New Strathfield MP rebuffed for planning as Foley has a mysterious change of heart

How the Sydney Morning Herald broke the news this morning

State Labor opposition leader Luke Foley has delivered a serious blow to new Strathfield MP Jodi McKay, removing the planning portfolio she was expecting in his shadow cabinet and giving her police and roads instead.

The move is a serious embarrassment to the new Labor team – Ms McKay made much of the importance of the planning job to the local area during her campaign, where WestConnex and housing densities are big issues.

Indeed, Ms McKay spoke of her role in planning with the Scene as late as Monday, assuring the Scene’s journalists that she would not be given other roles as planning was so important.

Just two days ago, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph reported her job in planning was a certainty.

Today’s Sydney Morning Herald describes the move as Mr Foley “reneging” on a promise to Ms McKay, who re-entered politics after a bruising time before the ICAC over a plot by her own for party and others to remove her as MP for Newcastle after she refused a bribe.

Planning is going instead to Penny Sharpe, a one-time roads spokeswoman who failed to win the seat of Newtown and will now be given an Upper House seat.

“During the election campaign, Mr Foley announced that if Ms McKay was elected she would be handed planning, after her appearance at last year’s Independent Commission Against Corruption hearings into political donations,” the SMH reports today.

It quoted Mr Foley as saying: ‘‘I want every fly-by-nighter and lurk merchant to know not to bother, because this incorruptible woman ... will be on the planning beat.”

 Today, Mr Foley issued a statement saying: “Having been successfully elected in Strathfield, Jodi McKay will continue in Shadow Cabinet with the new portfolios of Police as well as Roads, Maritime and Freight.”

This morning, it was unclear why such a major change should take place.

But Ms McKay, considered a Labor high flier who has, in the past, run four ministries at once, had been the subject of rumours last week that she might challenge for deputy Labor Leader.

She has consistently denied this, and Linda Burney, a member of Labor’s left faction, has retained the post.

Some speculated that the rumours and the Left’s insistence on retaining the most high profile posts in Mr Foley’ shadow administration could be behind such a swift and public change of heart.

Former Strathfield MP Charles Casuscelli said, "I am not surprised that Luke Foley maintains the Labor tradition of deceiving the people of Strathfield, he promised that Jodi would be the Shadow Planning Minister if she was elected but instead begins her term with yet another broken promise. You could be forgiven for thinking that rank political opportunism seems to feature prominently in the Labor way of doing business. I wish Jodi well but the Labor Party has nothing to offer the people of Strathfield other than more traffic congestion, deficient public transport and perpetually playing catch up with better health and education infrastructure."


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