All electorates are technically equal, but let’s not mince words. Whoever wins the upcoming Sydney by-election has under their remit the transport, health, education and business interests of the most important city in this state – if not all Australia and this part of the world.
If there was ever any doubt Labor is in terminal trouble in NSW, it was dispelled by news that the party won’t run a candidate in this most prominent of electorates.
Putting itself on the same level as the near-defunct Australian Democrats or perhaps One Nation, which these days exists in name only, NSW Labor has given up entirely on the seat of Sydney.
This might be acceptable if Lord Mayor Clover Moore, the indefatigable, unbeatable Member for Sydney (and its predecessor, Bligh) for 24 years, was in the running.
But she’s not – we’re only having this by-election because the doyenne of inner city politics has been forced out of the seat by Premier Barry O’Farrell’s ‘Get Clover Bill’.
So make no mistake about the significance of Labor’s decision.
If the ALP ever had a chance to claw back power on Clover Moore’s turf (Bligh was last held for Labor by Fred Miller in 1984) it is now.
Instead, we have a three-way race between the Greens’ Chris Harris, the Liberals’ Shayne Mallard and Independent candidate Alex Greenwich.
How did Labor get to this point? How did they sink to the level where even they realise it’s pointless fielding a candidate?
If our attempts to ask Party bosses this very question (or previous attempts to communicate with them on other issues) are instructive, it’s because they’ve completely lost touch with the Sydney community.
Trying to get someone in the ALP to even return a phone call is like trying to prise blood out of the proverbial stone.
The Alternative Media Group of Australia – the only independent media publisher in Inner Sydney – widely circulates City News each and every week, mostly within the seat of Sydney, reaching a significant proportion of the electorate’s 60,000 voters.
This doesn’t take into account the fact that readership is greater than circulation, with copies usually read by more than one person. Nor does it include online readers. And it doesn’t consider that news reports from City News are syndicated to City Hub, The Bondi View and The Inner West Independent. Except for the Independent, these all have some spillover readership into the Sydney electorate.
Yet NSW Labor remains incommunicado.
What does this say about their attitude towards our many readers in Inner Sydney?
And it is a case of their attitudes towards our readers – you – not that they’re oblivious to our papers. Because they certainly read them.
Last month, an ALP insider told us the party was negotiating with former Queensland Premier and new Sydney resident, Anna Bligh, to run in the by-election. For several days, we tried to get independent verification, or least comment, from Labor. Approaches to NSW Labor powerbroker Sam Dastyari, Labor Leader John Robertson and Federal Member for Sydney Tanya Plibersek were fruitless.
So by necessity, we ran the story online without official ALP comment.
Almost immediately, who should post about the story on Twitter, mocking it as “laughable”, “unfounded” and “terrible journalism”? NSW Labor’s Grand Poobah himself, Sam Dastyari.
Mr Dastyari had every opportunity to correct this story (if indeed it was wrong – our source insists Labor wanted Ms Bligh to run) yet chose not to. Then immediately attacked us when we “got it wrong”.
If this duplicitous, hypocritical and completely unprofessional behaviour is any indication of the way NSW Labor operates today, it’s no wonder they’re not bothering to run a candidate in Sydney. Who’d vote for them?