Time travel is
something that has, at some time, attracted the imagination of
us all. Wouldn’t it be good to be able to travel back in time
and pick the winning lotto numbers after seeing this weeks draw?
Wouldn’t it be good to go back and make up with that lover you
really wish you had married? Wouldn’t it be good to go back and
find out why the current state of affairs is the current state
‘revelations’ that Federal Labor MP, Belinda Neal and her
husband, NSW Labor MP, John Della Bosca, were abusive and
threatening to employees of a NSW Central Coast club come at a
time when both the federal and state Labor parties are under
siege by their powerbrokers and their constituencies.
the Neal and Della Bosca scandal is now known, is a headache for
more than the staff of the bar and the patrons who witnessed
whatever really did occur that night. The background to the way
this fracas is being played out is just as colourful as the
language supposedly used that night.
The name of the
bar shares a commonality with a little known species of
politician from the NSW Right. They are known as the Terrigals.
This species is a relative newcomer to the Brisbane Waters area
but is renowned for is power, ability to eat its own when
necessary for survival and their brutish demeanour towards any
who are not of their breed.
form a formidable block within the Right faction of the NSW
labor party. Peter Botsman, editor of “Australian Prospect” and
Director of the Whitlam Institute, describes them as being
“known for their ruthless, anti-democratic tactics”. However,
the links that bind the business and political world in the
quiet backwaters of the Central Coast region just north of
Sydney go far deeper than a few drinks at a bar.
Rugby league is
a passion in NSW. From little kids on suburban grounds to the
big hitters in Sydney Stadium, rugby is a brutal game that
demands big bodies, big egos and no mercy. So it comes as no
surprise that Belinda Neal was a Director of the Central Coast
Mariners, the local rugby team. Ms. Neal was, of course, not
alone on the Board. One of her fellow Board members was the
wealthy property developer and mover and shaker, Ray Awadallah.
Mr. Awadallah also happens to be a part owner of the Iguana Bar
in which Ms. Neal and her hubby had their bust up with staff.
One now wonders why the bar management were so quick to offer an
apology? One wonders about the ties that bind big business to
One of the
alleged comments made to the Iguana Bar staff by Ms. Neal was to
the effect of “do you know who I am?” Followed by something to
the effect of, “you will never work in this town again”. While
these alleged comments are yet to be tested, one wonders why she
made them. Again the ties that bind the Terrigals and big
business lie at the heart of them.
Prior to taking
up her seat in the federal parliament, Ms. Neal had been
employed by NSW Lands Minister, Tony Kelly and had served on the
Board of the Festival Development Corporation which controls a
huge swathe of land at Mt. Penang. In another twist of power,
the NSW Education Department, which was run at the time by Della
Bosca, had applied to develop some of the land near Mt. Penang
as a highschool. Concurrent with this is the approval of a
licence to the Bourne Family Hotel Group to relocate a hotel
licence to opposite the visitors centre near Mt. Panang. The
Bourne family run a number of large venues in the Central Coast
region. Bob Bourne is also a member of Della Bosca’s local ALP
branch and was at one time President of the Australian Hotels
Association. Bourne also owns the local Australian Post licence
and has located the outlet in his new pub at Mt. Penang. One
wonders at the links that bind?
Jumping in our
time machine and travelling back to 2003 we find the Terrigals
gathering with the Trogs (another NSW Right faction) to discuss
the post-Carr years in NSW and how they could take back the
power they once enjoyed. Morris Iemma is aligned with the
Terrigals and his rise to power was certainly swift and to many
in NSW, unexpected. He got the Premier’s gig and pretty soon had
promoted prominent Terrigals to his ministry. Della Bosca was
one. Jump forward to 2007 and his wife was put forward as the
Right candidate for Robertson and she fought hard (and some say
dirty) to win pre-selection and the seat last year.
Then along comes
Iemma’s decision to privatise the NSW electricity grid in
defiance of his own party platform. Iemma tells the party to
‘stick it’ and that he will push ahead with his plans to sell
off the grid. No doubt the numbers were crunched and the Right
was certain it would win the vote on the floor of parliament.
Then, out of the blue (or perhaps not) comes news that drives
everything else off the front page and radio talkback lines.
Rudd, is a machine man. These types don’t care much for the rank
and file nor do they care much for the desires of their
constituencies. Oh, they make a lot of ‘cluck, cluck’ noises
from time to time, usually over insignificant issues such as
whether art is porn, but generally they disregard opinions that
vary from their own. Back in 2003 the Terrigals were planning
their agenda once Carr went. When he did, as the Australian
Financial Review put it, “pity the poor voters of NSW who think
they elect their government”.
Ah! for a time
machine. To be able to travel back in time and uncover the bits
and pieces that lead to the present. Having attempted to do that
a little, let me offer my opinion as to why Ms. Neal and hubby
John Della Bosca are now in a pickle.
They are a
highly connected couple who enjoy all the trappings of power and
influence. Their connections are used, as are they, to ensure
that what the powerful want, they get … until they ‘interface’
with real people who in turn get used by their opponents who
attempt to bring them down. Throw into the mix an unpopular
state leader and a federal government who is further entrenching
the policies of the previous government and you have a mix of
intrigue, payback and revenge. We, the public, are mere
spectators to the goings on on the floor of the Colosseum. Our
role in all this is to cheer on the good guys and boo the bad
guys. We are, in effect, the props in a drama that has nothing
to do with us and everything to do with ensuring the promises
made to get certain people elected are fulfilled.
I guess, if we
could turn back time and travel to almost any epoch in human
history, we would find that nothing is really new. Schemers,
frauds and charlatans have always been able to sidle up to power
and taste its intoxicating elixir. I guess Belinda Neal and John
Della Bosca now wish they could turn back time and behave a
little better so as to not do something that allowed for their
enemies, both within the Terrigals and without, to not only
abandon them but to eat them alive.