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Without doubt, former NSW Opposition Leader and Member for Strathfield Jodi McKay is the most popular politician amongst the Indian community in her state. McKay wows all at community gatherings with her knowledge of and love for Indian culture and traditions – and an enviable collection of saris helps just as much.
A recent story doing the rounds has been of Jodi McKay being courted by the NSW Government to take up the position of the state’s trade envoy to India.
Sky News Political Editor Andrew Clennell broke the story. “I revealed (yesterday) that the NSW government had been undertaking talks with former Labor leader Jodi McKay about her becoming a trade envoy to India, something which would yield a by-election in Strathfield with a 5 per cent margin and could give Gladys Berejiklian a majority government,” Mr Clennell said. “The minister in charge of these $500,000 a year trade envoy appointments, Deputy Premier John Barilaro, did not deny talks with Ms McKay.”
Speaking to Indian Link, McKay has indicated that she has been approached and is interested in the role but discussions with the government have not progressed any further. “I am currently focussed on helping the people of my electorate of Strathfield as they are going through difficult times during this lockdown,” she said.
Jodi McKay resigned as Leader of the Opposition after being targeted by factions for failing to win the Upper Hunter seat in a by-election in May this year. The Upper Hunter seat has been held by the National Party for over 80 years and never by the Labor Party. Though offered a front bench role by the new Opposition Leader Chris Minn, McKay declined the offer.
There is a growing trend for politicians to be appointed to diplomatic and special posts, especially to India. Former NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell, the current Australian High Commissioner to India, was himself NSW’s trade envoy at one stage. If Ms McKay does take up her new role as trade and investment envoy, she would be stationed in Mumbai to push for increased business activity. The relationship between NSW and India, despite huge potential, has seen stops and starts for too long. There was momentum in the early part of the last decade when as Premier, Barry O’Farrell put this as a top priority. Yet Premiers that followed – Mike Baird and Gladys Berejiklian – have not been able to focus on this relationship.
Appointing a leading politician who has a special regard for India can only help in increasing bilateral trade opportunities. As a nation, Australia is being drawn towards India due to its obvious opportunities, as well as its trade and diplomatic fracas with China.
PM Scott Morrison has recently appointed former PM Tony Abbot as a special envoy to India. Ms McKay taking up her new role will further demonstrate the seriousness of a move towards India.
If this appointment does proceed, the seat of Strathfield, which is held by Labor by a narrow margin of 5%, will also be in play in the ensuing by-election.
It could well be a test for the new Opposition Leader Chris Minn, and a loss for Labor can give Gladys Berejiklian a majority government in NSW.
READ ALSO: Forget China. India is our future
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