La­bor is tak­ing it one Da­ley at a time

The ‘dirty’ ru­mours trou­bling elec­torate

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - Front Page - ANNA CALD­WELL & ROSE BREN­NAN

LA­BOR will to­day elect a new leader, with Luke Fo­ley’s deputy Michael Da­ley the hot favourite to try to sal­vage the party.

With NSW La­bor in dis­ar­ray, a raft of high-pro­file ALP fig­ures — led by Mr Da­ley — yes­ter­day de­clared they be­lieved jour­nal­ist Ash­leigh Raper, who has ac­cused Mr Fo­ley of sex­u­ally ha­rass­ing her in 2016.

Mr Fo­ley stren­u­ously de­nies the claims.

The party is in cri­sis talks over how to move on from the scan­dal just five months out from the state elec­tion, and La­bor fears it is now at se­ri­ous risk of los­ing Mr Fo­ley’s seat of Auburn, even af­ter he late last night said he would not stand.

Mr Da­ley — who is the odds-on favourite to tri­umph when he faces off against op­po­si­tion wa­ter spokesman Chris Minns in a lead­er­ship show­down to­day — ad­mit­ted the events sur­round­ing Mr Fo­ley had con­tributed to a “deep cyn­i­cism” about all politi­cians.

“We need to rise above this, on both sides of par­lia­ment, re­set and show sta­bil­ity,” Mr Da­ley said. “We need to clean up. There is no place for muck in the par­lia­ment.”

THE La­bor strong­hold of Auburn could come un­stuck, with some life­long ALP sup­port­ers say­ing they could aban­don the party in the wake of the al­le­ga­tions lev­elled at Luke Fo­ley.

The Sat­ur­day Tele­graph spoke to vot­ers in the work­ing­class seat, held by the ALP on a mar­gin of 5.9 per cent, with some say­ing they could not sup­port Mr Fo­ley.

The for­mer La­bor chief, who strongly de­nies the ha­rass­ment al­le­ga­tions, yes­ter­day said he would not con­test the next elec­tion — wel­come news for ALP sup­port­ers in the area.

For­mer Young La­bor mem­ber Sal Abeer, 24, joined Mr Fo­ley at a rally as re­cently as last month and sup­ported him on the cam­paign trail dur­ing the 2016 fed­eral elec­tion.

“The whole thing just feels a bit dirty,” Mr Abeer said.

“It’s quite con­cern­ing here as well be­cause there’s a lot of reli­gions and I’m sure none of them ap­prove of sex­ual (ha­rass­ment) against women. For him to rep­re­sent an area like this, it doesn’t make much sense to me.”

Is­lam is the big­gest re­li­gion in Auburn, ac­count­ing for 27 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion, ac­cord­ing to Cen­sus data. And founder of the Is­lamic Friend­ship As­so­ci­a­tion Keysar Trad said the al­le­ga­tions would be deeply trou­bling to Mus­lims. “It’s very likely it will be ex­tremely dam­ag­ing to the stand­ing of the party,” he said.

While Auburn has al­ways been in La­bor hands, it’s be­lieved Lib­er­als will now start cir­cling as they taste blood in the wa­ter.

Auburn su­per­mar­ket man­ager Faiz Kandy, 37, has been a staunch La­bor sup­porter but said he would not vote for Mr Fo­ley if he was ex­pelled from the party and tried to run again for the seat at a later date.

“If he is kicked out from the party, of course he should leave from this place also,” Mr Kandy said.

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