McKay haunted by ghosts of Labor past

There’s nothing quite like state politics to show how skin deep civility can really be.

And with NSW Labor leadership contenders Jodi McKay and Chris Minns assuring supporters they intended to have a clean contest, it’s fallen to others to take up the incessant sledging.

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As best as CBD can tell, there is no clear frontrunner as yet.

With Minns having alienated key unions with his inaugural speech — saying they had too much influence in party affairs and prompting the meat workers to suggest they would be sharpening their knives — we thought McKay would be a sure thing to secure their backing.


But an oddly worded missive from McKay seems to have put more than a few noses out of joint.

In the Friday email, McKay asked party members for their support because she was not a "career politician", never being in Young Labor or working as a staffer or union official.

(She may, according to O’Farrell-era energy minister Chris Hartcher, have even canvassed the possibility of running as a Liberal candidate in the seat of Port Stephens.)

But in an online ventilation worthy even of “devastatingly experienced” barrister Bridie Nolan, former Iemma government minister Cherie Burton took particular umbrage with McKay’s commentary about her past Labor involvement (or lack thereof).

“Like all of the rank and file I felt my contribution to the Labor movement was an important one, one I could be proud of,” Burton, a one-time Bob Carr staffer, wrote in Sunday night Facebook post.

“It is something I am supposed to now be ashamed of … I can no longer stand by and watch someone who has no history with the party attack and degrade the people who are a large part of the heartbeat of the Labor movement.”

And who should rush to agree but her former boss: Iemma himself.

“Ironic isn’t it … a vote in which branch members get to vote and she makes a pitch to them on the basis that she has no branch culture or history," he responded.

As one-time Labor powerbroker John Della Bosca put it: “Isn’t it a bit absurd that the (Labor HQ-backed) candidate is running an anti-party campaign presumably on advice from Sussex St.”

On the other hand, as one McKay supporter told us: “For a campaign pitching new leadership, there sure is a lot of bloody old faces lining up behind him”.


Having been hit with a temporary exodus of staff before the federal election, Liberal faction man and PremierState lobbyist Michael Photios has been quick to find replacements.

(The outfit, most recently working for consumer credit outfit Zip Co and AMP Capital, lost former Labor advisor Sabina Husic and a number of other staff earlier this year.)

Now, Photios has recruited Arts Minister Don Harwin’s deputy chief of staff Mark Jones — who was also his senior resources advisor when he was energy minister — to his influential lobby shop.

We hear Jones, who having worked for one of the Berejiklian government’s most senior ministers is exceedingly well-connected, decided to jump ship early last week.

But awkwardly, he’s yet to walk from the 52 Martin Place offices where he remains.

He wasn’t due to leave until later this week, despite chiefs-of-staff being informed on Monday, but that was fast-tracked to last night after our calls.

The move has apparently left Harwin and his chief-of-staff Andrew Kirk fuming.

We presume Photios will take longer to replace Husic, given recent state and federal losses haven’t exactly created a pressing need for a new Labor-aligned spinner.


It was with a wry smile we recalled former Labor MP Matt Brown was only last year trying to play kingmaker in his old seat of Kiama, boasting to colleagues that he was “playing the chess pieces” in his attempt to install a mate to run against Families Minister Gareth Ward.

Brown’s rise in Macquarie Street came to an abrupt halt three days after his elevation to police minister in 2008 when he was allegedly caught simulating a sex act on then Labor MP Noreen Hay.

Things haven’t gone well for Brown, who now sits on Kiama Council, since then.

He was arrested at the Townsville casino in November and pleaded guilty to possession of a glass pipe and a packet of ice, which he claimed to have found “on the floor”.

Now we can report Kiama Council has, unsurprisingly, found his conduct “inappropriate” and barred him from attending any further council conferences (the reason he was in Townsville).

But the Office of Local Government — now in the realm of Ward’s close friend Local Government Minister Shelley Hancock — is reviewing the evidence to determine whether he should face further penalties, including losing his stipend or even being suspended.


Bauer Australia boss Paul Dykzeul has held the top job at the magazine house since 2017. With the struggling Women’s Weekly publisher due to make a major announcement today, could speculation Dykzeul will leave be right? Bauer was not forthcoming last night.