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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Tuesday, 8 December 2009
Local authority figure view on Premier Kristina Keneally in Heffron
Mood:  chatty
Topic: nsw govt


Well, we sent an email request for some comment "for publication" at 7.12 am this morning.

Lynda Newnam who for a long time was web master of Botany Bay & Catchment Alliance umbrella to 33 community groups, and appears to be the author of this post screenprint above, writes back quite soon after.

As a fierce critic of the Port Botany expansion we expected a rocket from Lynda (compared with say this on New Matilda recently) but we have to say it's pretty mild or complimentary actually. Here it is as something of a balance to some previous posts here on the new Premier:

Lynda writes as follows:

Sent: Tuesday, December 08, 2009 9:34 AM
Subject: Re: Lynda, your view of Keneally for publication?

Hi Tom,

I have been telling people that Kristina would be the next Premier since May 1. I saw her at the handover of the Prince Henry Community Centre and it struck me then that she had the confidence, commitment, energy and desire to take the job on. 
Kristina has accumulated a wide variety of experience representing a diverse electorate.  She came into Heffron in the early stages of the Port Expansion and when Orica hit the headlines with the groundwater contamination and other issues like the HCB stockpile.  She also has constituents within the City of Sydney boundaries and those affected by the proposed ED ramps at Eastlakes.  There are large pockets of social disadvantage in her electorate.   Botany and Banksmeadow were incorporated into the Maroubra electorate at the 2007 election so she no longer has consituents facing those issues but she does carry the experience unlike someone like Barry O'Farrell who has represented a relatively privileged residential electorate. 

When Iemma was dumped her husband Ben was quick to follow.  Ben had pulled the State Plan together.  Cricial as I might be with the details it is a document that guides debate on issues at a State level.  We have too little debate on the big issues and the pity is that the State Plan and Metrostrategy aren't taken more seriously.  Ben Keneally's gone onto a job with Better Place the Electric Car promoters.  Looks like a sensible move.  Can't understand why couples like Albanese and Tebbutt think they are a good look, and the Coutts-Trotter's appointment to head Education (when he hadn't been a teacher and had a criminal record) made Plibersek look very poor.   I think it shows they spend too much time with uncritical friends rather than out and about in their electorates facing people who disagree with them. 

There is a strong cultural difference.   That 'can do' American approach.  Not suggesting there aren't negatives with this approach but I think the look will ultimately work in her favour. She isn't afraid to talk to people who oppose her.  I got the impression when she headed Planning that she paid attention to advice from her senior staff and supported their policies through to Cabinet.    The problem with Planning is there is insufficient debate in the broader community.  Lots of talk about Sydney needing to accommodate millions more but no consensus on whether this should happen, or if it should how it needs to be done.   I saw Kristina earlier in the year at a meeting where the Victoria Park development was being discussed.  She came with handouts for the audience and various people to field questions.  
The handout started with details on what level of population needed to be accommodated in the future along with demographics such as proportion of over 65s. The meeting lasted over 2 hours and she was prepared to answer any questions.  I don't agree with the policies but I did think she handled herself well and showed respect for the audience.

She gets ruffled by a few of the key Liberals but I don't like the sexist comments they come out with and I think a lot of other people feel the same.  It's silly lazy stuff, a poor substitute for doing research and hitting out on the facts.  Pearce has been chief Liberal interrogater for a while now and I think he does a good job generally and he did show up flaws in her modus operandi.  I suspect she will have learnt from that experience.  She does appear to be a learner and I think her domestic situation would support this.  Intelligent husband working in a 'green industry' with two young children and community connections which she works on (eg. church on Sunday).........not unlike the Prime Minister.  Looks infinitely better than Rees.  I could never work out what Rees stood for.  He waded into the Super 8 contract like an enthusiastic schoolboy.  Then silly stuff like the picnic on the bridge, wedding in New York, while at the same time signing off on the metro.   

I was in Queensland when I heard the news that Tripodi had been dropped and I couldn't believe it.  Whatever you think about Tripodi he was one Minister who had some clues on how to get the Port working.  The government, of its own making, has lots of 'challenges'.  Problems with the stevedores, the carriers, security, congestion, rail, intermodal operation.  This is the stuff that makes our economy go around so they really couldn't afford to take the eye off the ball on something so big.  I suspect the move to get rid of Rees came from many directions particularly 'business leaders' and motivated by a concern that NSW could be turned into a basket case as happened in Victoria pre Kennett. 

I see Kristina's appointment as a positive move and thought Rees was a mistake from the start. This is a government with ministers who are floundering but the same can be said about a lot of the senior people in the public service.   There should be more pressure on the Liberals to articulate policy so that we can debate an alternative direction for NSW.  At present it is a free ride for O'Farrell and that's not good for any of us.

cheers, Lynda

Posted by editor at 10:10 AM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 8 December 2009 11:59 AM EADT

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