Seeking preselection for Kingsford-Smith … Labor Senator Matt Thistlethwaite.Labor Senator Matt Thistlethwaite has confirmed he will stand for preselection in the federal seat of Kingsford-Smith, which the former education minister Peter Garrett has decided to vacate.
Despite “pressure” from head office to not stand, Randwick mayor Tony Bowen will also run for preselection for the seat, which was held for 20 years by his late father, the former deputy prime minister Lionel Bowen.
Mr Bowen, who has been Randwick mayor since September and a councillor for five years, said he made up his mind to run on Friday after Mr Garrett had announced he would not recontest the seat.
“I was very surprised to be contacted out of the blue by head office and told in no uncertain terms I should not be running and to withdraw any idea of nominating,” Mr Bowen said. “It is important for there to be a rank and file preselection. It is a test for the party.
“The Labor Party has a great history of producing high-quality local members for Kingsford Smith.
“Peter Garrett’s resignation was unexpected but understandable in the circumstances.”
Fairfax Media understands Mr Bowen received a call from NSW Labor’s deputy general secretary Jamie Clements, who had advised him not to run because Mr Thistlethwaite was certain to win the preselection which needed to be settled quickly in time for the federal election.
A spokesman for NSW Labor head office said: “we need to get a candiate into the field as soon as possible due to the uncertainty of the election date and the overwhelming view of locals is that Matt will win the preselection and will be the candidate.”
Mr Bowen was a barrister for 11 years and also worked as a solicitor.
His father, Lionel Bowen, was the member for Kingsford Smith from 1969 to 1989. He served in Gough Whitlam’s cabinet and as Bob Hawke’s deputy prime minister. He was also a mayor of Randwick during the 1950s.
“Dad never encouraged any of his eight children to get involved in politics. He did encourage us to think for ourselves and to stand on our own two feet,” Mr Bowen said.
“What prompted me to join the Labor Party in 1996 was the election of John Howard as prime minister.”
The NSW MP for Maroubra, Michael Daley, and the NSW MP for Heffron, Ron Hoenig, are backing Mr Thistlethwaite as the preferred candidate.
Mr Daley said Mr Thistlethwaite “was born and bred in Maroubra Junction, is president of the Maroubra Surf Club and president of the Maroubra Police Citizens Youth Club”.
“We are really lucky in this area – the Labor Party has always had many people of great talent. Matt Thistlethwaite is one of them,” Mr Daley said.
If Mr Thistlethwaite wins preselection for Kingsford-Smith it will open a vacancy in the Senate which may be filled by NSW Labor’s general secretary, Sam Dastyari.
In a tweet, Mr Dastyari said he was focused on the job of helping Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to get re-elected.
Former NSW Premier Nathan Rees believes that if Mr Dastyari leaves party headquarters, Mr Rudd would need to order a full-scale intervention in the state party, which has been disgraced by years of revelations about corruption among MPs and union officials.
“If the successor to Sam Dastyari does not have the same enthusiasm for party reform, then the PM should give his consideration to stepping in,” he said.
On Friday, Mr Rudd said repeatedly he was “revolted” by the Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiries into former Labor ministers Eddie Obeid and Ian Macdonald. Former ALP official Michael Williamson is also under police investigation into the way he ran the Health Services Union.
Mr Rudd said: “I am revolted by what I have seen unfold in NSW … I am revolted that this could’ve been seen to have been acceptable practice. I will therefore be having a very deep discussion with cabinet colleagues of an entirely political nature about the new direction for NSW and more broadly, where we go on the overall remit of party reform nationwide.”
Mr Rudd said his “overwhelming preference” was for local democratic preselections. The only exception was a genuine crisis of time, which was not the case in the Sydney electorate of Kingsford Smith.
A spokeswoman for Mr Rudd said “these matters are organisational matters for the ALP”.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.