Jamie Clements' resignation closes bleak chapter in ALP history

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(Image screenshots skynews.com.au)

The turbulent reign of Jamie Clements as state secretary of the NSW Labor Party is over, with a hopeful new era at Sussex Street being ushered in with his successor, Kaila Murnain. Peter Wicks comments.

What a difference a day makes. 

Wednesday, Labor leader Bill Shorten was passing the buck; yesterday, he was grabbing it and running with it.

On Wednesday night, Jamie Clements thought he had won his AVO battle; yesterday morning, he was telling Shorten's staff to “get fucked” and by the afternoon he’d fallen on his pathetic sword.

Yesterday, I was writing an article on the spineless within the NSW Labor Party and how they needed to remove Jamie Clements, now I find myself writing an article on his demise, after a young political staffer, Stefanie Jones, showed that she was the one with a spine, by being the one to fight until the end.

Jamie Clements as state secretary of the Labor Party has had a career plagued with issues, such as alleged links to corruption, dodgy deals, backing branch stackers and allegations of staff intimidation.

Wixxyleaks and Independent Australia have led the way for a long time in reporting and investigating these issues surrounding Jamie Clements and his factional allies.

It is perhaps a sad reflection on the state of politics in Australia that a powerful figure has eventually came undone due to a decision allegedly made by his dick.

Jamie Clements yesterday resigned his position after everyone ever associated with the Party finally spined-up and screamed for his head on a plate.

As someone who has been calling for the removal of Jamie Clements for what feels like an eternity – almost since his installation by Sam Dastyari and the right-wing stacked NSW Labor Administration Committee – you would think I’d be overjoyed at the news of his resignation.

But you know what? It all feels a little flat.

Stefanie Jones, the staffer at the centre of the scandal, released a short statement via Twitter that said, in part:

'Today marks beginning of much more hopeful and dynamic chapter for women in the ALP.'

I sincerely hope this is true and I hope she has a prominent part to play in that process, as she has proven herself a fighter.

I am certainly more than confident in the abilities of Clements' successor, Kaila Murnain.

Kaila has always been a fighter and, as assistant secretary, she was extremely hands on and has enjoyed an excellent rapport with the membership, however most importantly she is well aware of what needs to be done to achieve true Party reform.

What needs to be done is a colossal job.

My concern is that while this whole saga is being portrayed as the Party making a stand against sexism, it is in actual fact just another symptom of it.

Many within Labor have been looking for a way to rid themselves of Clements and now they have an easy out by putting all of the heat onto a young female staffer. This, to me, seems just an extension of the sexism we are supposed to be fighting against.

I am not in any way making light of the allegations or the strength of character of Stefanie Jones — it is the strength of those Kaila Murnain will be relying on for support that concern me.

If this was a stand against sexism and workplace bullying then Jones would have had the backing of the Party all along but, as she explains, it has been quite the opposite.

Yesterday was a glimpse of the strength that will be behind Murnain.

Leader Luke Foley was able to be in contact with seemingly everybody but the media. As the party he leads fell apart, he had nothing to say, instead passing the buck to Deputy Leader Linda Burney.

Despite Linda Burney being a more than capable deputy, don’t for a minute think that the fact she is also a woman wasn’t taken into account. Also taken into account would be that Foley had to do a deal with Clements and Noreen Hay – whose electorate office was raided by Federal Police last year (watch this space) – to secure his position as leader.

As yesterday’s article explained, NSW Labor is currently a Party looking for a spine and now we will watch on and dry retch as they all pledge their support for a female state secretary in waiting they should have supported long ago. Perhaps the member I spoke of yesterday, who encouraged me to slander Clements, with no evidence was right when he told me that the NSW Labor Party room was full of “piss-weak” members with no interests other than self-interests — not a good prospect at all.

I’d like to see NSW Labor run on a platform of fighting corruption, as well as one of fighting sexism. This controversy has been an opportunity for both however, as it stands, they have taken the easy option. Some may see that decision in itself to be an act of sexism, let’s just hope it’s not a sign of weakness.

With Kaila Murnain at the helm, the membership will be hopeful of some drastic changes to the Party structure and certainly the internal politics of the largest branch of the Australian Labor Party. This could be the catalyst for change that the membership have been waiting for.

Let’s face it, they’ve been waiting a while.

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

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