Unions muscle in on Della Bosca's upper house vacancy
Walt Secord . . . blocked. Photo: Andrew Taylor
POWERFUL trade unions have helped scupper the nomination of the Premier's chief of staff, Walt Secord, to join the Legislative Council.
Mr Secord was set to fill a vacancy after the senior government figure John Della Bosca decided to quit State Parliament.
The Labor Party is expected to appoint a woman to the position from either the trade union movement or the party.
It had been suggested that Mr Della Bosca was initially seeking to deliver the upper house seat to his wife, Belinda Neal, who lost ALP endorsement for the federal election in the seat of Robertson, on the central coast.
However, the party machine wanted to hold the upper house seat vacant for candidates standing for the federal seats of Lindsay or Robertson, in case they lost. The ALP's win in both seats opened the way for Mr Secord to put his name forward.
However, key Trades Hall figures were not impressed, demanding last week that the seat be held for a union figure, notwithstanding the fact that Trades Hall had managed to get its own nominees, Matt Thistlethwaite and Luke Foley, into the federal and NSW parliaments respectively.
The next vacancy of the Right faction in the Legislative Council had been expected to go to the head of the powerful Electrical Trades Union, Bernie Riordan, although he has ruled himself out from standing.
Mr Riordan said yesterday there would be a ''Melbourne Cup field'' jostling for the vacancy, although others in the party have confirmed it is looking both internally and externally for a candidate, and is expected to select a woman.
''The party's looking for a woman - someone 'new-Labor', not 'old-Labor','' one key party figure said yesterday.
The party's powerful administration committee is to meet on Friday and is expected to confirm the nomination that will be put forward to Parliament for endorsement next week.
''It's going to be an interesting week,'' Mr Riordan said.
The delay in completing its nomination will delay until the middle of next week the holding of the joint session of Parliament to accept nominations to fill vacancies for the ALP, the Greens and Shooters parties.
Cate Faehrmann is to replace Lee Rhiannon for the Greens, while Robert Borsak is to replace Roy Smith, who died suddenly a few weeks ago.
This delay means that all three new members of the Legislative Council will not be able to sit in Parliament until the end of September at the earliest, due to the parliamentary break for budget estimates committee hearings mid-month.
The ALP's powerful centre-unity faction is to also meet on Friday, to endorse Mr Secord to fill the party's next vacancy in the Legislative Council. There had been speculation Mr Secord was manoeuvring to win endorsement for the seat of Coogee.