The Right stuff

Andrew Landeryou reports that Alex Hawke, 29-year-old warlord of the Christian Right, has had a landslide win in today’s Liberal preselection for Mitchell. Sitting member Alan Cadman, a man old enough to be Hawke’s grandfather, withdrew yesterday rather than face a defeat everyone knew to be inevitable.

Hawke has worked in the past for federal MPs Ross Cameron and Helen Coonan, but is most closely associated with his current employer, state upper house MP David Clarke (UPDATE: “Anon” in comments tells us Hawke now works for Hawkesbury MP Ray Williams). The pair have become synonymous with the growing influence of religious conservatism in the party, although Clarke is a Catholic and Hawke a member of Hillsong church (UPDATE: it turns out he is actually an Anglican, but one who also makes his present felt at Hillsong). Their first enterprise was a Right takeover of the Young Liberals after a long period of Left control, which led Hawke to the positions of state president in 2002 and national president in 2005. The pair were later held responsible for a series of preselection challenges against Left MPs, which succeeded in ousting state upper house members John Ryan and Patricia Forsythe. Hawke made no apologies for his aggressive pursuit of ideological opponents, suggesting that they “choose the Greens, Labor or the Democrats” instead. However, his biggest claim to fame was his purported role in the demise of John Brogden. Speaking at the press conference called to announce his resignation, Brogden accused Hawke of “pushing” stories about his misbehaviour, and said he should “take a long hard look at himself”.

Hawke’s nomination met powerful opposition from former premier Nick Greiner, monarchist and former Australian Broadcasting Authority chairman David Flint, and former chief-of-staff to the prime minister Arthur Sinodinos, and his success to overcoming them is further testimony to his obvious political skills. However, it’s equally clear that his ideological dogmatism and factional divisiveness will open a new line of attack for the opposition.

UPDATE: The Sydney Morning Herald reports Hawke “won on the first ballot by 107 votes to 81”. Still to come from the NSW Liberal Party are preselection votes for Cook next Saturday, and the Senate the Saturday after.

UPDATE 2: In other NSW Liberal preselection news, Bronwyn Bishop has gone untroubled in Mackellar. The Sydney Morning Herald reports she “waltzed back into the job with 70 votes, ahead of councillor and News Ltd subeditor Maureen Shelley on 17, and businessman Don Wormald, who polled just three votes”.

UPDATE 3: There seems to be a consensus that the Sydney Morning Herald’s figures are wrong. For one thing, there were only 120 voters; Western Suburbs Magpies in commentstells us that “about 60% represent the local branches weighted to the membership of each branch”, “18 votes or so represent the state executive” and “30 votes represent the State Council (attempting to get balance from the broader party organisation). Local Fairfax paper the Hills News reports the margin was in fact 81-20.

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.

160 comments on “The Right stuff”

  1. Update on Parramatta. Word on the street is that they preselected some nobody (the favourite being Bolitha ??) who the State Executive does not feel to confident with. Apparently there was a large minority who voted NOT to procede to preselection, which is unheard of! With Cook in a shambles, the Senate going the same way and such negative publicity over Mitchell I reckon Rudd must be laughing his head off.

  2. A couple of things:

    Donna, it goes to show how much you pay attention to the media. If you paid attention to the media, you would realise Mr Hawke’s mother passed away when he was 10. If you have a heart, you’ll apologise for such a nasty potshot.

    In addition to this, please supply evidence of Mr Hawke’s dishonesty. Having met Mr Hawke before, i’ve found him to be genuine and approachable, and always willing to chat to people who show respect rather than just abuse, and i’m an agnostic republican who supports euthanasia, all three terms which cannot in any way describe Mr Hawke.

    Furthermore, Mr Elliot served in the PR sector of the armed forces (“a major in the army reserves” according to the Sun-Herald – PB), and this man claims to be a war hero!!! Get real. Mr Hawke may not have been to a warzone, but he’s been prepared to bare arms to defend his nation, whereas Mr Elliot sees fit to merely put out press releases.

    PB, I have heard that a guy called Colin Robertson (?) has been pre-selected. Maybe someone knows more….

  3. I checked with someone on the Mitchell preselection and Eliot always said he was a “Captain”, don’t know where his promotion to Major came from but there is no evidence he said this. You may need reminding, however, that Churchill was a Press Corps Officer in the Boer War. Can “Concerned” tell me when Elliot called himself a ‘war hero’? I don’t think he ever has, mind you one would think its better to boast that one was a Public Relations Officer in a peacekeeping role than to compare it with five years with the parramatta reserves as Hawke does – it just doesn’t make sense and insults ALL returned servicemen and women. Wonder if this is why the State Executive did not confirm Hawkes preselection on Monday night??

  4. ….and by the way, “concerned” should be aware that ALL Officers are trained to bare arms, regardless of their Corps (except of course Chaplains) so before you suggest that Eliott or any other Special Service Officer is in someway less than committed please be advised that he was Commissioned at the Royal Military College with all the other ‘proper’ military officers and would have been required to learn weapons training, infantry tactics and been prepared to lead men into battle. I recall Anthony Roberts MP saying, correctly, that the PR Corps was one of the most highly decorated corps in the army – how many medals did Alex earn at Lancer Barracks, Parramatta?? NONE! Try not to embarress yourself by discussing matters you are unfamiliar with. You have insulted every returned Peacekeeper in the nation.

  5. Just think: If the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution had given citizens the right to “bare” arms (like Hawke and Elliot) rather than “bear” arms, we might have had a safer world.

    Where was a careless typesetter when we needed one?

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