None of this actually has anything to do with the budget, but you know how it is …
The ALP’s national executive, which was empowered by the recent national conference to select candidates for 25 New South Wales seats, announced the candidates for 10 seats on Saturday. In the western Sydney seat of Blaxland, sitting member Michael Hatton has been dumped in favour of another member of the Right, Transurban executive and former Bob Carr staffer Jason Claire. Hatton has held the seat since replacing Paul Keating at a by-election held in the wake of the 1996 election defeat. Others who had designs on Blaxland included constitutional expert George Williams, Bankstown mayor Tania Mihailuk and Electrical Trades Union chief Bernie Riordan. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Mihailuk had been likely to win, possibly explaining Hatton’s decision to lodge disciplinary charges against her for failing to properly manage her branch affairs.
The national executive has also chosen Penrith mayor David Bradbury (said by Brad Norington of The Australian to have historical links to the Transport Workers Union) to make his third successive run against Jackie Kelly in Lindsay. Joe Hildebrand of the Daily Telegraph reports that Bradbury’s win has greatly displeased the National Union of Workers, which had thrown its weight behind 23-year-old school teacher May Hayek. Others to get the nod in Coalition-held seats included human rights lawyer George Newhouse, who will run against Malcolm Turnbull in Wentworth (where the redistribution has cut Turnbull’s margin from 5.6 per cent to 2.6 per cent); former ministerial staffer Greg Holland, who will make his second run against Danna Vale in the long-lost seat of Hughes (which fell in 1996, and now has a post-redistribution margin of 8.8 per cent); Belinda Neal, former Senator and wife of state Industrial Relations Minister John Della Bosca, who will attempt to unseat Jim Lloyd in Robertson (margin now 6.9 per cent); and ambulance officer Tim Arneman, who suffered a 68-vote defeat in Port Stephens at the state election, and now faces Bob Baldwin in Paterson (6.8 per cent).
Two incumbents have emerged from the national executive process unscathed: Julia Irwin in Fowler and Jennie George in Throsby. A highly fancied bid by former national party president Warren Mundine to unseat Irwin fell foul of the party’s affirmative action targets, after a number of defeats by female candidates in other seats. The irony of an indigenous candidate being squeezed out on affirmative action grounds was widely noted. The Australian Jewish News reports that both Rudd’s office and Melbourne Ports MP Michael Danby told the paper to keep quiet about the challenge to Irwin, a vocal critic of Israel, the former saying that the best way to ensure her survival is for you guys to cover it. According to Kerry-Anne Walsh of the Sun-Herald, Jennie George’s endorsement followed a faction deal made between the Left and Right that would raise eyebrows.
Mark Davis of the Sydney Morning Herald reports that affirmative action supporters in the New South Wales ALP’s Left have revolted against the factional leadership’s decision to deliver the number two Senate position to Doug Cameron, former national secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union. Seven women have nominated against Cameron for the factional ballot, including management consultant and 2003 state election candidate Imogen Wareing. The first and third positions on the ticket are reserved for the Right; it is anticipated that Ursula Stephens will be demoted from her number one position in 2001 to number three, making way for state party secretary Mark Arbib.
A factional row has erupted in the New South Wales Liberal Party after its nomination review panel rejected country vice-president Scott McDonald’s Senate preselection nomination. The move safeguarded Left faction member Marise Payne’s third position on the Coalition ticket, behind Helen Coonan and the Nationals’ John Williams (who replaces the retiring Sandy Macdonald). Background to the dispute was provided by Imre Salusinszky of The Australian:
As part of its general reassertion of authority following the years in exile that began under former premier Nick Greiner, the Right has had its eye on the spot occupied by Marise Payne, who hails from the Left faction. Desperate to avoid predictably bad headlines in the Fairfax newspapers and on the ABC about right-wing “extremists” controlling the party, Howard told Heffernan to work the numbers for Payne. Heffernan went at the task the only way he knows: like a bull at a gate. At a fiery meeting last month, he tried to curtail the preselection process entirely and moved that the state executive simply re-endorse the sitting team. When this failed, Heffernan took the fight to the party’s nominations review committee, of which he is one of three members. The committee threw out the nomination of the Right’s challenger to Payne, state vice-president Scott McDonald. Designed to vet candidates on the grounds of character or ethics, or because their candidacy could damage the party, the committee operates as a “black box” and does not give reasons for its decisions. But it is understood the issue was a conflict of interest, McDonald having already spoken against Heffernan’s motion on the executive. The move has upset the NSW Right like nothing else done in the name of its Dear Leader. Meanwhile, the Left, for once, finds itself supporting Howard and Heffernan.
Controversial Right faction powerbroker Alex Hawke has thrown his hat in the ring to contest Liberal preselection for Mitchell, where incumbent Alan Cadman proposes to run again despite a universal perception he is past his use-by date. Also in the running are Australian Hotels Association deputy chief executive officer David Elliot and state party vice-president Nick Campbell, described by Irfan Yusuf at Crikey as the NSW Rightâ€™s main number-cruncher.
Western Australian Liberal Senator Ian Campbell, who lost his cabinet position in March on the flimsy basis that he had been at a meeting with Brian Burke, has announced he will quit politics in the coming weeks. The party moved quickly to fill the vacancy with Mathias Cormann, who last week defeated incumbent Ross Lightfoot to take the number three position on the ticket for this year’s election. Since the position filled by Cormann does not expire until 2011, the number three position is again up for grabs. According to Robert Taylor of The West Australian, party insiders said it made sense to shift Mr Cormann into the Senate immediately and search for a strong number three given that Mr Cormann’s dominant presence in the last preselection discouraged many people from nominating. Names of potential aspirants have yet to surface in the media; however, Campbell last month dismissed speculation that he might be about to resign as wishful thinking from those hoping to fill a vacancy, naming Cormann and Nick Bruining, a financial journalist who ran unsuccessfully for the state upper house in 2001.
The ABC reports a field of nine candidates will seek preselection for the Liberals’ Tasmanian Senate ticket, which will be held next month in Launceston. They include two incumbents, John Watson and Richard Colbeck (who were number two and number three in 2001), along with former state MHA David Fry, former Liberal staffer David Bushby, former political staffer Giulia Jones and Don Morris, the chief of staff to Senate Preisdent Paul Calvert. The number one candidate from 2001, Senate President Paul Calvert, is retiring.
In the seat of Newcastle, Labor member Sharon Grierson will face a challenge from David March, president of the party’s Merewether West branch, at a preselection vote to be held on May 26.