Flat White

Carping Keneally on road to political oblivion

12 September 2021

3:00 PM

12 September 2021

3:00 PM

Just months from a possible December federal election, the Labor Party is doing what it does so well – knifing one of its own to make way for people regarded as True Believer royalty.

This time a young, highly capable Vietnamese-Australian lawyer, Tu Le, has been shunted to make way for Her Royal Highness, Kristina Keneally, in the western Sydney federal seat of Fowler.  Going to be quite a wrench for Keneally to head west from her pad on the exclusive Scotland Island located near Sydney’s northern beaches.

This grubby manoeuvre by those pulling the Labor strings in preparation for an election — whenever it’s held — raises the question of why Labor persists with so-called ‘celebrity’ candidates.  

Peter Garrett proved to be a fish out of water in the parliament, Maxine McKew a flameout after three years in the house (notwithstanding she unseated a sitting Prime Minister), former AMA President, Kerryn Phelps, a defacto Labor candidate whose term could be counted in months, not years and Cheryl Kernot, who disappeared from the political stage a staggering 20 years ago, only to emerge in recent times as one of Twitter’s more miserable ghosts.  

On the evidence, it seems Labor would have the multi-cultural voters of Fowler believe Keneally is also a ‘celebrity’ candidate to whom they should flock with arms outstretched.  On their record, Keneally’s switch to the House of Representatives might be the undoing of her?

Las Vegas born Ms Keneally (if we may respectfully call her that) wishes to press on with her checkered political career in the House of Representatives untroubled by ugly Senate ticket tussles such as the one from which she has just extracted herself.

Perched, as she is, firmly on the ‘high moral ground’ of feminism, woke-ism, and the retail politics of the New South Wales Right variety, Keneally thinks nothing of making others expendable when her own advancement is threatened.  

Trashing the careers of others is a time-honoured caper of political aspirants with zero self-awareness and a willingness to act to enhance their own reputation.   There are many examples of this on all sides of politics.

Think Shorten’s idiotic and unconscionable attacks on big business — “the big end of town” — along with attacks on certain business leaders and Keneally’s repeated attacks on those she regards as obstacles to her trajectory. Cutting a swathe through problematic barriers (human or otherwise) is a Keneally career speciality.

Her lecturing — indeed carping — in her time as a Senator representing NSW since February 2018, has been peppered with moral instruction to Coalition members and many others besides, on all manner of issues, some relevant to her shadow portfolio of home affairs, but most not. These range from feminism, immigration, the economy, justice, the environment, human rights and even the language of politics.  

There is scarcely a policy or issue on which Keneally doesn’t have a view and which she is only too eager to share with the nation — frequently trampling over portfolios well outside her responsibilities and even further, her expertise. Keneally, like Shorten, sifts and sieves the news diet daily seizing opportunities, not to make a difference, but to simply ‘get a run.’ For them, it’s their stock in trade.  Keep the name ‘up in lights’ all in the name of political expediency.

As if tailor-made for the stilted and highly-staged ABC panel show Q&A, it’s not a surprise Keneally has been a regular representing herself and occasionally the Labor Party.

In the 20 years since Keneally set her sights on a political career she managed to knock off the uninspiring former NSW premier, Nathan Rees, at roughly the time NSW Labor could not locate anyone interested in the job.  

The Keneally government went on to suffer a catastrophic 16.5 point swing statewide in the 2011 state election. This was the biggest swing against a government in the nations electoral history – but it’s an achievement not frequently referenced by the remarkable Keneally.  

Having done her dash in NSW, she resigned from parliament in June 2012. Undaunted by failure, it was onward and upward for her, rewriting history as she went. Having spent time on various television media shows (again for personal political expediency) she set her sights on Federal politics, initially suffering a humiliating defeat in the seat of Bennelong by-election, losing to Liberal John Alexander.

Since February 2018, Keneally has been a Labor Senator for NSW.  The Senate vacancy occurred courtesy of the departure of disgraced Sam Dastyari. During this period, Ms Keneally has served as deputy leader of the opposition in the senate, shadow minister for home affairs, and shadow minister and immigration and citizenship.

But, of course, it’s to the chamber of the ‘main game’ that Keneally wishes to further hone her political wizardry.  Like a praying mantis, she has been waiting for the retirement of a sitting Labor member in a safe Labor seat.  Outgoing Member for Fowler, Chris Hayes, has described the Keneally manoeuvre as a “missed opportunity” to properly represent the diverse electorate which includes Cabramatta in southwest Sydney.

Alex Hawke/Twitter

Leaving to one side the clear view of outgoing MP for Fowler — along with the views of the voters who put him there — judgement will be handed down on Keneally at the next Federal election.

In the way of politics, it is certain that those in the electorate will be repeatedly reminded during the campaign how Keneally came to be the candidate for Fowler.   

Also not to be overlooked is Keneally’s ruthless determination to shift her operational base-camp from the high moral ground to The Lodge.

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