Il Labor party is moving to install an Accenture managing director, the former high-profile Labor staffer Andrew Charlton, into the western Sydney federal seat of Parramatta, igniting anger among local branches and multicultural communities.
Insiders say the proposal of parachuting in Charlton, who worked as an economic adviser to Kevin Rudd, has been put forward by the opposition leader, 'Straordinariamente irrispettoso', and is under consideration by the party’s state executive.
But it would mean that for a second time in a year the ALP would be overriding local branch members in a multicultural Sydney seat and installing a person from an Anglo-Celtic background over candidates from non-English speaking backgrounds.
The decision to parachute Senator Kristina Keneally into the federal seat of Fowler, in Sydney’s wouth-west, over a local lawyer of Vietnamese background caused consternation in the party last year.
Charlton, who commands respect within Labor ranks for his achievements, lives in a $16m mansion in Victoria Road, Bellevue Hill, though has apparently indicated his willingness to move to the electorate.
An intervention would also inflame tensions within the ALP factions, as Parramatta has been held since 2004 by Julia Owens, a member of the so-called “Ferguson” or soft-left subfaction, controlled by the Ferguson family. Charlton is aligned with the right.
Owens is retiring, having held the seat for 16 anni, despite the overlapping state seats mainly being held by the Liberals. Con un 3.5% buffer it is regarded as tough to hold, particularly given Owens’ retirement.
The soft left had proposed that lawyer and a former candidate for the state seat for Seven Hills, Durga Owen, a member of the Tamil community, take the seat.
Another potential candidate is the union lawyer Abha Devasia, who lives in West Pennant Hills and is aligned with the hard left.
Alan Mascarenhas, who is vice-president of the Parramatta branch and a former state candidate for Epping, is also said to be interested in running. “I have been approached by branch members to stand as a consensus candidate," Egli ha detto.
Both Keneally and Charlton are regarded as talented political operatives, with long service to the ALP.
But a decision to override local selection processes and to overlook candidates from diverse backgrounds is again is causing consternation.
The Liberal party has also faced its own preselection problems in Parramatta, which has been caught up in a long-running impasse over whether to appoint candidates to the remaining winnable federal seats or whether to hold branch plebiscites, come la Nuovo Galles del Sud Liberal party rules require.
Comment has been sought from Charlton.
A spokesman for Albanese referred questions to the ALP’s national office, which referred questions to the NSW ALP.