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. Ah Keats is it?

    First its abuse and then its probably threats of defamation proceedings.

    Is that really what you want for the site – violent agreement on all points, how boring!

    I agree Isabella has probably been a bit intemperate in her past comments but puncturing certain posters pomposity on this site is not a bad thing.

  2. I’ve known David Elliott for years and, like Tory, am stunned to hear him described as “left”. My take on Alex Hawke: you have to agree with Alex Hawke 100% of the time before he can cope with you. He’ll make an awful MP. The man practically sprays himself with voter repellent. Nobody who doesn’t already vote Liberal will be motivated to do so by Hawke, while Isabella shows us how keen he is to discourage existing Liberal voters from continuing to do so.

    Speaker: you are only right so long as Hawke keeps quiet.

    the nominal gap has closed by another two points.

    The margin for error is three points, so it probably hasn’t moved at all and definitely doesn’t represent good news for the Coalition.

    Isabella’s puppy-dog infatuation is cute, no? There’s plenty of Australia between Alex Hawke and David Marr.

  3. ha..ha..ha..ha…won the preselection fair and square…..who writes your material…you would do well doing stand-up comedy…. oh…and PB for the record, my statement that was ‘sniped’ out was a true account….however, thank you for your concern regarding the possibilty of nasty legal action…..slandering amoung the liberal party is naturally unheard of…

  4. Hey donna,

    you wouldnt be David’s sister now would you? Just thinkin….he has a sister who he really doesnt have good things to say about……would that be you by any chance

  5. juno – I thought you might be Elliot’s sister given you appeared to have a complete copy of his CV. But I remember him from the Police Media Unit and he appeared to be able to make friends easy enough

  6. juno……sorry to disappoint you…..i dont know anything about david’s family….but…boy….you seem to have alot of knowledge about someone you are happy to slander…..personally and politically….you must really be a fan…..has david rejected your advances??? used you for his personal gain and then spat you out like an old wrinkled prune???….and juno….you are assuming this is my real name……is juno your real name????

  7. Whatever else may be said about Hawke, he does at least represent some much needed youth for the Liberals. By the day of the election the Libs will have the following members under the age of 40:

    Jason Wood
    Sophie Mirabella
    Cory Bernardi
    Michael Johnson
    Peter Dutton
    Michael Keenan
    Michael Ferguson (what is it with Michaels?)
    Steven Ciobo

    If they lose the election Ferguson will probably lose his seat, and Keenan, Dutton and Wood may be in danger too. I imagine at least a few of the candidates replacing retiring safe Liberal MPs are young, but the reality is that if Labor does win Hawke will be one of the few youngish Liberal MPs. Consequently he is likely to have a big role in the party’s future. People may not pay much attention to him in voting this time, but I suspect they will in coming elections.

  8. Hi Donna

    It would be better for you if you could restrain your vective for just a bit. I merely asked if you were related, given your untrammelled admiration for Capt Elliott although, and I must say, the idea of anyone putting the hard word on David, let alone me, was very humorous, very funny indeed. There were tears, and lots of mirth around the joint when I read that one out. Good times at headquarters this afternoon. Advances, very good Donna, very good.

  9. interesting….better for me to restrain….and why would that be???…my statements are no more or less than mr elliott’s other admirers…..glad you and your imaginary colleagues had the opportunity to have a laugh in the office… know alot about mr elliott and his employment history, statements he’s made…given your question regarding his sister….you must have also be familiar with his personal family life…my guess is you’ve known him for a long time….don’t have the guts to let mr elliott, or others on this blog, know who you are…..given your unhealthy reactions to david elliott….either he really made a fool of you…..or you need a psychological evaluation…..tough call.

  10. Hold the phone ladies. Keep this in percpective.

    Elliot is obviously a simple young father who wants to have a go, he was beaten on the day and from what I read he is the type to stand up, dust himself off and have another go. Interesting that Donna runs the defensive role so passionately but hey, she’s clearly one of those “broad Church Liberals”. Juno, I note you choose the stage name of a Roman goddess. SNIP – Glen, I don’t think it prudent to let your last two sentences through. PB.

  11. glen…..i dont care if elliott has another ‘go’ or not…i reacted, and will continue to do so when personal attacks are made behind made up names…you want to slander someone…then have the balls to stand up to the plate….you want to attack david elliott’s political views….go right ahead….alex hawke won the preselection because he stacked the branches and a deal was made…..elliott didnt have a fair go….but i guess thats politics for you….i laughed at your ‘broad church liberal’ comment..if you knew me, you would to…..enjoy your evening glen….

  12. Sure ed, ok, I was just curious. But if you know the history of the Liberal Party like I do I can’t help but feel a little de je vu. Mind you, it would be fair to question one’s self esteem if they wrote under the name ‘juno’. It’s like me calling myself “Bono”.

  13. Funny how Stephen Hill says he knows all about Alex and David Clarke through neighbours of his who were in the Liberal Party? I wonder if he’d like to elaborate a little more and tell us who these people are and whether they were supporters of Michael “Love Rat” Photios and Don Harwin? Anyhow, I actually attended the same school as Stephen and found him to be a little nerdy weed who’d grow up to be a useless, GreenLeft type who’d still be living home with his parents whilst bludging off his Daddy’s success within the capitalist/free market country we live in! I guess I was proved correct???

    When Stephen says he’s never actually heard a good word in his neighbourhood about Alex Hawke. This is true as he resides in the Parramatta Federal Electorate and not within Mitchell. He obviously likes the sound of silly Julie Owen’s piano music!

    Stephen, go and get a life and vote Liberal like everyone else in Carlingford!

  14. I don’t respond to ad hominen attacks.

    But I do hope this fellow from Carlingford wasn’t responsible for the largest swing to Labor in the whole Parramatta electorate. I heard from those that manned the booths that there was a swing to Labor of over 7% in Carlingford North (and not a copy of Green Left in sight). Is Carlingford going bolshie or was the explusion of a high-profile liberal member for voicing concern about the war on Iraq and refugee policies resulting in a few strange migrations.

  15. Wow, the comments on this blog from some Young Liberal staffers really are an indictment! Honestly I wish Alex Hawke all the best. That said, the Liberal party really should avoid preselecting staffers in favour of people with private sector experience. How could a staffer ever hope to become a competent minister?! I doubt Alex Hawke will make a substantial contribution to the parliamentary division but his preselection does start to bring Mitchell into play for preselection purposes. Alex very much excels as a backroom player and will no doubt be a useful Right-faction whip in the future. His biggest challenge will be to hold Mitchell in future preselections. No doubt there are wealthy business people out there marvelling at the relative ease of Alex’s preselection compared to the full on brawl that was King vs Turnbull. Very interesting times ahead for the Fed Libs. Somehow though I worry that Alex Hawke isn’t the “mainstream” Australian in the tradition of Jackie Kelly, Joe Hockey etc. When the Liberal party starts to look narrow and sectional in its focus, its voting share will be adjusted accordingly.

  16. I think you’ll find that if the Liberals manage to win this year, and once Howard retires and Costello takes over, you’ll more likely find Hawke’s rise stemmed quite abruptly.

  17. Also if it is true that Wentworth is heading towards safe Labor as it gets redistributed westwards, you’ll likely find Turnbull challenging him later on.

    Turnbull has eyes on being Prime Minister and I doubt Hawke would be a serious challenge to him. Sure Hawke thinks he would be, but he’s still a kid.

  18. I think that was the whole point of Elliot running wasn’t it. I am told the business community (Greiner, Sinodinos et al) all got behind him because he know’s his way around the Boardrooms of Sydney and can relate to mortgage belt fathers. Given he spins for the liquor industry he was fair game but it sorta makes others of his calibre take a second look at why they should bother ever seeking preselection. I find it hard to beleive Hawke’s apologists soincerely want to compare his army reserve service with Eliott’s role as a Peacekeeper. It’s like me boasting to Boy George that I watched the gay Mardi Gras once. Juno – you need closure on something but only you know what it is.

  19. Wentworth won’t be “safe Labor” for a while – next redistribution, if enrolment trends keep on going the way they have been, Wentworth will have to gain a couple of thousand voters (perhaps even 10,000) – and unless it moves down the coast into Kingsford-Smith (less likely), my guess is that Surry Hills will be added to it. That’s nice for Labor but won’t make it “safe Labor”.

    Then, at the next redistribution, if it has to gain a couple of thousand more voters, it might gain them from Redfern East etc. All these movements would make the seat more marginal.

  20. Sacha, the census is showing Wentworth now has a high transient population, that is, people who have moved in the past 5 years. These people are likely to be twenty-something renters, and these types of people vote Labor more often than not. So it isn’t just the redistributions, the whole area is changing nature.

  21. On Wentworth: I don’t think the new transients are necessarily renters. There are significant developments happening in the electorate (from Bondi down towards Coogee) but renters are being driven out by increasing rents. Alot of people moving into the area are people looking for places to buy & live – its becoming the new trendy area to live. Yes there still heaps of English backpackers, but they don’t vote (I suspect not even in their own country…) so don’t count. The areas covered by Vaucluse also aren’t areas of high renters, and if they are I doubt they’re voting ALP. The only areas that will include an increase in renter transients would be on the more western fringes of the electorate. Now if you want renter transients, come down to Kingsford-Smith…

  22. I’m concerned about some of the language used in this section
    can people please try and moderate their language i know there are
    strong supporters and opponents of Mr Hawke
    you can criticise without being abusive
    after all this is a blog about electoral politics

  23. For Gods sake Adam, will you come back from foot massage school and get into this again-time to set a cat amongst the biased, narrow minded pidgeons again.

  24. Perhaps Elliot will seek preselection in Berowra when Ruddock retires during the next term and there is a byelection there.

  25. Perhaps Alex won’t make it to the election??? I thought Eliot was more suited for State given the NSW Libs are so inept. I think his biggest challenge will be to stay motivated. I wonder how many of the critics of Hawke and Eliot have ever, or will ever, nominate. I think it’s a gutsy move just to put your hand up these days.

  26. I am David Elliott’s mother, and everyone will agree that no one knows a child like a mother.
    Like all mothers, I know my children’s strengths and weaknesses. I love my children unconditionally, even though I know they are not always perfect. Some of the comments on this site are hurtful, and some are ridiculous. My son served overseas in a war zone. It has been revealed that his opponent, although professing an army background, is only a Reserve. Serve in a War Zone young man, leave a young bride, keep at your post even when your beloved grandfather dies, come home with stories of the horror of seeing people killed, children not given adequate medical treatment, and then have the audacity to claim the honour of being in the Army.
    David has done “the hard yards”, setting up polling booths at 6am from the age of 15. Walking the streets putting flyers in letterboxes. Handing out “How to Vote” flyers on Polling Day. Being involved in the Young Liberals. Has his opponent served his apprenticeship in this way? NO!
    There have been disparaging remarks about my children in general. My children like all families, have had their disagreements. They have fought one minute and laughed together the next. But they are FIERCELY loyal to each other. They are all different which is good, and this reflects their upbringing, that everyone is entitled to be different.
    In reading some of the comments on this site, it seems that there are some people who may have at some time been “intimates” of this family. We have always been a family who welcomed others into our home, our door has always been open, we have always had a houseful of people, but there have been times when that has been misused. So I imagine that those on this site who have been vitriolic in their comments about David Elliott could possibly be people who this family took into our home, but who betrayed our trust and friendship in some way. Some comments reflect a distinct attitude of revenge, and therefore perhaps show the reason why this family decided to exlude them from its bosum. And it seems that we were wise to do that, judging by the reaction of some of the people on this site, namely Juno. As you would be aware, Juno was a Roman Goddess, the wife of Jupiter. Perhaps Juno proved that she was not a fit mate for David, (Jupiter) and was spurned by him. And obviously that was a good decision. So David exhibits once again, the good sense that he has always had. Remember that there have been many very famous Politicians who have lost time after time, and then finally, after gaining office, have moved into the history books. Just because David did not win at the Pre Selection, does certainly not mean that he has lost. Any more than John Howard lost, Winston Churchill lost, or Abraham Lincoln lost. And despite everything, as far as his family is concerned, David has won. If David has nothing else, he has the love, support, and confidence, of his entire family. Those of you who comment unfavourably on David’s private life show your lack of professionalism, as it is David who is standing for office, albeit with our total support, but not his family. His family is sacred.
    Yvonne Elliott

  27. Take a look at the speech made by Albanese yesterday afternoon (Wedneday) regarding Hawke. I wonder if the footage he is referring to will see the light of day and if the Libs are looking at another Pauline Hanson here??

  28. I reckon Yvonne Elliott is the real deal.

    Yvonne: Don’t take it too seriously. Just about every politician gets picked on here.

    There’s not much substance behind most of it.

  29. If she isn’t she does a great impression – wish my mum would come to my defence that hard, she’d be egging on the critics. Mind you, we haven’t heard from Juno again so I guess she’s hit a nerve. I bet the PM ain’t to happy about Labor’s attacks on the Mitchell preselection. Just when he’s gaining traction again and the Unions are scoring own goals the Libs have to justify their man in Mitchell. I’d love to know who the unsourced Liberal Backbenchers white anting Alex are…. just when I’d given up on Rudd. That man has nine lives!

  30. The Liberal Party preselection for Cook is happening today according to The Australian (see,20867,21951738-28737,00.html?from=public_rss). A few days ago an article about it caught my eye, as it mentioned a “dark-horse” candidate, Michael Towke (previously Taouk), who has been getting people excited about the Liberal Party and joining the Miranda branch. Coincidentally enough, the Miranda branch will send quite a few delegate along to today’s Cook preselection, and they might just support Michael in his bid for preselection.

    Now, his previous surname caught my eye, as I was tutoring a guy in Engineering mathematics at Sydney Uni about 4-6 years ago whose surname looked very similar to Taouk, who also lived near Redfern and worked in the Security business, and who was about the right age (apparently now 27). I wonder if it is the same person?

  31. Adam “Just remember that men are from Mars, women are from Venus, and Young Liberals are from Uranus.”

    LOL 🙂 I wonder would young Laborites are from the Moon

  32. The Cook preselection has been called off due to a Supreme Court injunction. The Liberal Party Executive may even hold back on confirming the Mitchell decision. Towke is now being quizzed about his alleged military service (as will Alex Hawke at some stage). Prepare to see the federal executive intervene.

  33. Can Nick or anyone else tell me if the Parramatta preselection has been finalised? There were numerous reports that it would be conducted last Wednesday and that Tim Bolitho was more or less a shoo-in, but nothing to confirm it since.

  34. Dunno William – no one cares about the Parramatta preselection as Julie Owen has already won thanks to the Religious Right’s behaviour in Mitchell.

  35. Why is it the Liberal Feds were concerned about branch stacking in Cook, but didn’t say a word about the Beaumont Hills Branch in Mitchell? My money is on the fact that the Left are happy to see the PM embaressed in Mitchell and yesterday’s SMH is the start of that. Meanwhile, the disaster in Cook will give them all an excuse to forfeit the preselections and see the Federal Exec move in with their preferred candidates.

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