Labor strategist calls on Schwarten to quit ALP
LONG-time Central Queensland Labor strategist Barry Large has called upon Rockhampton powerbroker Robert Schwarten to resign from the party after Saturday's election performance.
In a letter to the editor, Mr Large said Mr Schwarten was responsible for Labor looking like it would likely lose the seat of Rockhampton for the first time in decades.
In yesterday's Morning Bulletin, Mr Schwarten outlined the reasons he thought the Labor vote had fallen, among other things singling out the performance of the previous Rockhampton MP Bill Byrne.
Mr Large said it was with great sadness he witnessed the apparent loss of Rockhampton.
"I am not surprised by Robert Schwarten's feeble attempts to blame everyone else, but himself," Mr Large wrote.
"Responsibility for this calamitous loss clearly lies with one person."
He said this was the latest in a string of political failures.
"We have seen Robert Schwarten's failed attempt at putting together a team to take control of Rockhampton Regional Council, his disastrous failed attempt to run the Australian Labor Party campaign for Capricornia and now the community's rejection of his 'first reserve' candidate for the seat of Rockhampton," Mr Large said.
"Robert Schwarten should help to facilitate the renewal of the Australian Labor Party in Rockhampton by accepting responsibility for his pernicious interferences and immediately resign from the Australian Labor Party."
But Mr Schwarten struck back.
"I wear any criticism from Barry Large as a badge of honour," Mr Schwarten said.
"Sadly, he has always lacked the courage to level criticism to my face.
"Unlike him, I spent over 25 years in public office being accessible and accountable to the people of our city.
"His one tilt at being elected to public office ended in tears and showed the mob aren't mugs when it comes to judging quality."
He said he was sick of having to defend himself in matters of "no public interest".
"It takes me away from the things I want to do to keep contributing to our community," Mr Schwarten said.
"I am far from faultless, but I'm not afraid to apologise publicly when I get it wrong.
"Equally, I do not shirk a debate nor will I be cowered by the likes of Mr Large."
He said Mr Large's role in the ALP had been limited "to establishing a branch which I had removed so that's the personal motivation he has against me".
"I did not notice him out until 8pm last Friday night putting up booths at polling stations," Mr Schwarten said.
"Similarly he was nowhere to be seen when it came to the hard yakka of putting up signs .
"Nor did I see him putting in 10 hours on a polling booth last Saturday, nor scrutineering after that."
He said in the 250 collective years three generations of Schwartens had been members of the ALP "not one of us has ever put themselves above the party".
"Despite my late father being twice defeated in pre-selections he never wavered in his commitment to Labor," Mr Schwarten said.
"He was still handing out how to vote cards into his 80s.
"Similarly when I was pushed by the factions out of Rockhampton and into Keppel I copped it on the chin.
"I will stand my record and credibility against yours any day...
"I am a nobody and I think your doctor would advise you that unhealthy obsessions with insignificant people like me is not good for your health."