Eddie Obeid is proving to be a daily embarrassment for Labor in Australia. Now they are threatening to engulf Bob Carr.
The spat between former premiers over who was to blame for the rise of powerbroker Eddie Obeid in NSW Labor has again raised questions about how a succession of leaders failed to check his power.
As the allegations of wide-ranging corruption have emerged at the corruption watchdog, former premier Bob Carr has sought to portray himself as having stood up to Eddie Obeid’s influence. It was his successor, Morris Iemma, who had given him ”special status” within the state government, Carr told ABC1’s Four Corners this week – and, by implication, left Obeid unchecked to exploit his position.
Iemma responded with vigour, pointing out that he did not give Obeid a ministry, Carr did.
The picture of how Obeid accrued so much clout in the ALP is much more complex. Iemma might have been a closer friend to Obeid, but Carr turned a blind eye and at one stage even gave character evidence for the powerbroker in a defamation suit against the Herald.
Obeid, a budding Lebanese businessman and owner of ethnic newspaper El Telegraph, joined the Labor Party at 29 and was elected to the Legislative Council in 1991. A good networker with extensive ethnic contacts, he wielded significant clout in the ALP’s western Sydney branches even before he entered State Parliament.