Labor – Liberal – Does it Matter?

KleptocracyWell we are six weeks away from the next NSW State Election. It does seem sort of fashionable to not bother over much. That of itself is interesting. Four years ago it mattered quite a bit, after four terms of a Labor Government that seriously derailed itself essentially over integrity and corruption issues – at least that is how it seemed to me.

A little while ago when reading up about Yemen I found a new word Kleptocracy. a form of political and government corruption where the government exists to increase the personal wealth and political power of its officials and the ruling class at the expense of the wider population, often with pretense of honest service.

Historically the political divide in Australia was between the Liberal/National Coalition (largely seen to represent the interests of town and country capital, and the Australian Labor Party representing the workers. Whilst that may sound simplistic it is essentially correct. As time has gone by a number of things have happened, including a major changes in the industrial landscape, falling numbers of Union members, and the rise of the global economy to name a few.

In a sense the agenda of the parties seems to have become more a nature of one group concerned about how big we can make the cake, and one group concerned that we divide it up fairly. Is your best interest determined by how much cake you have in actual terms or relative terms? Essentially the Labor Party has given priority to the social justice agenda whilst the Liberal Party has given priority to economic management. Of course both have an interest in both side of the debate, so that amounts to a balancing act.

The Greens have developed as a third party in Australia, however their relationship with the ALP during the Gillard Government  (Federal) probably helped neither of the parties in the long run.

The really nice thing about the last four years of the Liberal Party running NSW is that we have not been assailed by a media frenzy reporting corruption. Of course in Newcastle we have had three sitting members essentially unseated for having accepted political donations from a property developer. That the member for Swansea sacked by the Liberals for receiving $8000 from a friend (McCloy) with no evidence that it was intended to corrupt, buy favours, seems silly on a few grounds. One must ask why a developer donation of  $1500 (corrected figure) is worse that Unions spending hundreds of thousand of dollars on politically based advertising.

Of course nomination do not close till the 12th of March, and the Election is on the 28th of March. The State seat of Swansea (my electorate) currently has as candidates:

  • Yasmin Catley (ALP)
  • ?? Phillipa Parsons (Greens) though their website does not list her – reported by the ABC in November 2014
  • ?? Liberal Party has not candidate announced as yet
  • Gary Edwards (The sitting member and dis-endorsed Liberal Candidate) running as an Independent (announced on facebook but not his website).
  • ???

The ALP have historically had a mortgage on the Swansea electorate, and I believe they were shocked to loose it last time. Gary Edwards as the Liberal was clearly help by the preferences of Gillian Sneddon (Gillian ran as an independent who was treated shamefully by the ALP after blowing the whistle on Milton Orkopoulos who still I believe languishes at Her Majesties pleasure). We are not likely to see a PUP candidate as they failed to register the Party in Time in NSW – Clive’s diverse interests are essentially Canberra and Queensland and NSW would simply be a distraction for him).


I was told I had finished this article abruptly. Possibly because we are a little scant on information.


  1. Yasmin Catley was born at Summerland Point, Lives in Swansea with a partner, Robert, (This is straight from her website) and three children and is involved in school, Lions, and the Caves Beach Surf Lifesaving Club. Most of her career she was worked with the Refugee Review Tribunal, and has also worked in the office of Federal MP’s including Anthony Albanese and Greg Combet.  A little bit more research and you discover that she is married to Robert Coombes – who held the seat of Swansea from 2007-2011. Robert Coombes is also the chairman of the local caucus. It concerns me that such information should have been a little more in plain site. I suspect that the ALP think that they own Swansea. Yasmin’s website set up to promote her cause as the candidate for Swansea has not had a post since September, and it said nothing really positive and was just a rip into Gary Edwards.
  2. Phillipa Parsons is a consistent runner for the Greens, and I can’t see how she would get up in this electorate. She is a nice person, and does a good job. I don’t understand why the Greens website fails to list her as a candidate (As of 17th February 2015 Philippa Parsons does now appear listed as the Greens candidate – I suspected this was after I asked Philippa about the omission) Her Facebook page makes the statement that she is, and the abc news reported in november 2014. Policy wise she is opposed to flogging off state assets and wants to retain heavy rail infrastructure for Newcastle (not sure how green that is!).
  3. The Liberals. It is unclear as to weather the Liberals will contest the seat or not. I think Gary Edwards thinks that they will have a candidate, and whilst nominations do not close till 12th March 2015, one would imagine if they want the seat I think they will need to have this sorted this week.
  4. Gary Edwards has not done a great deal as yet, that I can see. He has made the announcement that he will run. Very few people believe that he did anything more wrong than accepting a modest donation from a friend that was not going to have any impact on how he dealt with things. I think Gary has worked reasonably for the Electorate, and I would like to see him as a real independent, outside of a Liberal shadow standing up for Swansea. The Liberals never expected to take Swansea last time, just as much as the Labor party did not expect to lose it.
  5. The Christian Democrats have run candidates in the Electorate, however at this stage there is nothing to suggest that they will this year, and their website makes no mention of candidates outside of Sydney and the election schedule seems to completely miss the (heathen) hunter.
  6. Independents have often run is Swansea, with little success – though Gillian Snoddon ran as an independent last time and made 16% or primary vites which I suspect was a record for an independent in Swansea in recent time.

It would seem we have at least two three candidates, probably possibly 4 or more. I think overarching the Electoral issues, that there is a concern that the ALP has not really done anything to fix itself. Whilst to describe the previous Labor Government as a Kleptocracy might be calling it too far, There is no striking evidence that they have turn a corner, cleaned up their act, or even really acknowledged that something was wrong. Until I see some evidence that that has happened I will be cautious. (I did vote Labor in the last Federal Election as I believe Jill Hall does a good job – even though I did not want a Labor Government at that time Federally). Phillipa is a worthy contender in many ways, however a vote for Phillipa is a vote where you need to think about preferences – on current showings the Greens are likely to poll less well than they did at the last State Election where they received 8% of the primary vote. The Liberals will need to present an outstanding candidate to do well in Swansea, and quite honestly I won’t be surprised to see them not contest the seat. That kind of leaves Gary as the last man standing, and despite some fairly negative press in the period he has worked hard for Swansea. I think it would be very interesting to see what he could do unshackled from the Liberals. I suspect that it is unlikely that an independent will arise at this stage as

The truth is it will be hard for Gary to win, though he outpolled Robert Coombes (Yasmin’s Husband on the Primary vote last time) Philippa’s preferences went largely to the ALP and it was a leaky slice of Gillian Sneddon’s preferences that delivered the seat the Gary and the Liberals last time.  The game will change if the Liberals put up a good candidate and it may well be Gary’s preferences that do the damage. Time will tell, but I think it is not to Swansea’s advantage if the Labor Party thinks they get it with no work, and the Liberals don’t try cause it will be Labor anyway.


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