Rees the new star in festival of heroic losers
UPDATE 7.37pm: Rees gawn. Kristina Keneally won the ballot 47 to 21 and becomes the first female Premier of NSW.
JUST two days after Malcolm Turnbull’s tenacious and gutsy last stand as Liberal Leader, NSW Labor Premier Nathan Rees is turning in the performance of his political life as he doggedly slugs it out with the factions in a seemingly doomed bid to save his leadership.
Rees gave one of the best speeches by any Australian politician today. It may well be his last - when the Party Room meets at 6pm he is expected to lose his job. 17 MPs have signed a petition demanding his resignation. They include the hated factional heavyweights Joe Tripodi and Eddie Obeid, the domestically troubled John Della Bosca and former Police Minister Matt Brown, dumped just a week into the job after it emerged he’d stripped to his green undies at a parliamentary office party, mounted the chest of backbencher Noreen Hay, and shouted at her staffer daughter: “Look, I’m titty-f***ing your Mum!”
Nathan Rees has told these ornaments to public service that they can basically get stuffed. Have a read of what he said:
Should I not be Premier by the end of this day let there be no doubt that any challenger will be a puppet of Eddie Obeid and Joe Tripodi. That is the reality, that is the choice at stake.
The time for talking is over, throughout the past 15 months my ability to do good has been impaired at every turn. A maligned and disloyal group well known by the community of NSW has made the business of government almost impossible.
I am determined to restore integrity to government in NSW. More than that I swore an oath of loyalty to the people of NSW. An oath of loyalty and an oath of service. And I say to them today: I will not hand the Government of NSW over to Obeid, Tripodi or Sartor. Under my leadership there will be no going back. The old regime will never again dictate the fortunes of our party, nor will they regain the levers of control.
I will lead one sort of government and one sort of government only: A government that is modern, ethical and progressive. A government in which the people of NSW can have confidence, trust and respect.
Those are my standards. And those are my beliefs. I will settle for nothing less.
As of now it’s unclear who will prevail at today’s meeting. Frank Sartor - who was once described by a colleague as being “as popular as a tongue-kisser at a family reunion” - is a possibility. Rees has apparently indicated privately he would make way for Carmel Tebbutt, who apparently wants none of it, and in her absence he is committed to fighting. Kristina Keneally (who’s American) is a chance, as is Eric Roozendaal (Treasurer, and poorly-regarded former State secretary), as well as some bloke no-one seems to have heard of, new Police Minister Michael Daley.
One source told me Rees still has solid support from his Left Faction, with the exception of Ian Macdonald, and must pick up at least 16 of the 49 Right Faction votes to hang on.
It’s a hell of a battle. While it’s unclear whether his speech this morning made an impression on Caucus, it was an absolute, rolled-gold expression of public sentiment, where martial law seems preferable to being governed by this lot.
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