Andrew Clennell State Political Editor, smh
July 4, 2008
THE Premier, Morris Iemma, has delivered a giant snub to the Labor Party and the unions by refusing to attend a meeting today of the ALP's chief decision-making body, the administrative committee, to discuss his electricity privatisation policy.
Mr Iemma will do "community visits" in outer western Sydney, his office confirmed.
A senior party source said yesterday: "This is an unfortunate sign of the deteriorating relationship between the Premier and his own party."
The Left assistant secretary, Luke Foley, said: "Morris is following in the footsteps of William Holman [the premier expelled in 1916 for supporting conscription] in declaring his government is independent of the Labor party."
The administrative committee had invited Mr Iemma to attend to explain why he was proceeding with the sale of the state's electricity assets in defiance of a 702-107 vote against the sale by the party's state conference last month.
In the committee's resolution it had said the split between head office and the unions on one side and Mr Iemma and the Treasurer, Michael Costa, on the other "constitute the most serious threat to the balance of relationships within NSW Labor since the 1939 Unity Conference reunited the party in this state".
In a further sign of the split between the head office machine and Mr Iemma yesterday, the Unions NSW Secretary, John Robertson, when asked if he supported Mr Iemma remaining as leader would say only: "That's a matter for his parliamentary colleagues."
Told by reporters this was not support, Mr Robertson said: "Take it any way you like; it's a matter for his colleagues."
Labor insiders are predicting a move against Mr Iemma within 12 months, in the wake of a recent poll that had the ALP behind the Coalition by 56 per cent to 44. Mr Iemma is understood to feel he is safe because there is no alternative, but Labor figures are determined to find one, the Herald understands.
Of his non-appearance at the committee meeting, Mr Iemma said: "The invitation came and Friday's a regional visit for me so I'm making alternative arrangements." When asked of Mr Robertson's comments, he said: "Well, he's right, he doesn't get a vote, my colleagues do. Just like he didn't get a vote when [the former premier] Bob Carr retired."
Mr Robertson yesterday announced a statewide industrial day of action on July 30, in protest at the Government's cap on public sector wage rises of 2.5 per cent a year.