As the saying goes, you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your relatives.
But that didn’t stop Transport Minister Andrew Constance having fun at the expense of Newcastle Labor MP Tim Crakanthorp in parliament question time.
The Newcastle Herald revealed on Thursday that Mr Crakanthorp’s father-in-law, Jo Manitta, has nominated to run for the Liberal Party at next month’s local government election.
Mr Manitta is a long-time member of the Liberal Party, and often hands out for candidates on election days.
The news apparently delighted Mr Constance, who used a question about Newcastle’s revitalisation to launch into a monologue about his Labor rival’s family feud.
Bemoaning what he called Mr Crakanthorp’s “constant whingeing”, Mr Constance said he wasn’t sure “what the member for Newcastle wants”.
“Instead of sticking up for his community he wants to run it down,” he said.
“It is so bad—and I know the house will love this—that even his own father-in-law is embarrassed about the member for Newcastle … His father-in-law is running for council. Guess who he is running for? The Liberal Party.”
He also lampooned Labor’s call for a ban on property developers on local councils after the Herald reported that Mr Manitta himself had once been a developer.
“It is obvious that the member for Newcastle has been lobbying to ban property developers so he can get through Christmas dinner at the in-laws,” he said.
The speech was littered with objections from Labor – Maitland MP Jenny Aitchison described it as “grubby” and Cessnock MP Clayton Barr asked Mr Constance to “stay away from referring in the Chamber to family members”.
“It is a slippery slope and we should not go there,” he said.
Mr Crakanthorp said told the Herald the minister was playing “petty politics” and said he should be “more focussed on the significant problems in his own transport portfolio”.
“When I have constituents in my electorate waiting 30 minutes for an ambulance, that’s my priority,” he said.
“And the minister’s infrastructure projects blowing out by billions, including the Newcastle light rail by $35 million and trains that don’t even fit the tracks.”