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

LA­BOR will elect a new leader to­day with Luke Fo­ley’s deputy Michael Da­ley to pitch him­self as a man of the peo­ple as he tries 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 dis­graced Mr Fo­ley (pic­tured be­low) of putting his hand in­side her un­der­pants at a 2016 Christ­mas party.

Mr Fo­ley stren­u­ously de­nies the claims.

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

His move was a bid to save face, with the party al­most cer­tain to dis­endorse him if he didn’t exit un­der his own steam. Mr Fo­ley went to ground yes­ter­day, af­ter 24 hours ear­lier pledg­ing he would launch defama­tion pro­ceed­ings in the Fed­eral Court and declar­ing the sleazy al­le­ga­tions were false.

Mr Da­ley — a mem­ber of the NSW par­lia­ment since 2005 — will face off against Op­po­si­tion wa­ter spokesman Chris Minns in a show­down for the lead­er­ship at 2pm to­day.

Last night, key fig­ures from the dom­i­nant right fac­tion — and a good por­tion of La­bor’s left fac­tion — were locked in be­hind Mr Da­ley, who is the strong favourite to win the bal­lot. How­ever, Mr Minns’ sup­port­ers con­tin­ued to work the phones.

Penny Sharpe is ex­pected to be the sole can­di­date for deputy leader.

Mr Da­ley, in an in­ter­view with The Sat­ur­day Tele­graph, said he be­lieved he would be a new type of La­bor leader “of and from the fam­i­lies in the sub­urbs”.

“I’m not a ca­reer politi­cian, I joined the party at the age of 27 and be­came a politi­cian af­ter hav­ing had 20 years of work­ing life,” he said.

The for­mer cor­po­rate lawyer said his first job had been as a paper­boy in the hous­ing es­tates of south Maroubra and he un­der­stood work­ing peo­ple.

“That’s my great­est strength. I know them, I un­der­stand them, I’m one of them,” he said. Mr Da­ley said he saw no need to dis­tance him­self from Mr Fo­ley’s poli­cies and added that the rest of the team were work­ing well. He de­clined to speak about pos­si­ble shadow cab­i­net reshuf­fles, but there is some spec­u­la­tion he will pro­mote Mr Minns to a more se­nior role in a show of unity and move John Gra­ham, an up­per house MP, into the shadow cab­i­net. Mr Da­ley said the events sur­round­ing Mr Fo­ley have 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.” Mr Minns made his pitch for the lead­er­ship on a bold pol­icy re­set, in­clud­ing the abo­li­tion of the lock­out laws — a clear de­par­ture from ALP pol­icy. His back­ers see him as a fresh start for the party and a ris­ing star, but he ad­mit­ted he did not have the sup­port of La­bor Sus­sex St boss Kaila Mur­nain. “Who­ever is elected La­bor Party leader faces a near in­sur­mount­able task. “They need to unite the party,” Mr Minns said. On an­other day of drama for La­bor, se­nior La­bor fe­male fig­ures made a strong pitch to dis­tance them­selves from Mr Fo­ley yes­ter­day.

Prue Car and Jodi McKay were both pri­vate sup­port­ers of Mr Fo­ley in the wake of the al­le­ga­tions be­ing raised in par­lia­ment, with Ms Car even try­ing to dis­miss it as merely a “smear” in re­cent pub­lic com­ments. But yes­ter­day they had a dra­matic about-face, sup­port­ing Ms Raper.

Ms McKay, who will lose her spot as the most se­nior La­bor woman to Ms Sharpe to­day, had en­tirely dropped her sup­port for Mr Fo­ley yes­ter­day and she said he was wrong to threaten le­gal ac­tion.

She said she knew there had been “talk around par­lia­ment” of the al­leged ha­rass­ment but did not in­ves­ti­gate the al­le­ga­tions against her boss, claim­ing she wanted to re­spect Ms Raper’s de­ci­sion not to make a com­plaint.

A se­nior Lib­eral source said the im­plo­sion of Mr Fo­ley’s po­lit­i­cal ca­reer had put his seat of Auburn firmly on their radar. The source said some Lib­er­als wanted to use the up­com­ing fort­night of par­lia­ment to quiz La­bor MPs about what they knew of the al­le­ga­tion, and when.

We need to clean up. There is no place for muck in Par­lia­ment Michael Da­ley

Auburn’s Faiz Kandy is trou­bled by the claims. Pic­ture: Dy­lan Robin­son

La­bor leader in wait­ing Michael Da­ley with his wife Christina and their chil­dren Austin, 8, and Olivia, 11 and (be­low) Chris Minns. Pic­ture: Justin Lloyd

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.