January 9, 2011
"I RECKON they've finally imploded once and for all." That was the candid assessment of the Keneally government by an experienced parliamentarian I spoke to last week. It's hard to disagree.
The thorough mishandling of the electricity sale inquiry and the early lock-up of Parliament by the Premier have people on all sides of state politics – including Labor backbenchers – wondering what the hell is going on inside Governor Macquarie Tower.
More than a few commentators have compared NSW Labor to the last days of Rome.
It now looks more like the final scenes of The Perfect Storm – without the steering.
Half the crew has jumped overboard and those who remain aren't sure what to do before the tidal wave of voter anger hits in March. If Barry O'Farrell could have scripted his Christmas and new year he wouldn't have changed a thing, except for the cricket scores.
I wrote last week that unless Keneally caves in and allows the power inquiry to proceed, voters would go to the polls with O'Farrell's mantra ringing in their ears: "What has she got to hide?"
The Premier did cave in but because she only went halfway and won't reverse the proroguing of Parliament, the question is still being asked.
Who knows what the answer is? The way the government fought to head off an inquiry it can only be assumed it is one big fat dud deal. On a broader level, Keneally is hiding something else.
She is struggling to impose her leadership and is too easily influenced by the people around her. Particularly by those who helped in her rocket ride to the top job.
It might sound like a reworking of the infamous Nathan Rees "puppet" quote but recent events have proven it to be true.
The proroguing of Parliament has the fingerprints of Eric Roozendaal all over it.
Roozendaal's office has briefed some in the media that Keneally took the decision to prorogue Parliament. Others inside government say that isn't the case.
Who stands to lose if the detail of the power sell-off is exposed as second rate? The Treasurer.
The Premier did not work on the fine detail of the deal. It wasn't up to her to sell the merits of the privatisation to the directors of Delta Electricity and Eraring Energy. It wasn't her job to prevent them from quitting en masse.
Still, when it came to it Keneally took Roozendaal's advice to shut Parliament and hopefully prevent any scrutiny.
While Joe Tripodi and Eddie Obeid are usually bundled together as the "puppet masters" it should not be forgotten that Roozendaal, a former ALP general secretary, was instrumental in Keneally's rails run to preselection to the safe seat of Heffron before entering Parliament in 2003.
She has sought his counsel ever since.
It is the intricate web of personal relationships, favours, factionalism, square-ups – built up over 15 long years in power – that have led to the aforementioned "implosion" of the Labor government.