Australia Kristina Keneally's relentless ambition could cost Labor dearly

11:05  17 september  2021
11:05  17 september  2021 Source:   smh.com.au

Kristina Keneally plans to switch chambers and run for a safe western Sydney seat next federal election

  Kristina Keneally plans to switch chambers and run for a safe western Sydney seat next federal election Former NSW Premier Kristina Keneally plans to switch from the Senate to a safe Lower House seat in western Sydney at the next federal election. Senator Keneally, who is close to Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese and is understood to have the backing of NSW Labor power brokers, is likely to be preselected for Fowler and replace Chris Hayes, who is retiring due to health issues.The move ends an increasingly bitter internal battle over Labor's NSW Senate ticket.

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 04: Senator Kristina Keneally during a press conference in the Mural Hall at Parliament House on June 04, 2021 in Canberra, Australia.  (Photo by Sam Mooy/Getty Images): Senator Kristina Keneally (Photo by Sam Mooy/Getty Images) © 2021 Getty Images Senator Kristina Keneally (Photo by Sam Mooy/Getty Images)

Here is a story about Kristina Keneally. In mid-2020, when the preoccupying issue was how Carnival's Ruby Princess had been allowed to disembark 2700 passengers into the community on March 19, 2020, leading to 28 COVID deaths and 10 per cent of Australia's then total infections, Keneally was determined to insert herself into the debate over who was to blame.

As the shadow federal minister for home affairs, Keneally's job was to challenge Peter Dutton and his Australian Border Force. Keneally argued that as the ABF and the federal department of agriculture had granted right of entry to the ship, the debacle was their fault.

Kristina Keneally's swap into safe Western Sydney seat sparks anger among Labor locals

  Kristina Keneally's swap into safe Western Sydney seat sparks anger among Labor locals A group of Labor party faithful say parachuting Kristina Keneally into a Western Sydney seat is a snub to the community.Senator Keneally plans to move from the upper house into the Labor stronghold of Fowler at the next election, even though she lives a long way from the electorate.

Bret Walker SC led an inquiry into the Ruby Princess, and his comprehensive report found that NSW Health, inexperienced in managing the outbreak, had been solely responsible for the health assessments that cleared the passengers for disembarkation. Walker, who knew everything about the Ruby Princess down to its last rivet, gave Keneally a polite but firm rebuke: "Neither the ABF nor any ABF officers played any part in the mishap."

Keneally was persistent, pressing reporters and editors to run her line. She persuaded the ABC's 7.30 program to run her version of the Ruby Princess debacle, and it too was dismissed by Walker, whose advantage in the argument was that his only interest was in finding out what had happened.

The actions of the shadow minister were illustrative. Was this not what you would want from an opposition frontbencher? Energetic? Certainly. Determined? Without a doubt. Articulate? Yes, at first glance. Narcissistic, in the search to make it all about her? Well, this is politics. Intelligent? Not really, and this was the thing. It was a classic federal Labor missed opportunity. There was a case to be prosecuted against Dutton and the ABF, but it wasn't the one Keneally was running. Bret Walker gave a hint: "The Australian Border Force, despite its portentous title, has no relevant responsibility for the processes by which, by reference to health risks to the Australian community, passengers were permitted to disembark."

Keneally move is 'hypocrisy': Labor MP Aly

  Keneally move is 'hypocrisy': Labor MP Aly Kristina Keneally's bid to be elected to the lower house has drawn ire from a colleague, who has accused the Labor party of hypocrisy over the move.Senator Keneally, a former NSW premier, is aiming to replace retiring MP Chris Hayes in Fowler at the next federal election, moving from her current home on Sydney's northern beaches to Fowler in the city's west.

Keneally, however, failed to land what could have been a telling blow against Dutton's ABF. By trying to prove its negligence, she missed the real story, which was its irrelevance. This "force" constructed by the Coalition government to thrust its black-uniformed chest beside the he-man Dutton was, in fact, little more than a posture. It had no real power to "keep our borders secure". Was that a gun in their holster? No, it was a rubber stamp.

To expose this might have been politically astute, as it would have followed the fundamental law of effective campaigning, which is to feed what the public already believes. The Morrison government was not defined (yet) by its negligence, but by the masquerades and diversions it put on to paper over its negligence: a Potemkin Village government. The ABF's role in permitting the Ruby Princess into Sydney was another of these stage sets, not a real force but a show of force.

Tanya Plibersek says Tu Le has experience needed in parliament, avoiding comment on Kristina Keneally move

  Tanya Plibersek says Tu Le has experience needed in parliament, avoiding comment on Kristina Keneally move Senior Labor frontbencher Tanya Plibersek declines three times to say whether she supports her party's decision to parachute Kristina Keneally into a safe Labor seat, at the expense of a local Vietnamese-Australian lawyer.Senator Keneally, a former New South Wales premier who lives on the northern beaches, has been endorsed as the candidate for the multicultural seat of Fowler, which includes the suburbs of Cabramatta and Fairfield.

Keneally's determined but off-target ambition to insert herself will be recognisable in Labor HQ's current push to land her the safe south-western Sydney electorate of Fowler, putting her in the lower house. The drive to grab a slice of the action is insatiable, but the tuning is again always a little off. This week, opportunely, Keneally was aboard the Quade Cooper bandwagon, calling for the New Zealand-born Australian rugby representative to be given Australian citizenship. 'There is no more Australian value than standing up and looking after your mates," she told the Herald's Tom Decent after Cooper kicked a match-winning penalty goal for the Wallabies. "He's an Australian hero, and he should be an Australian citizen."

The headline was achieved, but again the content was not quite right. To rugby people, Cooper had just done his job with his boot, an outstanding performance after a chequered career. As for Australian heroes, non-rugby people would be quick to point out that Cooper is just a footballer; when it came to "looking after your mates", it was hardly Simpson and his donkey.

Keneally’s lower house move highlights the white Australian Parliament policy

  Keneally’s lower house move highlights the white Australian Parliament policy There is a shocking lack of cultural and ethnic diversity in Australian politics and the resentment is ramping up.Keneally parachuting into one of the country’s most multicultural electorates ahead of Le, a child of Vietnamese immigrants with deep ties to the community, has finally focused attention back on the shocking lack of cultural diversity in Australian politics — an area in which Australia lags stubbornly behind the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Canada.

Keneally's hungry odyssey through NSW politics, dabbles into being CEO of Basketball Australia and commentator on Sky News, then into federal politics, is of a piece with this perception of restless personal ambition. Keneally once made a memorable and effective statement about being "nobody's girl" in her ascent to the NSW Premier's office, but she couldn't have got there, she couldn't have got into the senate, and she can't get into Fowler, without entrenched Labor men all believing, at some point, that she was their girl. Quite possibly her skill was in out-thinking all of them. But the gender card will be harder to play when Keneally's ambition leaves more capable Labor women in Canberra, of whom there are many, stunned and dismayed as she steamrolls them on her way to the top.

It's no surprise that a political party is like any other organisation: the individual who wants it most usually gets the prize. The public recognises patterns, so they fit politicians into familiar moulds. Scott Morrison is literally Scotty from marketing, the flimflam man. Keneally is another recognisable type, the kiss-up executive, a genius at impressing the higher-ups.

The higher-ups are duly impressed. Paul Keating backed Keneally's candidacy for Fowler, saying "on the diversity point, she's a migrant herself", hey, just like the legitimate putative Labor candidate, lawyer and Fowler resident Tu Le. Keating said Keneally would be a better local MP because she could "eke out a bigger share of the national income" for the underprivileged of south-western Sydney; in case he was now really sounding like a dotty uncle, he was more likely talking about himself and what he had done for the people of Blaxland as treasurer and prime minister between 1983 and 1996. Meanwhile, Albanese encouraged Tu Le to "hang in there" for another Labor job: "She's 30 years old, I think she has a very bright future," he said with enough condescension to crush the life out of a generation's worth of ALP work in the south-west.

There's no doubt Keneally is a sharp broker, a natural middle person who can interpolate herself into deals to grab a slice of the action. It's another recognisable type; while often successful and even admired, they rarely change anyone's vote. If Keneally had that transformative star quality, she might have won Bennelong when she ran in 2017 and federal Labor might be in a better position now.

The befouled Fowler candidacy is the type of thing that will cost Labor the next federal election because it confirms the most negative existing perceptions of the party. Keneally's ambition is not news. Nor is the blindness and weakness of those in the Labor hierarchy who bend meekly when ambition shows up. The onus of an opposition is change; not to carry on as usual but to show it is a better alternative than what people voted for last time. Over recent federal elections, voters have been stubbornly set in their ways. So, it seems from this episode, is Labor: self-involved, tone-deaf to the real world, and no better than the other mob. If they can't change, why should voters?

Kristina Keneally confirms she is house hunting in south-west Sydney .
Labor senator Kristina Keneally has confirmed she is house hunting in south-west Sydney after being imposed as the candidate in a safe seat that is 44km from her northern beaches home.The former NSW premier and federal Labor frontbencher is being parachuted into the ultra-safe seat of Fowler after failing to win the top spot on the Opposition's Senate ticket.

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