IT’S A BRAND NEW DALEY
LABOR BIDS TO CLEAN HOUSE AFTER SLEAZY FOLEY FURORE
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