"Lurk merchants" on notice: Foley-->
Originally published: Sutherland Shire Leader
By Murray Trembath
NEW state Opposition Leader Luke Foley has warned "lurk merchants" engaged in shady development deals in Sutherland Shire to be wary of the woman who would become Planning Minister in a Labor government.
Mr Foley was elected unopposed at a caucus meeting on Monday after John Robertson resigned over "routine" representations he made on behalf of Martin Place siege gunman Man Haron Monis, a constituent, in 2011.
One of Mr Foley's first actions was to appoint Jodi McKay, the Labor candidate for Strathfield, to Labor's front bench even though she has yet to secure a seat in Parliament.
He said Ms McKay, who was the subject of a smear campaign by Labor colleagues when she was the MP for Newcastle, would become Planning Minister if he became Premier.
"She came out of all the ICAC hearings in 2014 as the one person in politics revealed to be incorruptible," he said.
In an interview with the Leader, Mr Foley said he thought overdevelopment would be "the big [local] issue" in the March election.
"There have been a string of controversies on Sutherland Shire Council with the Liberals' headlong rush into overdevelopment, some of which I have to say raises some real questions about probity," he said.
"Some of those lurk merchants down there better keep away from Jodi McKay because I don't think she will have a bar of them."
Mr Foley said Labor faced a tough challenge to win shire seats at the election.
He said a redistribution had made it harder for Labor to retain Miranda, its only shire seat, which Barry Collier won in a landslide at a by-election after Liberal Graham Annesley quit mid-term.
"It will be tough, but we are certainly not writing it off, and we will run a hard and vigorous campaign to keep," he said.
"We have a really good candidate in Greg Holland, whom I have known for many years and who has been a close supporter of, and collaborator with, Barry Collier."
Mr Foley joked about his familiarity with the shire.
"I spent last week on Cronulla beach preparing for the Labor leadership," he said.
"In truth, Santa brought my children surf lessons."
Originally published as: "Lurk merchants" on notice: Foley