Melbourne Lord Mayoral hopeful Catherine Ng is likely to be underestimated as a threat by opponents because she says and does strange things.
Ng has been on the big spending Melbourne council for nearly a decade and lives outside the municipality in Richmond. While being on the council since 2001, Ng has travelled overseas at ratepayer expense repeatedly, running up expenses bills in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. She’s less enthusiastic about the hard work of council though, residents’ groups say. “We’ve never been able to get her to do much for us” one activist told VEXNEWS. “She’s always busy or overseas and when we go to attend meetings to talk with her afterwards, she’s often not there.”
Political insiders paid particular attention to her attitude toward Lord Mayor John So and his wife. It was hostile and disrespectful, Town Hall sources have told VEXNEWS, despite So getting her elected on his ticket twice. The attitude has shocked many, with some questioning her values.
Despite behaving in a manner considered by many as like the town’s spoiled kid, Catherine Ng insists she is the “City Mother”, critics charge she is the mother of big council spending, presiding over an unprecedented era of financial irresponsibility while only occasionally showing up to council and committee meetings. They say she let bureaucrats run amok while enjoying the perks of office.
A strange story in today’s Sunday Age confirms that while she probably doesn’t have a message to stay on, she is capable of getting in the paper while others are still plotting and scheming.
Ng is a multi-tasker too, she’s not just getting in the press, she’s pressing to assemble a ticket and is torn between running for Lord Mayor and muscling her way on to #1 of a council group.
Despite claiming that she’s being fitted up by Labor Party members for being a Liberal faction warrior, the truth is that Ng is aligned with nobody and has alienated pretty much everyone. While likeability – or lack of it – will damage her preferences, her ability to be underestimated is a crucial asset as she will dupe many into assuming she’ll poll poorly.
Ng’s nagging in The Age is kind of weird because it centres on her husband Douglas Campbell who the paper thinks is aligned to Ted Baillieu because he works in the Liberal leader’s office. Not necessarily so, Campbell has been there for years, including under the Kroger supported Robert Doyle’s leadership. He’s not really factionally aligned, insiders say. So it was really just a crazy Catherine excuse to get in the paper.
Her former mentor John So regards her with little more than contempt. Liberals of both factions tell VEXNEWS she’s mad and says strange things. Labor sources assume she’s a political conservative although the more informed ones suspect her politics is all about self-promotion.
But despite that, she’s already shown she can generate press, even if it’s not about much. She is well placed to attract support from Melbourne’s substantial Chinese community and will do her best to pretend to be a conservative candidate despite a record that would do Joan Kirner proud.
In a Melbourne Cup field, the nag Catherine Ng remains one to watch.