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”

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  1. That takes Cadman out of the running for longest serving member – and after 33 largely wasted years. When Ruddock and Howard go we have Wilson Tuckey as the longest serving member – and no Labor members left who remember the Fraser years or were there when Hawke won his first election.

  2. Great news about Alex.

    He polled almost four to one against the hard Left’s hilariously shocking candidate, the banal and utterly useless David Elliott.

    Alex is a bright, intelligent and motivated individual who will add some genuine value to the Federal Parliamentary Party. He believes in and articluates the genuine mainstream, conservative values that are at the heart of the marginals.

    Well done Alex!!!!

  3. When is Ruddock going to retire? It seems like forever he’s been the member for Berowra(rolls eyes).
    Alan Cadman came into parliament the same year as Howard, 1974.

  4. I have new found respect for Alex White. Anybody on the receiving end of so much bile from Andrew Landeryou must be doing something right after all.

  5. Alex White = useless, overweight, undertalented, Trade Unionist, extremist.

    Alex Hawke = patriotic, intelligent, eloquent, Army Officer, legend.

  6. I reckon Labor will be chuffed by this result, considering the headlines this guy has already inspired (particularly with the downfall of Brogden), you can understand why Greiner and Flint and the PMs former Chief of Staff were advocating a vote for Elliott. This decision has just added 0.5-1% to the vote of Julie Owens, Maxine McKew and whoever the Greenway candidate is, and the other neighbouring electorates I’ve overlooked.

    Mind you being formely in the electorate of Mitchell it is just deader wood replacing dead wood.

  7. I agree, Stephen. Hawke’s activities will be easy pickings in parliament. If any Labor MPs don’t own a copy of ‘The Education of a Young Liberal’ they should get one – although since it has been recalled by the publisher it could be hard to lay your hands on.

  8. Wonderful news for the Labor party. This kid is a David Clarke nutter, that sort of crap doesnt play well outside the bible belt. If he manages to get rid of the Left and swing the party to the far right, Labor will be in power for years.

  9. Stephen Hill – you have absolutely no idea about the Mitchell machinations.

    Hawke offers the Liberal Party a thousand times more ability than an inept plodder like David Elliott.

    You have never met Hawke and have no idea about the man’s abilities. Just keep on reading Fairfax and listening to the ABC for all your brain dead ideas nitwit.

  10. AND Charlie.

    The only reason why the Labor sheep on this site are bleating is that they know Hawke will be formidable and more than a match for the trade union hacks and tenth rate Army failures and traitors that make up the ALP ranks.

    The Liberal Party is back in business.

  11. I find it hard to believe that the average voter in Parramatta/Greenway/Bennelong etc would have a clue as to who Alex Hawke is, so to say this affects votes there just doesn’t fly.

  12. I went to a neighbouring school of Hawke, I have neighbours that were in the Young Liberal movement who told me about the “Australian Taliban” of the likes of Clarke and Hawke. They warned me that eventually these types would be electoral poison, and how contrary their behaviour and beliefs they were to the vision of a “Liberal” party.

    This goes beyond the constructed boogy-man of Fairfax or ABC (it got plenty of coverage in News Limited and Cumberland Papers as well), its about how well Hawke will play outside his echo-chamber of synophants and stackers. I have yet to hear a good word in my neighbourhood about this careerist (and I’d be happy to call the Labor equivalent of a political careerist if I saw one in my neighbourhood.)

    Also, I have heard mentioned that David Elliott had at least worked in a real job, beyond political staffer appointments.

  13. isabelle must have helped alex-useless-hawke stack the branches….he will be an embarassment, and lets not forget he doesnt wipe his arse without david clarke’s help…….his facist views will ensure we all know who he is……i am sorry to hear the mitchell preselectors where so easily bought……

  14. If Hawke and the puppetmaster (David Clarke) wish to bring their ideas to Federal Parliament, they’ve severely misjudged the Australian public – their ideas are not mainstream and their exploits – branch stacking, social views, anti-Semetism – will be electoral poison when its exposed. The ALP machine wont be able to resist.

  15. Mr Hawke’s tactics have been criticised as “frightening and intimidating” by Betty Mihic, the former president of the Petersham-Lewisham branch. But Mr Hawke has denied any involvement in branch-stacking. “I’m about a long-term philosophical shift in the Liberal Party to the right,” he said.

    Just what the Liberal Party needs, another Bible Bashing extreme right wing candidate. I’m sure the Exclusive Brethren will love him.

  16. Cadman’s departure means that 32 MPs (of the 190 whose term is up) will not be contesting the upcoming election. Assuming none of them run as independents.

    Compare that to half that number at the last election.

    Note: This assumes Linda Kirk has not been given a(n albeit unwinnable) spot on the Labor Senate ticket in SA. (Does anyone know?)

  17. Regarding Mitcham’s comments, I would suggest that anyone who cannot spell Anti-Semitism, let alone place it in context, would need to do some more research. And as for a Seat which has returned Mr Cadman since 1974, debates on other issues would appear to be quite superfluous. And yes, Senator Kirk, a very capable and hard working representative, would appear to have been shafted, when people of her ilk are really what the ALP needs.

  18. Alex Hawke will probably make himself very well known to his electorate in due course. I, for one, am still equivocal about it. It will probably be a good thing for the Labor party. It is a terrible thing for the parliament. Alex Hawke is a moral and ethical nightmare let loose on the national stage.

    However, Isabella is right. Little is said about David. That he’s being positioned as ‘left’ is extraordinary. He’s nothing. He is whatever suits his ends and this puts him squarely in the Howard school of politics. Like Howard (who he worked for as an electorate assistant) he is no true conservative, but a sleazy manipulative operator who would use the politics of fear to grab hold of and maintain electoral power. The mainstream media has revealed nothing about him. But lets see, from memory…..a few quotes to illustrate….as director for ACM…”the union Jack is the ultimate symbol of multiculturalism” or words to that effect. As press officer for Peter Collins, the twit would sign his press releases as Capt David Elliott with the sign off “Fire Away!”….

    It was David running that fateful event where Brogden met his political end. and I always have found it interesting, wherever there is a downfall, David does not seem far away…..just sayin….

    And this was the choice facing the preselectors. In true form they chose the complete nutter, not prepared to go another 3 years with an other incompetent fool.

  19. A wonderful result. Hawke would make a marvellous junior minister some time into the fifth Howard Government.

  20. the selection of Mr hawke as the liberal candidate is disturbing given his extreme position this gives the chance of a local mayor or some one linked to the more moderate section of the liberal party to stand against him
    maybe the first serious election for Mitchell since 1974

  21. The SUn-Herald is , as usual, completely wrong about the Mitchell preselection.

    That article is a disgrace. Blatant electioneering against a legitimate, mainstream candidate that won fair and square.

    Looks as though David Elliott and his spineless Leftist media mates are trying to spin what was a comprehensive win for Hawke.

    There were 120 preselectors. The 107-81 result therefore is absolutely impossible.

    Having spoken this morning to someone that was involved in yesterday’s preselection, Hawke received about 80-odd votes in the first round. Elliott the low 20s, some other candidate received about 3. A few preselectors didn’t turn up.

    Finally, rather than criticising Hawke, perhaps ‘Donna’ should enrol in some remedial English classes.

  22. Isabella Says:
    Alex Hawke = patriotic, intelligent, eloquent, Army Officer, legend.

    You forgot to add hiiiiiilarious.
    A few more advectives: homophobic, intollerant, party hack, religious nut.

    And since when has he been an army officer?? Evidence, please.

    Although I’m on the left, I’m glad Hawke got this. He will serve as a symbol of what is wrong with the Liberal party and swing small-l liberals to Labor. Let’s get a few more like him in.

  23. Hawke was an Officer in the Reserves for over six years – the Parramatta Lancers or something like that.

    Not opinion, fact.

    On other matters, here is The Hills News’ take on Mitchell.

    Cadman falls on his sword
    June 16, 2007 7:58 PM

    MP resigns before certain defeat at preselection. Col Allison reports.

    Faced with certain defeat at the weekend, Alan Cadman, MP, quit his federal seat of Mitchell on Friday evening after 33 years, allowing the Liberal’s young Turk, Alex Hawke to take victory in Saturday’s preselection by 81 votes to 20 against his nearest rival.

    At 7.15pm today, Hawke, 29, of Castle Hill has won the right to contest the Liberal Party’s second safest seat in the nation at the forthcoming election.

    Hawke, the high-profile former state and federal president of the Young Liberals, and lieutenant of the party’s right-wing Christian leader, MLC David Clarke easily defeated his other main rival, David Elliott, deputy CEO of the Australian Hotels Association by 61 votes at the Castle Hill RSL Club.

    In third place was Paul Blanch, the Killara Lawyer who alternates between his home and a Bathurst property. He won just six votes after 120 preselectors met in the five-hour session to choose their candidate at 2.30pm.

    Cadman conceeded defeat the night before preslection in a note to preselectors. Named by former Prime Minister Paul Keating as ”Mr Araldite” for his glue-like grip on the seat of Mitchell, Cadman knew the right-wing which had previously saved his bacon at preselection now had the numbers to defeat him, after a falling out.

    He had tried to stare down his rivals and watched three others fall like nine pins in a week. But Hawke was relen tless and had the locals numbers sewn up totally. The last few years have seen massive branch stacking in all the Hills branches, but Cadman had been badly advised that the still held sway.

    Faced with the reality of his hopeless task last night, the MP pulled the pin on a career that began wth his opposition as a local orchardist to the No-Airport-for-Galston campaign against the Gough Whitlam Government in 1974.

    Hawke promises to be a different kind of politician to Cadman, a low-profile local MP who achieved very little in his years in Parliament.

  24. Oh, the Reserves .. I see .. hate to burst your bubble Isabella but a mate of mine at work is in the Reserves – in the Accounting corp, which is still an officer level position.
    Whilst I respect the contribution made by those who choose to contribute to the reserves, it’s misleading to suggest that it is active service (and I bet Hawke was probably in the catering corp or something so I doubt he was anywhere near a gun).
    I’d also be interested in knowing how often he actually attended the Reserve weekends. Branch stacking, filling out membership forms and attending all the churches in the area for recruitment couldn’t leave much time to go.

    Again, awaiting the cold hard facts. This is still firmly in the arena of speculation.

  25. According to Isabella: “Alex is a bright, intelligent and motivated individual who will add some genuine value to the Federal Parliamentary Party. He believes in and articluates (sic) the genuine mainstream, conservative values that are at the heart of the marginals.”

    I hope Isabella (or whatever his real name is) is not suggesting that Mitchell is a marginal seat. Having previously lived for 25 years in Mitchell (25 too many), I could tell you a dead rabbit could put on a Liberal Party button and win it.
    Mind you ,a dead rabbit could scarcely do worse than the deadwood incumbent currently wearing out the backbenches

  26. Noone has suggested he was on active service throwing grenades at Islamic terrorists.

    I understand Hawke was with the Royal NSW Lancers in Parramatta. An armoured regiment. Sorry to disappoint you.

    Anyway, who cares what you think or demand Keats? Who cares what a self-confessed leftist (who by definition hates anything to do with the ared forces) feels for Alex Hawke?

    Hawke will be the Federal Member for Mitchell and will have a far greater chance at implementing his vision for Australia than you and your dweebie little left-wing internet buddies ever will. And thank God for that.

  27. Hi Isabella,

    I read the Education of a Young Liberal and so as you can understand am quite concerned about Alex Hawke as something called a “branch stacker”.

    I guess my questions are:
    What was your take on the book? Do you think Alex Hawke stacks branches? And if so, isn’t that horrible?

  28. I think a result of 107 -81 out of a total of 120 would be quite possible for someone with Alex Hawke’s skills.

  29. Silly, silly NSW Liberal party.

    You’d think the Debnam debacle would have taught them a lesson.

    Howard must despair at the stupidity of his party sometimes.

  30. Leo, Debnam was a poor canditate and an ineffective opposition leader. That’s why he lost. We should wait before coming to any conclusions on Hawke’s election winning skills (he’s of to a good start by knocking off a sitting member).

  31. Leo is correct – the NSW Liberal Party is dominated by the Christian fundamentalists, and this did not go well in the NSW Election. I don’t think that Howard actually sees this extremist group as a bad thing, though.

    The Liberal Party is no longer true to its name – a lot of the swing to Labor is as much from small l’s lamenting the hijacking of their Party as it is due to disenchanted ALPers coming back from the Greens. Either way, it’s great news for people like Julie Owens; the margins around Parramatta are definitely not the born-agains, and her stock will rise on the back of the Religious Right being on their doorsteps.

  32. Isabella is symptomatic of what is wrong with the Liberal party today. The cult of personality that pervades the Liberal party is a dangerous thing. It has become less about serving the country as a representative of the electorate, honestly putting forward vision about where the country is going, providing vision and sensible policy and building consensus than it is about being a game.

    A game where your opponents must be beaten down into the dust and kicked, all the while trying to cement their position while they have the advantage. A game that views the electorate as a bunch of sheep that need to be dragged by the nose and is won not by policy or principle, but by demonising his opponents.

    If Andrew Hawke were truly the exemplar of mainstream principle as she says, he would come out openly about his position on homosexuality, immigration and abortion. If his opinion was the consensus of the party and not his personal echo chamber, he would be able to win preselection without branch stacking.

    Isabella, does your Andrew Hawke respect his opponents? Or does he denigrate them? Does he believe the ends justify the means, whatever the cost? Is he compassionate? Is he humble as a true Christian is asked to be? I have his measure from his words and his deeds.

  33. I do not think Hawke should be either praised or derided on misguided assumptions that he’s simply a “bible basher” or whatever.

    In Parliament he will have to choose how moderate and proper he behaves. Something tells me that he is plenty more moderate than some of the older and more conservative Liberal and National members. Indeed, I think Hawke may surprise both his supporters and opponents.

    Either way, someone like him entering parliament will no doubt lead to some question time entertainment.

  34. Yawn.

    So according to many posters here the Liberal Party and National Party should each only preselect left-wing/inner city/Free the Refugees/Friends of the ABC.

    Never mind that the bulk of Australian society shares the same views as Alex Hawke.

    All this shows is that many posters on this site are not at all representative of mainstream Australia.

  35. Isabella, I know there are probably a majority of left-wingers here, but this forum manages to have a congenial atmosphere. Please don’t break it with attacks, and same goes with the left.

  36. Sorry Isabella, ‘mainstream Australia’ was born right the first time, and are much more concerned with their hip pockets than guns, gays and abortion.

    Judging by your last post, am I right to assume anyone to the left of Saint David Clarke is a ‘left-wing, inner city, Free the Refugees, Friend of the ABC’?

  37. Hawke will be able to mobilise the Hillsong workforce like his mate in Greenway.

    It will be interesting to see if FF/AoG run a candidate in either electorate.

    Hawke is also unlikely to be as controllable as the tyro Markus was.

    This is going to get interesting methinks.

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