Labor’s Kristina Keneally finally spoke about her stinging defeat in the election, pointing to a bizarre reason for the community’s decision.
Labor’s Kristina Keneally blamed ‘hard’ lockdowns for losing the seat of Fowler, in Sydney’s south-west, to independent Dai Le.
It suffered a humiliating defeat at Fowler, which so far has never been held by anyone other than Labour.
As the election neared, Ms Keneally was controversially ‘parachuted’ into what was seen as a safe seat.
As the ‘captain of choice’ candidate, Ms Keneally was believed to be unable to lose, with Labor sidelining a local candidate in the process.
But after the loss, Ms Keneally had kept a low profile for the week before finally opening up about it – controversially naming Covid and its impact as the ‘most important factor’ in her loss.
“Fowler had the toughest and longest lockdowns in the state, backed by both the Liberals and Labour, and there was an understandable sense of anger from both major parties as people reacted with ‘a pox on your two houses,'” she told the Sydney Morning Herald.
When pressed by journalist Peter FitzSimons on whether the real issue centered on her being a ‘rich white woman’ parachuted from a ‘distant past’ against Who was a ‘genuine member of the local community,” Ms Keneally dubbed the impact of the lockdowns as the reason for her loss.
“These harsh lockdowns have engendered an understandable parochial feeling that the community has been left behind by both major political parties,” she added.
“And I sincerely believe that if the Labor Party ran me or anyone else in Fowler, they would have encountered the same set of challenges.”
However, Ms Keneally acknowledged her opponent Ms Le was a “strong” candidate and also blamed Clive Palmer for “funding” the United Australia Party (UAP) as a contributing factor to the defeat.
“Although the UAP did not win any seats, Palmer’s impact was to depress the votes of the main parties in the primaries and to deprive the main parties of seats in the Senate and of preferences in the seats of the lower house. “, she said.
The 53-year-old revealed she started thinking things might get ugly when the pre-election started and she had ‘unpleasant encounters’, while anger over lockdowns and mandates vaccination seemed “out of step” with the rest of the nation.
She added that the number of voting cards drawn solely from the UAP also seemed “abnormally high”.
Ms Keneally, who moved to Liverpool during the campaign, added she had no regrets taking the ‘risk’ of leaving the Senate and running for Fowler’s seat, despite his bruising defeat.
She said she was not ‘happy or satisfied’ with her three years in the Senate and thought a move to the lower house would be where she could make her ‘best contribution’.
Fowler’s seat was called on Saturday evening, but Ms Keneally waited until Sunday evening to officially admit defeat.
Ms Keneally said she had spoken to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, but he had not promised her any future dates.
However, she was positive about her future, adding that whenever something “unfortunate” had happened in her life, there was something “unpredictable and extraordinary” to follow.
But she declined to say whether she would return to her home on the island of Scotland or stay in Liverpool after promising she would continue to live in the electorate even if she lost.
She added that her electoral defeat was not comparable to the ” searing pain ” of losing her stillborn daughter Caroline in 1999.
Speaking on Monday, Fowler MP Ms Le said many voters were furious at the Labor Party’s decision to overlook a local candidate in favor of Ms Keneally, who never lived in the electorate before starting his election campaign.
“A lot of voters were so angry that the Labor Party was arrogant enough to think they could parachute someone from the northern beaches to come and represent the South West, one of the most socially deprived communities , to represent us,” she said. Told ABC.
“She has no roots here. She is not tied to this area. So how can we trust that she can deliver for us? She has never experienced the challenges that we have experienced.
“Labour voters in particular were very – they thought it was a slap in the face and an insult to them. These are the comments I received when voters came to vote for me. They never voted for anyone but the Labor Party.
Meanwhile Tu Le, the local Labor candidate who was passed over so Ms Keneally could stand, said she was ‘shocked’ by the result.
“On the ground there was a bit of outrage about the parachute candidate, to be frank, but it was considered one of the safest seats in the country, so I didn’t expect the outcome,” she said.
“This result sent a clear message to political parties: you cannot take local communities for granted and ignore community voices.
It appears Ms Le and the people of Fowler weren’t the only ones who thought Ms Keneally’s candidacy was a bad idea, with members of the Labor Party also agreeing it was the wrong move.
‘We got what we deserved,’ Labor Party insider says The Sydney Morning Herald.
“Kristina is an excellent parliamentarian and member of the team, but this seat made no sense. The maneuver to put her in Fowler was bad and people were clearly okay with it.
Asked if Labor has learned any lesson from the embarrassing loss, the MP told the publication: ‘I really hope so.