Failed Labor candidate Kristina Keneally is back among her millionaire neighbours on Sydney‘s northern beaches after the humiliating loss of a safe Labor seat 70km away.
Ms Keneally was parachuted in as the candidate for the seat of Fowler in south-western Sydney, a two hour round trip from her home on the exclusive Scotland Island.
But the controversial move backfired spectacularly and she lost with a swing against Labor of around 16 per cent – one of the party’s few dark spots in the election.
Kristina Keneally (in baseball cap) is spotted back at her exclusive northern Sydney enclave of Scotland Island after losing the key marginal seat she was parachuted into
Even her own uncle-in-law, beloved Australian author Thomas Keneally, wrote on Tuesday that Labor ‘parachuted candidates into plum seats over the intentions of locals’.
‘They were heavily punished for it,’ said Mr Keneally, the author of Schindler’s Ark.
On Tuesday, Ms Keneally, who is a former premier of NSW, was seen back in her old home, being shielded from a camera by her bearded policeman son Daniel.
She was wearing a baseball cap and a hoodie in the Channel 9 footage and refused to answer a question from a reporter who asked if her being back in Scotland Island so soon proved she was just a parachute candidate.
Ms Keneally said she would remain in Fowler even if she lost in the election. She rented a property in Liverpool for the campaign.
But voters turned against her for being selected to run by the top brass of the Labor Party, including Anthony Albanese, over local lawyer Tu Le.
Their votes went instead to another local, Dai Le, a former Liberal who ran as an independent.
‘A lot of Labor voters were so angry with the fact that the Labor Party was arrogant enough to think that they can parachute somebody from the northern beaches … to represent us,’ said Dai Le, who is not related to Tu Le.
Former Labor senator Graham Richardson said on election night that Ms Keneally was ‘like an alien walking around the Fairfield shops in a $2,000 dress’.
Kristina Keneally is pictured campaigning in the seat of Fowler in front of a poster for her opponent Dai Le, who won the seat with a huge swing against Labor
Ms Keneally has been accused of ducking blame for losing what was previously one of the safest Labor seats in the country.
Outgoing Fowler MP Chris Hayes announced that he would not be contesting the seat for the federal election, which left a space open for a new Labor candidate.
Vietnamese-born Tu Le was originally set to win pre-selection to run for Labor. She was a former staffer of Mr Hayes and had his backing as the Labor.
But she was sidelined by Labor powerbrokers in favour of Ms Keneally.
The move caused outrage amongst locals in the area, and led to Ms Keneally’s stunning defeat in an electorate Labor had held since its creation in 1984.
But the former senator was unable to admit her loss in a tweet on Sunday, instead saying it was Labor that couldn’t claim the seat.
Kristina Keneally (pictured) lost the safe Labor seat of Fowler after she was controversially parachuted into the electorate
Vietnamese-born lawyer Tu Le (right) was originally set to win pre-selection for Fowler. Ms Le was a former staffer of Mr Hayes and received his backing as the Labor candidate. (Pictured with Anthony Albanese)
The senator conceded on Sunday before she congratulated Ms Le on her victory in a tweet. Several users on the platform noticed the carefully-worded tweet focused the loss of Fowler on the party rather than Ms Keneally herself
‘At the end of today, it seems that Labor will not claim victory in Fowler,’ the American-born politician wrote.
‘I congratulate Dai Le and wish her well. Thank you to the people who voted Labor & the volunteers on our campaign.’
Ms Keneally concluded her concession tweet by congratulating newly-appointed Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, the Labor party and telling her followers a ‘better future for Australia lies ahead’.
Several users on the platform noticed the carefully-worded tweet focused on the loss of Fowler on the party, rather than Ms Keneally herself.
‘In the end, Kristina Keneally is to blame for losing the super safe heartland Labor seat of #Fowler,’ tweeted journalist Troy Bramston.
‘But in true Keneally style, she is not to blame, only Labor is – ‘Labor will not claim victory’ …’
The political journalist later told Sky News Australia that it was ultimately a ‘terrible decision’ from Labor.
‘You can’t just parachute someone from the northern suburbs of Sydney to western Sydney,’ he said.
‘It’s a lesson for Labor too; don’t take constituencies for granted.’
The senior Labor politician was unceremoniously dropped into the south-west seat of Fowler at the last minute despite having no connection to the area
Mr Bramston’s sentiments on the decision were echoed by several other Twitter users.
‘Slow Clap for @KKeneally and #Labor’s desperate parachute ‘strategy’. Did they really think Australians can be fooled that easily,’ wrote one.
‘Well done. Parachuting Keneally in was a complete disgrace and Labor should learn from this experience,’ said another.
The move by Labor ultimately lead to many loyal supporters turning their back on the party for the first time in their lives and voting for Ms Le