"The revelation that Sydney's Labor powerbrokers are determining exactly what their Newcastle Labor candidate says to the media offers a glimpse into how the Labor candidate would be handled if she were elected in March", Michael Osborne, the Greens candidate for Newcastle, said on October 29.
Osborne was commenting on the claim by the October 28 Newcastle Herald that the first media release issued by the endorsed ALP candidate for the seat, former NBN TV newsreader Jodi McKay, was a "doughnut" — a generic media release originating from NSW Labor's Sydney head office.
The Herald wants to be able to campaign for local business interests in harmony with a new, marketable, local Labor MP. Its exposure of the source of McKay's first media release was aimed at embarrassing her into saying something about local issues.
The other option for local businesspeople is to back Newcastle Lord Mayor John Tate, who has decided to stand for the state seat of Newcastle. After being courted by the ALP, Tate has decided to run as an independent. He can now grandstand about being opposed to being parachuted in against the wishes of the Labor rank-and-file.
The mayors of Wollongong and Goulburn, along with Tate, jointly announced their candidatures on October 6. John Price, the 23-year Labor veteran and current state MP for Maitland, has said he will quit parliament at the end of this term. This will stretch Labor for high-profile candidates in what were once safe seats.
The war-chest for the McKay campaign has reportedly hit $100,000, a clear signal that Labor is worried.
The Save Our Rail community campaign has called a December 2 midday public meeting at the Banquet Room at Newcastle City Hall to discuss the election. George Paris, Save Our Rail's secretary, said: "We know that the rail line is just one of the issues on which the state Labor government has blatantly ignored the people's wishes, and we are now inviting those people who feel they have not been getting a fair hearing to join us ... to voice their concerns."