Idle speculation: national conference edition

The Coalition has again narrowed the gap in this fortnight’s Newspoll, although it remains at a daunting 57-43. Lateline reports that Kevin Rudd’s preferred prime minister rating is down two points to 46 per cent, with John Howard’s up three points to 39 per cent. The Australian’s report is not online yet, but will be by the time most of you read this. In other developments from the past week:

• Labor’s national executive has acted quickly on the authority it received from the national conference to preselect candidates for 25 New South Wales seats, nominating military lawyer Colonel Mike Kelly to run against Liberal member Gary Nairn in Eden-Monaro. In his role with the coalition provisional authority after the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Kelly is credited with efforts to blow the whistle on mistreatment of prisoners in Abu Ghraib and AWB’s payment of kickbacks to Saddam Hussein’s regime. David Humphries and Andrew Clennell of the Sydney Morning Herald assess the state of play elsewhere as follows:

Greg Combet, the ACTU secretary, will be candidate for the Hunter seat of Charlton, replacing Kelly Hoare, who replaced her father, the former minister Bob Brown, in 1998. The right wing will decide replacements for Michael Hatton, who filled Paul Keating’s vacancy in Blaxland in 1996, and Julia Irwin, the MP for Fowler, also in Sydney’s south-west, since 1998. If Mr Rudd got his way, the likely candidate in Blaxland would be the University of NSW constitutional lawyer George Williams. But speculation is that the contest will be between Tania Mihailuk, the Mayor of Bankstown, and Bernie Riordan, the Electrical Trades Union boss. The favourite in Fowler, Warren Mundine, the former ALP president, may be overlooked because of demands to strengthen the number of women candidates.

• Following Senator Amanda Vanstone’s appointment as ambassador to Rome, the South Australian Liberal Party will hold its preselection to replace her on May 25, with nominations to close on Thursday. This is the third South Australian Liberal Senate vacancy in little over a year, following Robert Hill’s departure last March and Jeannie Ferris’s death earlier this month. As was the case with Santo Santoro’s vacancy in Queensland, the party administration has opted for a new ballot rather than promote an existing candidate for the coming federal election. The position would otherwise have gone to Maria Kourtesis, head of the nursing agency Prime Medical Placements. Kourtesis has been preselected for the unwinnable fourth position on the Senate ticket (which she also filled at the 1996 election), behind Cory Bernardi (who replaced Hill), Simon Birmingham (who will replace Ferris) and Grant Chapman, a Senator since 1987. Kourtesis’s defeat at the hands of the long-serving but little-known Chapman caused considerable angst due to the state party’s poor record on female representation. It was also a defeat for the beleagured moderates faction; Vanstone, also a moderate, is among those who have called for the balance to be redressed by having Kourtesis take her spot. Kourtesis will instead face opposition from the Right’s Mary Jo Fisher, workplace relations lawyer and manager at Business SA. The winner will not face election later this year, as Vanstone’s term does not expire until 2011.

• Also in South Australia, Labor has endorsed Nicole Cornes, columnist for the Sunday Mail newspaper and wife of football identity Graham Cornes, to run against Liberal member Andrew Southcott in the Adelaide seat of Boothby. Cornes admits to having voted Liberal in the past, and wrote in her column in 2004 that John Howard had “proved himself to be a fine PM”. In the other normally safe Liberal seat in Adelaide, Sturt, Labor has nominated Mia Handshin – a former Young South Australian of the Year and “founder of inspirational speaking and consultancy group Mana of Speaking” – to run against Christopher Pyne.

Western Australian Liberal Senator Ross Lightfoot announced he would retire from politics on Friday after it became clear he would lose the number three position to Mathias Corman, state party senior vice-president. Corman is linked with fellow WA Senators Chris Ellison and Ian Campbell in a pro-Howard camp opposed by forces aligned with indestructible powerbroker Noel Crichton-Browne. Last year, Lightfoot said he would have “no honourable course” but to quit the Liberal Party and serve out his term as an independent if he was dumped in an “undignified” manner. The Prime Minister reportedly instructed the state party to hold off on its preselection for as long as possible to minimise the effect of such an eventuality. However, despite Lightfoot’s complaint that the party should have chosen someone “more appropriate with respect to family values”, it does not appear that he plans to do so. The other incumbents, Alan Eggleston and David Johnston, have been re-nominated.

New South Wales Labor Senator George Campbell has announced he will retire from politics when his term expires in mid-2008, rather than face an inevitable preselection defeat. Campbell’s seat will go to his successor as national secretary of the Left faction Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, Doug Cameron, who by all accounts had stitched up the numbers to depose the 65-year-old Campbell long before. The other NSW Labor Senator up for re-election, Ursula Stephens, is reportedly at risk of being demoted in favour of the party’s high profile state secretary, Mark Arbib, who it was earlier believed had his eyes on Michael Hatton’s seat of Blaxland.

• The Northern News reports that the Liberal preselection for the safe northern Sydney seat of Mitchell will be held on an “unspecified date in May”. Under-achieving sitting member Alan Cadman, now 69, is apparently set on contesting again, despite having survived a challenge ahead of the 2004 election 58 votes to 55. Andrew Clennell of the Sydney Morning Herald reports that the party’s state vice-president, Nick Campbell, has been “encouraged” by two federal ministers to nominate. Others mentioned as contenders are Australian Hotels Association deputy chief executive David Elliott and solicitor Mark Blanche.

• The Poll Bludger has just had to cough up $239 in web hosting fees for the privilege of keeping you all entertained for another year. Contributions are welcome.

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.

333 comments on “Idle speculation: national conference edition”

Comments Page 6 of 7
1 5 6 7
  1. Oakshott, where in the constitution does it say that the GG can govern by decree? What is a “decree” under Australian law?

    Hugo, I disagree that this is a got outcome by the NSW ALP. Hoare and Hatton rolled, to be sure, but Hatton replaced by an unknown, and the appalling Irwin spared under “affirmative action.” What a wimp Mundine turned out to be – he certainly shouldn´t get Senate spot now.

    William, it seems that Cormann has been chosen to replace Campbell. Presumably they will have to reopen selections for the Senate ticket, since Cormann can´t serve out Campell´s term and be a candidate this year. Will Lightfoot be reprieved, or will they find someone else?

  2. I’m very disappointed about Mundine not challenging Irwin. Of all of Labor’s pathetic MP’s, she was surely the worst. Terrible 🙁

  3. I agree about Irwin. Anyway, “Affirmative action” is a real problem in the long term – people will be so used to it in time that moving on to the “proper” final stage of everyone being treated solely by their merit and not their sex will be that much harder.

  4. Hopefully if Roger Price retires George Williams will get Chifley. I’m astonished that he wasn’t pre-selected – I had him pegged as the next Attorney-General (beating out another MP-in-waiting in Mark Dreyfus).

  5. Mrs Della Bosca in Robertson again! It is enough to make you vote Liberal, particularly as the dropping of Kelly Hoare made me think that Labor was moving away from family dynasties.

    Hi Adam,
    After the putsch of 75, Donald Horne wrote a satire on the Australian constitution called “His Excellency’s Pleasure”. While it is difficult to make legislation without a parliament, executive government can often be controlled and changed by regulation viz. any edition of the Government Gazette.

    Given this I think the GG’s main sources of power are sects 61 & 62.:
    61.The executive power of the Commonwealth is vested in the Queen and is exercisable by the Governor-General as the Queen’s representative, and extends to the execution and maintenance of this Constitution, and of the laws of the Commonwealth.

    62. There shall be a Federal Executive Council to advise the Governor-General in the government of the Commonwealth, and the members of the Council shall be chosen and summoned by the Governor-General and sworn as Executive Councillors, and shall hold office during his pleasure.

    While sect 63 says that the GG must sometimes act “in council” it does not say that he must necessarily follow the majority advice of the council. Section 64 has department heads (presumably ministers) quite separate from the GG’s council. Sect 65 says that non parliamentarians can be ministers for a maximun of 3 months – raising the prospect of a rotating panel of flunkies heading the departments for 90 days each. Finally sects. 5 & 6 show that the GG can control the sitting of parliament provided he lets it sit for a least one day a year.

  6. Sorry Correction,
    Ministers must be members of the council but members of the council are not necessarily ministers and the GG can decide which members of the council are in attendance.

  7. I saw Lightfoot interviewed the other day (might have been Stateline here in Perth), and he clearly declared he was retiring – and indeed that he’d always planned on retiring, and the only reason he nominated was to put the wind up someone else (unspecified, but you’d think he clearly meant Cormann). So I’d guess even if he wanted to have another go, he’d burnt everything resembling a bridge he could find.

  8. I don’t get the accusation that Combet is a sell out. He can keep working for the unions, staring down both the government and business, and hoping to influence policy or he can actually get into government and set the policy. To me the latter course of action is the logical extension of his activism.

  9. Yes, not sure how a trade unionist becoming a Labor MP constitutes selling out – perhaps you’d like to explain that one Bill. He’ll be staying at the helm of the ACTU and running the Your Rights @ Work campaign pretty much until the election – after all, it’s not like he’ll need to campaign in Charlton much.

  10. Re Transposing state and Federal Figures I find it very interesting because it shows what is possible and maybe gives an indication of personal votes
    in Country seats.

  11. Yes I feel terrible for Hoare this morning…

    I had Debus pegged as the next AG. Dreyfus will have to serve out a bit of time on the backbench before he gets into Cabinet.

    What’s the story with Chifley? Is that the last seat to be filled by a Labor candidate?

  12. Yes I am feeling sorry for Hoare too. I feel as if she’s a lonely single mum getting picked on by the machine men.

    On the other hand, if she was a guy and did the same thing would I feel sorry for her ? Probably not.

  13. Combet is in the party that will ultimately screw the worker. as i wrote back to him when he sent me a email on his intentions –

    Hi Greg it is disappointing that you are supporting and standing for a
    party that will not look after workers. You are a candidate in the most
    right wing ALP grouping ever and your lone voice will amount to nothing.
    The ALP policy in your words is ” not 100% yet you are supporting a
    party that will not protect workers who organize a YR@W campaign if
    elected. If the ALP wins and Rudd gets his way you will go down in
    history as the ACTU leader that stood up for us then sold us out. Think
    on that!

    As Adam has stated on here Rudd and co will squash the left. The difference between both major parties are narrowing and despite what commentators on here have predicted about the importance of minor parties this election ( esp the Greens) their is a move to us in the marginals including Boothby

  14. Yes and no, Bill. You’re probably right to assume that a Rudd government will end up doing things that both you and I won’t be haapy with, but Combet realises that a Labor government will still provide a fairer IR system than the Libs. Politics is the art of compromise, and Combet (and for that matter Garrett) knows that. That’s why Labor forms government quite often and the Greens don’t.

  15. Honestly Bill, you’re pulling your pud if you think the Greens (you as candidate, presumably) are going to get anywhere in Kingston. If Janine Haines couldn’t make it as a centrist candidate, there’s no way the electors are going to leapfrog from a right wing candidate to you.
    Keep up the chatter though, I always find it msot amusing when no-hoper candidates talk up their chances of a “come from behind” victory!

  16. PS. You’re demonstrating your idelogically rigid credentials by paying our Combet for running as a Labor candidate. The far left will *never* get anywhere because they view any deviation from their ideology as a sellout to the cause.
    Unfortunately for you, 95% of people don’t work that way. We know that life isn’t perfect and sometimes you need to compromise to get things done (well, adults do at any rate). Further, mainstream parties believe it’s better to be in government and get some of what you want done, rather than remain impotent but pure in opposition.
    Just a thought.

  17. Many Labor voters on the left of the party have views more in line with the Greens policies than with the modern ALP. The Greens vote could increase quite a bit by attracting these voters (which would put them in with a higher chance of winning some lower house seats). Having a labor government will help sway some of these voters because it will the difference between these voters views and the policies of the ALP.

  18. That’s true, Tom – the Greens always seem to do best when they can run from the Left against a Labor government or can appear a principled opposition when Labor has appeared an ineffectual Opposition. The latter clearly won’t be an issue this year – Labor is rejuvenated under Rudd and also the issues in play come election time (eg WorkChoices, global warming etc) will I suspect be rather polarising, squeezing the minor parties in the process.

    I suspect the best strategy for you, Bill, would be to pray for a Rudd victory, minimise the damage and hope to pick up extra Senate spots in the ensuing Double Dissolution.

  19. Bill, I’m afraid you are showing us that the Greens are much further left of the Labor Party, which will only keep your status as a minor party well intact.

  20. # Jack Says:
    May 6th, 2007 at 3:30 pm

    Honestly Bill, you’re pulling your pud if you think the Greens (you as candidate, presumably) are going to get anywhere in Kingston. If Janine Haines couldn’t make it as a centrist candidate, there’s no way the electors are going to leapfrog from a right wing candidate to you.
    Keep up the chatter though, I always find it msot amusing when no-hoper candidates talk up their chances of a “come from behind” victory!

    What i define as getting somewhere and what you do are two different things. A win for me will not be winning the seat but its a nice thought!

  21. What im happy to hear is the talk of many ALPers that see the only way forward for a Rudd led government is to have a Green held Senate. As it is impossible for the ALP to win the Senate its imperative that the Greens do.

  22. # Gary Bruce Says:
    May 6th, 2007 at 4:58 pm

    Bill, I’m afraid you are showing us that the Greens are much further left of the Labor Party, which will only keep your status as a minor party well intact.

    Further left than the ALP? thats not hard as the Dems seem to fit there too. But as an AMWU delegate the Greens are not far left at all in fact theres more common ground between us than the AMWU and Labor

  23. Doug Cameron is one of the only shinning lights in the ALP but sadly one of the only voices for the left.

  24. There is some overlap between Lake Macquarie and Charlton (which the Daily Horror repeatedly called Charlestown on Thursday). The big difference is Charlton includes much of Wallsend, which has, under various names, been Labor since 1897. My personal belief is that Labor lost Lake Macquarie because of the log who held it Jeff Hunter, son of the previous member, Merv Hunter who was also a log.

    Taking into account today’s revelations and her interview on AM, I am concerned Kerry Hoare may be suffering from mental illness – I am thinking a bipolar type problem. This is only a guess but if this is so the ALP should have found some more dignified way to remove her.

    Adam, when I grew up in Hunter and later kept an interest in the seat, I had great respect for Bob Brown. Remember that the previous 4 members for Hunter were Matt Charlton (probably the most ineffective leader of the ALP in recorded history), a rapidly dementing Dr Evatt and the hillbilly father and son duo, Rowley and Bert James. The last 3 were within my memory. Compared to them Bob Brown actually behaved like a member of parliament. Having said that, he sucked on the teat of Labor for more than 20 years before eventually ratting. Unlike his daughter, he does not have my sympathy.

  25. Newcastle is ripe for a shake-up. Combet’s installation (and Jodi Mackay’s the state seat of Newcastle) provides some much-needed new blood. For such a rock solid Labor area, it’s instructive that very few figures of significance have ever come from there. I’d be interested if other contributors can recall any PM/ Premier/ leader or senior cabinet minister who has represented a Hunter seat?

  26. Whilst I am in hiatus and will not be returning on a permanent basis until late June, I could not leave the Kelly Hoare situation unremarked upon.

    Anyone who refers to Kelly Hoare as “Kelly La Hoare” is not being witty but misogynistic and offensive. Adam Carr you stand accused.

    Secondly does anybody seriously doubt the leak in today’s papers about Kelly Hoare was anything but payback for the temerity of the woman complaining about being dumped. It really is a matter for the ALP if the national executive thinks it is a good thing for Combet to fly in like the lord of the manor to meet his new peasants on Friday and no doubt Kelly Hoare was never going to be a world beater but most parties function because there backbenches have liberal sprinklings of indians and not chiefs.

    But the lack of compassion for this women is truly chilling! It seems Latham really did have a point when he talked about the suicide of the former Member for Isaacs – Greg Wilton and the role of people inside the ALP. Extremely regrettable.

  27. I like these crocodile tears from politicians who know all parties are as ruthless as one another. Give us a break, you know politics is a dirty business and it isn’t confined to one side of politics. It’s obviously not pretty or fair but if you can’t stand the heat …..

  28. I agree with you Gary Bruce – Kelly Hoare is a professional politician and she’s basically carried on like a goose recently – witness threatening an unfair dismissal case, bemoaning that she might lose her house etc. Not once have we heard anything from her about policy or indeed any reason why should she keep such a plum seat other than that she is the incumbent. Indeed, we’ve heard more from her in the last few weeks than we have in the last 9 years that she has been in parliament. My parents live in this seat, and they claim they’ve rarely seen or her from her. Of course, the allegation that came up today must be upsetting for her, but she’s a big girl and after that long in Canberra, she should be able to handle it.

  29. Greetings from Prague

    Since I am editing here under my own name, my comments on Hoare will need to be carefully phrased. Let me just say that my view that she is an object undeserving of sympathy is almost universal among those who have worked in Canberra in any capacity in recent years, regardless of party, faction or gender. Let me also suggest that the Tele doesn’t often tell the truth about people in the Labor Party – but sometimes it does.

    Bill, could you at least try to be consistent? You complain all the time that Labor is selling out to the bosses etc etc. So we give a safe seat to the leader of the labour movement’s militant resistance to the IR laws, ditching a totally useless sitting member in the process, and you come out in support of said totally useless sitting member! There is an old Labor saying “When you want to hit a dog, any stick will do.” This is exactly your attitude. You echo any and all criticisms of Labor, regardless of whether they come from left, right or centre, and regardless of consistency.

  30. Adam i just like the idea of candidates living in their electorate. As for Combet i hope that he will make sure the ALP does not go down any of the work choices path and if the workers suffer under the ALP that he will do something about it. As a union activist ( not a union boss) i am very interested in the workings of the ALP and hope that we are protected from any anti worker , anti community and anti family policies by them. What would be the point of me bagging a party ( Libs ) that will not listen to the working class. Better to work on the left of the ALP for the workers i represent.

  31. Well said Adam – the Left has a long and inglorious history of being far too concerned about fellow comrades on the Left rather than the real enemy that is the Right. It seems that the real contest is regarding who can be the most ideologically pure, rather than actually winning power and doing something constructive. While I do think that the Greens have a role to play, they too often fall for this trap.

  32. Adam how are you liking Europe? I loved it when i went 7? years ago. I was lucky enough to have someone pay for the trip and i stayed with family in Germany and Holland

  33. Hugo you said “rather than the real enemy that is the Right” yet Adam is part of the Right as it would seem most ALPers are now. Do you mean the conservative right? And what about the left Libs or moderates? isn’t the enemy people who do not work for the community in which they LIVE and represent? The ALP history and outward speal is that of fairness for workers and a buffer against the historically Rich landowner / capitalist conservative Libs. Nowadays and this has to be accepted because the ” ordinary person ” on the street sees both parties as extremely similar and as years go by it seems to be more the case. Again this is from the working and living community that i talk to not people that study politics or analyze, candidates stats or party philosophies. These same people depending on their beliefs see FF , Greens and in the past Dems and One Nation as a true alternative but in the end on polling day most succumb to a vote for what they think is a better of the two ” evils ” major parties. There will come a time that a third party will click with the electorate and start to gain support that has never been seen before.

  34. Ms Hoare: Undeserving of sympathy? Surely no one should be see them sent off from parliament in such an undignified way, no matter how much of a “log” they are.

    Anyway, I have been amazed by the lack of talent coming from the Labor party in the Hunter region. I mean, seriously, Joel Fitzgibbon? Is that the best the Hunter can produce? Hopefully Combet will inject some much needed blood.

  35. I like the two major party system, it keeps the real nut jobs out of power.

    The truth is probably somewhere in the middle anyway, meaning extreme right or left positions are usually wrong.

  36. I’ve been away in Perth and am just catching up.

    I’m interested in others’ views on the politics of IR. It seems to me that Kevin Rudd has presented what is, for want of a more specific word, a very right-wing IR policy, the most right-wing we have seen from Labor, and, predictably, the business world, the Liberals and The Australian have responded with “the sky will fall in” comments. I think the Howard Government’s IR laws are rightly seen as a disgrace and are the strongest reason Labor is in front. (I think John Howard agrees with me, except for the “rightly”.) What I do not understand is the fear that Labor seems to have in advocating its cause. It’s as if being criticised by business is making Labor fragile. Where once it would have stood its ground, it is now so anxious to appease the commentators of The Australian. I know that very few people now belong to unions, but I do not think that the public sees them as being such an evil force that Labor must, politically speaking, distance itself from them. Did I miss a great social change while I was in Perth?

  37. I’m not sure I agree Chris – the Labor IR policy does give the unions much of what they wanted, not least the collective bargaining rights enjoyed by employees in most Western countries.

    However, I am in agreement that the voting public don’t see unions as the threat that the government and the big end of town is portraying. People hate WorkChoices (rightly) and are largely on the side of the unions in this regard. Indeed, the polling that I have seen suggests that while people are prepared to vote against the government on this issue, they don’t believe that Labor will change it. Consequently, the Labor IR policy is, despite the press, a winner in that respect. In most elections it’s in Labor’s interest to differentiate themsleves from the unions, but not this time.

  38. Bill, I am in favour of *members* living in their electorates, but to say that *candidates* can only come from within a given electorate is ridiculous. Apart from my former boss, who was born in Elwood, I can’t think of many urban members who are actually native to the slab of suburbia they represent. Not Howard, Costello, Rudd, Beazley or Crean. And nor were Barton, Deakin, Watson, Reid, Fisher, Cook, Hughes, Bruce, Scullin, Curtin, Menzies, Holt, Gorton, Whitlam or Hawke native to their seats. And frankly, so what? City voters could not care less.

    Europe is fantastische, although my feet are killing me after hiking over all these cobble-stones. I can report that Good King Wenceslas is still looking out, although there is no snow, deep and crisp and even or otherwise, at present. I have just finished touring the old Jewish Ghetto area of Prague, and now my camera battery is flat so I have had to come back to the hotel to recharge. It is raining here which is a nice change after Germany, which was very hot. Tomorrow Hradcany Castle.

    No-one answered my question about a Liberal candidate for Parramatta. Does one exist? If not why not?

  39. The argument about candidates living in their electorate is about where they reside at the time they stand not where they were born.

  40. This argument about where MPs live is getting rather tiresome. Adam is right, in metropolitan electorates, it doesn’t really matter where candidates live, and three quarters of their potential constituents don’t know who they are anyway. People mostly vote for one of the major parties, not on individual candidates. Of course, in the bush the role of the candidate is much more important, but given that over 80% of Australians live in cities, it’s a safe bet that the overwhelming majority of voters could not name their local MP, much less where they live.

Comments are closed.

Comments Page 6 of 7
1 5 6 7