Feel a bit sorry for Barry O’Farrell

How would you like to be put in charge of the Titanic after it hit the iceberg?

Last night was probably the high point of the O’Farrell administration, and he was very excited but he could have been more guarded about the rosy future that awaits NSW. He promised honesty, “competency” and making NSW the First State again. He sensibly promised very little during the election campaign and he will need to be careful about raising expectations.

“We have the plans, we’ve got the people, we know we can fix this state”.

Just have a good look at the books. That is one of the first items on the agenda and just as well. Many years of mismanagement cannot be corrected quickly. Some time will be required to find just how much water the Titanic has taken. And a lot more time will be required to pump it out. Just one example: there are suggestions that the redevelopment of the Royal North Shore Hospital has run massively over budget (courtesy of various ALP friends and relations) and so the money that Jillian Skinner planned for much-needed major work on other hospitals has probably been spent already.

Barry heads the most inexperienced administration in living memory and a party that has recently divided along factional lines that have to relevance to the real world of policy. How quickly is that going to change?

John Robertson will hopefully lead the new Opposition which will be a good thing because everyone can be reminded daily that he was a significant part of the iceberg that punctured the state’s finances.

Anyway, tomorrow I fly out to Melbourne.

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34 Responses to Feel a bit sorry for Barry O’Farrell

  1. Boris says:

    I wouldn’t put it in those extreme terms. This election has reminded me of the 1997 UK election. In the UK, the Tory government had been lead by Iron Lady, then by far less effective and less popular John Major, who won in 1992 due to public’s lack of trust in Labor, despite all the slease that pnetrated the Tories from top to bottom. The New Labor revitalised by Blair then took Westminster in the 1997 landslide. They thought the Tories were finished forever…

    Very similar scenario here (in reverse). And don’t bury Labor.

  2. daddy dave says:

    Last night was probably the high point of the O’Farrell administration

    I wouldn’t be so pessimistic. It is possible for governments to have lasting achievements. Hard to remember these days of bumbling mediocrity, I know, but good government, even excellent government, is possible.

  3. Rafe says:

    Boris, there is no parallel. Blair took over an economy that was in good shape, thanks to Margaret Thatcher.

    The Conservative Party is back in Britain but it remains to be seen whether they can achieve anything comparable to the rule of the Iron Lady.

  4. Peter Patton says:

    Well there is no doubt he will have his hands full keeping that ginormous backbench in line.

    Does anybody know how prominent The Uglies are nowadays?

  5. daddy dave says:

    Surely a better comparison is the rise of Thatcher, not Blair.

  6. C.L. says:

    Who are the Uglies, Peter?

    The non bike-riding Tim Tam eaters?

  7. Myrddin Seren says:

    Having been dispossessed from the feeding troughs in the NSW Parliament, Unions NSW will doubtless feel even less collective responsibility to the wider community then they already have.

    John Robertson will be appointed the Unions NSW gatekeeper on the battered remnant of NSW Labor, and will stand back smiling as Unions NSW seeks to destroy the Coalition.

    My bet is the first battleground will be the pork-roll that is Sydney Ferries. Gladys will have to seek reform, and Unions NSW will use that as the test to hold the line at any cost.

    IR outcomes are about to take a step back to the 70s.

  8. C.L. says:

    Rafe, don’t over-emphasise mere economics when it comes to assessing Cameron (or O’Farrell, for that matter). What the British Conservatives have to do is roll back – utterly destroy, in fact – the whole matrix of the Blair/Brown police state. It’s social policy that matters in Britain and unless there’s a change in that realm, you won’t see any improvement in economic governance anyway.

  9. daddy dave says:

    My bet is the first battleground will be the pork-roll that is Sydney Ferries.

    There’s no excuse for running Sydney Ferries at a loss. I know there are empty ferries late at night, but the commuter lines and tourist circuits are jam packed.

  10. Rafe says:

    CL I could not agree more, but the tragedy of Thatcherism is that she saved the economy of the nation (essentially by smashing the paralysing grip of the trade unions) and then it reverted to the social democrats before her reforms had time to permeate to the cultural level. So they spent her capital on expanding the nanny state. She never really made a dent on the budgets of health, education and welfare, desite the lurid stories about the way she slashed and burned. And the cultural reforms would take a generation or more.

  11. Rafe says:

    Thanks to the unions the ferries have to carry an engineer who does nothing. A private line ran ok without the extra crew but that contract was terminated, so far as I know.

  12. Infidel Tiger says:

    Firing 100,000 public moochers on Monday morning would be a good start. In fact if O’Farrell doesn’t have 300,000 unwashed ferals protesting on the streets by Friday, he’s failed.

  13. Quentin George says:

    “Does anybody know how prominent The Uglies are nowadays?”

    The Uglies, ie David Clarke, were destroyed in influence after the disastrous 2007 election. The moderates have dominated preselections since 2008 in NSW. Anyone worrying about the uglies can take a bex and a good lie down.

  14. daddy dave says:

    Firing 100,000 public moochers on Monday morning

    You think there’s that much deadwood?

  15. Myrddin Seren says:

    Look at the comments made in London by Labour Princeling Ed Miliband on the Totalitarian thread.

    If they aren’t allowed to steer the system into ruin under their own control, then they will simply encourage others to tear it up.

    It’s the Cloward-Piven strategy, whether they are either inside or on the outside of power. The means changes – the intended end is the same.

  16. Peter Patton says:


    Thanks for the reassurance. I commented elsewhere that I did not detect their influence in any of the coverage last night.

  17. Quentin George says:

    Peter – I know this because my uncle is a Liberal preselector. Clarke’s been on a donward spiral ever since Alex Hawke went rogue and split the Uglies into a “Moderate Right” (Alex’s faction) and “Taliban Right” (Clarke’s faction). The Wets and Dries have divided the party amongst them and once Clarke goes the Uglies are extinct.

  18. Peter Patton says:

    Yeah, I was going to raise The Taliban too. And correct me if I am wrong, but their power/influence was always far greater than their number, largely because the rest of the party was so exhausted and demoralized, but also because that nasty piece of work who has since died, was such a ruthlessly effective branch-stacking force.

  19. Louis Hissink says:


    The feather bedding is also done under the auspices of OSH and in my case, mine safety regulations in addition. The WA mines department insists that a person be appointed to manage the safety issue etc, of which there is an ever expanding number. Last week I wasted a couple of hours tracking down some statistics because one number was an unusual outlier. It’s just like bad old days in Broken Hill Mine, with its feather bedding of jobs by the BIC.

  20. ennui says:

    Rafe may be prosaic and uninsightful but always reliable.
    On the other hand: My Serenity are you sure it is the Clover-Piven strategy driving this. That is almost quintessentially Sokalsian!

  21. Clarke has an absolute hammerlock on some branches. You can apply to join, but if he doesn’t know who you are, he just sits on the application until you give up and sod off.

    The Lib’s success at this election is an opportunity to destroy Clarke. Success should attract a lot more party members – he relies on controlling a small, manageable number of members in his pocket boroughs. If new members flood in, he’ll lose control. Failure was actually his ally. Success will be his undoing.

  22. JC says:

    Who the hell is Clarke and where did he come from. These people are all new to outta staters.

  23. Boris says:

    There are always similarities and differences.

    The similarities are:

    1) Popular and charismatic leader followed by mediocricy.

    2) One victory too many for the incumbant.

    3) That victory is caused by the weaknesss of the opposition

    4) Regrouped opposition then delivers a crushing blow.

    If all was well during John Major’s rule, why were they decimated?

    You, guys, live in a caged world where silent majority is conservative at heart. This is your wishful thinking. If anything, centre-left thought ios more common in Britain. Labour has lost there due to mediocricy of leadership and excesses, not because of the demise of the ideology. I suspect, ditto here.

  24. Boris says:

    On second thoughts, the word ‘popular’ is misplaced. But both Thatcher and Carr were certainly charismatic.

  25. Rafe says:

    The political culture of the community at large and both major parties is big government social democratic (left) and the so-called right is mostly big government as well (hence the Tea Party movement in reaction to mainstream Republicans). They are all in the business of buying votes with other people’s money and moves in the desirable direction have only happened on odd occasions when sanity broke through in some small part – Thatcher, Hawke/Keating following the Back Bench Dries, aided by the Fall of the Wall which momentarily demoralized the Very Left.

  26. PSC says:

    The political culture of the community at large and both major parties is big government social democratic (left) and the so-called right is mostly big government as well (hence the Tea Party movement in reaction to mainstream Republicans).


    I, for one, welcome our new Agrarian Socialist Overlords.

  27. JC says:

    I, for one, welcome our new Agrarian Socialist Overlords.

    Yea right. Like you weren’t half way between tears and depression last night after hearing the result… like you really were happy to see the libs in power. lol

    And they’re not agrarian socialists by the way. Here’s the thing, PSC. The nationals aren’t our cup of tea here for the most part. The rightwingers here would think they’re kinda loopy, but they’re 1,0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000(power of 10) better junior coalition members than the ALP’s Greens. FFS get things into perspective.

    People here don’t support the libs as much as they want the Green/ALP Alliance out of power and into the hands of properly trained medical professionals who are able to deal with them.

  28. Andrew Reynolds says:

    I think the biggest problem he is going to have is discipline. He will have a lot of backbenchers that do not expect to be returned at the next election and may view this as a good time to get their names in the papers – and the papers are going to be looking for some opposition as they are unlikely to find anything of interest across the chamber for a few years at least.
    Combine that will not enough jobs to go around, resulting in boredom, and you have a recipe for trouble.

  29. Boris says:

    Rafe, I agree with your latest comment. Even Thatcher, while being a strong fiscal conservative, was not quite libertarian in other respects. As you said years ago, hers was a mix of (classical) liberal and social conservative policies. I think social conservatism is out of fashion for good. At least in the UK.

  30. rog says:

    Thanks to the unions the ferries have to carry an engineer who does nothing.

    I think you will find that is more to do with regulation than unions.

  31. rog says:

    Barry is talking about a ‘Decade of Decentralisation’ .

    That should be interesting, I guess he will need to make available incentives?

  32. JC says:


    Stop pretending you know a lot.

  33. Steve Edney says:

    Anyway, tomorrow I fly out to Melbourne.

    Fleeing the state or because your work here done?
    Or does this not relate to the election?

  34. Rafe says:

    I am going to have lunch with Steve Kates:)

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