NSW ALP leader Luke Foley: warrior of the Left who's ready to take on Baird-->
Originally published: The Sydney Morning Herald, 6 January 2015.
By Nicole Hasham
As Luke Foley took the lectern on his first day as NSW Labor leader, his three dark-haired children settled into a corner and scribbled in notebooks, recording their dad's big moment in biro.
Not too long ago, Mr Foley was heading towards a quiet Christmas break with his children and wife Edel. Now he is the party's 23rd leader, and from now until March will largely be on the road telling voters why he deserves their favour.
"I'm a husband and a father. I live a normal life in the suburbs, [and] I am committed to the future of this state," he said.
"I am determined to lead a party … that puts forward realistic solutions to the challenges this state faces."
His three young children Aoife, Niamh and Patrick giggled and swung their legs as their father told a packed press conference he was an "unlikely leader" who would be his own man.
Formerly a union chief and assistant general secretary of NSW Labor, Mr Foley is a warrior of the party's Left who secured the top job through the support of the Right.
But Mr Foley, 44, rejects the government's claim his promotion is a win for the Labor Party machine – saying he will "ignore factions" and weigh every issue on merit.
He will retain Labor's opposition to government plans to partially lease the electricity distribution and transmission network, but was open to the concept of asset privatisation. He went so far as to endorse the government's lucrative port sell-off – a position at stark odds with his predecessor John Robertson.
Known as a fierce, thoughtful intellect, Foley is an avid reader with a natural interest in policy matters, whom colleagues consider the party's standout performer in the upper house this term.
A committed Catholic, Mr Foley was elected to the NSW upper house in June 2010 to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Ian Macdonald. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of NSW – the first generation of his family to gain a university education.
Mr Foley listed his priorities as job creation, investment in health and education and protection of the natural environment.
"Creating more jobs close to home will reduce the length of the daily commute to work, relieve congestion on our roads, trains and buses and give more people more time with their loved ones," he said.
As for his own loved ones, with whom he spoke at length before taking the top job, Mr Foley said he had their "total support" – although he admitted last week that his children, aged eight, six and five, mostly cheered him on because they "like seeing daddy on TV".
Despite apparently being coaxed into the leadership by colleagues, Mr Foley said his dedication to the job was wholehearted.
"I am up for this challenge, I will relish the battle of ideas with [Premier] Mike Baird," he said.
"We've never exchanged a cross word [but] that might change in the next little while."
Originally published as: NSW ALP leader Luke Foley: warrior of the Left who's ready to take on Baird