The likely next NSW Labor leader, Luke Foley (Image screenshot ABC 7.30 NSW)

Has a dirty deal been done to secure Luke Foley as the new NSW Labor Party leader? Peter Wicks from Wixxyleaks reports.

THERE ARE SOME in the NSW Labor Party celebrating an incoming Party leader from the Left in Luke Foley. However, many rank and file members with their ear to the ground are dismayed by what they see as a puppet of the Right about to become anointed because of deals Foley is alleged to have done to become leader.

Foley has managed to gain the support of Labor’s Right and, with Michael Daley admitting defeat already and saying he will no longer contest the leadership, Foley is the last man standing. The leadership is due to be confirmed by caucus on Monday 5 January.

Senior Party sources have claimed that a deal has been done between Foley, NSW general secretary Jamie Clements and Wollongong MP Noreen Hay.

This deal could see members resigning from the Centre Unity (AKA Labor Right) faction in droves, as what is the point of being in a faction whose leaders support a rival faction? If I were Michael Daley, I would be seriously considering deserting the faction that betrayed me and would be looking to take my supporters along with me.

Sources claim Noreen Hay, who is the convener of the Centre Unity faction, of which Clements is a leading member, has used her position to secure the votes for Foley from members of her faction.

So why would Hay, a convener of the Right faction, betray Daley, a member of her own faction, to rally numbers for the Left candidate?

Sources have claimed that the deal is being done with Foley so that Noreen Hay can secure the position of Party whip. The vast majority of those in the Left could probably think of nobody worse to put in the position of whip than Hay, as she comes with a lot of baggage. If the claim is true, it will do Foley’s leadership no end of harm.

So, what may be in this deal for Jamie Clements?

If Luke Foley is elected leader it is said there will be a need to find him a lower house seat, which strikes me as odd, for two reasons.

Firstly, I didn’t think it was absolutely necessary to be a member of the lower house to be Opposition Leader; to be premier, yes, but not opposition leader, although I could be wrong. The other is that, given there was going to be a vote for the Labor Leader shortly after the March election, if Foley had ambitions for leader surely he would have put himself in the running for a lower house seat in the last rounds of pre-selections?

However, Foley’s bid for a Lower House seat may be a convenient way for Clements saving some face.

The Auburn pre-selection is an ongoing saga which has already seen the Party suffer as a result of alleged branch-stacking on a grand scale by Hicham Zraika — the candidate who has the support of Jamie Clements and Laurie Ferguson, who would appear to have also worked together to ensure Ferguson’s allies were placed in other seats, such as Seven Hills.

With the incumbent Barbara Perry going through the democratic Independent Appeals process regarding the as yet undecided pre-selection, the result of that process could make Clements position as State secretary untenable, given he oversaw the pre-selection.

The Auburn pre-selection itself had some irregularities.

There was a last-minute change of venue which led to some confusion. I have also been made aware of claims of scores of Hicham supporters who, when asked by those giving out how to vote forms, seemed to have suddenly forgotten what branch they attended.

Also extremely irregular was the fact that, after the election, the uncounted votes were stored at the house of an employee of Sussex Street for the weekend. This alone would throw the integrity of the entire process into doubt given it was not overseen by the AEC. How on earth could this be considered due diligence by Sussex Street?

Early indications appear to show that this Independent report, due after the final hearing on 21 January will be absolutely damning and some members of the rank and file, as well as some prominent insiders, believe Clements may be hoping that parachuting Foley into the seat will mean the Independent Review is cancelled and its findings not made public.

Barbara Perry, despite the pressure, seems determined to ensure the process continues.

Whether or not she knows it, Barbara may just be making the stand against the so-called faceless men and factional power-brokers that rank and file members have been screaming for year after year. One would certainly have to question the motives and vested interests of those who do not welcome the continuation of this democratically approved and vital process, given it only serves to promote transparency and enforce ALP rules.

Foley has indicated that he wants to be pre-selected and does not wish to be “parachuted” into a seat.

However, any move to pre-select Foley in the Auburn seat can only be seen as a “parachute”, given the voters who would elect him are currently the subject of an Independent Review. Meanwhile, alleged branch stacker Hicham Zraika is said to have been offered a safe upper-house seat in exchange.

There are other seats for which Foley could run. Seven Hills would be good, given it is set to be lost, after being held by Labor for over half a century, due another poor, alleged branch stacking candidate, who also holds more than questionable views on domestic violence. A candidate, once again, promoted by Laurie Ferguson.

Also on the possibilities list is Blacktown, given the unfortunate position in which recently deposed leader John Robertson finds himself.

However, I have heard rumours that Foley, who wishes to lead both the Party and the State, may be inconvenienced by the extra travel to such faraway places as the western suburbs, Labor heartland.

I have contacted Jamie Clements with some queries including the two important questions below;

Can you tell me where in the Party rules that it says that a democratic pre-selection process can be interrupted in the middle of an independent appeal?

Can members rely on you as their State Secretary to ensure that absolutely no deals are done until the democratic process as stated in our party rules regarding the Auburn pre-selection process is finalised?

As of publication, I have yet to receive a response from Jamie Clements.

Luke Foley has been in the press talking about the Party becoming more democratic under his leadership.

Given the allegations of a deal with Noreen Hay and given his apparent plans to make the Party more democratic, I also sent some questions to Foley, including these:

It has been alleged that a deal has been done to secure support for you involving Noreen Hay with her seeking the Party Whip position, can you confirm or deny this ?

With the talk from Sussex St being that you are going to bring more democracy to the Party, can you explain why on of your first actions will be to seek the denial of democratic process to Barbara Perry?

Fairfax recently reported on the quest for the Auburn seat for Luke Foley and had this to say regarding Foley’s comments.

Mr Foley said he was "relaxed" about Ms Perry retaining her candidacy at this stage, but said the pair would speak if he is elected leader and "we'll see what eventuates".

In the article, Foley also talks of the Labor Party and State becoming a “social conscience” for the nation. However, the vast majority of members do not agree with his prehistoric, discriminatory views on marriage equality. Given the leader is there to represent those members, perhaps an attitude adjustment may be in order.

I certainly don’t agree with the way you suggest you will put pressure on Barbara Perry to sacrifice herself because you failed to make a legitimate run for the lower house through the pre-selection process everybody else is forced to navigate.

As a member, I also question the way you achieved the support of the Right — a method some may describe as dealing with the devil.

Social conscience indeed...

Peter Wicks is a member of the ALP and a former NSW State Labor candidate. You can follow Peter on Twitter @madwixxy.

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