Kristina Keneally’s not letting the loss of the Bennelong byelection hold her back, with musings she’s now the front runner to take over former Senator, Sam Dastyari’s vacant seat in the Australian Senate.
Keneally’s two main rivals for the job, Transport Workers’ Union boss, Tony Sheldon and Tara Moriarty have, by all accounts, backed out of the contest. Keneally spoke with Fairfax Media on Wednesday confirming her candidacy.
“I have today indicated to the Labor Party my interest in the Senate vacancy,” she said. “I am humbled to be considered and look forward to further discussions within the Labor Party.
“Over the coming days I will be speaking with rank-and-file members of the NSW ALP and affiliated trade unions to the Labor Party to seek their support.
“I respect the ALP’s nomination process and will work within it to earn the backing of our party’s members and the affiliated trade unions.”
However, there are rumbles that Keneally is far from the unions’ preferred choice with the AAP reporting she faced significant pressure not to stand. Unions worry that her former relationship with two of NSW’s most corrupt politicians, Eddie Obeid and Ian McDonald, will be used as ammunition by the opposition during her tenure.
Conversely, Keneally also has the necessary ‘star power’ to create waves. The Australian electorate knows who she is and recognise her as a competent and dynamic politician, spokeswoman and former premier.
Despite losing the Bennelong byelection to John Alexander on December 16, the result was hardly a true loss for Labor. Keneally secured a swing of 7.6 per cent while Alexander endured a swing against him of about 6.26 per cent. The campaign was short, but Keneally’s impact was not insubstantial.
If the Labor Party and unions now accept her nomination to the Senate, there’s little doubt she’ll make a mark.