She’s A Lady

There are many people I have a great deal of respect for, but only a select few that I can say I truly admire.

Amongst those few is Kristina Keneally.

On Saturday, I was dismayed to find an email in my inbox from Kristina announcing that she was leaving NSW Parliament. I’m sure every ALP member who received the email was just as shocked as I was.

Kristina Keneally is a woman of immense courage, and strong principles. She is the type of person who see’s what needs to be done, and does it, no matter what the cost to her own standing. As an electorate, Hefron could have had no finer for a member, as a Party, we were honored to have her as a leader, and as a state, we were privileged to have her as Premier.

Kristina took over the leadership of NSW Labor, and became the 42nd Premier of New South Wales when the Labor Party was at its lowest. It was the most poisoned of chalices, but it was one she accepted readily despite the hard work she knew was to come.

Kristina, although born in Las Vegas, grew up in Ohio. A gifted soccer player, she clearly learnt valuable lessons in those days about working as part of a team, because she held NSW Labor together at what was arguably the toughest times the party had ever seen.

In fact, Kristina has always been the sporting type, famous for cycling into work most days. She is on the board of the Rabittoh’s football club, and is now the new boss for Basketball Australia.

Kristina met her husband Ben, an Australian, at a World Youth Day event in Poland. She moved to Australia in 1994, and married Ben in 1996 when they briefly returned to the US for Ben’s work.

Although it was Ben who was the keener of the couple for a career in politics, the ALP required a female candidate, so Kristina ran instead.

After winning office in 2003, Kristina went on to hold many roles within Parliament. Kristina served NSW as Minister for Disabled Services, and also as NSW Planning Minister.

On the 4th December 2009, Kristina Keneally was sworn in as the first female Premier of NSW, after defeating Nathan Rees the day before in a caucus ballot. To say she took on the role at the worst possible time imaginable would be a gross understatement.

Never the less, Kristina was under no illusions of the challenges that would lie ahead. She knew only too well the monumental effort that was going to be required to save the party from utter annihilation at the next election.

Kristina’s family must have thought she was crazy, taking on such a massive role at such a hard time. It is a testament to her family that they showed her so much support throughout what must have been a tough time. I am sure now that Ben, and their children are as proud of Kristina as she is of them.

Ben and Kristina Keneally

The ALP had been in power in NSW for what had seemed like an eternity, and there was a palpable feeling in the community of a need for change. Even the prospect of a lackluster Premier like Barry O’Farrell was not going to turn the public around, a miracle was needed.

Labors answer, was Kristina, and for a while, it even looked like there was a chance she’d pull it off.

We all know that Keneally and Labor were defeated in the 2011 election, it was a loss that was expected. At the time it seemed like a disaster for NSW Labor, and it was. However, in hindsight, one wonders at how much worse it could have been.

Some estimates at the time, had Labor being knocked down to as few as 13 seats in the current parliament. In the end, Labor managed to hold 20 seats, while that may have seemed catastrophic to many at the time, after the recent election result in Queensland, we should be glad we held on to that many seats in NSW, much of the credit for that belongs with Kristina.

The final result in my opinion was not the fault of Kristina, in fact, I think she saved our bacon in many ways. It should be remembered that throughout her time as Premier, despite Labor being hugely unpopular in the electorate, Kristina spent most of her time ahead of O’Farrell in the preferred Premier polls. It was only towards the end, and after a series of scandals, a press that had seemed to have grown beyond hostile, and what also came across as an endless stream of resignations, that Keneally’s popularity began to wane.

I often wonder where we would be now if the party hadn’t imploded so close to the finish line. I’m not saying that we could have won, but we may have held on to a few more seats, and some valuable members such as Firth and Borger. We may have even averted the situation we are in now, where the state is being run by the gun nuts. You see, the Shooters & Fishers hold the balance of power, resulting in increased gun lobbying, shooting in National Parks, and even death threats in Parliament House during a debate, directed at a Greens MP, something I feel should result in the expulsion of this member, Robert Brown.

In her time as Premier, Kristina achieved many things, amongst them was massive disability package that was the largest the country had ever seen at the time. After 13 years of a Howard Federal government, it was clear that looking after the needy was going to be down to the states. Kristina Keneally’s, and the Minister Peter Primrose’s $2 Billion policy set the standards for others to follow.

During her time, which was also at the height of the Global Financial Crisis, NSW was the only state in the country to achieve 3 consecutive months of growth. Also under Kristina’s watch, NSW jumped up to be the number 1 performing state in education, in terms of both student results and literacy rates.

Those in NSW were also fortunate enough to see the impacts of a huge investment in law enforcement, the states crime rates went into reverse gear.

Kristina also received much praise for being the Premier that finally had the guts to put ethics classes in public schools. This meant that students were not forced into religious studies.

Kristina is also well known for her tireless support of charities.

Kristina is the ambassador for the charity Opportunity International Australia, and is also the Patron of the Stillbirth Foundation.

Opportunity International Australia, is a non-profit organisation that funds small-scale loans to those who need them in developing countries. The idea of this is to enable people to set themselves up in their own business, so that they can not only help themselves and their family, but
also benefit their community.

The Stillbirth Foundation, is not a support organisation as many would assume. The Foundation actually funds research into stillbirth, and is also setting out to increase public awareness of the issue.In 2012, the foundation funded studies that were worth over $250,000.

In her time in Parliament, Kristina earned the respect of both those on the right and the left of the Labor Party,not only for showing grace under pressure, but also for her courageous display of Labor principles and core values.

I am proud to have stood for a seat, albeit the safest Liberal seat in the state, for Kristina. I think she is irreplaceable as a member, and among one of the ALP’s gutsiest leaders ever. Never giving up despite the odds, and always working to better society by serving all it’s members, not just the rich.

Kristina, I wish you all the best in your future endeavors, you will be missed by the party. I am confident you will succeed at achieving all your goals.

Kristina was not the only political resignation last week.

Another female MP to resign from Parliament over the last few days, was Mary Jo Fisher of the Liberal Party. Mary Jo surprised many when she announced she would be resigning from her seat in the Federal Senate.

Mary Jo Fisher – If you are going to steal it may as well be from a struggling independent…

There were few people who better represented the Liberal Party’s moral standing and principles than Mary Jo.

Mary resigned after being caught shoplifting yet again. Still, at least this time there were no allegations of assaulting a member of the stores staff.

The Liberal Party must be so proud.

26 comments on “She’s A Lady

  1. Lovely tribute to Kristina K and well deserved. What a pity to spoil the tone with those last few sentences!

  2. Pete, I love Kristina too. A true lady and who has held her head high in spite of all the badmouthing which she has had to endure. A true role model.

  3. Pete, I saw you taking a bit of a wacking in the msm..aka a failed candidate. Trust me, better to have tried and failed than to have never done anything at all.

  4. Water off a ducks back Min, the story is slowly getting out there, there have been rays of hope, a bit on 7 30, an article in the AFR, I think there is stuff coming soon in the Telegraph, Herald Sun, and also a bit more on ABC.
    I can take a few cheap shots at me, I’ve been called plenty worse 🙂

  5. Pete, but if you ever want to have another crack at it..I’ve coordinated a number of campaigns..and some of the people have actually won. 😉

  6. Wixxy, we your friends have certainly been following your progress. Who could have imagined that after Darling Harbour that all this could have happened. We are all exceptionally proud of you.

  7. Wixxy
    In general I thought that your piece was a reasonable profile of Kristina however your snide attack Mary Jo Fisher at the end blots your copy book somewhat for a couple of reasons, firstly its rather low rent and petty to attack someone with a depressive mental illness and secondly its really unnecessary for this otherwise decent piece about a Pollie that even I respect as a person of intergrity.

  8. I’d like to say someone like Kristina is NEEDED in the Basketball and hopefully one day she may come back into politics.
    Re MJF. I honestly feel very much for her and not doubt think that she has a problem- and I wish her well . However , as a fellow suffer of Panic Attacks I am also very upset at her for blaming them for her shoplifting . And in so doing may have given this disorder a bad name.
    In all my years of going to different therapies I did not once meet someone that shoplifted due to a Panic Attack. Nor is that type of behaviour on the list of symptoms . Actually, the opposite usually happens. I wish some Expert would speak out and either confirm this or teach me something I didnt know !

    So, The result is , am I now to embarrassed to say I suffer from panic attacks, thanks to MJF?

  9. I’m glad to hear you have respect for Kristina Iain.

    Regarding Mary Jo, I think if you put yourself out there as a public person, and a representative of the public, then you are open to public scrutiny.

    If she has a mental illness that makes her commit crimes, she should not be in parliament, we would not let a serial killer in parliament if they were shown to have a mental illness, why should it be different for a serial thief? This is a woman who has been quick to go on the attack in the past.

    I do however have a small amount of respect for her for resigning, although unsure if she was pushed…

  10. Abbott now on. ABC 24.

    Media suggests the government has to get down on their knees and apoligise for being wrong about removing Mr. Howard’s regime.

    If my memory is correct, there was a very large numbers of people demanded that much of the then, was considered to be cruel, unfair and denied people their legal rights, be abolished.

    One reporter suggested to Mr. Abbott, instead of out here talking, he should be inside talking to his people, coming up with a solution.

  11. Wixxy, I suspect pushed as MJF would under normal circumstances go into complete self-justification. That’s something which some people with mental illnesses do attempt. It will be a relief to quite a number of people I am sure if she just decides to sail off into the sunset.

    MJF does present a profile as a serial shoplifter, anger and resentment when getting caught, the self-justification. There is an obviously underlying mental illness. Therefore for this reason, I haven’t tackled the MJF “the criminal” issue considering that this was best left to her health professional. Just me…

  12. Wixxy, I don’t want to make your head swell..but you have a bit of a fan club happening. It’s on my wall. One comment “the only true investigative journalist in Oz today”. Well done mate..

  13. I’m also a fan of Kristina and hopefully, in the fullness of time, she will enter federal politics.

    A true believer, any day of the week she could be seen riding her pushbike to work with her bodyguard alongside.

  14. Is there a story you can’t write well Wixxy? A very moving tribute to a good person who – sitting interstate – seemed to have the best interests of NSW at heart. Someone once commented to me the ALP has a history of giving the hospital passes to extremely capable women.

    On the MJF thing at the end (apart from good riddance to bad rubbish), it shows her ethics when she uses what is probably a genuine mental condition to explain away what could be described (at best) as some really bad life choices; (at worst) illegal actions.

    The shame with Senate resignations in this case is that the tradition is for someone from the same political tribe to be appointed as replacement. Hopefully the next one has some ethics.

  15. Nothing says unelectable better than KK. Fact.

    For the record I found your mention of Jackson’s kids too much, and repeat what others have said about MJ Fisher.

    What would prompt someone to risk her entire career for $60 worth of crap?

    What would prompt a party of good people to see KK as praiseworthy? There seems to be a big push from KK’s camp for some time to publicize and push her image out there – Australian story – and I heard about the basketball things weeks months ago .

    When Mark Scott is tweeting his congratulations for her role at basketball Australia, my sus alarm goes off, and I am reminded of the deep fractures in the hull of the ALP, from coast to coast.

    I associate KK with the current flavour of the polity, bland, vision-less ALP.

    Extremely frustrated – Soil.

  16. Since it’s still on the page I will comment on MJF, tho’ I would have preferred to do it away from all the good vibes that KK deserves. I’m usually a softie for people caught out in all too human failings, particularly things like menopausal aberrations, or depressive illness, but I have no respect for MJF at all. Nothing she said in her any of her statements showed that she really took responsibility for her behaviour. Tried to blame the security guard on the assault issue, and next time accused the police of harassment. She had no choice but to resign.

  17. MJF is doing the right thing and is resigning quietly. As a serial shoplifter she clearly has issues best dealt with via specialist treatment. I didn’t realize that KK was involved with the Stillbirth Foundation. I was a volunteer for that organisation. A very worthy cause for we mums who have lost babies. Even after all these years, I still feel some grief having lost two myself.

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