Strathfield MP Jodi McKay has been elected as the New South Wales Labor leader with a clear majority.
Ms McKay defeated Kogarah MP Chris Minns in a caucus vote 29 to 21, and sealed the deal by also winning 63 per cent of the votes of 10,800 rank-and-file members.
It means that for the first time in NSW, two women will face off in parliament as opposition leader and premier, following Gladys Berejiklian’s March state election win.
Labor has been without a leader since Michael Daley stepped down in the wake of the party’s damaging defeat.
During the Labor leadership race, both Ms McKay and Mr Minns admitted there were lessons to be learned from that loss, as well as the recent federal election result.
Ms McKay, the member for Strathfield, was previously a minister in Kristina Keneally’s Labor government, but was widely praised for later testifying against figures within her own party during hearings at the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
The 49-year-old former newsreader ran for the leadership under the slogan “strength and integrity” and campaigned with a focus on regional NSW, disability services and homelessness.
Her opponent Mr Minns had pitched himself as a candidate representing generational change under the banner: “New leadership.”
Both politicians are from the dominant Right faction, but Ms McKay had the backing of NSW Labor’s general secretary Kaila Murnain.
Mr Minns had been talked about as a future Labor leader by some elements within the party even before he even entered parliament in 2015.
Last year he took an unsuccessful tilt a the top job against Michael Daley.
But Ms McKay had a higher profile as Opposition Transport Minister and managed to increase her majority in the seat of Strathfield at the last election.
It is the first time that the rank and file have been involved in a leadership ballot to elect the state Labor leader.
Ms McKay will now have just a few days before the next caucus meeting when Labor MPs will meet again to vote on other key leadership positions including deputy leader and the Upper House leadership team.
The deputy leadership position, which traditionally goes to an MP from the Left faction, could cause further divisions within the party.
Two Left faction MPs, veteran Penny Sharpe — who has been acting as deputy leader — and Swansea MP Yasmin Catley, have both expressed interest in the job.