Clarissa Bye

Likely La­bor leader Mike Da­ley has a wild side

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - Saturday Extra -

THE LIT­TLE-KNOWN MAN MOST LIKELY TO RE­PLACE LUKE FO­LEY AS STATE OP­PO­SI­TION LEADER WANTS TO RE­STORE DIG­NITY TO THE PAR­LIA­MENT, WRITES CLARISSA BYE Bob Carr pre­sented me with a clear and flaw­less ex­am­ple, a model of how to con­duct my­self Michael Da­ley

Who’s Michael John Da­ley?

He’s most likely to be anointed as the new face of the NSW Op­po­si­tion to­day and he’s in with a good chance of be­ing the state’s 46th premier.

But very lit­tle is known about him out­side La­bor cir­cles and his own elec­torate of Maroubra.

Da­ley, who turned 53 last week, lives in an unglam­orous sub­ur­ban red-brick home in a sandy street where the grass strug­gles to grow, in Chi­fley, a solid mid­dle-class sub­urb with a high pro­por­tion of chil­dren.

“I come from a typ­i­cal sub­ur­ban mid­dle-class Aus­tralian fam­ily,” Da­ley said in his maiden speech in 2005.

Bags of old sand lie open on his worn con­crete drive­way be­hind a tan­gled gar­den hose, a rick­ety green metal let­ter­box and a plank of old pine.

A cou­ple of el­derly dogs put up a show of bark­ing be­hind the fence, but their bark is very much worse than their bite in this pic­ture of ev­ery­day sub­ur­bia.

Da­ley is a busy fam­ily man on top of his po­lit­i­cal du­ties; he has four chil­dren with his wife Christina, whom he mar­ried in 2005 af­ter meet­ing her in the law firm where he worked.

From the right of the party, he has served as the ALP’s deputy La­bor leader since March 2016, is the plan­ning and gam­ing spokesman, and was a po­lice and roads min­is­ter in pre­vi­ous La­bor gov­ern­ments.

His col­leagues play up his work­ing-class cre­den­tials and his plain-speak­ing abil­ity to con­nect to or­di­nary vot­ers.

“Michael Da­ley is a fam­ily man with the ex­pe­ri­ence and poli­cies that will send Gla­dys Bere­jik­lian back to the cor­po­rate bank­ing sec­tor af­ter the March elec­tion,” says op­po­si­tion health spokesman Walt Secord.

An­other MP adds: “Michael is a work­ing-class boy from Maroubra who is about fair­ness, com­mu­nity and fam­ily. His hunger to win should not be un­der­es­ti­mated.”

Da­ley’s fam­ily all im­mi­grated from Ire­land, from the land. His mother’s fam­ily had roots in the Bur­rago­rang Val­ley, which was flooded to make way for War­ragamba Dam, Da­ley said in his maiden speech, while his fa­ther’s fam­ily were dairy farm­ers along the coast of the state, mostly at Kempsey.

Af­ter school he worked for 13 years as a cus­toms of­fi­cer with the Aus­tralian Cus­toms Ser­vice and put him­self through law school at night by dint of hard work.

Then he worked as a se­nior cor­po­rate lawyer be­fore go­ing into pol­i­tics.

Da­ley comes from a long line of ALP politi­cians from Syd­ney’s east. Of the three for­mer long­stand­ing mem­bers for Maroubra, two were pre­miers, in­clud­ing Bob Carr, who held the seat from 1983 un­til Da­ley took over in 2005. It was Carr who in­spired him to go into pol­i­tics.

“More than any other per­son I have met in po­lit­i­cal life, he (Carr) pre­sented me with a clear and flaw­less ex­am­ple, a model of how to con­duct my­self as a ca­pa­ble, dili­gent, and above all dig­ni­fied mem­ber of par­lia­ment,” Da­ley said of his pre­de­ces­sor.

It’s that point about dig­nity that he raised yes­ter­day morn­ing, say­ing he wanted to raise the bar in par­lia­ment, a point he has pre­vi­ously men­tioned in de­bate about how politi­cians con­duct them­selves in the “bear pit” of Mac­quarie Street.

Da­ley is Catholic and was taught by Marist Broth­ers at Mar­cellin Col­lege, Rand­wick, where he is pres­i­dent of the old boy’s club.

His un­cle was a Fran­cis­can friar, the late Brother Bene­dict (Bernard) Car­lon.

Da­ley has de­scribed him­self as pro-choice but faced crit­i­cism in 2013 for vot­ing in favour of the con­tro­ver­sial Zoe’s Law bill that would have granted the le­gal sta­tus of “per­son­hood” to un­born chil­dren in NSW.

He is also well con­nected to the plethora of

com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tions and RSLs and clubs in the area, in­clud­ing South Syd­ney Ju­niors, and spent Hal­loween last week walk­ing the lo­cal streets with his chil­dren.

Al­though he’s been ear­marked as a po­ten­tial La­bor leader since at least 2011, Da­ley’s ca­reer has not been with­out mis­steps.

Late last year he was sus­pended from driv­ing af­ter be­ing caught trav­el­ling at 78km/h on the Eastern Dis­trib­u­tor at 11 o’clock one night, say­ing he missed signs show­ing a vari­able road­works speed of 40km/h.

Da­ley later had to re­tract a claim that he had main­tained a spot­less driv­ing record for nearly 35 years, con­ced­ing he’d lost de­merit points for three other speed­ing of­fences be­tween 1988 and 1999.

There was also the is­sue of drink­ing in state par­lia­ment.

In 2012 he was re­moved from par­lia­ment af­ter he was ac­cused of be­ing drunk while de­bat­ing a bill in the early hours of the morn­ing.

Af­ter sev­eral warn­ings, the sergeant of arms was called in to phys­i­cally re­move him af­ter he chal­lenged the Speaker, Shel­ley Han­cock, to eject him from the cham­ber.

He later apol­o­gised to Ms Han­cock and ad­mit­ted to “hav­ing a cou­ple of drinks” but de­nied be­ing drunk.

Con­sid­er­ing the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the down­fall of for­mer ALP leader Luke Fo­ley, he’d be ex­pected to steer well clear of any hint of too much drink­ing if he’s got any chance of win­ning the top job.

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