Jodi McKay launches bid for NSW Labor leadership
A NSW Labor frontbencher who represents an electorate in Sydney's inner west has appealed to country voters while launching her challenge for the party leadership.
Strathfield MP Jodi McKay announced she would contest the NSW Labor leadership in Homebush West this morning surrounded by dozens of cheering Labor branch members.
Kogarah MP and water spokesman Chris Minns is the only other Labor MP to have nominated for the position after announcing his leadership tilt yesterday.
The leadership ballot will be decided in a 50-50 vote split between the party's rank-and-file members and the caucus. Nominations opened earlier in the week and will close at 2pm today.
Ms McKay, who hails from the tiny town of Gloucester on NSW's Mid North Coast, said disastrous state and federal election results showed the party needed to appeal to a broader range of people.
"I grew up in Gloucester in a country town… that has never voted for the Labor Party and I despair that in rural areas across NSW that there is a view that if you are unhappy with the National Party, you still can't vote for the Labor Party and that has to change," she said.
"I left Gloucester when I was 18 years of age because that's what country kids did then and unfortunately that's what country kids do now … we have to offer kids in the country a better opportunity.
"I say to rural NSW that if a country kid from Gloucester can stand as a leader of the Labor Party, then you can vote Labor."
While she didn't go into detail about policies, Ms McKay said she wanted to address issues in relation to education and homelessness.
"Education is not just about giving kids the opportunity to get a job, it is about economic prosperity," she said.
"We went to the last election talking about schools and hospitals, we went there talking about education but we spoke about infrastructure - we spoke about demountables, we spoke about air conditioning, we spoke about school maintenance. We need to do better than that."
Ms McKay also said she would welcome input from party members concerning how Labor should tackle renewable energy and climate change.
Asked what went wrong for Labor in the March state election, she said the party "failed to put the meat around our argument on schools and hospitals".
She also said former leader Michael Daley's comments that "Asians with PhDs" were taking "our kids'" jobs had stung in her multicultural electorate.
"We had a last week that was very difficult in my electorate, of course it's a multicultural community, almost a quarter of people I represent are Chinese," she said.
"I condemn what Michael Daley said."
While she said a number of branch members had encouraged her to run, Ms McKay she wouldn't presume to have majority support of both caucus and rank-and-file members.
She also refused to speculate on whether the trade union movement would back her.
The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and a branch of the meat industry union both released statements yesterday saying they would not support Mr Minns.
"If the unions are supporting me that's fantastic but I actually want the support of party members," she said.