After only three weeks in the job, newly minted NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay was in Lismore on Monday to meet with fellow Labor MP Janelle Saffin.
Homelessness was on the table, and McKay told The Echo she and Janelle met with housing providers and non-government organisations to hear of the affordable housing crisis and associated issues.
Who is Jodi? As a former journalist, she became Newcastle MP in 2007.
It was around the reign of Labor MPs Eddie Obeid, Tony Kelly, and Joe Tripodi, who were all later found corrupt by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) in 2017.
According to a 2014 ABC report, McKay broke down in tears in the ICAC witness box when told there was evidence that the Tinkler Group and her colleague Joe Tripodi were involved in a pamphlet smear campaign against her.
McKay says she refused a bribe and believes that, as a result, the smear contributed to her election loss at the time.
Labor’s website now cheerfully states that in 2011, ‘Jodi’s opponents started a campaign against her after she refused to accept a bribe over a proposed coal terminal in Newcastle’.
‘Jodi asked the corruption watchdog and police to investigate, but lost her seat at the election.
‘A corruption inquiry was later launched into illegal political donations, which saw 10 politicians resign from parliament or the Liberal Party. Jodi walked out of the inquiry with her reputation enhanced and one newspaper described her as “incorruptible”.’
What’s your strategy for taking on Murdoch’s massive media empire?
We won’t get our message out in mainstream press… We will win the next election conversation by conservation. There are many people in regional areas who are very disappointed with the Nationals, yet won’t vote Labor.
We need to communicate our values clearly for the 2023 election.
Labor went to the last election with a lot of developed policies. Are you planning to keep most of them or are they all up for review?
‘We are going through a review process, which includes analysing every policy and how they were received. Our climate-change policy will stay – I don’t want to see that watered down.
‘We need to develop a homelessness policy.
It’s a topic that is part of Labor DNA… homelessness is not just street homeless; it includes young kids who are couch surfing and elderly women.
What’s your position on pill testing and amnesty bins at festivals? And are you in favour of legalisation of cannabis, which new Labor MP Rose Jackson also supports?
We are calling for a drug summit, which the government is slow to act upon.
We have differing views in our caucus, and a divergence of opinion is welcome.
Do you support a moratorium on water extraction for bottling? It’s an issue on the north coast, especially on the Alstonville plateau and in the Tweed hinterland. According to the local water utility Rous, our water sources will become stretched by 2024–28. Rous also forecast water demand will grow by 50 per cent over the next 40 years.
I have to admit I am not across the issue, but what I will say is that the government was slow to this topic.
♦ McKay added praise for Lismore Labor MP Janelle Saffin as an experienced MP, who is well respected and liked. ‘She is a strong voice for the north coast,’ she said.