NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay has announced her resignation following weeks of escalating pressure from within the party.
It comes after Labor suffered a crushing defeat at the crucial Upper Hunter by-election last week, with the party’s primary vote plummeting. Kogarah MP Chris Minns is expected to be announced as Ms McKay’s replacement.
“No one has asked me to stand aside,” Ms McKay said today.
“In fact, colleagues have asked me to stay. If a ballot was held today I can tell you I would win that ballot.
“I have always tried to build consensus within our party, but it is clear that although I was elected leader…there were those within our party who have never accepted the outcome of that process.”
Ms McKay said that leadership “must almost always be about the institution” and knowing when “you step up and when you step down”.
“This is the only way that I know that I can unite our party,” she said, adding that when the new leader of NSW Labor is determined, the decision must be supported across the board.
“We have to work to win government in 2023, because New South Wales deserves no less.”
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Until the Labor Party can end the divide between the new class and the old class, party leader Anthony Albanese is in “very serious trouble,” according to Former Victorian Liberal Party President Michael Kroger.
“I don’t think he’s up to the job of doing it,” Mr Kroger told Sky News host Paul Murray.
“Nothing we’ve seen in almost two years convinces us that he can keep his blue-collar workers onside and also the inner-city big tech venture capital guard that now sort of permeate the Labor Party.
“That’s his problem.”
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Labor are getting “further away” from the working class base and that was very evident in the Upper Hunter by-election, according to Former Liberal Party President Michael Kroger.
Mr Kroger also said that Joel Fitzgibbon would have a “bigger chance” of winning the election than Anthony Albanese because the electorate “won’t support” someone who isn’t sure where they stand.
“The truth is Albo doesn’t know whether he’s Arthur or Martha and that’s the trouble for Labor and the electorate won’t support someone who doesn’t know where they stand,” Mr Kroger said.
“At least they know where Fitzgibbon stands, he’d be a bigger chance of winning because he’s got an authenticity that we thought Albo had.”
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NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay is expected to step down as early as today.
Ms McKay has had a bruising week after her party’s candidate lost a by-election in the Upper Hunter, a failure that prompted some within the party to speculate her time as leader could be drawing to a close.
Sky News reported Friday morning that Ms McKay was planning to resign, citing sources.
Two Labor sources who spoke to NCA NewsWire were unable to confirm Ms McKay had made such a decision, but one of the people said there would be a “significant” party announcement later in the day.
The other person said it would “presumably” happen on Friday.
“It wouldn’t surprise me,” the person said.
More to come.
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Victoria is going into a statewide seven-day lockdown because of a rise in coronavirus cases that Labor MP Ed Husic has partially blamed on the federal government’s complacency, when it comes to the nation’s vaccine rollout.
Australia’s vaccine rollout was criticised by Labor MP Ed Husic
Coalition MP Dave Sharma said vaccines were not the sole answer to fighting COVID outbreaks
Mr Husic compared Australia’s 1.7 per cent vaccination rate to Kazakhstan’s 5 per cent
With case numbers currently at 26 in the state as it seeks to stem the outbreak, Q+A panellists were asked if Australia had failed in its vaccine rollout, and the Member for Chifley was adamant that was the case.
“Complacency has been the big enemy here,” Mr Husic said.
“A few weeks ago, right in this chair, Dr Norman Swan outlined how Pfizer approached the federal government in June last year, saying, ‘let’s do a deal’ [and] there were initial discussions in July and nothing happened and the deal was not sorted until November.”
Asked if Australia’s vaccine rollout had failed, he said: “We were told we’d be at the front of the queue and have four million people vaccinated by March, then it became October, now we don’t know when it will happen.
“We haven’t really vaccinated that many people, 1.7 per cent in Australia and I hate to bring up the comparison because we do it so often but Kazakhstan, at 5 per cent.”
He said Victorians in particular would be wishing Australia had done better by now.
“If you’re in Victoria right now, you would have wished this was going faster and also wished that we’d had a quarantine system that can cope with the emerging variants that are coming up now, where we’ve got aerosol-based transmission,” Mr Husic said.
“And the issue is hotel quarantine is not capable to deal with this.”
Liberal MP Dave Sharma rejected that notion, saying Australia had used other measures to contain the spread of coronavirus.
“The vaccine provides protection against the disease but so do a number of other measures we have in place,” the Member for Wentworth said.
“We have border restrictions, hotel quarantine, testing and contact tracing and physical distancing and it’s important to remember we need multiple layers to protect ourselves from this disease.”
Pressed by host Hamish Macdonald on the vaccine rollout being behind schedule, Mr Sharma blamed extenuating circumstances such as AstraZeneca doses not being delivered, and Indian production going offline as that nation attempts to come to grips with its COVID disaster.
Mr Sharma then said vaccination alone could not be the answer for Australia.
“In the US, they have a high vaccination rate, they had 25,000 new cases yesterday, 600-plus deaths,” he said.
“In the UK, 2,500 cases yesterday.
Mr Sharma went on to defend Australia’s international border closures.
“We’ve had 910 deaths in Australia, 800 of those were from the second wave in Victoria last year.
“When you look at the numbers in the US, over 600,000 deaths, the UK, 250,000, if we had anything like that here in Australia, we’d be talking 20,000 to 30,000 who would have lost their lives.”
Mr Husic said those comments from Mr Sharma were a representation of government complacency.
“We don’t have a mass information campaign urging people to go out and get the vaccination because our belief is that the with borders being closed, ‘she’ll be right’.
“That’s not good public health strategy.”
Watch the full episode on iview or via the Q+A Facebook page.
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A former Catholic priest has admitted to a judge he exploited vulnerable children in poor Asian countries, after pleading guilty to dozens of child sexual offences.
Peter Andrew Hansen was arrested in October 2018 at Sydney Airport on his way back from Vietnam.
Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers conducted a search warrant at his home in Cabramatta in Sydney’s south-west.
The 63-year-old has admitted to more than 30 offences, including possessing and distributing child exploitation material and sexual intercourse with children.
The NSW District Court has heard the offending took place in Vietnam and the Philippines.
Hansen, a former Labor Party branch secretary who has been in prison since his arrest, today told the court he feels both ashamed and guilty and often thinks about his victims.
“I exploited them,” he said on a video link from prison.
“I didn’t only exploit their age, I also exploited the fact they came from a poor Asian country and I exploited their vulnerability.
“In doing that, I not only contravened society’s standards, I think I also used and manipulated to my own advantage a power imbalance between me and them.”
Hansen was a Catholic priest in the Archdiocese of Melbourne until he resigned from the ministry in 2011.
The court heard he has an adopted son in Vietnam and has volunteered in overseas detention centres.
“I look back and I think so much of what I’ve done for the better in my life, I have negated by falling foul of my compulsion,” he said.
Hansen told the court he now links his offending with the moment he felt the most ashamed in his life — being led through Sydney Airport in handcuffs as onlookers “gawked”.
He claimed he would “never” offend again.
“To the day I die, I will be remorseful for what I did,” Hansen said.
Hansen has previously worked as a lawyer but turned to the church after realising his “sexual proclivities” were “abnormal”, the court heard.
Although he looked to priesthood partially to fulfil a “spiritual life”, during it he developed a dependency on pornography.
Crown Prosecutor Jennifer Single SC said the child exploitation material Hansen collected was “meticulously kept” on storage devices, including labels with the children’s names, ages and locations.
The sentencing hearing, before Judge James Bennett, continues.
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Outgoing federal Liberal MP Nicolle Flint has savaged her party’s moderate faction amid internal rancour following a weekend preselection to anoint her successor – as Labor’s Right-wing settles on its own candidate for one of the state’s safest seats.
The ALP’s dominant Labor Unity faction is backing a little-known Transport Workers Union organiser as a ‘working class’ voice to replace Nick Champion in the northern seat of Spence.
But the party expects a contested ballot for the preselection, with the daughter of a former federal Treasurer entering the fray – with the backing of former Premier Jay Weatherill.
It comes as Liberal tensions boil over following Saturday’s Boothby ballot which saw moderate-backed Rachel Swift – who was already running at number four on the party’s senate ticket – easily win preselection to replace Right-winger Flint.
The incumbent had strongly backed candidate Leah Blythe, who scored 94 votes, ahead of former Adelaide candidate Shaun Osborne.
But Flint yesterday lashed out at party colleagues after a Sunday Mail article quoted a male moderate-faction source as claiming she had “harangued” local members to back Blyth over Swift, which he argued had actually cost the conservative nominee votes.
“I was very disappointed with the article in the Sunday Mail today, where an unnamed senior male Liberal ‘source’ attacked me,” Flint wrote in a Facebook post.
“Unfortunately, I was not surprised.
“This is just the latest example of the treatment I have endured from the ‘left’ or the ‘wets’ in the Liberal Party, while holding a marginal seat that helped deliver us federal government.
“There is nothing ‘moderate’ about this sort of behaviour [and] it needs to stop.”
Flint said she was “incredibly proud” of what she had achieved in Boothby and argued all three nominees to succeed her had been “exceptionally good candidates”.
“I look forward to working with my local members to see Rachel Swift elected as the next Member for Boothby,” she wrote.
“On a personal note, aside from continuing to serve my local community, I will also continue my work behind the scenes to make our party and our parliament a better place for women.”
Flint with Swift and Liberal senator Simon Birmingham.
Labor is yet to open its own nominations for Boothby, but is close to finding a candidate for one of its most coveted electoral prizes, with Spence incumbent Nick Champion set to shift to state parliament at next year’s election – as InDaily revealed last year.
Matt Burnell, a senior branch official with the Right-aligned Transport Workers Union, confirmed to InDaily today that he intended to nominate, and it’s understood the state party’s most powerful faction will endorse him.
“At the moment I’m going through the process of seeking out support from the party, and if I’ve got that support, then when preselection opens I’ll be putting a nomination forward,” he told InDaily.
Matt Burnell. Photo: TWU website
Burnell has been at the union since 2016, having previously worked with the Maritime Union after jobs in the transport sector in Mildura and as a fly-in-fly-out seafarer off the Western Australian coast.
The low-profile endorsement is set to raise eyebrows in the state branch, given Spence is one of Labor’s most prized safe seats.
But it’s understood the Right is pushing for a greater ‘working class’ presence in the federal parliament, particularly after losing ground with the party’s traditional electoral base at the last election.
“I think there’s an element of that,” Burnell said when asked whether the party had lost touch with its working class roots.
“It’s not necessarily a massive issue here in SA, but politics in general is something that’s seen to be unattainable for the average person – it seems like you have to have a degree to be able to have a seat at the table [and] I don’t necessarily think that’s true.
“We need to have representation that comes from a diverse background, and part of that should be workers at the coalface who have to slog it out each day.
“I’ve been a blue-collar worker all my life – I’ve had to work hard for everything I’ve been able to achieve, and I think it’s important we have that sort of voice in parliament.”
Burnell is set to face a challenge from Alice Dawkins, whose father John was a senior minister in the Hawke government and Treasurer under Paul Keating.
Dawkins, who has previously nominated for the Hills seat of Mayo, has recently returned to SA after a stint in WA, where she worked for mining magnate Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest’s public-interest technology program.
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That saw her working alongside Weatherill, who runs Forrest’s Thrive By Five initiative, with the former Premier giving her candidacy his endorsement.
“She’s an impressive young woman – super intelligent, insightful… she’d be a great candidate,” he said.
He said she had worked on Forrest’s vision to democratise big tech operations, an area that is “really important at a national level”.
“There probably aren’t that many people around with expertise about that in the Labor Party [so] she’d make a wonderful contribution,” he said.
Dawkins, who now works with a consulting firm specialising in Asian strategic engagement, has distributed campaign material to party members, with one leaflet declaring: “Policy-wise I believe we are heading into one of the most challenging periods for the labour movement in history.”
“The swing of technology and industrial policy worldwide has been so far callously anti-worker, and often needlessly so,” her brochure argues.
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Labor has added its weight to federal government calls for detained Australian writer Yang Hengjun to be afforded basic legal rights by Chinese authorities.
Dr Yang will be tried on charges of espionage in a closed Chinese court next week after being held in Beijing for more than two years.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne says despite repeated requests by Australian officials, Chinese authorities have not provided any explanation or evidence for the charges he faces.
Since his detention the 55-year-old blogger has had no access to his family and limited access to his lawyer.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says it is “absolutely untrue” Dr Yang acted as a spy for Australia, and Dr Yang has told his family he was innocent and would “never confess to something I haven’t done”.
Labor senator Penny Wong said on Saturday the opposition was deeply concerned that Chinese authorities had failed to provide any explanation or evidence for the charges.
“We strongly support the government’s advocacy for Dr Yang, including through consular assistance, and are disappointed that he has not received basic standards of justice or procedural fairness consistent with China’s international legal obligations,” she said in a statement.
Senator Wong said China also had obligations under the Australia-China bilateral consular agreement.
As a result, Australian officials should be permitted access to Dr Yang’s hearing on May 27 and he should be granted advanced access to his lawyer and consular officials in advance.
Dr Yang’s trial had been due to start in January but has been delayed by four months.
He faces a lengthy jail sentence if found guilty on charges of endangering national security by joining or accepting a mission from an unidentified espionage organisation.
Dr Yang was detained by Chinese authorities in January 2019 at Guangzhou Airport after arriving from New York.
Australia has consistently lobbied in his support and that of a second detained Australian, journalist Cheng Lei, who has also been held on suspicion of endangering national security.
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Trains will make the trip from Melbourne to Geelong in just 35 minutes regardless of who wins November’s Victorian state election, after Labor matched the coalition’s promise for high speed rail.
Labor’s plan would see two extra tracks built alongside existing lines to Melton and Wyndham Vale to carry metropolitan trains; allowing for regional services to run express.
The Wyndham Vale tracks could be continued to Werribee, to form the western section of the promised $50 billion Suburban Rail Loop, with construction to start in 2022.
Labor is also considering the full electrification of the Geelong and Ballarat lines, and the introduction of new electric regional trains.
“This plan will deliver the transformation that our state needs,” he said.
He estimates the project would take around a decade to complete.
Labor is also considering the full electrification of the Geelong and Ballarat lines, and the introduction of new electric regional trains. Premier Daniel Andrews said the plan would reduce travel times and help take cars off roads. “This plan will deliver the transformation that our state needs,” he said. “Electrification of rail lines out to the west, and fast rail to Geelong and Ballarat, returning country rail to country communities.” “Only Labor can be trusted to build the regional public transport we need for the future.”
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Labor politician Mark Turner has been banished from the party caucus and removed from his role as Deputy Speaker as claims of inappropriate behaviour engulf the Northern Territory government.
Mark Turner has been exiled from NT Labor after just six months as the Member for Blain
A member of Chief Minister Michael Gunner’s staff has also resigned
Mr Gunner told NT Parliament he had lost trust in the backbencher
Chief Minister Michael Gunner has also revealed a member of his staff has resigned in the wake of allegations first raised in a newspaper gossip column last weekend.
Mr Turner, a former policeman who represents the Palmerston seat of Blain, last night told Parliament he had been involved in a consensual but “inappropriate” relationship with a woman.
However, he insisted that he had not engaged in any illegal activity, following claims in the Sunday Territorian suggesting sordid and illegal behaviour among unnamed party members.
The claims prompted Opposition Leader Lia Finocchiaro to demand the Chief Minister investigate what she described in Parliament as a “cocaine sex scandal” involving a then-unnamed MLA, as well as an unnamed staffer in Mr Gunner’s office.
Until today, Mr Gunner continued to resist those calls, arguing it was not his role to chase down every internet rumour.
Last night, Mr Turner told Parliament he was left with no choice but to address what he described as “untrue rumours” being peddled by Ms Finocchiaro.
Today, in Parliament, Mr Gunner said he had lost trust in his Labor colleague.
“Earlier this week I spoke with all members of my team to satisfy myself that the rumours and gossip of criminal activity were unfounded. This included the Member for Blain,” Mr Gunner said.
“However, in the course of our discussions earlier this week, I don’t believe that the Member for Blain was completely forthcoming with me or his colleagues about the extent of his friendship with the private citizen in question.
“Last night, just prior to his statement to the Parliament, he finally disclosed the nature of that relationship.
Member ‘continues to act dishonestly’
Mr Gunner told Parliament it had since come to his attention that Mr Turner “continues to act dishonestly about his relationships and interactions with others”.
“The Member for Blain has lost my trust,” he said.
“He has lost the trust of the caucus.
“He is no longer a member of Labor’s parliamentary team.”
NT Labor still keeps its majority in Parliament despite Mr Turner being removed from caucus.
Mr Gunner said the matter had caused “pain and embarrassment” for Mr Turner’s family and had been a distraction for NT Parliament.
“I believe that personal issues, where there is no issue of criminal activity and no issue of consent, should be dealt with privately, in the family,” he said.
“Right now his priorities should be focusing on his family and focusing on his electorate — and nothing else.”
Mr Gunner also confirmed one of his staffers had resigned.
“This person categorically rejects any criminal activity, and again, the leader of the opposition has failed to produce any evidence to the contrary,” Mr Gunner said.
“The staff member has resigned as he seeks support for personal issues during a distressing time for his family.”
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