin but his apparent successor Casey’s left campaign going to win him the seat.

  6. ken svay

    Albanese is in Rome and sat and listened to Pell – unbelievable. He lost me when we found out that he got free tickets to the AFL grand final and charged us shitloads for hire cars and com cars to get around. These bastards can’t put their hand in their own pocket for a hire car for a couple of days.
    What an arsehole! The firefighter sounds like a good bloke, Albanese has probably never got his hands dirty in his life.

  7. Norman Hanscombe

    Albo and his family & friends obtained seats solely on the work of others such as the two Peters, so we shouldn’t expect he’d retain Parliamentary status via anything other than his specialty of backroom deals, should we.

  8. jmendelssohn

    When Peter Baldwin and Andrew Refshauge respectively took the seats of Sydney (then) and Marrickville from the old right of the ALP they had enough wit to nurture their ALP branches and to look after their constituents. Branch meetings were large, often boisterous, and Refshauge in particular opened his house to local branch members for social functions. Albanese and Tebbutt simply assumed their ‘inheritance’. As branch members drifted away Albanese’s small cohort of supporters did nothing to retain them and seemed relieved no one would expect the local member to turn up to meetings and answer difficult questions.
    Then after these same former ALP members joined (or supported) the grass roots movements of No Aircraft Noise (the biggest local issue of the time) or the Greens, Albo’s only response was abuse. He did not understand that these were the same people who had been his branch members, and he had been a key factor in their change of allegiance.
    The only time I have seen Albanese on the hustings was at the 2010 election at Stanmore school, when this strange pudgy figure strode down the line of waiting voters yelling at us. Stanmore (which includes Newington College and now has many Newington parents) voted Green.

  9. Kevin_T

    Anthony Albanese is going to have to defeat a strong challenge from Yet-To-Be-Named… Albo must be quaking in his boots at facing such a competent challenger. Great reporting!

  10. JennyWren

    I doorknocked for the Greens in Marrickville before the state election last year and the disillusion with Albo was palpable

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