NSW ALP Secretary Karl Bitar is yet to confirm whether he’ll be a candidate for the ALP National Secretary’s position.
The NSW Right mild-mannered yet steely player, who stared down Morris Iemma from the Premier, is believed to be still checking in with a force more formidable than the combination the former NSW Premier and his blustery Treasurer Michael Costa, his beloved wife. Like most Sydney-siders who believe that the Blue Mountains are the outer border of civilisation, they have some reluctance about moving to the nation’s capital.
The National Secretary’s job is based in Canberra although increasingly it has been slyly shifted to Sydney by the wily leftist Tim Gartrell. The National Secretariat maintains an office in Sydney, something most of the other states, even Victoria, have grown relaxed about.
If Bitar doesn’t put up his hand, many, including his main backer power-broker Senator Mark Arbib, will be disappointed and the NSW Right would be expected to support their brother Assistant Secretary Elias Hallaj.
Some in Queensland, particularly their state party secretary Anthony Chisholm are backing the bid of Jim Chalmers, considered by many to be a good choice too, even if he is perhaps not as tough as the job occasionally requires.
It is not clear yet whether Chalmers’ boss Wayne Swan is ready to let his deputy chief of staff go nor whether AWU boss Bill Ludwig has given the nod. Both men would be considered crucial to Chalmers’ candidacy.
The Victorian Labor Right will have a big role to play, unusually for once perhaps embracing their NSW rivals, with many appearing to support Bitar, should he want the job.
Those in the media convinced that Prime Minister Rudd will hand-pick the next National Secretary or that the Left will miraculously convert their minority into a majority to get Tim Gartrell’s chum, Nick Martin the job.
The Right has been keen to take back the position and insiders say they won’t be letting it slip, whether Bitar is a starter or not.