Foley looking to cause an upset

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Originally published: Barrier Daily Truth

Broken Hill’s Labor councillors look forward to working with NSW Labor’s new leader Luke Foley who will bring “new energy” to the party, according to Darriea Turley.

Shortly after being elected unopposed as ALP leader yesterday, Mr Foley said he could “do a lot” in the next 12 weeks to close the gap between himself and popular Premier Mike Baird.

“I can do a lot: watch this space,” he said.

“Come along for the ride.

“I am in this to win it.

“I’m a big sports fan as many of you know and I’ve seen some upsets in my time.”

Mr Foley, an upper house MP, was the only nominee for the party’s leadership and was elected unopposed in a caucus ballot yesterday.

He replaces John Robertson who quit as leader after admitting to signing a letter on behalf of Sydney siege gunman Man Haron Monis as his local MP in 2011.

While surprised by Mr Robertson’s sudden resignation, Cr Turley said yesterday that Mr Foley had long been touted as a future Labor leader.

She believes Labor has already made inroads into the coalition’s stranglehold on power, pointing to wins in two recent by-elections in the Hunter region and the Newcastle lord mayor election.

“Luke Foley brings new energy to the debate,” she said.

Labor councillors had been lobbying on issues important to locals, including the sustainability of water, education, infrastructure and the state of TAFE.

“We’ll continue to fight and look forward to working with Luke and the team,” Cr Turley said.

Mr Foley, 44, has pledged to lead a Labor party of solutions and “never a mere party of protest”.

“I bring to this job ideas, energy and above all my Labor values,” he said.

“Those values are timeless: a fair go for all, a decent life for everyone and a helping hand to those who need it most.”

He said Mr Robertson had turned down his offer to be included in his shadow cabinet.

Meanwhile, Mr Foley, who is a devout Catholic, denied being an ideologue and said he was open-minded on gay marriage. He has voted against same sex marriage in the past.

Mr Foley’s elevation to the leadership was widely expected after his main rival, shadow treasurer Michael Daley, pulled out of the running last week when ALP head office threw its support behind Mr Foley.

But Mr Foley denies he has been installed into the party’s top job by Labor’s “faceless men” and describes himself as an unlikely and reluctant candidate.

He was joined by his wife Edel and children Aoife, Niamh and Patrick during the press conference.

Treasurer Andrew Constance said Mr Foley was “just another union boss” installed by ALP head office.