Flak flies as ex-pre­mier runs for La­bor

Mercury (Hobart) - - NEWSFRONT - ROB HAR­RIS

MAL­COLM Turn­bull’s Govern­ment ma­jor­ity will now hinge on whether vot­ers in the Syd­ney seat of Ben­ne­long will wel­come for­mer New South Wales pre­mier Kristina Ke­neally back into po­lit­i­cal life.

Ms Ke­neally, who quit pol­i­tics in 2012 af­ter La­bor’s worst de­feat at the state elec­tion, was a sur­prise an­nounce­ment as the La­bor can­di­date in the by-elec­tion for the fed­eral seat of Ben­ne­long.

A La­bor win in the rel­a­tively safe Lib­eral seat would threaten the Turn­bull Govern­ment’s thin ma­jor­ity in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, caus­ing ma­jor headaches for the Prime Min­is­ter.

But Ms Ke­neally’s re­turn to the po­lit­i­cal scene is al­ready the tar­get of a fierce cam­paign, with se­nior Turn­bull Govern­ment min­is­ters link­ing her with the cor­rupt NSW La­bor fig­ures Ed­die Obeid and Ian Mac­don­ald.

Mr Turn­bull said La­bor leader Bill Shorten and Mr Obeid had “formed the same view about Kristina Ke­neally” as he urged the vot­ers of Ben- ne­long to back Lib­eral can­di­date John Alexan­der in next month’s by-elec­tion.

Mr Alexan­der has held the seat since 2010 af­ter he un­seated La­bor’s Max­ine McKew who fa­mously de­feated John Howard in the 2007 elec­tion.

Mr Turn­bull, in the Philip­pines at the ASEAN sum­mit, said vot­ers in the Syd­ney elec­torate should not “let Kristina Ke­neally do to Ben­ne­long what she did to NSW”.

Ms Ke­neally has re­peat­edly strongly re­jected claims she was un­duly in­flu­enced by Mr Obeid, who was sen­tenced to five years in prison for mis­con­duct in pub­lic of­fice. She said she was the “un­der­dog” but urged vot­ers to show the Turn­bull Govern­ment it was “just not good enough”.

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