Jamie Parker has a friendly face and a likeable manner, but he is NSW Labor's worst nightmare.Mr Parker, the Greens Mayor of Leichhardt in Sydney's inner west, is shaping as the likeliest candidate to take on NSW Education Minister Verity Firth in her seat of Balmain.
And according to most observers and polls, he'll win, creating history twice, by becoming the first Greens MP to crack the NSW lower house and by slaying Labor at its birthplace (the ALP was formed at Balmain's Unity Hall Hotel, in 1891).
"We're definitely within striking range,'' is Mr Parker's assessment.
In fact, Labor held on against the Greens in 2007 by a margin of just 3.75 per cent, and since then Ms Firth has copped plenty of political pain over Labor decisions to widen the Iron Cove Bridge and build a metro from the CBD to Rozelle. Balmain is the spiritual home of NIMBYism, as well as the Labor Party, and both decisions have been deeply unpopular. Potentially worse for Ms Firth, however, is Premier Nathan Rees's decision to challenge a ban on the publication of school ``league tables''.
"It's very unpopular with teachers and public sector workers in our community,'' Mr Parker says. "It's clear Verity hoped it would increase her profile, but the government's policies run counter to the views of the vast majority of the party".
"They seem to be doing everything possible to alienate their own rank and file.''
According to the loose factionalism of his party, Mr Parker is a "blue Green" rather than a "red Green''. With a background in marketing rather than Stalinism, he carries none of the far-Left baggage of many senior NSW Greens.
- The Australian
Note: Article originally published at The Australian newspaper website on July 22, 2009. We have supplied a copy of the article here as The Australian's website displays an error when trying to view that story now. If it becomes publicly viewable again we will amend this blog post to show an excerpt.
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