Exit strategy

Owing to other distractions, I have yet to remark on the fact that February 3 has been set as the date for the by-election in Peel, the Western Australian state seat left vacant after the embarrassment surrounding Small Business Minister Norm Marlborough. It so happens that Peel is entirely located within the federal electorate of Brand, held for Labor by one Kim Beazley. If Beazley has his eye on a quick exit from the political stage – which few would begrudge him under the circumstances – the irritation of a by-election would be greatly reduced were it to coincide with the state poll. This would also offer dividends for a state Labor Party that would not be looking forward to the Peel by-election, given the difficulties that have recently bedevilled the Carpenter government. Simultaneous by-elections would muddy the state-federal waters and allow state Labor to benefit from the honeymoon period that awaits the new federal leadership team, potentially limiting the extent of the swing. There may be difficulties with this scenario that I am missing – for one thing, the timing of a by-election in Brand would be dictated by the Howard government rather than Labor (though a politically inspired decision to hold it on a separate date would not win them any friends). Nonetheless, the coincidence of the Peel by-election presumably shortens the odds on Beazley calling it a day sooner rather than later.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

59 comments on “Exit strategy”

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  1. I thought the electoral laws prevented State and Federal elections from being held on the same day, although I’m not sure if those provisions extend to by-elections.

  2. Is it possible for a federal by-election to be held the same day as a state by-election? It’s true, isn’t it, that state and federal general elections have to be held on different days?

  3. I have a recollection that there was a Vic state byelection held on the same day as a federal general election in the 90s (93 I think). Perhaps it was just on a weekend very close by. However, individual states might have laws that prevent it even if the commonwealth does not.

  4. Section 394(1) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act:

    “On the day appointed as polling day for an election of the Senate or a general election of the House of Representatives, no election or referendum or vote of the electors of a State or part of a State shall, without the authority of the Governor General, be held or taken under a law of the State”.

    So it would appear that this specifically applies to general elections rather than by-elections, and includes an escape clause in any case. But as Stephen L points out, there might be some state provision preventing simultaneous by-elections, although I can’t find any such thing in the WA Electoral Act.

  5. Oop. William appears to have solved it.

    How likely is Beazley to retire immediately? He could have done with a by-election at some point in the last two years. A decent swing to Labor and suddenly caucus is feeling a lot better about their chances. Harry Quick was talking about quitting Franklin a few months back. And the Liberals were apparently prepared to stand a candidate. How ironic would it have been if Quick had saved Beazley’s leadership!

  6. David, your recollection about the 2004 ACT election is awry – ACT elections are fixed for the third Saturday in October unless a federal election is called for the same day, in which case they are moved to the first Saturday in December. The 2004 federal election was in fact held on the second Saturday (the 9th). There was much discussion about the prospect of a federal election being called for October 16 and the ACT election having to be rescheduled, but it didn’t end up happening.

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  8. but to some degree – beazley could be of some value on the front bench due to ‘experience’… howard wouldn’t be able to play the inexperienced front bench card… i don’t believe beazley was ever made for a leader- but he can serve in some other positions pretty well… perhaps he should be foreign affairs?

  9. Politics Obsessed shows once again that he (and it surely is a HE) has no f idea.

    Why do you insult Beazley, a former Deputy PM, senior Minister, all round patriot, by offering him all the joys of a stint as Shadow Minister for Veterans Affairs, Defence Industry and Dick Pulling?

    Just spit in this fundamentally decent man’s face one more time!

    Friggin pathetic. The dick-witted ‘Politics Obsessed’ was the same nitwit that whined we should somehow ‘ban the DLP’ because they didn’t fit in with his delicate sensibilities.

    What a f goose.

  10. if you’re up for personal vindication or some vandetta – join in ozpolitics blog isabella – obviously one doesnt enjoy sarcasm about the banning – more merely pointing out how menzies tried to do away with a party [the communnist party] of which the dlp is the same era – and im not insulting beazley as such – just pointing out a suggestion where he should be – esp. since he was a strong suit during iraq [compared to lathams inexperience] and his experience in dealing with the us alliance – hence i suggested he should be foreign affiars… unless Isabella you have a better suggestion?

  11. Isabella, there’s a pretty wide gap between Foreign Affairs and “Veterans Affairs, Defence Industry and Dick Pulling”. Both the Hawke and Howard governments put former party leaders into the role (the former one, I mean) when they came to office.

  12. Getting back to the topic in hand, why would Beazley go early?
    Let’s say he does decide to force a by-election in Brand. He can either reward his ouster with a perhaps ego-boosting swing to the ALP or punish his party with a swing away. Neither one seems appealling and I would hope that a person of Beazley’s demonstrated integrity wouldn’t do it.
    Surely he’ll do the decent thing and serve out his full term before deciding if he wishes to pull the pin rather than dummy-spit in a fit of pique.
    Besides, I actually think bringing him on to the front bench either in Defence or Foreign Affairs is a good idea. He loved it when he was Defence Minister – he had a grin a mile wide when he was riding in a tank. Foreign Affairs would also be a good option for him if he can contain his verbosity! And, as has already been noted – he’d bring a bit of experience to the team.
    ๐Ÿ˜‰

  13. Remember Kim has already said he doesn’t want to be on the front bench. I think he means it. Also, he’s brothers death is a very good reason to resign.

  14. I agree with both Dave and VPL…

    While I also think that Mr Beazley would be a great asset to a possible Government in any ministerial roll, but especially defence (because of his experience and ability), I think that if he does resign it would be due to very understandable and unblameworthy personal reasons.

    If however he thinks that the ALP are even a possible chance next year, he may at least hang in there until nominations are called, to keep his options open.

    Either way, I don’t think that it will have a great bearing on the eventual outcome in 2007. More important to my mind is which people are picked in which shadow portfolios, and whether or not the general perception afterwards is that Mr Rudd did or didn’t make good choices, and whether or not he had a fair bit of freedom to make those choices.)

    And Isabella, regardless of whether I agree with your analysis about any subject or not, I like Politics_Obsessed don’t particularly appreciate the rather limited and obnoxious literary style that you chose to use in your most recent post.

  15. Interesting rumour that Howard wants Phillip Ruddock to take up an overseas post as Ambassador in London, which would necessitate him resigning from Parliament. If this came to pass, there would have to be a
    by-election for the seat of Berowra(where I live). Maybe another early test of Kevin Rudd’s leadership of the Federal ALP, although Berowra is always a very safe Liberal seat.

  16. Didn’t hear about that one Evan – because I too am in the seat of Berowra… I thought all was normal after getting the annual ‘ruddock newsletter’ of asbolute political woffle and photo ops…. the thing is – who would replace him? Better not be ‘No Show’ Nick Bremen [Hornsby Council Mayor]. And who was that other guy who was going to stand against Liberal state MP Judy Hopwood for the seat of Hornsby during the pre-selections? Would they choose him to replace Ruddock? Could be an interesting by-election to watch. Mind you Evan, this whole area is safe bloody Liberal. Haven’t really done much for us… need I even begin to mention with a Liberal dominated council giving us a $26 million debt.

    [Speaking of which there was a by-election soon to replace a councillor passed away in C Ward. That’ll be one to watch whether the Liberals can keep their Iron Fist hold on politics in Hornsby. The Labor guy quoted in the Advocate was saying vote for him to stop the Libs having control. Anyways, keep me posted with the Ruddock situation!]

    Actually Evan, after re-reading my comment, here’s another idea… depending on when and if a by-election is called, Hopwood could go federal and her seat remain vacant until the general state election and get replaced with hopeless nick or some other state liberal aspirant.

  17. Lots of Berowra residents here! I’m in the Federal seat as well. I reckon Labor would be unlikely to contest a by-election unless you could persuade one the councillors to run. Speaking of by-elections, there will be another one for C-ward next year as councillor Jan Dekker sadly passed away on the weekend.
    Not sure that Judy Hopwood would win a preselection for Berowra. Lots of right wing Libs over the Galston Gorge and also in Cherrybrook. Reckon you’ld see someone like Andrew Isaacs win it. Berman can’t win a preselection to save his own skin. Maybe he’ll eventually cotton on and run as an independent for the state or federal seat. Not that he’ll win either one.

  18. Politics_Obsessed and Allegory, nice to learn there are other political junkies in my part of the world.I too doubt the ALP would contest any By-Election for Berowra. It’d be a waste of money, because the Liberals are guaranteed to win here every frigging election. Nick Berman I think would dearly love a seat in either State or Federal Parliament.
    One correction: it was Owen Nannelli of C Ward who died recently, thus the reason for the by-election on December 16 to replace him. My guess is Andrew Isaacs will probably win that one – he’s got placards up all over my local area already.

  19. No Evan sorry to correct you, the by-election on the 16th is for Owen Nanelli. Jan Dekker died a few days ago. It’s in the Advocate, and I actually heard on Sunday through a common friend.
    I don’t know if Andrew Isaacs can win – do people really want another property developer on council? Isaacs is backed by the right wing of Liberal party; should that be commonly known it would further cruel his chances.
    I’m sure Nick would love to be in parliament but he’s not gunna get the preselection anytime soon!!

  20. Allegory, I’ve gotta vote in that by-election, because I live in C Riding.
    I really couldn’t be bothered, but I don’t want to fined $55 either, so it’ll be another wasted 2 minutes in a polling booth LOL .
    There’s an ALP guy standing in C Riding. He might have a chance of winning – you never know!

  21. I hope the ALP guy does… need a balance of libs and labs/greens on the council… so does that mean there’s gonna be a second by-election for ward C? I think there should be something changed about the part rules to councils… how Nick Bremen was an ‘independent’ Mayor yet he is a Liberal Party member. I think this would be one issue to be addressed and making it more transparent on who’s actually running the councils. I agree ‘No Show’ Nick won’t have a chance at anything. ๐Ÿ˜› And wow… looks like Berowra is taking over. hehe………………

    Any other news on the WA by-election atm?

  22. So Nick Berman isn’t living with Jackie Kelly anymore, as he so memorably claimed back in the late 90s when electoral roll cheaters were being exposed all over the shop?

    Berman is a himbo, a vacuous, vein and conceited show pony with all the intellectual ability of a boiled egg. He outrageously switches factions depending upon what phase of the moon it is and who he last spoke to. Berman has not a chance in Berowra as both the left and the right of the Liberal Party know that he has all the loyalty of the WW2 Italian Army.

    Tony Chappel, the pretty boy Macquarie Bank superstar and lawyer is in the box seat in Berowra despite the machinations of the right. Ruddock will do everything possible to hand over to a thirty-something, dripping wet, Amnesty International loving lawyer (sound familiar?).

  23. The Italian Army was very loyal, it was the leadership that changed, although the army never wanted to be with Hitler in the first place.

  24. BTW…Does anyone know if the Ferntree Gully recount has been finalised? I take it the Lib has won by 27 votes. On the the main page on the VEC website it says “recheck count” but when you click on FTG it still says subject to recheck count. I guess they forgot to update that?

  25. Actually on the VEC sight the odd thing is that they have ticked the final two tasks namely Recount and Recount Distribution but have not ticket the first two tasks namely Recheck and Primary distribution, You will also note that “Results after distribution of preferences” have Labor trailing by the 27 votes mentioned in the Herald Sun this morning but that the “Two candidate preferred vote” has Labor 30 votes up. What are they doing there?

  26. Ferntree Gully is over red rover. With doleful certainty the VEC has failed to adequately update the information. The ALP is going to cop Ferntree Gully on the chin so anyone hoping for another fortnight speculating about the result and the likelihood of any ALP challenge will be disappointed.

    What is more interesting is how the ALP survived in both Gembrook and Mt Waverley. Both seats were more marginal and should surely have followed the Baywater/Kilsyth/Evelyn trend. In Mt Waverley the Liberal Party pre-selected a smarmy YL spiv-git that all the charm of a Council dump truck (the other choice though was the confirmed marginal seat failure and confirmed idiot Maree Luckins) but what happened in Gembrook that surely, especially after the Dr Robert Dean fiasco, was an abberation in 2002?

    If anyone says that it’s because Tammy whats her name is a good local MP in Gembrook then they should be advised to seek urgent medical attention.

  27. Very patchy result…how to explain the good Lib comebacks in Mitcham & Forest Hill (5-6%) and only 1.5%-2% in next door Mt Waverley & Burwood? In Forest Hill I tipped a Liberal upset due to local factors, but what explains the Mitcham result?

    At least Gembrook fitted a sub-regional trend, most of the voters there are around Berwick, which is adjacent to the two Narre Warren seats which also showed no swing. So in that case it may be a sub-regional thing rather than Tammy Lobato. Her illnes probably didn’t hurt her in a political sense though.

  28. Hillsonger and Howard fave Morrison would have to be a special for Berowra if Ruddock jumps/is pushed early even tho’ he currently has a gig doing for that guy who is NSW Opposition leader what he did for Louise Markus in 2004 – making sure he doesn’t actually say anything.

  29. NTBTS is well named.

    Morrison has no interest in Berowra.

    Apart from feeling sorry for himself as he counts the half a million $$ he received from his Tourism Australia separation, Morrison is busy working alongside his old chum, professional whinger and champion of queue jumpers everywhere, Bruce Baird in Cook.

    Baird is working hard at installing his acolyte in Cook and will probably succeed. Baird and Morrison go way back, all the way in fact to the mid 1990s when the pair of them ran the ill-fated Tourism Council of Australia. The TCA collapsed in 2000 after years of stupidity and management living high on the hog. I am sure that Labor will examine the entrails of the TCA once Morrison arrives in Canberra.

    Morrison will be Member for Cook at the next election. You heard it here first.

  30. “Ferntree Gully is over red rover. With doleful certainty the VEC has failed to adequately update the information.” – Isabella. Is this a dead set certainty Isabella? Is this inside information or speculation? Just interested that’s all.

  31. Gary,

    I have spoken to various individuals involved from both sides of the Ferntree Gully campaign and noone is expecting anything else but a very, very narrow Liberal victory.

    Labor is more concerned about the future of super-dodgy, multimillionaire Look Smart shonk Evan Thornley.

    Bracks may well look a presumptious fool with his Parl Sec appointments if this overrated and mendacious man fails to take what should have been an easy win for the ALP.

  32. If Thornley fails, I wonder if the ALP will manage to engineer the ‘retirement’ of one of their older or factionally weak MPs. Look out for a by-election in a safe Labor seat within the next twelve months.

  33. For those wondering about the swings in Mitcham and Forest Hill. For both seats it could be argued that they are in line with the 5-6% swing which was common across most of the eastern suburbs (as opposed to south eastern) with liberal voters returning to their roots. In Mitcham, all candidates except the greens (who had a split ticket) directed against Tony Robinson. There haver been a lot of local issues in the seat that have extended to state and federal level (Springvale Road crossing, Mitcham high rise, Blackburn Lake). The last 2 Tony has handled well, the Springvale Road issue and the Laburnum underpass issue have been handled appallingly by the state government. These issues may have had traction also in Forest Hill. There is an interesting contrast as Tony Robinson is high profile and to the forefront on local issues, whilst Kirstie Marshall has been invisible for four years and will no doubt be for the next four if her behaviour since the election has been anything to go by… after her narrow victory was announced both local papers reported that she was on holiday and could not be contacted – she didn’t even stick around for the count. So what happened to Bracksies ‘everybody starting work on November 26!’. If she is not politically committed to even that effort, she should resign now!

  34. Blackburnpseph,
    Your generalisation about the 5-6% swing in the eastern suburbs is imprecise.
    The only other seat which fits that pattern is Bayswater (5.4%).

    The further east one goes, the less your generalisation holds. Although Labor has lost Evelyn, Kilsyth, and Ferntree Gully and held Gembrook, Mount Waverley and Monbulk (the only safe one of the 6), the swings are of the order of 1-3%, a lot less than the 5-6% you state. It’s just that Mitcham and Forest Hill had a Monbulk type majority to defend, and all the others were on a knife-edge.

  35. Thanks Isabella. The VEC have finally named the Libs as the winner Of Ferntree Gully. You were right on the money. I’m just taking a wild guess here but I take it you’re not a fan of Evan Thornley or Labor for that matter. Don’t hold back, say what you really mean. LOL

  36. Ok – enough from the denizens of Berowra and general discussion of the Vic result – this is a PEEL BY-ELECTION page!!!
    Big Kim has confirmed that he will not be contesting the next election but appears set to hold out ’till then.
    God on him for not forcing an expensive Federal by-election.
    I believe that the Libs have chosen their candidate but don’t recall who… could be wrong on that.
    I think the ALP (last I heard) had a bit of movement on that front too but dunno what is happening.
    Can anyone enlighten me as to what’s going on down there???

  37. Here you go VPL. WA Labor seem to be taking a leaf out of the US Democrats book. First Tinley, now this guy:

    PERTH, Dec 14 AAP – An Iraq war veteran and critic is Labor’s candidate for a WA state seat in a by-election triggered by a corruption scandal that forced the resignation of the sitting member.
    Norm Marlborough was sacked from cabinet and resigned from parliament in November after a corruption probe revealed the extent of his close ties with disgraced former premier Brian Burke.
    Today, Premier Alan Carpenter announced that former Special Air Service diver and patrol boat commander Paul Papalia was the endorsed ALP candidate for Mr Marlborough’s former seat of Peel at the February 3 election.

  38. Yep… should be an interesting one! It’s a fairly old-left area with one of the strongest English immigrant populations of any electorate in Australia, and a couple of recent studies of their voting behaviour suggests a trend to Labor. Only the section between Secret Harbour and Singleton is ever really in contention. Kwinana is rock solid safe ALP as is Cooloongup/Hillman.

    I’ll be following the Stirling campaign with some interest. I live in the electorate, and local member Michael Keenan – I wouldn’t say he’s performed badly, it’s just that he hasn’t actually performed at all. This would be quite normal behaviour in a safe seat but in a seat on as slight a margin as he holds means Labor will probably get it if they run any sort of a campaign at all.

  39. On previous post (I really should think before I press “submit”) – Antony can correct me if I’m wrong but if my memory is correct Stirling’s never had a three-term member. Both Jann MacFarlane and Eoin Cameron held it for 2 terms each, and Michael Keenan is close to completing his first term. Before that, I *think* the member was Ron Edwards but I honestly can’t remember (he definitely was at one point).

  40. Phil Edman is the Liberal Candidate for Brand. Stood in the 2004 election for Brand when the margin was 10.1% . The margin then changed to 4.7%.
    Mr Edman is a councillor for the City of Rockingham and a buisness owner.
    Has wide growing support

  41. Andrew,

    Ron Edwards was a 4-termer. He was preceded by a 5-term Liberal in Ian Viner. Before that, Labor’s Harry Webb also served five terms (four consecutive).

    As always, wikipedia is an excellent reference.

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