Sunday, June 01, 2008


Bitter rifts in Iemma ranks

By Linda Silmalis, Sunday Telegraph

June 01, 2008 12:00am

EDUCATION Minister John Della Bosca and Planning Minister Frank Sartor are being targeted for removal by ALP powerbrokers in a campaign that could rip the Iemma administration apart.

At the heart of the ructions are Treasurer Michael Costa, Ports Minister Joe Tripodi and powerful backbencher Eddie Obeid, who are being blamed for a smear campaign against Mr Della Bosca over his role in the power privatisation debate.

The Premier's chief of staff, Josh Murray, was caught up in the tensions when he was fingered by senior ALP staffers as the author of an embarrassing mock video clip featuring Mr Della Bosca as Hitler, which appeared on YouTube last week. He denied any involvement.

Yesterday a rival video using the same footage, but this time portraying Hitler as Mr Iemma railing against Mr Costa and referring to Mr Murray, was also posted on YouTube.

The tit-for-tat video battle comes as Labor MPs plan a revolt on the floor of parliament over the privatisation legislation.

The Sunday Telegraph understands at least five MPs in the Upper House are threatening to cross the floor to oppose the power sale: Peter Primrose, Penny Sharp, Michael Veitch, Linda Voltz and Ian West.

A growing number of MPs in the Lower House are also said to be considering defying Mr Iemma, including Robert Coombs, Sonia Hornery, Paul Gibson and Grant McBride.

With the majority of independents privately indicating they will oppose the package, Mr Iemma will rely on the Liberal-National coalition to push the legislation through.

A senior NSW MP said Mr Della Bosca believes his political enemies are trying to make him out to be a liability so that Mr Iemma has no option but to have him removed from Cabinet.

"Della feels like he's being targeted for trying to find a compromise over the energy sale,'' the MP said.

"They're doing this so that he's viewed as a liability and is demoted.

"It's really time Morris stepped in and tried to patch up what has become clearly a major risk within the Cabinet.''

A senior Labor source claimed Mr Obeid has been telling MPs that Mr Sartor needs to be moved out of the controversial portfolio.

Mr Sartor is understood to have threatened to quit if he is demoted.

Mr Della Bosca was at the centre of a stand-off between unions and Mr Costa, Mr Tripodi and Mr Obeid over the proposed sale.