I’ll win back the bush
Daley’s first pledge: I’ll boost rural jobs
NEW Labor leader Michael Daley has vowed to win back the bush, promising to boost rural jobs, tackle the regional ice epidemic, and close the gap between city and country.
With recent internal Labor polling showing the Nationals’ vote has collapsed in country areas, Mr Daley said one of his first priorities was to shift Labor’s focus back to the bush with strong regional policies.
Under Labor, a “back-to-basics” jobs plan would see the manufacture of all new railway rolling stock moved from Korea to regional NSW. He also pledged to set up six “ice detox clinics”, four in the bush, where court-ordered rehabilitation would take place.
Mr Daley also promised to focus on investment and innovation in renewables, with the details to be unveiled in the coming weeks.
Citing former premier William McKell, whose 1941 election victory was attributed to him focusing on the concerns of the rural working class, Mr Daley said the divide between the bush and the city had worsened over the years.
“People in rural NSW are angry at being left behind and I am bewildered it has gotten so bad,” he said. “So if I am premier in March, I want to quickly put in place plans to fix this. I want to speak to the workers who live in the regions and the suburbs.
“My father was from Kempsey and my grandfather was a dairy farmer and president of the North Coast Dairy Farmers Association, so I feel a really strong affinity with people in the regions.
“And what I find bewildering is that they are all angry.”
The former corporate lawyer also wants to modernise state parliament, with a ban on “ridiculous” late-night sittings to make it more family friendly.
He also promised to address as- saults on nursing staff by stationing in hospitals 200 security officers with powers equivalent to the special constables of state parliament.
“In the last five years, assaults in hospitals have increased by a third — there are now 50 a month,” he said. “The security guards won’t be the kind who can’t lay their hands on anyone, but will have powers to seize and make arrests so nurses can go about their jobs.”
Mr Daley, a right-wing MP who replaced long-serving Labor premier Bob Carr as member for Maroubra, defeated Chris Minns by 33 to 12 in a party-room leadership ballot yesterday after Luke Foley stood down following allegations of sexual harassment by ABC reporter Ashleigh Raper. Mr Foley denies the allegations.
A Labor benchmark poll in September showed Mr Daley had greater recognition among voters than Mr Foley, and that Labor was doing well with female voters.
While the scandal was expected to erode those gains, Mr Daley said he felt confident about being able to win back the confidence of women. “Firstly, I am a loving hus- band, I have been with my wife for 20 years, and I have two daughters with whom I have a terrific relationship. But actions speak louder than words,” he said.
“I was the first male to come out to say in very clear terms that I believe Ashleigh Raper, to say it shouldn’t happen again, and to remind people that these are not Labor values.
“I also said some strong words about Luke and that I was unhappy with his press conference.”
Mr Daley, who will address the Labor caucus over the issue at its first meeting, said it had been a “difficult” time for the party, but that it was time to move forward.
“This was a personal failing of a particular individual,” he said. “We have a great story to tell when it comes to representing women.”
In addition to working with Premier Gladys Berejiklian to lift the standards of parliament, Mr Daley said he wanted to ban the practice of late-night sittings.
“It’s crazy to be sitting until 2am,” he said. “Parliament needs to be brought into line with community standards.”
Michael Daley with wife Christina, son Austin and daughter Olivia after he was elected as new NSW Labor leader yesterday. Picture: Sam Ruttyn
A young Michael Daley and (standing at the back) with his family.