It’s been a rollercoaster month for NSW, with the Government going to the brink of dumping a leader, then declaring faith in him, followed by a deputy quitting and a Treasurer threatened with the sack before the whole house of cards came down this weekend and cleared them all away.
Reba Meagher has gone -” even Sartor has been sent to the backbench. Other Iemma ministers have been demoted. Inexplicably Joe Tripodi remains, and many will question the wisdom of putting John Della Bosca in charge of health so soon after a public scandal.
But after years of domination by the party’s right faction, we find ourselves with a Premier from the Left that nobody knows anything about, and a left-wing deputy rocketing back from the backbench. The Labor Left’s surprise win here comes with the irony that Nathan Rees and Carmel Tebbutt have been installed by the same party machine men that brought us Iemma, Costa and their ilk. It seems there was so little talent left on the party’s right that there was nowhere else to turn.
Having been in Parliament only 18 months, Rees is yet to build much of a record on GLBT issues, but Tebbutt comes with a strong pedigree as both an activist on gay issues within the party in her own right and as the wife of Anthony Albanese -” one of just a handful of Federal MPs who’ve publicly stated they’d like to see greater things for the gay community than what the party is currently prepared to offer.
Many were disappointed with Tebbutt’s performance as Education Minister in 2005 and 2006 when The Daily Telegraph brought heat to bear on the government over GLBT-inclusive material in schools and day-care centres but, to be fair, she was more likely carrying out the will of her premier than her own in that regard.
As the Telegraph likes to print at least one such story a year, hopefully incoming Education Minister Verity Firth will have greater support when GLBT tolerance in schools is inevitably politicised again.
With the new team we now have good reason to hope for a state-based registry in NSW and same-sex adoption reform, with both likely to be moved on before the Government faces an election.
More controversial issues, such as the removal of religious exemptions in anti-discrimination laws, will probably have to wait for a future administration with more time before an election and less to prove to the electorate.
A blank slate is exactly what this government needs. The change in leadership may also go some way to placate voters who were looking to cast a protest vote against NSW Labor in this week’s council elections.