Idle speculation: Easter edition

The much-loved Idle Speculation series will henceforth double as a vehicle for updates on preselection and other election-related action. Developments of note from the past week:

Queensland Senate (Liberal): Next Saturday, about 250 Queensland Liberal preselectors will determine who will fill the vacancy created by Santo Santoro’s departure. The person chosen will serve out the remainder of Santoro’s term, which ends in July next year. What happens then is yet to be determined. Before Santoro’s departure, the party had decided upon a ticket with Ian Macdonald at number one, Santo Santoro at number two, Young Liberals president Mark Powell at number three, and businesswoman and disabled advocate Sue Boyce at number four. The party administration is yet to determine whether the second position will be filled by promoting Powell up the order, or by holding a new preselection. Many an eyebrow was raised last weekend when Powell withdrew from the race to fill the short-term vacancy, instead throwing his support behind former state party leader Bob Quinn (who reportedly has the support of the Prime Minister). This was despite Powell’s links to the Santoro faction and its traditionally strained relations with Quinn. The Gold Coast Bulletin reports speculation that "the Santoro mob have withdrawn their candidate and opposition to Mr Quinn so they can regroup before the federal election to push Mr Powell into the No. 2 spot, hoping Mr Quinn’s popularity, if he is a Senator then, would be enough to launch all three into the Senate from the third position". A further motivation might have been a desire to thwart Sue Boyce, the favoured candidate of state party leader Bruce Flegg. Flegg’s "western suburbs" grouping played a similar spoiling role against Powell last year when it blocked his preselection bid for Quinn’s old state seat of Robina, by shifting support from its own candidate to the unaligned Ray Stevens. Other candidates for the Senate vacancy include Ted O’Brien, chairman of the Australian Republican Movement; David Moore, staffer to Longman MP Mal Brough; and Doug Young, a lawyer "specialising in the resources sector".

Queensland Senate (Greens): Fairfax’s Brisbane Times website reports that environmental lawyer Larissa Waters is believed to have had a "landslide" win over Juanita Wheeler in last Thursday’s Greens preselection vote. Andrew Landeryou‘s sources have told him of a 300-100 margin in Waters’ favour, although Greens supporters might be inclined to take issue with aspects of Landeryou’s account. The party is "expected to make an announcement" of the result next week.

NSW Senate (Labor): The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Labor’s state general secretary Mark Arbib is contemplating a run for the Senate, contrary to earlier reports he hoped to unseat the notoriously unproductive Michael Hatton in the safe lower seat of Blaxland. It is reported that two of Labor’s winnable seats will go to incumbent Ursula Stephens of the Right and Australian Manufacturing Workers Union national secretary Doug Cameron, who has the numbers to unseat incumbent George Campbell for the position reserved for the Left. It is not clear which of the three hopefuls would take the safe first and second positions, and which would have to settle for the dubious third. Anne Davies of the Sydney Morning Herald reports speculation that Arbib’s jockeying for union support played a role in state Blacktown MP Paul Gibson’s ill-fated appointment to cabinet.

Page (NSW, Nationals 5.5%): Clarence Valley councillor Chris Gulaptis has won the Nationals preselection for this north coast seat, which has been left vacant by the retirement of sitting member Ian Causley. The Northern Star reports Gulaptis won "comfortably" with over half the first preference vote, from a field that included local doctor Sue Page, Kyogle mayor Ernie Bennett, Ballina councillor Sharon Cadwallader and radio presenter Neil Marks. The paper also reports that Labor is "at least two months" away from selecting its own candidate. Those said to be "considering" a run are Clarence mayor Ian Tiley and former state MP Janelle Saffin. Saffin was a Lismore-based upper house member from 1995 until 2003, when she withdrew from preselection after it became clear she would not retain a winnable position on the party ticket.

Dobell (NSW, Liberal 4.8%). Amid little fanfare, Health Services Union official Craig Thompson has been endorsed as Labor’s candidate to recover the central coast seat it lost to current Liberal member Ken Ticehurst in 2001.

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.

401 comments on “Idle speculation: Easter edition”

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  1. had to give up reading Milne’s opinion piece this morning as it was crap.
    attacking Hockey for agreeing with Rudd and demanding the P.M. get stuck into Hockey because of it, with opinion pieces like this Milne is rapidily losing any credence with the public about his ability as a journalist

  2. So Bruce Baird has announced his retirement? Wasn’t there some controversy over the allegations that the Liberal Right was trying to branch-stack Baird’s electorate so they could have a say in choosing his successor? I seem to recall reading about it in the Sydney Morning Herald. As I seem to remember Baird’s initial candidacy in Cook was due to the desire of the moderates in the Liberal Party to oust Stephen Mutch, who was aligned with the right of the party. I seem to remember that Howard made clear his preference for Mutch over Baird

    It seems to me that the pre-selection for Baird’s successor in Cook could be interesting. Anyone have any info?

  3. Baird is wasted talent. How he never became Minister, even a junior one, is beyond me especially when compared with the luddites that have made it up the ranks over the years. Howard has clearly overlooked him because of his alignment with Costello.

  4. I would totally agree -Baird is indeed wasted talent and it’s sad to see that he has nothing to show for his nine years in federal Parliament. I think he would have been an asset to a federal Cabinet and I have always admired him for his decency and integrity.

    It was the same with the late Peter Nugent of Aston -a man of decency and integrity who would have been an asset to a Liberal government but missed out on promotion while those less talented and less capable ot promoted ahead of him. Nugent and Baird were/are both very similar in terms of ideology and philosophy and I think the country is the lesser for not having them in some sort of cabinet role

  5. Did anyone have an answer for Psephophile’s question about AC Nielsen? The last federal poll was on the 12th of March?

  6. Oh .. and Psephophile .. I think News Ltd are actully trying really hard to appear impartial (besides a few of their right wing columnists) .. the word has come down from above that Murdoch “favours” Team Rudd. I think the majority the coverage out of Murdoch’s papers .. all the way through to the election .. will be, on balance, far more favorable than otherwise.

  7. Oh really? Actually, I have noticed that the Oz appears rather onside. But the Tele in Sydney is woeful. Far worse than the other News Ltd tabloids. They had three columnists in yesterdays paper attacking Rudd, all over this Anzac Day gaffe. It was quite unprecented and extraordinary.

  8. As with the Burke affair, the overkill will favour Rudd. It’s interesting though, the coverage is far greater in NSW than any other state. Here in Victoria you have to seek out the story, it’s not in your face. I think it will wash over most people and become a distant memory within days.
    The Libs are treading very carefully with this – interesting.

  9. They are aren’t they? I’ve noticed how silent they have been. It’s especially stark given the contrast with how they handled the “Burke affair”. What was I spot on about Gary Bruce?

  10. Psephophile Says: I was referring to this comment – “I think News Ltd publications are going feral because they are terrified Rudd might actually beat Howard. They’ll savage him to no-end in a desperate big to ensure Howard keeps the top job. ” There is no doubt about that.

  11. The attack on Rudd in regard to his childhood memories is laughable. A cousin, angry with Rudd over a dam, (surprise, surprise) has different childhood memories to that of Rudd while that same cousin’s daughter backs up Rudd’s story. What a joke.

  12. Over the weekend I was with some friends, one of whom votes Liberal, and he said ‘this government is going down, and they’re going to go out dirty, trashing everything they can while they still can.’


  13. Two of my friends, by no means Labor supporters, are convinced Howard will go this election. No maybe and these are very cautious people. There is no doubt in my mind that the initial shift in Labor’s vote after Rudd became leader was more than any honeymoon. This shift is massive and unprecedented. Rudd maybe good but he isn’t that good. This, I believe is an anti Howard government swing. All these people needed to back Labor was a leader remotely acceptable. That’s also why I think these smear campaigns against Rudd will not work.
    They are in real trouble.

  14. A state Liberal MP whose opinion I respect told me this week that he was sure Howard would lose. His view was this was just due to the turn of the electoral cycle and that the electorate was bored and wanted a change. I don’t agree with him about the latter point, but it is interesting that this view should be abroad among Liberals.

  15. I agree. Another anecdote (for what they are worth, although I happen to think they are worth a lot). I struggle to find Liberal voters amongst my close acquaintainces. However my dad is a swinging voter, who has so far correctly picked the PM at every election since he was 21, which means since Holt. He thinks Kevin Rudd is great and is sick of Howard. So does my Liberal-voting (until now) Howard-loving, servo operator.

    It seems to me lots of people are talking about the ‘when’ rather than the ‘if’ of a change of government. Ruddy just has to hang on and endure these slings and arrows of outrageous media activity.

    And I reckon the cousin sounds like a bit of a bastard and that voters will think so too. After all, the remembering of past events is fuel for any number of Christmas table punch ups.

  16. Neil Mitchell (conservative commentator), on 3AW, yesterday, was asked who he thought would win. He said Labor but then went on to say he had been speaking to two senior Liberals that said they thought they were gone. That thought is definitely out there.

  17. Years ago as a kid, I lived two doors away from my first cousins, a very large family. Having, in the last couple of years made contact with many of them again, I’m realising how little I knew of what really was going on and how differently each of us views happenings at that time. It is a real eye opener.

  18. Don’t you just love this from Wayne Swan and how true it is. “Peter Costello has been saying for 12 months that Work Choices will lead to higher wages, now he’s saying its abolition will lead to higher wages.
    “That’s voodoo economics, it makes no sense.”

  19. Hi Adam, you were asking about NSW ALP preselections. I have cut and pasted the following from the April political briefing that all financial members recieved today

    At the close of nominations at 4pm Wednesday 4th April the following nominations were
    Bennelong Maxine McKew
    Dobell Craig Thomson
    Lowe John Murphy
    Macquarie Bob Debus
    Parramatta Julie Owens
    Richmond Justine Elliot
    The above candidates have been endorsed.
    b) Federal Preselections – Round Two
    Nominations have been called for the following Federal Seats:
    Barton Berowra Bradfield Cook
    Farrer Grayndler Greenway Hume
    Hunter Kingsford-Smith Lyne Mackellar
    Mitchell Parkes Prospect Reid
    Riverina Sydney Warringah Watson
    Calare New England
    The timetable is as follows:
    Nominations Open: Friday 13th April 2007
    Nominations Close: Wednesday 2nd May 2007 at 12 noon
    Local Credentialing: Saturday 5th May 2007
    Challenges Close: Thursday 10th May 2007 at 12 noon
    Ballot (if necessary): Saturday 26th May 2007
    Nomination Fee: $500 for held ALP seats and $250 for other seats

  20. Thanks. It’s interesting that those are all either seats Labor already holds or unwinnable seats. I don’t see Eden-Monaro, Page, Robertson, Cowper, Paterson, Lindsay, Gilmore or Hughes – the seats Labor might actually win.

  21. Re Gould’s book shop
    When I last looked a few years ago it seemed disorganised
    it was hard to walk round parts because books blocked the aisles
    however it probably has books you would not find any where else
    and would be a treasure trove if you found what you were looking for.
    In terms of ALP politics Bob Gould has stayed where he was in the 60s
    & 70s whilst the world has moved on. He represents a very very small
    portion of the left of the ALP

  22. Only ALP seats held by shadow ministers are in that list. The Age the other day had said that only Blaxland, Charlton, Chifley and Fowler were held back. Should any other backbenchers be concerned?

  23. No, the usual process is that the pre-selections are done in a series of rounds – allegedly because Sussex St can’t cope with the work load if all are done at the same time.
    Of course I have no idea what is really going on but the usual practice is being followed.

  24. Did you see the story on TT about the dumping of rubbish from navy ships? Obviously the Ministers responsible where not interested niether was the navy or the Dept of defense. But what got me was the non interest of the shadow ministers including Garrett

  25. From ALP e-news

    Howard’s Undemocratic Electoral Laws Start Today

    Hundreds of thousands of Australians are likely to be disenfranchised by John Howard’s new unfair electoral laws.

    These new laws will cause anger and confusion at polling booths on election day later this year.

    It’s undemocratic – but that’s what john Howard is able to do while he has control of both houses of parliament…

  26. Adam my wife just finished a paper on Aids history and the Public health system. I read some of the literature that she used. Fascinating, especially Dr Niel Blewetts take on it. Spent the whole easter weekend reading. Btw she received a HD for it

  27. The Speaker, I understand your apprehension but for argument sake take me through the parallels with 2004 and I will take you through the differences. Mention things like personnel (leaders etc), time in office, issues, policy and polls.

  28. Calling Howard “anti-African” because he wants to check immigrants for certain diseases is just… nonsense. It’s fake, pretend, pulled-out-of-an ass racism. If that is racist, gosh, I guess we’re all just terrible racist people then.

    Take the Greenie propaganda elsewhere Billy boy.

  29. I was never one to support the Greens. People who talk about nature as “mother” make me nervous.

    Sometimes, I wonder if their wonderfully, child-like naivety is just the result of having made up their minds as five year-olds, and being too bloody-mindedly stubborn to change them. I wonder if they’ve ever taken in the picture of rabbits happily romping in the sunshine, and dared to lift the curtain. To look into the eyes of the *real* Mother Nature.
    Lions pulling down wounded zebra, and snakes waiting in the shadows to strike like a steel trap, and millions of people dying under attack from an enemy too small to even see.

    I doubt it somehow.

  30. I can understand the preselections being done in stages but it doesn’t seem to make much sense to do unwinnable seats like Bradfield first and leave seats like Eden-Monaro and Lindsay, which Labor must win, without candidates for another month or more. My suspicion is still that head office os going to impose candidates on those seats, pleading lack of time.

  31. Thought we might have seen a bit more discussion of the detailed Newspoll breakdown (I’ve been away for a few days so haven’t had a chance to until now). Whilst I’d be surprised if the final result was anything like 57-43, I suspect the relativities between states (Queensland and SA a couple of points above the national average swing, WA a couple of points below it) will hold up fairly well barring a major new state-based scandal or local issue, whatever the national swing ends up being. Queensland and WA don’t surprise me, although a lot of the commentary here (and elsewhere) seems to be assuming that the WA-rest of nation differential is a lot greater than it is. SA was a bit more unexpected – only obvious thing I can think of is that the state government is travelling better than most at present and isn’t a potential negative on the federal ALP vote in the way that (say) NSW might be.

    Also interesting was the difference between ‘safe’ Coalition seats and the others (12% swing versus 7-8, which is a large enough difference to be statistically meaningful with the sample size). This could be a plus or a minus for Labor. If the national swing’s modest then it means a lot of it will be wasted (and it’s possible to construct a plausible scenario under which Labor gets 52-48 and loses), but if there’s a really big swing on and the end result is anything like 57-43, then seats on double-digit margins which usually aren’t on the radar might fall and greatly inflate the eventual majority.

  32. I agree with the reported comments of Adam’s state liberal MP the electoral cycle is turning – witness the 3-4% swings against incumbent ALP governments in Victoria and NSW, unprecedented since 1995 (Goss).

    But the economy is still pretty good for most of the key voters in the key seats, and if governments as wretched as Iemma and Beattie can still get back with solid majorities, even lacking a Debnam or a Flegg, the Federal Coalition is not finished yet. According to my knowledge (open to correction by people closer to the action) the Vic and NSW governments performed particularly well in the urban marginals. I reckon Rudd needs a 2PP > 52% to be confident.

  33. So “Kevin Rudd had lunch with the devil” didn’t work, “WorkChoices (for Employers) is nirvana” didn’t work, “Kevin Rudd tells fibs about when he was an eleven-year-old boy” didn’t work, “The unions will come back and murder us in our beds” didn’t work, and “Kevin Rudd is the enemy of Anzac Day” didn’t work. What will the Liberals do next?

  34. I find it difficult to believe that the pollees since Labor’s revival have not found fault with Rudd, and the Govt believed this would be so too. What this does indicate, taken with Howard poor approval rating, is that it doesn’t matter who is there as long as they’re credible. Rod Cameron on Lateline spin six weeks ago found that the grudging respect the pollees had for Howard in the past had turned to grudges. For some reason, having little I suspect to do with any changes in policy, the tide turned and his ship sailed.
    I think this is the final straw for the Coalition MPs and several big Howard supporters will advise him to go and let a more youthful leader take over. The question is when and then who. To give a successor less than six months would be downright inconsiderate. Is Costello’s image too tied to the Govt (could he do a Keating in 93)? Abbott’s a no-go which leaves Nelson the Thunderbird (likely if no Costello) or the unfailingly uncomfortable stare of Julie Bishop with the appropriate Gorton-like move to the HoR (and then they can blame it on a woman! Worked for State Labor in WA and Vic.).
    I don’t think they’re out of it yet but they require a major Labor mistake in economic policy that the electorate can understand. And I have the feeling that the Shadow front bench won’t release anything without it being covered in fine tooth comb marks.

  35. Geoff ask about Dunkley a seat I lived in for 14 years, the local MP Bruce Billson is well regarded with Boundaries which will help him but this seat could do a Lindsay 96 for its a very diverse seat with a mixture of older areas like Frankston and younger more middle class areas like Mornington and Langwarrin, I tip Bruce will hold but with a swing against.

  36. I am waiting for the leadership team of Abbott & Costello
    which will make terrific political theatre for labor this will happen within the
    next 12 months

  37. oakeshott country Says April 16th, 2007 at 6:54 pm :-

    ……Nomination Fee: $500 for held ALP seats and $250 for other seats

    Excuse me for being naive, but what is the rationale and purpose of a party imposing a nomination fee on potential candidates who it wants to win seats for it ?

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