Wounded Labor MPs return fire at Keating and Sartor
Sydney Morning Herald
Thursday March 31, 2011
THE public brawling in Labor has sparked another round of recriminations as sitting MPs reprimanded the former prime minister Paul Keating for his spray against the future state leader, John Robertson, and others.At the same time, the Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid has responded furiously to his chief critic, the former environment minister Frank Sartor.In a detailed rebuttal of public comments made about him by Mr Sartor, in an open letter published on Wednesday in the Herald, Mr Obeid confirmed for the first time that he will soon quit Parliament, while arguing that the former premier Bob Carr was tapped by the party's former NSW secretary, Mark Arbib, to quit as premier."Bob Carr left when asked to by the then general secretary, Mark Arbib. Bob agreed to leave," Mr Obeid asserted.Mr Arbib is now the federal Minister for Sport, Social Housing and Homelessness."I have already announced I am leaving," Mr Obeid wrote. "The Labor Party has asked [me] to remain until after the election." The full rebuttal is published online today.Mr Obeid also pushed back at Mr Sartor for criticising him for lobbying about the Barangaroo development "behind my [Sartor's] back"."You are always giving me so much more credit than I deserve," Mr Obeid said. "When I was approached on an issue about Barangaroo I referred the person to Premier Iemma. That is my job ... I never approached [Kristina Keneally] or discussed Barangaroo with her ever."Mr Sartor has defended his comments about Barangaroo, saying late yesterday: "After I left the portfolio the density was increased. That is why it is now a problem. Is Obeid denying that he spoke to Iemma about it?"Meanwhile, the federal Labor MP Ed Husic said Mr Keating had a habit of commenting after the event but not doing anything to help beforehand."My issue with Mr Keating is he's always here after the event picking holes with what's gone on. You never see him with shoe leather on the ground like others," Mr Husic told Sky News."If it was Mr Hawke, for example, who's out there with candidates all the time, trying to help out, giving us advice, I'd accept that."But if Mr Keating wants to continue the way he does and get his jollies chortling into his Twinings in whichever Labor heartland seat he is in these days, all well and good. I don't think it actually helps us."Mr Keating also took aim at the Labor strategist Bruce Hawker for spruiking Mr Robertson, saying such "sicko populism is simply what we don't need any more of".Mr Hawker used Twitter to respond yesterday. "The bloodletting in Labor's ranks continues. Keating's attack on me et al for defending what's left in NSW ALP only helps Libs," he said.The former state minister and powerbroker John Della Bosca backed Mr Robertson, saying he was good with people and would be good at opposition.