Well, the results are out. It’s ‘yes’ – so have a cup of tea and a slice of cake. Preferably something home-baked and comforting, like butter sponge or fruitcake.
Bennelong, John Howard’s old seat, lost to Labor’s Maxine McKew, and won back by John Alexander, returned a very narrow ‘No” vote in the SSM vote, an omen for Bennelong’s mid-December election.
Labor has parachuted Kristina Keneally in to contest Bennelong, but Kristina still has the stench of Obeid corruption clinging to her, despite all her protestations of integrity and probity regarding the ICAC revelations.
Hard to forget, Kristina, shrilling ‘I’m nobody’s puppet, I’m nobody’s girl’, elevated to the NSW premiership through her allegiance and submission to NSW Labor factional warlords Eddie Obeid. Ian Macdonald and Joe Tripodi who along with the other powerbrokers, some of them still in jail, were responsible for bringing her to the premiership.
It was Keneally’s husband Ben, nephew of literary wundermeister Thomas, who was probably best fitted to take on the role representing the NSW Right, but it was Kristina, with her all-American Mid-West cheerleader looks and much-publicised Catholic morals, that was seen by the powerbrokers as the better fit to combat the stench of corruption.
Journalists like Margot Saville and local blogger Andrew Elder, reporting after McKew’s defeat in Bennelong, blamed Keneally for the loss. McKew had wrenched Bennelong from John Howard, turned it into a Labor seat, and then lost it to John Alexander.
When Julia Gillard appeared on a stage with Kristina Keneally to announce the Parramatta to Epping rail link, it was greeted with derision and forever confused state and federal issues in the voters’ minds. In her own account of the campaign, McKew remembered Keneally giggling with Gillard while she, McKew, struggled to win over the voters.
Blogged Elder, “Firstly, whose idea was it for the Prime Minister [Julia Gillard] and other Federal ministers to be photographed with Keneally? Federal-State separation is all very well, but no Labor person would want to make any sort of association in the public mind between Gillard and Keneally (who) should have been sent to Ohio for the length of the campaign. Only if you are in denial about how bad the NSW government is would you risk the entire Labor campaign for federal government by giving Gillard a dose of the loser virus, Macquarie Street strain.”
Bennelong has strong connections to north Asia; many Korean and Chinese-born Australians, who had previously approved of Kevin Rudd, came out for the Liberals. To parachute Keneally, still smelling of the Obeid taint, into an electorate she doesn’t even live in is Labor’s ‘let’s run it up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes’ venture.
Asian-Australians, particularly Koreans, mostly Christian, are generally conservative in outlook, and while not generally religious in the sense of the evangelical Koreans or Eastern European Orthodox, have strong family values and regarded policies such as Safe Schools with distaste. The Chinese in Bennelong also approved of Mandarin-speaking Rudd and his Chinese-born son-in-law. The Liberals, not known for strategic planning, somehow, that time, managed to muster the troops, with Korean and Chinese-speakers on the booth, distributing how-to-vote papers in Chinese and Korean.
Perhaps the ‘Yes’ vote can be turned to advantage in Bennelong.
For those whose hearts sank somewhat reading such passages as “Same-sex couples and people who are legally recognised as neither a man or a woman will be able to marry and have their foreign marriages recognised under Australian law. For example, this would include an intersex person who is legally recognised as both male and female and a gender diverse person who is legally recognised as having a non-specific gender”, can take some comfort in knowing that Kristina’s message may well be coolly received in Bennelong.
John Alexander holds the seat on a margin of about 10 per cent. Consolation cake, anyone?
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