BACK IN TOWN: Mark Arbib leads NSW Right out of the swamp


NSW Right Senator Mark Arbib is a man in a hurry.

The former NSW ALP General Secretary arrived in Canberra less than a year ago and is the first of the Senate newbies to be promoted.

The weakest link, Stroganoff enthusiast John Murphy, was broken and in his place the putative leader of the NSW Right in Canberra has emerged as his successor in Parliamentary Secretary ranks.

At the same time, some interesting coverage of Arbib’s activities has been published in the Australian newspaper. Some see this as a continuation of Arbib’s insider’s media offensive. Others say the Australian’s yarns are designed to white-ant him.

Today’s speculation from Dennis Shanahan (soon to be vindicated by public announcement) suggests that Mark Arbib will become one of Rudd’s parliamentary secretaries. Or perhaps even the only one.

We’ll find out very shortly but it certainly appears Arbib will get a more senior role than Trade otherwise he would have been slotted into that initially. A more senior role suggest being Rudd’s Parl Sec. Or at least one of them.

It’s impossible to see Arbib’s activities outside of the context of what’s happening to Labor in NSW. It’s not in a good way, to state the bleeding obvious. It faces a state election like 1988 and quite possibly much worse.

Not that many years ago, many NSW Right operators would look down their nose at Club Fed and say all the action was in Sussex or Macquarie Street. Now, they couldn’t be keener to leave Sydney, they are sending talent to Canberra after years of not giving a stuff. Their re-engagement is good for Labor and good for the nation.

Their best and brightest, like Morris Iemma, Michael Costa and Reba Meagher have been chewed up and spat out by a very difficult political situation in Sydney, made worse by a fight over privatising electricity. Now that taxpayers around the world are forced to become investors of last resort in everything from car companies to banks, the debate almost seems to belong to another era.

The indulgence of the electricity feud still astounds most observers. In this era, a serious bid from non-Chinese government sources for any public assets would probably be gratefully received by any of our governments.

NSW politics got so bad the NSW Right dominated government turned to one of few presentable options Nathan Rees to lead the show. Trouble is he’s from the Left. He’s done reasonably well, we think, in an insanely difficult situation.

Whether he ends up being like a Joan Kirner who made a catastrophic situation slightly better or Barrie Unsworth – a great bloke – who made a bad situation much worse will soon be known.

What Arbib and his brothers will be trying to do is to keep their cancer spreading to the federal part of the body. Voters can distinguish between the two, but they don’t always. Federal Labor in Victoria was brutalised in 1990 when voters were keen to punish Labor’s worst ever Premier John Cain for deceiving them about a range of issues.

On Monday, Glenn Milne at the Australian presented an email that could either have come from one of Arbib’s critics or some suspect might have come from the Macchiavellian chap himself.

Arbib’s enthusiasm to claim credit was well established some say in that book about the Kevin07 election campaign which saw Arbib well positioned as a campaign genius nearly single-handedly responsible for victory. To be fair to him, Rudd can’t have disagreed or minded too much because he launched the book.

Milne says the source was someone senior in the NSW Right who claimed:

â–  Arbib was keen to offer an alternative source of power to Rudd than the Gillard/Crean/Latham axis

â–  Bob Carr – the former NSW Premier – was a confidant of Rudd’s and had encouraged this alternative

â–  The first big example of it was the elevation of Karl Bitar as National Secretary, (who we note was Arbib’s hand-picked choice who was heavily touted in the pages of The Australian)

â–  Arbib had somehow positioned himself, Chris Bowen and Jason Clare as spokespersons for Rudd on Sky (not watched by many people except the pollies and journalists during sitting weeks)

â–  Arbib intends to neck Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon, Attorney-General Robert McClelland, Senator Steve Hutchins and replace them with Bowen, himself (naturally), Mike Kelly or Maxine McKew and Graeme Wedderburn respectively.

Who knows who was the source of such unpleasantness. It was either Arbib doing the print equivalent of wearing a T-shirt emblazoned “Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way” (as many suspect) or someone attempting to disrupt Arbib’s plotting by giving it a public airing.

Nothing would surprise. While the Victorian Right might split from time to time, the NSW is like a big plank of wood with some rather terrifying splinters flying from it occasionally.

Today’s leak to Shanahan is considered more likely to be from Arbib himself. A pre-victory victory lap you might call it. Nothing wrong with celebrating small victories we think. Promoting Arbib is a good call, he’s smart and able.

What we do know is that aside from what’s good for Senator Mark,  in a move most patriots will see as welcome, the NSW Right is reinventing itself for a new era. From dividing 9-5 on the Beazley v Rudd leadership fight, they are attempting to consolidate and recover.

Its one-time colossus Senator Graham Richardson made himself indispensable to then Prime Minister Hawke. Ironically their star started to wane when their own Keating became Leader. He didn’t have much use for a factional fixer for his own faction.

Since in Canberra then they’ve been led and misled by all sorts of characters including the illustrious Leo McLeay, a man so sleazy that he transcended our normal affection for Labor patriots. He was not so much a skunk as the foul scent from one. Those within his orbit included Julia Irwin, whose support for Hamas is exceeded only by Iranian President Ahmadinejad. She is a suicide bomber without the explosive.

Arbib has promised all and sundry that she will be executed soon, hopefully his growing power can be put to good use.



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14 responses to “BACK IN TOWN: Mark Arbib leads NSW Right out of the swamp

  1. Laurie the Leaker

    I reckon it was a thanks for the memories gift from Laurie Brereton.

  2. we read Mark's stars

    Senator Scorpio

    Positive Attributes: Strong-willed, intuitive, and sensuous.

    Things to keep an eye on: Moodiness, sarcasm, and vengefulness.

    Scorpio Possible Weakness: Need for secrecy can be isolating

    The Scorpion is one intense little creature, with enough poison in its own tail to disable or kill a much larger opponent (Feeney). But the problem with this kind of built-in biological weaponry is that it must be mastered in order to be used most effectively. You Scorpios can use your “stinger” for self-defense, using your powerful emotional awareness to render your opponent harmless. But there is a sexual component of poisonous tail also, and until Scorpio learns to control those strong urges, Scorpio may find yourself in uncomfortable situations. {Except in Canberra, a city that knows how to keep secrets)

    Scorpio is the only sign that has three animal totems. First, there is the well-known Scorpion with its active tail. Second, as the Scorpio learns to master its passion and hold its instincts at bay, it changes into the Eagle. The Eagle has more perspective, for it flies high above the surface of circumstances, swooping down with its power only to kill prey for food (John Murphy). In its third form, the Scorpion becomes the always-peaceful dove. The real meaning of Scorpio is thus shown. Scorpio is about metamorphosis. Scorpios transform the painful poisons of possessive passion into a higher consciousness based on universal love (on National Executive).

  3. ShowsOn

    When will the NSW Right hurry up and get Warren Mundine into federal parliament?

  4. L

    When he stops rooting WA MPs on jaunts over West, I imagine.

  5. Just in

    According to the ABC, Rudd reshuffle is as follows:

    Mark Arbib – Parl Sec for Government Service Delivery; Bill Shorten adds Parl Sec for Vic Bushfire Reconstruction to his existing portfolio of Disabilities and Children’s Services; Greg Combet adds Parl Sec for Climate Change to his existing portfolio of Defence Procurement; Mike Kelly adds Parl Sec for Water to his existing portfolio of Defence Support.

  6. Anonymous

    combat combet actually loses def proc to joel, now part of his min responsibility, shorten obviously isn’t a senator, byrne adds trade to current parl sec to pm role, little said of arbib’s gig but appears to be reporting to pm

  7. Close to the storm

    Scum of the earth.

    Shifty deal maker.


    Ashamed of his heritage.

    The worse sum that has floated to the top of Rudd’s lacklustre group.

    Left NSW in the crap after stitching up every conceivable deal to promote himself.

    The dirty ring around the bathtub of Australian politics.

  8. anon

    The dirty ring around the bathtub of Australian politics.

    Posted by Close to the storm | February 25, 2009, 22:42

    – Pretty much sums up Mark (The Camel) Arbib.

    We remember him from his days as a TWU official and YLA hack where he cruely used up anyone he could latch onto.

    The most amoral person to sit in the red chamber.

  9. anon

    Just read the above article….

    “Their best and brightest, like Morris Iemma, Michael Costa and Reba Meagher have been chewed up and spat out…”

    THAT is the most ridiculous thing I have read in a loooooong time.

    Iemma, Costa, Meagher AND Arbib are the worst pieces of political garbage ever to be squeezed out of the sausgae machine of bile that is Young Labor in NSW. Arbib is living proof that morality, honour and a value system have NO place in NSW Labor.

    Kevin Rudd, in his blind quest to satisfy his own ego made a deal with Arbib and a few other unsavoury types and now Rudd will have to have this malignant growth in his career forever, which will only be as long as Arbib sees fit.

  10. Anon

    Q: How many egocentric manatics does it take to screw in a light blub?

    A: whatever it takes. You can always invent portfolio’s so egocentrics can get their hands on a title.

    NSW Right – what will they think of next?

  11. ear-to-the-wall

    Arbid is now Rudd’s Mr Fitix huh?

    Hmmm he’s dispatch McClelland, Hutchins and Urwin huh?

    Well, one of these three has a little something up their sleeve for the Camel.

  12. Anon

    Government Health Warning: Sitting where Alister eats will harm your career baby.

  13. Bessie Hall

    So you sow, so shall you reap

  14. Bessie Hall

    So shall you sow, so shall your reap

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