News National ‘Rotten to the core’: Clean sweep needed at NSW Labor after rise and fall of Kaila Murnain
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‘Rotten to the core’: Clean sweep needed at NSW Labor after rise and fall of Kaila Murnain

Kaila Murnain in happier days with former ALP leader Bill Shorten. Photo: Instagram
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The ugly spectacle of a herd of wild animals eating their young is not uncommon in the animal kingdom.

It is a tradition that’s alive and well within the NSW Labor Right, the ‘‘whatever it takes’’ faction that has periodically turned the ALP’s Sussex Street headquarters into a crime scene.

At an anti-corruption hearing in Sydney this week, as allegations of Aldi plastic bags stuffed with $100,000 in cash, banned Chinese billionaires and suicide notes emerged, the Labor Party was at it again.

Watching NSW ALP secretary Kaila Murnain, 33, come undone as she wept and sobbed in the ICAC witness box was an ugly business.

There is no question she had to go.

She has admitted covering up allegations of a $100,000 donation from a banned donor and providing a misleading statement to electoral funding authorities.

Her evidence suggests she never fully grasped the weighty responsibilities that fell on her young shoulders.

Kaila Murnain devoted her working life to the ALP. Photo: Instagram

But if the Labor Party thinks it can close the chapter on this scandal by disposing of Ms Murnain, it is kidding itself.

NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay gave it a good go, describing Ms Murnain after she sobbed in the witness box as a ‘‘broken person’’ who will never enter Parliament.

Just weeks ago, Ms McKay was happy enough to weaponise Ms Murnain’s feud with her opponent Chris Minns in a leadership contest.

She would not have won without her, but it was straight under the bus for Ms Murnain, a woman who has devoted her entire working life to the Labor Party since she was 15 years old.

To her critics, she was a puppet who got too big for boots, calling herself ‘‘the boss lady’’ and bullying her political enemies.

But some responsibility must also fall on the shoulders of those who put her there, including former friend Sam Dastyari, who treated ICAC as some sort of joke – turning up on a lime-green share bike and wisecracking in the witness box.

He told ICAC he urged her to ‘‘cover her arse’’ and talk to the lawyers when she confided in him about the banned donation.

Then he never checked in again with the woman he had mentored since she was teenager about what happened.

A Labor senator at the time, he did nothing.

And what of those who looked the other way or did nothing to address the sick culture at NSW’s head office, including Anthony Albanese? What has he done to clean up the mess?

There is a long tradition of young gun NSW ALP secretaries dating back to Graham ‘Richo’ Richardson, who dropped out of university to apprentice as a Labor head kicker when he was barely out of his teens.

He took on the top job at the age of 26. He also backed in Ms Murnain.

But one look at the recent generation of NSW Labor bosses – including Mr Dastyari, who resigned from Parliament in disgrace after taking money from Chinese donors, Jamie Clements, who resigned after a sexual harassment scandal and was handed the $100,000 Aldi bag, and Ms Murnain who was suspended after admitting signing a misleading document about the $100,000 – tells you there is cancer in the NSW Labor Party.

It’s difficult to see the Labor Party winning an election at a state or federal level unless it cleans out the NSW branch, which appears rotten to the core.

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