LABOR WANTS FOLEY OUT OF PARLIAMENT
Opposition planning spokesman Michael Daley is certain to be the next NSW Labor leader as party chiefs try to force the freshly ousted leader Luke Foley out of parliament, with the next state election to be held in less than five months.
Mr Daley, who is deputy leader of the NSW Labor Party, has the overwhelming support of the right faction and is widely regarded as the only viable successor to Mr Foley.
Penny Sharpe, the opposition spokeswoman for environment and heritage, appears to be the favourite to take over Mr Daley’s role as deputy leader, however, Labor spokeswoman for innovation Yasmin Catley is also in the mix.
Senior Labor sources said last night there was only one other contender for the leader’s job — opposition water spokesman Chris Minns — but insiders say he is not the preferred candidate of Labor head office and “the unions loathe him”.
Labor insiders say they are keen to install Mr Daley as soon as possible given the damaging fallout over a bombshell allegation by ABC journalist Ashleigh Raper yesterday, in which she detailed an incident that allegedly occurred almost two years ago at the 2016 NSW parliamentary Christmas party.
Mr Foley’s threat to sue for defamation over Raper’s claim he put his hands inside her underpants has incensed Labor chiefs as it ensures the “stench will continue” all the way up to the March election. “The Labor Party is concerned about the message this sends to women,” a senior Labor source said last night. “There are also rumours head office have funded Mr Foley’s legal advice, which is absolutely not true.”
Mr Foley has flagged that he intends to remain on the backbench and run for his western Sydney seat of Auburn at the election next March. A crisis meeting was called last night to consider whether he should be forced to appear before the party’s candidate review panel in an attempt to have him disendorsed as “unfit”.
It is unclear what impact Mr Foley’s resignation will have on Labor’s chances at the election, as Mr Daley’s profile is not known to many voters.
According to polling conducted in June, the four key marginal seats of Upper Hunter, Holswor- thy, Penrith and Seven Hills were set to be comfortably held by the government.
Labor would need to win some of those seats in order to gain the seven required to end the government’s majority.
But a Newspoll in March found the Liberal-Nationals Coalition in NSW was even with Labor on a two-party-preferred basis.
Mr Foley had slowly chipped away at the government’s lead, with that poll showing the coalition’s popularity over the opposition had suffered a 4.3 per cent swing since the previous state election in March 2015.