30 May 2019

Leigh pays factional price as he's dropped from shadow ministry

| Genevieve Jacobs
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Andrew Leigh

Member for Fenner Andrew Leigh will not be a member of the shadow ministry. Photo: George Tsotsos.

The Federal member for Fenner and former shadow assistant treasurer, Andrew Leigh, has paid a high price for being an independent non-aligned MP as he’s dumped from Anthony Albanese’s shadow ministry.

He will return to the backbench, while returning Left aligned Senator Katy Gallagher has regained a shadow portfolio amidst a shake-up that’s revealed the factional divides that still rule many ALP internal decisions.

Congratulating the new leader’s front bench, Dr Leigh said “I am privileged to have had the chance to serve for the past six years as part of Labor’s frontbench economic team”, nominating a number of achievements in the portfolio and in his roles as Shadow Minister for Competition, and Shadow Minister for Charities and Not-for-Profits.

Pledging his support to the new leader, Dr Leigh urged non-aligned members of the ALP “to stay engaged with Australia’s oldest and greatest political party. Working in conjunction with the union movement, ours is a powerful force, and millions of voiceless people are counting on Labor”.

But ANU political scientist Dr Norman Abjorensensays the choice to drop Leigh, a former professor of economics with a PhD in Public Policy from Harvard University, is “an appalling loss. He was one of the few genuine original thinkers in the party and they need all the intellectual firepower they can get”.

Dr Abjorensen says that while the factions serve a purpose in bringing together a coalition of interests in the Labor movement, Dr Leigh’s plight illustrates a significant downside.

“It shows the limits of Anthony Albanese’s leadership if he can push for the inclusion of Kristina Keneally but is powerless to include someone like Andrew Leigh with his strong economic background and intellect”.

Newly elected Member for Canberra Alicia Payne indicated to RiotACT before the election that she’d be an independent. Member For Bean David Smith is believed to be aligned to the Right but was also not keen to discuss his factional affiliation pre-election.

Former Chief Minister Jon Stanhope has been unaligned for the duration of his 43 year ALP membership and says he believes the factions are “the great negative of the Labor Party. If Andrew Leigh can’t take a place simply because he doesn’t have factional support, that speaks volumes about the lack of commitment to selection on merit that bedevils the ALP and consequently, the calibre and quality of our representatives”.

“Factions mean that we preselect candidates who are quite clearly not always the best available and that feeds into quality of our membership and ministry. We don’t talk about it openly, because nobody wants to suggest that some people aren’t all that smart”.

Mr Stanhope said he was also disappointed that despite the Rudd reforms, the ALP rank and file had not had the chance to vote for the current leadership, a situation he said had been “clearly confected through factional manoeuvring”, adding that the exclusion of ordinary members as a consequence was “an enormously retrograde step”.

Former Chief Minister Jon Stanhope believes factions have bedevilled the ALP. Photo: Charlotte Harper.

Dr Abjorensen said that while the non-aligned choice might be ethically appealing, it was not necessarily helpful for Canberra’s parliamentary representation despite the fact that our three Federal electorates and at least one Senate seat are all but guaranteed for the ALP.

“I think the fact that Anthony Albanese has gotten up unopposed is a sign that there is not that much generational change going on after the election loss. There are factional people who have frankly been around too long like Joel Fitzgibbon, you look at the lack of numbers for Tanya Plibersek, the energy that went into dissuading Jim Chalmers to run for what looked like factional reasons.

“It’s a retreat, not an advance, and it encapsulates Andrew Leigh’s plight,” he said.

But Senator Gallagher described the shadow ministry as the right balance of experience and fresh faces and said she was honoured to be on the front bench again.

She said she would make sure Canberra was well represented at Labor’s decision making table.”I will serve in whatever capacity Albo thinks is best for the Labor team, and hold this government to account,” she said.

“I would also like to acknowledge the hard work of my ACT colleague Andrew Leigh in the economic team leading up to the last election. Andrew is an enthusiastic member of the team and I am sure he will continue to have a lot to contribute to the Labor agenda heading towards the next election.”

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Capital Retro1:11 pm 31 May 19

This is how political parties operate – Labor are the worst. All candidates that are chosen for election know this so it is a not really worth examining the chicken’s entrails.

While danger (anagram) lurks, the Labor Party don’t need no fancy economics professor (and yes, it is a double negative).

Blen_Carmichael9:48 am 31 May 19

“But ANU political scientist Dr Norman Abjorensen says the choice to drop Leigh, a former professor of economics with a PhD in Public Policy from Harvard University, is ‘an appalling loss. He was one of the few genuine original thinkers in the party and they need all the intellectual firepower they can get’.”

Here’s an example of that “intellectual firepower”:


HiddenDragon6:33 pm 30 May 19

By way of a modest suggestion, perhaps Dr Leigh could give some attention – with the relative freedom of a backbencher – to economic models and options for Canberra and the ‘Capital Region’ which move us away (in reality, not just in rhetoric backed by selective statistics) from a heavy reliance on federal spending.

Leigh is disconnected from Tuggeranong, let alone regional and outer suburban Australia.

He understands more about economic theory than the real world economic issues faced by working families. It’s a core issue that hurt Labor at the last election.

Lucky he doesn’t represent Tuggeranong then considering he is the member for Fenner.

Once again your ongoing hatred for Tuggeranong clouds your judgement. Surely you can understand that the story is not about his seat in parliament representing Fenner, but about him losing his shadow Minister assistant Treasurer position. He was a key architect around a number of financial policies that helped Labor lose votes in outer suburban Australia and ultimately lose the election.

He should have been using his considerable economic skills to design policies that focused on the rich end of town, not policies that also hit aspirational voters wanting to improve their lot in life.

Outer suburban working class used to be the Labor base, but unfortunately Labor is too worried about the inner city Greens taking their voters and they have lost their political focus.

So Andrew Leigh never became Assistant Minister For Finance in order to bring in death duties which he strongly supported.

The people of Fenner might have supported that by electing him but thankfully people outside the ACT put out the safety net for people like me who would have been left with nothing and made homeless if Leigh had been able to implement his evil plans.

Ridiculous sensationalism at its best…..

Some truly will believe anything it seems.

Leigh is just one of Hayden’s “Drover’s Dogs”. My dog wants to stand for labor at the next election but I won’t let her have a Twitter account!

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