Labor’s surprise star candidate

Former NSW Premier Kristina Keneally (pictured) has emerged as Labor’s star candidate in next month’s Bennelong by-election.

Ms Keneally does not live in the Bennelong electorate, but less than 800 metres away in Boronia Park.

“This is where I live, where I work, where my family is and that I have a long connection to and that I love,” she said.

“This is a great area of Sydney that quite frankly deserves better than the Liberals are giving it.”

Born in Las Vegas, Ms Keneally gave up her United States citizenship to run for New South Wales Parliament.

She quit state politics in 2012 after leading Labor to election defeat, later becoming chief executive of Basketball Australia.

Labor leader Bill Shorten offered her the candidate’s job on the weekend and she accepted it on Monday.

“I am running because this is a moment, this is an opportunity for the community in which I live to stand up and say to Malcolm Turnbull, your government is awful, enough is enough.”

Mr Shorten said his choice for Labor brings a “fighting spirit” to the battle for Bennelong.

“Not only is she a friend of mine, but she’s someone whose insight, judgement and fighting spirit I’ve come to respect,” he said.

Ms Keneally’s campaign is expected to focus on multiculturalism, health care and soaring electricity prices.

She will celebrate her 50th birthday three days after the election and has described as her greatest achievement becoming 42nd Premier of New South Wales.

Ms Keneally is presently employed on TV as a political commentator by Sky News Australia.