Jennie George's retirement puts Stephen Jones in the hot seat

By Brett Cox
Updated November 5 2012 - 9:30pm, first published November 20 2009 - 3:16am

The retirement of Jennie George paves the way for Community and Public Sector Union national secretary Stephen Jones to be the new Throsby MP after the election.Yesterday's events, predicted by the Mercury last month, will allow Mr Jones to submit his nomination to the Labor Party national executive, who are set to appoint a candidate to the safe seat.It is understood he will be nominated today and be declared the candidate by Christmas.Mr Jones declined to comment yesterday, saying the focus should be on Ms George's announcement.His appointment will follow a factional deal that has lasted since 1997, which allowed the Labor hard Left to hold Throsby and the Right Fowler, a safe seat in Sydney's west.There is unrest among rank and file members in the Illawarra and no love lost between factions over the issue, with the Left accusing the Right of a behind the scenes campaign to oust Ms George and discredit Mr Jones' links to the region.The Right say the Left are hypocrites for not supporting a rank and file vote."It's difficult when colleagues consciously brief and talk to the media, usually off the record, of course," Ms George said yesterday."... I have never ever picked up the phone to destroy or damage or hurt the credibility of many of my colleagues with whom sometimes I would have quite serious difference of opinions."Ms George said "brand Labor" had "credibility issues" in the Illawarra, and had a message of advice: "disunity is death".The Throsby MP reiterated that the decision to retire was her own and she was not pushed. She said other MPs and branch members had asked her to stay on in recent weeks."Let me just say with absolute conviction that the decision is mine and mine alone, that I've made together with (partner) Dennis," she said.

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