BY GEORGE: PM chooses her Mr Wright

wrightcombetIn a courageous political move, Prime Minister Gillard has somewhat unilaterally exercised a prerogative to appoint a remarkably obscure outsider to the party to run its national organisation as National Secretary. The lucky one, George Wright, currently the chief spinner for the National Australia Bank, apparently took some persuading before agreeing to take on the role.

He was second choice after the first one, the somewhat less obscure former PM Chief of Staff Amanda Lampe, was ruled out after revered Labor Right chieftain Joe de Bruyn said what everyone else was thinking about her candidacy. A newly designated mum of two, she apparently didn’t want the job but was willing to obey the PM’s marching orders should they arrive. Commendable loyalty.

Wright’s pedigree is that he hails from the Finance Sector Union before going to the ACTU and being one of many who now claim credit for their Your Rights At Work campaign against WorkChoices. Wright is a graduate of the notoriously effective but occasionally counter-productive Rudd spin-machine. A good spinner never becomes the story.

He is considered to be especially close to self-anointed leadership aspirant Greg Combet, who is keenly aware that time is probably not on his side. Nothing wrong with a bit of ambition, we say. The PMO’s intervention on Wright’s behalf could well be seen as a pivotal moment in Combet’s progression. “They are political soul-mates,” one insider remarked. Fascinating.

Delighted with the appointment will be the ACTU’s favoured communications provider Essential Media who stand to make millions from having their chum George Wright large and in charge at the National Secretariat. He will be keen to bring them in to manage all aspects of the next election campaign and will be ditching long-time pollster John Utting and other non EMC types. EMC’s interesting polling on the public regard for Foreign Minister Rudd has recently raised eyebrows, with some wondering whether Rudd has dusted off his anti-Beazley playbook where Rudd had privately funded polling comparing his greatness with KB’s prolix ways. Greg Sheridan, wise in all things except his affection for the dreaded Rudd, was even quoting Essential’s silly Rudd-spruiking polling in a column today most assuredly inspired directly from the FORMIN from hell. Tsk. Tsk. How EMC deals with the straddling of such a barbed-wire fence is a question that could only be answered with many hours deep reflection after re-watching every episode of ‘Absolute Power‘ in a weekend marathon.

The Your Rights at Work campaigners think they ran an Obama-style campaign of absolute and unparalleled genius in 2007 and that they will be keen on lending some of that magic to the 2013 re-election bid. Some in the National Right are more than a little sceptical of this but many are keen to see it in action because it could be good for a laugh.

Further potential amusement – of the gallows’ humour variety – could arise when John Faulkner’s proposed NSW-Right-busting moves come to be considered later in the year. Rules changes, national intervention and other carnal delights dreamed up by Albo, Faulks and others over high tea at the SCG will all apparently be enthusiastically embraced by the new party secretary designate.

While Wright is regarded as a bold choice, some say his role as a spinner for NAB’s bank fees and interest fee policy equips him well in the art of defending the indefensible.

Some see the carbon tax as approaching that level of difficulty although we suspect rolling back the tax and its compensations is going to be just as fraught with danger for the Coalition, emboldened as they currently are and buoyed by Newspolls.

Nominations for the position are expected to open tomorrow with Mr Wright considered likely to be the only nominee, in the spirit of democratic openness encouraged by John Faulkner, presumably after a junket to Beijing.

The PM’s public declaration of support for him was clearly calculated to ensure that he was the only candidate and because “disunity is death” in politics as John Howard famously declared it seems likely the old trick will succeed.

The only reason the situation arose, of course, was that the dominant moderates made an absolute debacle of selecting and getting behind one candidate. The withdrawal of one, the failure to get behind another, a willingness to be seen to disagree, all contributed to what amounts to be a very, very sorry state of affairs for the folk who are meant to supply the pragmatic, “whatever it takes” smarts of Australia’s centre-left party. We honour many of them for being the best and brightest but this was not their finest hour. It’s fair to say also that the Prime Minister has also not been seen to honour the strong support given to her by Labor’s moderates. This seems most unwise to us.

Whether having a Prime Minister’s Office lackey in the Nat Sec job will help her party succeed in winning the next incredibly difficult federal election remains to be seen. Similar case studies in other jurisidictions are not encouraging. Many observers were left wondering this evening “Can a man with no base in the party be a successful party secretary?” They’re about to find out.



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26 responses to “BY GEORGE: PM chooses her Mr Wright

  1. Anonymous

    bring back Robert Ray
    this new breed of right wing “powderpuffs” are killing Labor Unity

  2. Sticky fingers

    I can’t believe gillard didnt select Marco Bolano for the top job

  3. Puppet

    Nah Bolano can be the womens officer

  4. Get a real job

    Any chance someone from Labor is not a careerist spinner, spiv, sponge, scab or union spook? Have any other them ever done a productive day’s work in their life? No wonder long-time Labor supporters are leaning towards the Greens.

  5. Anonski

    The Libs couldn’t be happier. Wright makes Lampe look like an inspired choice by comparison.

  6. Ben

    All the spin in the world can’t make Julia Gillard a Menzies or a Howard. She’d be better off just listening to people and acting on their concerns – a massive challenge, to be sure.

  7. OMG WTF Now.

    It is like watching a car crash. Is that really a Woman’s Weekly under his arm? The Right have really become so damaging to the ALP, one wishes they would just all go back to the DLP where they belong.Patriots my arse. Self serving wa#@ers a more apt description.

  8. Craig

    Greg, Kevvie and George what are guys “up” to tonight?

  9. send newnham to canberra

    The ever dying ALP, what ever happened to us? This is meant to be a party for the workers. I look back to events that unfolded in Victoria. When John Mansfield Brumby or some geniuses in his office decided to move a man who was doing a fine job in his role to Victorian headquarters to lead the state election. We all seen how that ended up, a opposition in government that still believe there in opposition. Let me switch my focus back to Canberra. What the hell is going on up there? It seems like they have Victorian syndrome. What’s this Carboon Tax? What happened to the working families? Now we are moving some spinner into the nat sec role. There is something really really wrong with the ALP. It’s only a time ticking bomb until Fed Labor lose the next election and all hell will break lose. There will be no more games and more pre-selections. It’s time to bring back the ALP to the Rank and File of the Party.

  10. ansteybranchopolous

    Is Carlo carli doing anything useful nowadays?

  11. Craig

    Don’t be mean to Carlo. He’s with me.

  12. stacked arabs

    Did you mean Carlo the champion of Branch Stacking?

  13. Anonymous

    They should have gone with Nathan Lambart. Who is this Wright guy? I have never heard of him.

  14. Not MUCH FAT LEFT!

    Two Amanda lampe goons dont make a wright
    Sick of the Gill- as in (lethargic weak government) ard!
    her government hasnt got much lard left ie much fat in reserve for when things turn cold!
    bring back Kevin Rudd we dont want to see any more airbrushed photos of Ms Gillard Ms Universe she aint!
    Gillard faces a long cold swim to hold the government lets face it she Gillard is out of her class and depth as PM she wont last long as latest Newspoll figures attest!
    perhaps Gillard should go off and join the icebergers as she is a real cold fish!

  15. Anonymous

    Freggin quasi intellectuals. Get a real heaving drinkin, 2 pack a day working man in there.

    These soft-c0cks are killing the workers party.

  16. union thru n thru

    Well, the list of other names have little to recommend give Labor has an election to win.

    Need we remind the petty ALP party hacks that haunt this site that George was a key player in the $10 million dollar your rights at work campaign that got rid of Howard.

    Ok, he is not Robert Ray but his role was more pivotal than any others outside of the ALP in the 2007 Rudd victory.

    The middle class conservation movement may have tipped the balance for Hawke in 1983 but Rudd’s victory was powered by workers alarmed at WorkChoices.

    No doubt Combett was the general in that campaign but George has to be credited as a robust captain and kept the wheels of the central ACTU campaign running smoothly. This cannot be said of the campaigning capacity of many state ALP secretaries (Feeney is one stand out performer and he got necked).

    Is all that really so hard to remember?

  17. time traveller

    Oh, vewnews…nice touch with the 2010 womens day cover of julia in the 2008 photo…even recent history is so boring unless viewed thru the prism of photoshop….

  18. send in the clowns

    Why not David Saunderson?

  19. after shocks

    Carbon tax after shocks continue – labor up and down 6 points….

    No worries once voters know that the mining giants will be protected from this green yuppy tax they will just line up to vote labor….

  20. down hill

    It is all down hill from here…ALP is shrinking and Israel-baiting Greens are tanking.

    So George will not even need to pedal…it is all down hill to the election from here…

    At least he will have company to share his sorrow with in the form of Nick Reece etc and others at the labor losers cafe at the end of the universe.

  21. Anonymous

    How about George Seitz?

  22. Giuseppe De Simone

    George Seitz as ALP National Secretary? What an inspired choice! He will be very keen on the plebiscite model for preselections because he built up such large branches in his area and understands the need for the ALP to have a strong membership base and appeal to the masses. Yes, he is definitely the one.

    I am truly worried that the ALP will actually call him back from retirement and the occasional bingo game and a few pots at the pokies.

    I just hope the ALP picks the spruiker from the bank. Talk about flexible policy positions – from union leader to working for the enemy.

    I love it!

  23. Adrian Jackson

    But I though the ALP was full of non entities so this bloke will fit in quite nicely.

  24. Adrian Jackson

    Yes more people with wog name like Seitz and that will ensure the 110 year old Labour Party will become a distant memory just like the Australian Democrats. Just look at the names of the thugs in the NSW ALP and you will see that I mean.

  25. George Sleitz

    Did somebody say BINGO and BRANCHES? I’m Excited, bring it on.

  26. Mountaineer with a compass.

    “You Fucking Young People” – Mr. G. Seitz, early 2011. A true man of renewal and principle.

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