Phelps' boss, Gary Nairn, faces an uphill battle to keep the seat. Time will tell whether Dr Phelps' gaffe will do any electoral damage to Mr Nairn.
Still, the Parliamentary Liberal Party should think twice before hanging Phelps, who is one of the few intelligent (if not intelligible) people left on the conservative side of the NSW Libs. Phelps might shoot his mouth (and pen) off from time to time. But then, such a quality never did Wilson Tuckey any harm.
Here's my recollection of Phelps from his younger days in Crikey on 20 September 2007 ...
I've known Peter Phelps since 1995. He was a
member of the Left who then defected to the Right. He is a very smart chap with
a PhD in history from Sydney Uni.
Phelps first burst onto the conservative scene
as editor of a Right Wing Young Liberal newsletter called "The Atlas" which
lasted some 5 or 6 editions.
In 1996, Phelps went to work for Federal
Member for Lowe Paul Zammitt. At first Zammitt stopped Phelps from doing
factional work, hoping that behaving in a factionally neutral manner would gain
Zammitt a ministry.
Zammitt forced Phelps to stop producing his
"The Atlas" newsletter after Phelps ran a front page editorial calling for
Medicare to be abolished.
Zammitt's factional neutrality didn't gain him
a ministry. Phelps suggested to Zammitt that he become an internal Right Wing
warrior of Sydney's inner-west. Zammitt took on this advice but his paranoia led
him to upset more conservatives than lefties.
Zammitt eventually saw the writing on the wall
and decided to ditch the Liberal Party altogether and become an independent.
Poor Phelps was left high and dry. However, he was looked after and has now
risen up the ranks to become chief of staff to two Special Ministers of State.
The Coalition has little reason to complain
about Phelps, who has always been known to speak his mind, even if potentially
embarrassing his politician bosses. Phelps' latest foray against Mike Kelly is
quite characteristic of his brash style, something he has maintained since his
Young Liberal days.
Phelps is merely behaving consistently with
the culture of the NSW Liberal Party. Here, politics is treated like a game of
cricket, and Phelps is someone who prefers to bowl bouncers. Sadly, on this
occasion, all he has achieved is adding runs to his opponent's run
© Irfan Yusuf 2007