NSW Labor 'needs generational change'

·3-min read

Chris Minns has announced his third bid for the NSW Labor leadership, saying it's time for fresh ideas and generational change.

The 41-year-old Kogarah MP confirmed on Monday he will formally nominate for the position, after Jodi McKay resigned under pressure on Friday.

Former NSW opposition leader Michael Daley, who led Labor for four months prior to its 2019 election defeat, announced on Sunday he too was nominating for the top job.

Since 2013, Labor party rules require that the caucus and the rank-and-file members vote to elect a leader if more than one person contends.

Former frontbencher Mr Minns is arguing the party's leadership needs a complete reset - not recycling - and has framed the looming battle as a contest between young and old.

Mr Daley, 55, served as a minister between 2008 and 2011 when the party was last in government. Ms McKay is also a former government minister.

"I'm not a member of the previous Labor government, but I will put to my colleagues that that's a good thing," Mr Minns told reporters.

"We're in our 10th year of opposition and something has to change - that change should be generational.

"We need fresh ideas and a different approach to politics."

Mr Minns said he is confident he'll be elected leader, and promised to refocus the party's message on working people and offer solutions - not just criticism.

But in reality, both men face significant stumbling blocks on their path to the leadership.

Mr Minns is tarnished by accusations from other party figures that he orchestrated Ms McKay's downfall.

He lost out in a contest with Ms McKay in 2019, and her supporters say his camp has been "white-anting" her ever since.

"It is clear that although I was elected in a democratic ballot there are those within our party that have never accepted the outcome of that process," Ms McKay said when announcing her resignation.

But Mr Minns attempted to downplay his role on Monday, thanking Ms McKay and saying she has "a big role to play in the future of the Labor party".

On the other hand, Mr Daley is counting on the anger over Ms McKay's departure.

He has said Ms McKay should never have been "forced out" of the leadership, calling the ordeal shameful, and promising to appoint her to a very senior shadow cabinet position.

But his nomination has drawn the ire of Asian-Australian members of the party.

A group including Labor councillors, party officials and rank-and-file members have crafted a joint statement opposing Mr Daley's candidacy, over comments he made in 2019.

Mr Daley was filmed speaking about people from Asia with PhDs taking jobs from young Australians.

He apologised again on Monday, saying it was a "stupid" "throw-away line" and he didn't mean it.

"I've thought about those comments, every single day since the election," Mr Daley told ABC radio on Monday.

"I've tried to be a healer and a builder and a helper of people and I absolutely failed myself and the party on that occasion, no doubt about it."

But Mr Daley argued he deserves a second shot at being leader because in only four months in 2019 he "saved the show" by lifting the party's vote by about 9 per cent.

Whoever prevails will become the fourth NSW Labor leader in less than three years, following Luke Foley, Mr Daley and Ms McKay.

The Berejiklian government is already seizing on that instability, with the treasurer and premier both saying the latest saga proves Labor is focused on themselves, not the people of NSW.

But the ballot process is lengthy, so the party will remain in turmoil for weeks and will likely be without a leader when the government hands down its budget in late June.

"Democracy sometimes is messy," Mr Minns said.