A round-up of the latest news on by-election and related fronts.
A little extra polling:
• The Australian on Tuesday provided an extra finding from the weekend Newspoll: that opposition to reforming Section 44 has hardened since August, when Barnaby Joyce’s difficulty first emerged. Fifty-one per cent now believe dual citizens should be disqualified from parliament, up seven, with 38% opposed, down five. Forty-six per cent opposed a referendum being held on the matter, with 43% in support.
• Western Australia’s Darling Range state by-election will be held on June 23. Nathan Hondros of Fairfax reports the Liberal preselection, which will be determined by the party’s state council on Saturday, will be contested by Alyssa Hayden, who unexpectedly lost her upper house seat for East Metropolitan region to One Nation in 2017, and Rob Coales, a police sergeant and Serpentine-Jarrahdale councillor. The early mail was that Coales was favourite, but according to Hondros, it is “understood party powerbrokers are supporting Ms Hayden”.
• David Crowe of Fairfax reports the date for the Super Saturday by-elections could be pushed back to July 7, as the government looks at an Australian Electoral Commission recommendation to implement an online tool for candidates to lodge declarations and supporting documentation, so as to avoid further issues arising from Section 44. This had caused initial plans for a date of June 16 to be scotched, although concerns linger about the electoral impact of an eight-week campaign.
• Speaking of, Michael McKenna of The Australian reports the Liberal National Party preselection for Longman is being held off until next Tuesday to ensure frontrunner Trevor Ruthenberg was able to clear up his own Section 44 issue, arising from his being born in Papua New Guinea.
• Georgia Downer has emerged unopposed for Liberal preselection in Mayo. The Australian reports “ambitious conservative” Michael van Dissel was another potential nominee, but withdrew as it became clear the Right was solid behind Downer. In contrast to the Liberals in WA, Labor will be contested Mayo, despite never having held hte saet before. A Labor source quoted by Philip Coorey said the party believed its preferences could assist Rebekha Sharkie, and that failing to run would suppress the party’s Senate vote at the next election.
• Braddon will again be contested for the Liberals by Brett Whiteley, who held the seat from 2013 until his defeat by Labor’s Justine Keay in 2016, and served in the state seat of Braddon from 2002 until his defeat in 2010. The Burnie Advocate reports former McDonald’s licensee Craig Brakey and Wynyard RSL president Gavin Pearce also contested the state executive vote, but Whiteley was chosen unanimously.
• The Western Australian Liberals’ decision to forfeit the Perth by-election, said to have been instigated by Matthias Cormann, has been widely criticised in the party. Following Tim Hammond’s resignation announcement on May 1, Christian Porter told Sky News Australia the party would “undoubtedly” run, and state Opposition Leader Mike Nahan, who had mocked Labor’s unsurprising decision not to field a candidate in the recent by-election for Colin Barnett’s old seat of Cottesloe, said the by-election was “one we need to contest”.
• The Western Australian Greens have announced their by-elections candidates: Caroline Perks, senior sustainability officer at the City of Perth, in Perth; and Dorinda Cox, domestic violence campaigner and former police officer, in Fremantle.
Other preselection news:
• Jane Prentice’s preselection defeat in her Brisbane seat of Ryan has roused controversy over the lack of gender balance in the Coalition. The winner was Julian Simmonds, a Brisbane councillor who once worked on Prentice’s staff when she herself was on council. Simmons, who is identified with the Right, won a local party ballot by 256 votes to 103 over Prentice, a moderate and early backer of Malcolm Turnbull. Charlie Peel of The Australian reports the vote was “roughly split along traditional party lines, with Nationals backing Ms Prentice”. Critics of the decision include Campbell Newman, Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch and Capricornia MP Michelle Landry.
• Jared Owens of The Australian reports Ian Macdonald and Barry O’Sullivan, who respectively hold Queensland Senate seats for the Liberals and the Nationals, face preselection challenges from Scott Emerson, the former state Shadow Treasurer who lost his seat of Maiwar to the Greens last November, and Susan McDonald, managing director of a chain of butcher’s shops and a member of “one of Queensland’s grazing families”.
• Michael Owen of The Australian reports on a “strong challenge” for Liberal Senate preselection in South Australia from Alex Antic, an Adelaide councillor. This apparently poses a threat to another female Liberal MP, Anne Ruston, who might otherwise be expected to lead the ticket, but not to the mooted number two candidate, David Fawcett. It might also endanger Lucy Gichuhi’s hold on number three, long shot proposition though that may be.