Tensions in Lismore Labor have erupted after former Mayor Jenny Dowell was defeated for the position of Branch Secretary following the resignation of former Secretary Mark Bailey.
At one of the largest meetings in the history of the Branch, over 40 members elected Carmel Cook to the position of Branch Secretary. Ms Cook is a staffer to former Page MP, Janelle Saffin. A local Labor source said Ms Cook was elected with an overwhelming majority
Mr Bailey would not comment on the result except to say that he was not at all surprised by the decision. Mr Bailey said he had resigned from the position because of work commitments. He declined to comment on whether he had lobbied members before the vote not to vote for Ms Dowell.
Mr Bailey rejected suggestions that his resignation was linked to comments made by former Mayor Dowell regarding the failure of former National Party politician Rod Bruem to gain National Party pre selection. He declined to confirm that the statements made by former Mayor Dowell were currently the subject of legal proceedings.
A member of the local Labor branch did however confirm that there was wide spread anger at the comments made by former Mayor Dowell after the National Party pre selection.
‘Why Jenny Dowell came out in support of a National Party politician angered many local Labor members particularly as her comments about Mr Bailey were based on allegations made by Mr Bruem.”
‘Moreover, Mr Bruem’s allegations of homophobia in the National Party pre selection had ripped the entire Nationals Community Pre selection apart,’ the source said.
‘Jenny’s comments were most unhelpful and only served to ‘let the Nationals off the hook.’
Mr Bailey said he was very hurt by Ms Dowell’s false allegations and said “this was one clear example of a matter where the best comment by Jenny would have been no comment.”
Senior Members of the State Parliamentary team including the office of Shadow Minister for the North Coast, Walt Secord, had accepted that there was no evidence whatsoever that Mr Bailey was involved in the National Party pre selection as alleged by former Mayor Dowell.
Ms Cook is regarded as a strong advocate of the return to Parliament of Janelle Saffin.
Ms Saffin has not announced her intentions however Labor party sources have confirmed that NSW Labor will be endorsing a candidate for the State Seat of Lismore before March 2018.