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Federal

Feb 29, 2016

Albo is not giving up Grayndler without a fight

Anthony Albanese might be facing a tougher battle than usual for his seat of Grayndler, but he's coming out swinging.

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If a week is a long time in politics, then 20 years is a lifetime. The member for Grayndler, Anthony Albanese (Albo) achieves this milestone next month, and on Friday night, 370 people gathered at a Sydney RSL club to celebrate the event.

It was a star-studded occasion — the guest speaker was former prime minister Bob Hawke (there with Blanche) — and several prominent members of Albo’s Left faction turned up, including former senator John Faulkner, current Senator Doug Cameron and MP Stephen Jones. From NSW, pollies Linda Burney, Jo Haylen and Penny Sharpe came, along with former secretary of Unions NSW Mark Lennon and ALP president Jenny McAllister. Quite a few burly men in bomber jackets, who appeared to be trade unionists, filled the back tables.

Clearly Albo still loves the fight, bounding up on stage to land a few blows on the Tories. He told the rapt crowd, “Is there a war between the Malcolm Turnbull forces and the Tony Abbott forces? You bet there is. I’ve never seen so many documents dropping off the backs of trucks.”

“But the bigger problem is that Malcolm Turnbull is at war with Malcolm Turnbull. On issues like climate change, the republic, marriage equality and public transport — on each and every issue, it’s the new Malcolm inside the old Tony.”

The 52-year-old pollie reflected on his own faults. “I’ve been very open; a bit too open for my own good,” he said. “A bit too trusting; in 20 years, I’ve never told anyone I was voting for someone if I wasn’t. It’s old-fashioned, and I can honestly say that I’ve stuck to it.” He thanked “my dear friends who have been loyal to me through the good times and the not so good times”, giving particular thanks to his wife, “the love of my life” former NSW MP Carmel Tebbutt, and their son, Nathan.

Albo said he’d been brought up with three good faiths, the Catholic Church, the ALP and South Sydney Rugby League. “My values are a product of my upbringing I had in my two-person family. I’ve never forgotten where I came from, and that’s what characterises the Labor Party.”

He said he was proud to have served under Rudd and Gillard, saying they were both good people. “In policy terms, we will be well regarded. But you can’t put the internals above the externals — we suffered because of that.”

The ALP must defend its record on the response to the GFC, the apology to the stolen generation, the NBN, Gonski and the NDIS, he said.

During the hung Parliament, every day he went into Parliament with only 70 out of 150 votes, he said. Every morning, at the regular 7.30 meeting, he and former MP Stephen Smith would reassure each other: “We’re still here!”

“And we passed 595 pieces of legislation. Tony Abbott thought it was OK to say no to everything and be negative about everything. He didn’t transition into the prime ministership and even though the Liberal Party has changed horses they have the same arguments, there’s no narrative or sense of purpose. The problem is that people will not vote for a prime minister who does not have conviction.”

Albo told the crowd that he believed Labor could win the next election. “Fundamentally if we go out there and argue for a positive vision … and what sort of government allows the opposition to be setting the agenda on tax policy?”

He said that he was looking forward to a Labor victory, adding that as a South Sydney fan, he was very patient (the club took 43 years to win a premiership).

“Growing up where I did I had a much better chance of going to jail than to Parliament House. My first sentence after being sworn in as deputy prime minister was that it says something about this country that a kid who grew up in council housing with a single mother can be DPM of Australia. And it’s because of you — thank you.”

Bob Hawke gave a 35-minute speech about the history of the Labor Party, focusing on John Curtin, the Accord (veering off onto retail price maintenance) and secondary school retention rates. Finally he mentioned Albo, saying that he was the “epitome of all the fundamental beliefs and principles within the ALP, who has never allowed his personal ambition to get in the way of the implementation of Labor principles”.

The member for Grayndler now has a bit of a fight on his hands, as the redistribution has hived off a bit of Marrickville (Albo heartland) and added on Balmain and Rozelle, where the locals have voted twice for NSW Greens MP Jamie Parker. There, he could probably drop the “three faiths” — the Balmain Tigers limped to Ashfield years ago, and the last census showed the area has more dog owners than believers.

I failed to buy a raffle ticket — journalists shouldn’t give money to political parties — and so missed out on a chance to win bottles of bespoke beer Albo Corn Ale, a signed jersey from the Canterbury Bulldogs and some sausages from Chrissy’s Cuts, which carry the tagline, “Because Meat Shouldn’t be a Mystery.” Which was a pretty good slogan for the member, actually: “Anthony Albanese, because politicians shouldn’t be a mystery.” Go the Rabbitohs.

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8 comments

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8 thoughts on “Albo is not giving up Grayndler without a fight

  1. AR

    AA hasn’t won an election yet that didn’t go to preferences.
    The Greens are the only hope for anything like ethical politics – the mere ‘factoid’ that Albo is considered to be on the “Left” is proof that the ALP is dead, it just hasn’t yet stopped moving, due to the necrotic worms sliming out of the SussexSt Lubynaka.

  2. CML

    paddy…surely you jest? Margot is very far from ‘non-partisan’ with every article she writes for Crikey. Haven’t you noticed how wonderful the Greens are?…all of them?… in both state and federal parliaments???
    BORING, BORING, BORING!!
    Good onya, Albo…if the people of Grayndler have any sense, you should win easily.

  3. Jaybuoy

    Tell me Jamies wifes name is not Kerry..

  4. paddy

    I’m deeply disappointed in the NSW ALP Margot.
    Imagine asking a journalist for money!
    No wonder they’re struggling.
    They should have just *given* you the beer, snags and signed jumper.
    Ah well, Crikey can be proud its reputation for fearless, non-partisan reporting remains intact. 🙂

  5. Margot Saville

    Hi Teddy
    You said political beliefs, my story referred to religious beliefs, is that what you meant? The Australian Census collects figures both on religious affiliation and pet ownership. If you look up the ABS website you will see that as at the 2011 census, 30% of the residents of Grayndler reported having “no religion”, ahead of 27.2% who said they were Catholics. Various organisations such as the RSPCA drill down on the pet ownership data – they released a study saying that 39% of households contain at least one dog.
    So I felt pretty comfortable saying that there were more dog owners than believers. I’ve also lived in the electorate for 20 years – some days I feel that there are more dogs than people! And it seems to me that if Balmain can support two pet psychics (according to a recent article in the Good Weekend magazine), then the residents are clearly more spiritually inclined towards animism..

  6. mikeb

    Albo – easy to like him.

  7. Teddy

    Which census counts dogs, Margot? Or political beliefs?

    The first time “the locals voted for Greens MP Jamie Parker” (the 2011 NSW election), he scrapped in after getting 30% of the primary vote, one of the lowest margins possible under the optional preferential system. The vote split pretty evenly, with the Liberals coming first (32%). Jamie slid over after over a weeks worth of counting and recounting on the backs of the 4th placed independent and Labor’s Verity Firth’s preferences, two candidates who he had spent the entire campaign attacking.

    Antony Green’s number crunching gives the 2016 election to Albo even after the redistribution, but Grayndler could produce a re-run of the 2011 state result. If anything, with gentrificiation now pushing median property prices on the leafy and rarified Balmain peninsula towards $2m, the Libs will have strengthened their hold since then. The key will be the preference cards (Fed elections don’t have OPV), and how many voters follow them.

    After the recent Greens-Lib senate voting deal, those preference arrangements will be very interesting in seats like Grayndler.

    The Libs could easily knock Albo off and install a lame-duck ex-Trot if they want to… either with their vote card, and/or by running dead – a tactic they tried in the 2010 federal election.

  8. Norman Hanscombe

    An interesting aspect of that gathering Margot is how many of them (including Albo and his family / friends) only got their positions due to the hard work done by Peter Baldwin & Peter Crawford, who were successful winning over control of Electorates from the Right Wing but were no match for the rat cunning of those who then appeared and took the spoils.
    But you know all this already, Margot, and know also that the Crikey Commissariat has shied away from accepting stories about it.

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