Keneally back in the game
Labor is hoping a high-profile woman can repeat history by claiming the federal Liberal seat of Bennelong with former NSW premier Kristina Kenneally returning to politics to take on the challenge. The seat is up for grabs after John Alexander was forced to resign after citizenship concerns.
LABOR is hoping former NSW premier Kristina Keneally can repeat history by claiming the federal Liberal seat of Bennelong.
But the Federal Government says corruption findings against her former state colleagues prove she’s not fit to represent the people of northwestern Sydney in Canberra.
Bennelong, held by the Liberals with a margin of more than 9 per cent, is up for grabs after John Alexander was forced to resign over dual citizenship concerns.
“It’s going to be a tough campaign, I am definitely starting out as the underdog but I’ve never shirked from a fight,” Ms Keneally told reporters yesterday beside a clearly thrilled Bill Shorten in Sydney.
Mr Shorten said the December 16 by-election would be a chance for voters in the electorate to “send a wake-up call” to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Labor has claimed the seat just once before when sitting prime minister John Howard spectacularly lost to high-profile ABC journalist Maxine McKew in 2007.
Political commentators say Ms Keneally’s decision to enter the race will make the contest much tighter.
“Labor had to get a candidate who had an immediate presence and profile and Kristina Keneally certainly has that,” ABC election analyst Antony Green said.
After leading her government in 2011 to the biggest election defeat in NSW history, Ms Keneally has been the chief executive of Basketball Australia and a political pundit on Sky News.
But it’s the political baggage from her time leading NSW Labor that the Federal Government hopes will hurt her.
They’ve once again labelled her “Eddie Obeid’s protege”.
Treasurer Scott Morrison said “the person Bill Shorten has chosen to represent him in this by-election is the person Eddie Obeid chose to be his premier in NSW”.
The former Labor powerbroker and state minister was jailed in 2016 for misconduct in public office.
A NSW corruption commission report released in August found then Labor MPs Joe Tripodi, Tony Kelly and Obeid engaged in serious corrupt conduct between 2007 and 2010.
At the time Ms Keneally said the three had “operated in secret”.
Another Labor minister from the time, Ian Macdonald, is also behind bars for corruption.
Mr Turnbull warned Bennelong voters not to “let Kristina Keneally do to Bennelong what she did to NSW”.
Ms Keneally, 48, hit back, saying if the PM wanted to make the campaign “about that” he could “bring it on, mate”.
BRING IT ON: Former NSW Labor premier Kristina Keneally, who will take on Liberal MP John Alexander in the Bennelong by-election.