Alister Henskens portrait
Alister Henskens portrait

NSW Labor Leadership

Question Marks


Mr ALISTER HENSKENS (Ku-ring-gai) (15:50:58): My motion should be accorded priority because since I last moved a motion on 5 June 2019 there have been important developments on the Labor leadership battle. As a consequence, the House needs to be further updated. It is now 86 days since the member for Maroubra—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! The Clerk will stop the clock. I remind members on both sides of the Chamber that a number of members are on calls to order. I ask members to respect the member who is at the lectern. The member for Ku-ring-gai has the call.

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS: It is now about 86 days since the member for Maroubra announced on election night that he would not continue as Labor leader.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! I call the member for Kogarah to order for the second time.

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS: Who could forget that awkward moment when the new member for Coogee, oblivious to the situation, jumped on the podium after his leadership resignation and cheered wildly? It is nothing short of a disgrace that there is no Labor leader to give the speech in reply to the budget tomorrow. Since my last motion on 5 June the Labor Party has continued to be focused on itself rather than on the people of New South Wales. What is particularly concerning is how ugly the Labor leadership contest has become and how divided those opposite are. Since I last spoke about the Labor leadership this division has reached the media in a series of leaks by one camp and counter leaks by the other. This started a few days ago, on 13 June, with the leak that $5,000 of personal relocation expenses incurred by the member for Kogarah were paid for by interests associated with the Chinese Communist government. To put this in context, former Senator Sam Dastyari resigned from the Senate when he was caught receiving $3,000 from similar interests to pay his personal expenses. In an article inThe Australian headed, "'Dirty tricks at play' in NSW Labor leadership contest", the following is reported:

Both Mr Minns' campaign and federal deputy [Labor] leader Richard Marles have appeared to point the finger of blame at the state branch. "It's a matter for the NSW branch of the Labor Party," Mr Marles said.

It is fair to say that Mr Minns' camp should know, because he is a great friend of Jamie Clements, who was convicted of a criminal offence associated with leaking private information from the head office of the Labor Party. The leadership leak was also reported in an article in the Daily Telegraph, "Chinese whispers hits Minns campaign for NSW leadership", and in an article inThe Sydney Morning Herald, "Bowen drawn into 'dirty' NSW Labor leadership battle". The mediocrity of the contest is shown by the fact that the Strathfield camp is backed by the member for Maroubra, who lost the State election—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I remind the member for Rockdale that he is already on one call to order.

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS: —and the Kogarah camp is backed by Chris Bowen, who lost the Federal election campaign. This really is a race to the bottom in the Labor leadership contest.



Mr ALISTER HENSKENS (Ku-ring-gai) (16:05:48): I move:

That this House:

(1)Notes that after 86 days the Opposition still does not have a leader.

(2)Notes that the Opposition will deliver a budget reply without a leader.

(3)Notes that the the Opposition leadership race is getting ugly, with unprecedented leaking and Opposition members forced to lock their doors, turn off their phones and leave Parliament House as quickly as they can.

(4)Calls on the Opposition to start putting the people of New South Wales first.

The Labor leadership contest has certainly turned ugly. In preparing for this priority motion, I went through a few of the leaks that have gone to the media. Before I return to those, I ask this question rhetorically. On 3 June 2019 at the Trades Hall Auditorium, Sussex Street, Sydney, who said, "If we are going to be a Labor Party that wants to take on the health system as a serious policy issue we have to talk about people"? It was the member for Strathfield.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! I call the member for Port Stephens to order for the first time.

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS: Apparently Labor has never taken on the health system as a serious policy issue and the member for Strathfield is advocating that the party needs to do so now. I also ask rhetorically, who said, "In the other election, the State election, we didn't offer much in the way of detailed plans for the future of this State—lots of criticisms but no plans—and again we lost"? It was the member for Kogarah. Where is he? He is not here. Who said, "I think we have to admit that what we're doing isn't working"? Again, it was the member for Kogarah. Who said, "NSW Labor has to get on with the job of building infrastructure that the people of New South Wales deserve"? Again, it was the member for Kogarah. Who said, "Right now people still do not trust Labor. People still do not trust us"? It was the member for Strathfield.

Ms Jodi McKay: That's me.

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS: That's right, very good. You remember what you says.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! The member will direct his comments through the Chair.

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS: Who said, "Some people I know think success in their family life is associated with the Liberal Party"?

Ms Jodi McKay: That's Chris.

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS: No, it was not the member for Rockdale, whose brother is in the Liberal Party. In fact, it was his good friend the member for Kogarah.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! I remind the member for Rockdale that he is on two calls to order.

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS: Who said, "The sad reality for us is that when it comes to public transport we promised and cancelled so many public transport projects in our last term of government that in order to regain credibility about how we will fund these pieces of essential infrastructure we will have to explain how we fund it"? It was the member for Kogarah. I must say that the Labor leadership battle is reflective because the party acknowledges that it has not taken policy issues seriously. It acknowledges that it has been completely hopeless and pathetic. It gives great insight that the Labor Party is entirely fixated on itself and not on the people of New South Wales. Isn't it a shame that things have got ugly with counter allegations? I informed the House about the allegation of $5,000 worth of expenses of the member for Kogarah being paid by Chinese Communist Party interests.

Mr David Harris: Point of order: My point of order relates to Standing Order 73. Whilst these motions are broad, a personal attack on a member of this place must be by way of a substantive motion.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member's time has expired.


Mr ALISTER HENSKENS (Ku-ring-gai) (16:23:16): In reply: There was unfortunately an air of delusion about the member for Keira's contribution to this debate. He extolled the virtues of his own leadership and that of the Hon. Penny Sharpe. However, neither of them is running for leadership. That is a kind of self‑selection that goes without saying. His delusion continued as he spoke about what would happen if I was in the Labor Party. Clearly he is delusional because that would never occur. It was an unfortunate contribution. But the member for Keira did say, "We want to be in government one day."

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! I call the member for Keira to order for the first time.

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS: His comments immediately reminded me of statements quoted in an article in The Sydney Morning Herald of 15 June entitled "Labor in turmoil as leadership battle between McKay and Minns set to come to a head". The article reported:

A seasoned Labor Party elder says, "I would have thought everyone would want to avoid the schisms we went through after 2007. If everyone is determined to stay in their corner, then Labor will be waiting till the 2030s to return to government."

It was timely for the member for Keira to remind me of those important comments in the context of this debate. The member for Swansea said she was excited by the motion. Really? She needs to get out more. The best she could say about the Labor leadership was to refer to Ross Cameron, a former member of the Liberal Party. The contribution of the member for Riverstone was the most significant in the debate. The member for Riverstone reminded us that this whole Labor leadership battle has disrespected the people of New South Wales in that it did not occur long before this time and that factionalism and Federal interests were put before the people of New South Wales.

The member for Riverstone made the important point that Labor needs a leader who will tell the truth to the people of New South Wales because it has been a long time since a leader with that quality has ever led the Labor Party. As senior figures in the Labor Party have said, it will be the 2030s before Labor is back in government the way that it is going. It is very regrettable how ugly this battle has become—there are allegations against the member for Kogarah, allegations of developer donations against the member for Strathfield. They are leaking in the media and it is all very unfortunate. [Time expired.]

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The question is that the amendment be agreed to.

The House divided.