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Foley to run for ALP leadership

Luke Foley has emerged as the third candidate in the race for Labor leader in NSW.

Luke Foley has emerged as the third candidate in the race for Labor leader in NSW.

New South Wales Labor Environment spokesman Luke Foley has emerged as the third candidate in the race to find the party a new leader ahead of the March state election.

At a press conference at Sydney Olympic Park, Mr Foley confirmed he was seeking the party’s support for the top job, left vacant by John Robertson’s sudden resignation last week.

“I will bring ideas, energy and above all, my Labor values,” he said.

“Labor’s values are timeless – a fair go for all, a decent life for everyone.”

Robertson signed Monis letter
Robertson steps down as NSW opposition leader

Mr Robertson quit after revelations he signed a letter to a government department on behalf of Man Haron Monis, the gunman responsible for the Sydney siege.

It means his replacement has less than three months to convince the public that Labor is a viable alternative to Liberal Premier Mike Baird, who is consistently ahead in the polls.

Luke Foley has not wasted any time, with his announcement that he will contest the leadership ballot doubling as a campaign speech.

“A modern Labor party led by me will champion an enterprising private sector and an essential public sector working side by side in the interest of our state,” he said.

“I will champion economic activity that creates jobs and prosperity, and I’ll also champion environmental protection.”

The election is set down for March 28 next year.

Despite the seemingly insurmountable challenge, two Labor MPs showed immediate interest in the job –former finance minister Michael Daley and former emergency services minister Steve Whan.

A leadership spill is expected within the New South Wales Labor party this week, due to concerns the Opposition leader John Robertson provided electoral help to the Sydney siege gunman.

John Robertson quit as NSW Labor leader last week.

On Christmas Eve, Mr Foley told the ABC he wanted to think about his decision over Christmas.

“I have spent the last five day in my own home with my family discussing this option with them, my wonderful wife and gorgeous three kids want me to do this job,” he said today.

The Labor caucus will meet on January 5 to elect its new leader.

Luke Foley does not have a seat in the lower house, triggering speculation that Labor’s head office on Sussex Street would use national executive powers to parachute him into the Auburn seat.

But today, Mr Foley dismissed that.

“If I’m elected leader, I will put my name forward for Labor pre-selection for Auburn,” he said.

“This is my community, I live just down the road…it is a seat that has not concluded its pre-selection.”

Barbara Perry has been the member for Auburn since 2001.

When questioned about what his decision meant for her, Mr Foley indicated he had Ms Perry’s support.

“Barbara has asked me many times over the past year to consider putting my name forward for Labor pre-selection for Auburn,” he said.

“I’ve talked to Barbara in recent days and this morning.

“I’m absolutely confident the close political and personal relationship I have with Barbara will continue.”

The seat is considered relatively safe for Labor, with a margin of 7.2 per cent.

Ms Perry held various portfolios when Labor was in power, as Minister for Western Sydney, Juvenile Justice and Local Government.

She is currently caught up in a dispute with her opponent in the battle for preselection, accusing Auburn Councillor Hicham Zraika of branch stacking.

Ms Perry has taken the matter to an independent tribunal, an avenue open to her under party reforms introduced by the former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

NSW shadow treasurer Michael Daley said there was unity among the candidates and that he would support Mr Foley.

“This is all a sideshow – who is the favourite, who is the underdog, it’s all a side show,” said Mr Daley today.

“We’ve all got good support within the caucus, obviously these ballots are always very close.

“I expect this one to be very close as well, this demonstrates something that will really worry the liberal party.”

Ms Perry welcomed Mr Foley’s announcement of candidacy for leadership but said she would not withdraw her name from the Auburn preselection.

“I have not withdrawn my name from the Auburn preselection and I have no intention whatsoever of withdrawing the serious charges placed before the Review Tribunal,” she said in a statement.

“I fully expect everyone involved to honour the Party’s public commitments to reform by maintaining the highest standards of integrity in both the preselection and Review Tribunal processes.”

-ABC

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