Likely Labor leader Mike Daley has a wild side
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.