A big day for federal election news, with Carmen Lawrence’s retirement announcement, Bob Debus’s confirmation that he will run in Macquarie, and Peter Andren’s unexpected decision to contest the Senate rather than Calare or Macquarie (the former now very likely to be won by the Nationals). Fremantle being the Poll Bludger’s home electorate, there will be a temptation for me to over-report the imminent preselection contest caused by Lawrence’s departure. A better idea would be to collate a thorough summary of all important preselection contests still in play, but most of the recent action in this area has happened under my radar. I therefore invite the assistance of the Poll Bludger brains trust, who are invited to share their knowledge of local party argybargy in comments.
Fremantle (WA, Labor 7.7%): All the talk so far has surrounded United Nations human rights lawyer Melissa Parke, who you can read about here. Parke has the backing of both Carmen Lawrence and Jim McGinty, Left faction chieftain and state member for Fremantle. It appears the party’s affirmative action policy dictates that the candidate be female.
Deakin (Victoria, Liberal 5.0%): The federal ALP was this week asked to adjudicate over a fraught preselection process that was supposed to be decided a month ago. This follows an appeal brought by local general practitioner Peter Lynch, the party’s candidate from 2004, against his three-vote defeat by Mike Symons of the Electrical Trades Union. A plebiscite of local party members reportedly gave Peter Lynch 64.8 per cent support compared with 35.2 per cent for Symons (Lynch claiming support from the Left, Pledge and Independents factions), but this accounts for only 50 per cent of the final vote. The rest is determined by the party’s tightly factionalised Public Office Selection Committee which met on February 28, but the counting of its votes was delayed pending investigation of a challenge to the eligibility of a POSC member who also sat on the party’s administrative committee. When the count gave victory to Symons on March 15, Lynch complained of further irregularities and launched an appeal. In an email to party members published in Andrew Landeryou’s The Other Cheek on March 1, Lynch complained of a deal between the Right and the Left sub-faction centred on Dean Mighell and the Electrical Trades Union, in which the former would back the ETU’s Mike Symons in exchange for the latter’s support for Peter McMullin in Corangamite (the Financial Review reported Symons also won the backing of the Left faction CFMEU). Also in The Other Cheek was a letter from Kathy Jackson, a figurehead of the Right faction Health Services Union, which accused her own faction’s leadership of misleading Lynch into believing he had their support while they marshalled forces for Symons.
Page (NSW, Nationals 4.2%): Sitting member Ian Causley is retiring. Nominees for Nationals preselection originally included former cabinet minister Larry Anthony, who lost his seat of Richmond in 2004. However, he announced his withdrawal on March 22, saying "the ambition’s there but the impact it would have had on the family would have been just too much for them". Others mentioned have included Clarence Valley councillor Chris Gulaptis, Kyogle Mayor Ernie Bennett and Lennox Head GP Sue Page (apparently not part of the Earle and Don Page clan).
Kalgoorlie (WA, Liberal 6.4%): Ed the Pseph write in comments that the Labor preselection is "a three-way go between Sharon Thiel, Jane Truscott and Paul Robson". The West Australian describes "high profile" former mayor Robson as the "standout". Thiel is an electorate officer to state front-bencher Jon Ford, a member for the upper house Mining & Pastoral region. Michael Gorey of the Kalgoorlie Miner reports that Truscott is a nurse at Kalgoorlie Regional Hospital who "moved to the Goldfields five months ago after spending 10 years in the United States".
WA Senate (Liberal): Despite being 70 years old, Senator Ross Lightfoot will seek another six-year term at a party preselection vote on April 28. He faces a strong challenge from the party’s much touted state senior vice-president, Mathias Cormann.
Queensland Senate: Nominees to fill the position created by Santo Santoro’s departure include Young Liberals president Mark Powell, disabled advocate and businesswoman Sue Boyce, former state party leader Bob Quinn and Brisbane councillor Jane Prentice. As Powell had already been preselected as the party’s number three candidate for the coming election behind Ian Macdonald and Santoro (Boyce was fourth), the party’s management committee had the option of elevating him to the vacancy without opening for nominations. Santoro’s faction usually wielded a majority on the committee with support from a "rainbow coalition" in the centre (associated with Ryan MHR Michael Johnson), but he was evidently unable to keep the latter on board in his present circumstances. There were also reports of efforts to circumvent the confrontation by recruiting an external star candidate names mentioned included former Defence Force chief Peter Cosgrove and rugby league player Shane Webcke, but all have ruled it out. If a report in Crikey’s "tips and rumours" section is to be believed, other names of interest include Michael Caltabiano, John Caris, Phil Blain and Steve Dixon.