Stars come out to launch Labor campaign for Strathfield

Jodi McKay and a crowded Town Hall launch her campaign for the state seat of Strathfield

By Peter Lynch and Anastasia Prikhodko

On Friday, it was Federal Labor leader Bill Shorten and NSW opposition leader Luke Foley.

On Saturday, it was Federal deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek, former Lowe MP Mary Easson, former deputy Premier Carmel Tebbutt and Michael Daley, MLC from Maroubra.

Even former Queensland premier Peter Beattie turned up alongside Strathfield councillors Raj Datta and Daniel Bott.

Labor’s campaign for the State seat of Strathfield, which will be contested on March 28, is fast turning into a star-fest.

Ms Plibersek and her colleagues were in the constituency to officially launch the campaign for Jodi McKay, the former Newcastle MP whose appearances before the Independent Commission Against Corruption involving both sides of politics have caused her to be unkindly dubbed “St Jodi” by Sydney’s Daily Telegraph.

Some 200 Labor supporters packed the Town Hall for speeches and a raffle with prizes like Parliamentary Wine, an ALP Centenary Medal and a copy of The Whitlam Legacy.

There was loud applause as Ms Plibersek praised Ms McKay for her courage at the ICAC, and described Liberal Premier Mike Baird as “an insipid, grey, cardigan wearing version” of recently ousted Queensland Premier Campbell Newman.

There was more applause as Ms Plibersek attacked the sacking of TAFE teachers, school cuts and the proposed privatisation of the power industry’s polls and wires.

Then, it was over to Ms McKay – in the words of Ms Plibersek: “the Tourism Minister who brought Oprah Winfrey to the Opera House.”

She spoke of the irony of holding her election launch at Strathfield Town Hall – a place for community meetings and consultation. This, she maintained, was exactly what was not happening under the Liberals.

And she revealed that this Valentine’s Day, she should have been on her honeymoon in Venice – but had decided to run for Parliament instead.

Labor, she said, stood for ordinary people – and to cries of “shame” she told of the Welfare Street tenants whose homes had been sold, leaving some of them facing a bleak future.  One of the tenants joined her supporters in the audience.

It was left to Mr Beattie to sum up:  “I believe Jodi is a woman of integrity who has proved herself at the ICAC.  That’s what we need in government and that’s why I am here,” he told the Scene as a crowd gathered to pose for photographs.

On Friday, Mr. Shorten joined Ms McKay and Mr Foley at Strathfield town centre – a sure signal that Labor believes it can win back the seat held for two terms by State Minister Virginia Judge.

He spoke about the cost of living, and maintained Strathfield’s Labor voters were concerned about education fees and jobs.

Mr Foley tackled a local issue, revealing under a Labor Government, Strathfield’s mayor would have to be popularly elected by the next local poll.

Responding to questions from the Scene, he said: “Every mayor in Sydney will be popularly elected by their residents for four years.  So here in Strathfield, the mayor is not popularly elected. I want to see 41 mayors elected in Sydney.”

“If Labor forms government then we will move before next year’s local government elections to a system where every mayor in Sydney is elected by their people, not the councilors, and given a mandate of four years.”

He added: “Labor’s opposed to forced amalgamations. Where communities generally desire to merge their councils, we will facilitate such a process but it will have to involve a referendum where people are allowed their say.”

Mr. Foley sought to link the problems of Canberra with the Baird government. “Tony Abbott and Mike Baird, they stand for the same things in life. Tony Abbott and Mike Baird are peas in a pod. Both stand for selling off our essential assets and taking an axe to education and health.”

 The launch of Ms McKay’s campaign signals the end of the phony campaign that began before Christmas.  With six weeks to go, expect a marked increase in political activity.

Mr Baird paid Strathfield a visit with two of his ministers at the start of the week, and is expected back again. There is no suggestion so far that Mr Abbott will be putting in an appearance.

Mr Casuscelli is so far keeping his powder dry – his campaign launch is not expected until early March.

A Save our Strathfield Forum, at which both candidates will debate the issues, is to be held at Strathfield Town Hall on March 7 at 3pm. It will be the only chance for electors to see both candidates.

Comments

We are urging all residents to attend our meeting on March 7 Strathfield Town Hall at 3.00 pm. It is your only chance to hear both candidates debate the issues of our wonderful electorate of Strathfield. Let the candidates know how you fee about forced amalgamations of councils, about over development of our area without any consultation and any other issues you may want to raise.

Looking forward to seeing you all there
Karen Pensabene
Nella Gaughan

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