Anoulack Chanthivong says his most fervent hope is that the branch members are given the opportunity to select the candidate to replace retiring member for Macquarie Fields Andrew McDonald.
The Campbelltown councillor and former mayor has confirmed that he will be a candidate for Macquarie Fields.
“Yes, I will be putting my name forward for Macquarie Fields, and I just hope that the branch members are able to exercise their democratic right to choose the candidate of their choice,’’ Councillor Chanthivong told the South West Voice today.
Asked if the Labor Party owes him Macquarie Fields for snubbing him prior to the 2011 election for the seat of Campbelltown – some say on the basis of his Asian background – Cr Chanthivong says he has moved on, but is especially keen to see the local branch decide this time.
In the meantime, he just wants to pay tribute to Doctor McDonald, who announced he would be retiring at the next election to be held in March of next year.
“Parliament will be poorer for Andrew’s departure; he is such a decent man and has done a wonderful job since being elected,’’ Cr Chanthivong said.
The Ingleburn branch president, Sam Moreton, is believed to also be considering running, and he would have the support of the Right of the ALP, whereas Cr Chanthivong would have the backing of the Left faction.
The Left has the bulk of the numbers in the branch, but with questions marks over whether Macquarie Fields is a Left or Right seat it leaves open the possibility for head office intervention as occurred in 2011 to deprive Cr Chanthivong certain victory.
The seat of Macquarie Fields, which used to be called Moorebank, extends from Hoxton Park Road in the north to Henderson Road in the south; and from Camden Valley Way in the west to the Georges River in the east. It takes in the suburbs of Austral, Carnes Hill, Casula, Denham Court, Eagle Vale, Edmonson Park, Glenfield, Long Point, Macquarie Fields, Prestons, Raby, West Hoxton.
Doctor McDonald announced his decision on Thursday, September 18 to resign immediately as shadow health minister and as an MP at the next election. He told the Voice that after almost eight years he had simply had enough of the long hours and the workload and wanted to spend more time with his family.
He took aim at the lack of change in the political workplace: “Other workplaces have changed in a major way in the past few years, but the parliament is definitely not a family friendly workplace,” Doctor McDonald said. “It’s in need of a major change.”
“As someone else said, it’s a high cost, high reward career, being in politics, and I have decided that doing it for eight years is about right.”
As for who replaces him, Doctor McDonald said he had not spoken to anyone about his retirement, but he hoped a rank and file election would be held to choose his successor. “That would be the right thing to do,” he said.
Opposition leader John Robertson paid tribute to Doctor McDonald:
“I would like to acknowledge and thank Dr Andrew McDonald on his enormous contribution to the Labor Party following his announcement last evening that he will not be recontesting the 2015 State Election,’’ Mr Robertson said.
“Andrew is one of the most highly respected figures within the NSW Parliament – having earned the respect of both sides of politics since entering the Parliament in 2007 as the Member for Macquarie Fields.
“He has served as a Parliamentary Secretary Assisting the Minister for Health in the previous Labor Government – and in recent years he has served with distinction as the Shadow Minister for Health and Shadow Minister for Liquor Regulation.
“Andrew has brought a depth of knowledge and experience to his work that is unrivalled in the Parliament.
“Before entering Parliament, Andrew worked for decades as a paediatrician within our public health system – working to deliver the highest quality healthcare to local children.
“Since entering Parliament Andrew has continued with pro bono work at Tharawal Aboriginal Health Service, Campbelltown, Liverpool and Camden Hospitals, as well as teaching medical students from Universities all over NSW.
“In the Parliament he has continued to be one of the strongest advocates for the highest quality healthcare and social justice for children across the state.
“As Shadow Health Minister, Andrew has consistently used his wealth of experience as a health professional to advocate within the Shadow Cabinet and the broader community for improved health outcomes.
“His efforts in pushing for strong action against alcohol fuelled violence as Labor’s Shadow Minister for Liquor Regulation will have a lasting impact in saving young lives in our community.
“On a personal note I will miss the friendship, support and contribution Andrew has made to the Parliamentary Labor team.
“Andrew has indicated that the time is right to leave politics to spend more time with his family – something that I fully understand and respect. Everyone involved in politics understands the sacrifices that are required to fully do the job – and that involves long periods away from our families.
“Andrew will also return to paediatric practice and clinical teaching in south west Sydney following the 2015 election – and I wish him and his family all the best for their future and thank him for his service,’’ Mr Robertson said.