For (Bob) Carr, an imminent by-election in Werriwa comes at the worst possible time and in the worst possible location. Just about every crisis and fiasco facing the NSW Government has its proxy in Liverpool and Campbelltown – the anchors at either end of the Werriwa electorate. The shambles that is the commuter rail system. The crisis in public health delivery with bed shortages, ‘code reds’ where ambulances have been turned away from the emergency ward at Liverpool, and the shortcomings in patient care exampled at Campbelltown Hospital. And, perhaps most dangerously for Carr, Orange Grove isn’t just a fiasco – it’s local.
And if all that were not enough, Latham’s sudden exit means that there is no likely successor for Werriwa waiting in the wings. This promises a factional free for all – where the ranks of the local branches have been left swollen and bloated by years of stacking. Fairfield and Liverpool are basically made up of a series of rotten boroughs, created in the interests of local MPs like the Left?s Paul Lynch and the Right’s Joe Tripodi. Who knows how that lot will react if the NSW Branch pulls the preselection in to Head Office for an N40 preselection.
Amanda Hodge and Nick Leys of The Australian reckon that this will indeed be the outcome, reporting today that "ALP sources said yesterday a new Werriwa candidate would be chosen not by ALP rank and file but by NSW head office to avoid further problems". "Boilermaker Bill McKell" fears that "with promises of federal funds for health, roads and transport", the Liberals "might just have a chance". However, Antony Green concurs with the Poll Bludger’s assessment that Labor is unlikely to face a disaster of sufficient scale to cost them seat – at least not to the Liberals. The Cunningham precedent suggests that the Greens might be the bigger threat, but Sydney’s south-west is much less fertile ground for them than the coast and this prospect can probably be discounted. That just leaves the possibility of a high-profile independent taking the moral high ground over an appointee imposed by state office. Perhaps Sam Bargshoon might have another go.