Lyne by-election preview

The September 6 by-elections for Mayo and Lyne initially loomed as fizzers, with Labor showing no inclination post-Gippsland to test the waters in unwinnable seats. They have instead respectively emerged as mildly and enormously interesting, thanks to the entry of non-major party players. In Mayo, housing tycoon Bob Day will bring a cashed-up campaign to bear against the Liberals as the candidate of Family First, having failed to win Liberal preselection for Mayo after unsuccessfully contesting Makin last year. Day would nonetheless have to be considered a long shot against Liberal candidate Jamie Briggs, but it’s a very different story in Lyne where independent state MP Rob Oakeshott has been rated the “clear favourite” by Antony Green. Imre Salusinszky of The Australian reports that Nationals polling puts his approval rating in the electorate at over 70 per cent, and says the party is concerned Labor will “direct resources to Mr Oakeshott’s campaign”.

Lyne covers a 100 kilometre stretch of coastline up to 400 kilometres north of Sydney, the main population centres being Port Macquarie (home to 33 per cent of the electorate’s population) and Taree (14 per cent). Smaller centres include Old Bar, Lake Cathie and Harrington on the coast, and Wauchope and Wingham further inland. The National/Country Party has held the seat since its creation in 1949. The electorate covers the entirety of Oakeshott’s state seat of Port Macquarie, which provides Lyne with 55 per cent of its voters. Oakeshott won Port Macquarie as the Nationals candidate at a 1996 by-election ahead of independent John Barrett, who had come within 233 votes of defeating Mark Vaile as Liberal candidate for Lyne in 1993. He was promoted to the front bench after the 1999 election, taking the sport and recreation, fisheries and ports portfolios. In March 2002 he quit the party, claiming its local branches were controlled by property developers and questioning whether the party was still relevant to an electorate transformed by tourism and demographic change. The Nationals campaigned aggressively against him during the 2003 campaign, in particular over his support for drug law reform, but he was overwhelmingly re-elected with 69.7 per cent of the primary vote. This fell slightly to 67.1 per cent at the March 2007 election, his two-candidate preferred margin down from 32.8 per cent to a still formidable 28.2 per cent.

The Nationals candidate is Rob Drew, who was mayor of Port Macquarie until the council was sacked by the state government in February. The Macleay Argus reports he won a preselection vote ahead of Taree solicitor Quentin Schneider by 48 votes to 15. State party leader Andrew Stoner was reportedly urged by “senior colleagues” to throw his hat into the ring, but perhaps sensibly decided to stay put. The prospect of an Oakeshott candidacy was a cloud on the horizon from the time of Vaile’s departure, with Oakeshott earlier threatening to run against Vaile at the 2004 election. There has also been intermittent speculation over the years that he might be enlisted by the Liberals, although this might never have been more than wishful thinking by the party. Most recently, powerbrokers including Senator Bill Heffernan approached him to contest the by-election as the Liberal candidate, hoping that his success might push the Coalition further along the road to a merger. The party has instead opted to sit out the contest, aware that its presence would only increase the already high likelihood of an Oakeshott victory.

The other thing to be noted is that win, lose or draw, Oakeshott’s candidacy will initiate a state by-election for Port Macquarie – though that is a subject for another post. While it would be open to Oakeshott to re-contest Port Macquarie, owing to what Imre Salusinszky calls “a quirk in NSW electoral law”, Oakeshott has declared that such a move would be “unfair to the community”.

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.

342 comments on “Lyne by-election preview”

  1. I have been told by an acquaintance that he has recieved an unauthorised and unsigned postcard through the mail with the simple message “A vote for Oakeshott is a vote for labor” in a facsimile hand written style. He is sending it across for me to have a look at.
    Interestingly the only article in today’s papers is in the Macleay Argus reassuring its Kempsey readers that they are no longer in the electorate and do not have to vote.
    For a by-election that may have a significant long term effect on the National party, it is hardly setting the place alight.

  2. I think the Nationals have given up. Today’s free local paper The Express (arguably the paper with the biggest circulation because it is thrown on everyone’s lawn whereas the PM News has a circulation of less than 10K) has no advertising for Drew and two full page ads for Oakeshott. On NBN TV last night there were no Drew ads but multiple 5sec spots for Oakeshott which were merely cards saying Oakeshott – Independent.

  3. The Holiday Coast Pic(rap)torial didn’t disappoint. It had all the right wing editorial (propaganda) including our new gun toting world champion 15 year old girl on the cover.

    It amazes me they keep throwing that thing on my lawn. I threw it back at the car delivering them one day when I just happened to be out in the garden. The biggest problem is I live on a corner block with the driveway facing on road and the letter box on the other, so I get two of the damn things every time. They can’t seem to work out its the same house.

    They offered all the candidates editorial, but only conditionally if you took out a half page ad. I know the Greens told them to shove it. They have a reputation for editing other candidates editorial. Looks like everyone else bar Oakeshott took them up on the offer. He has his ad inside the cover on page 2, however, it looks like the HCP forgot his editorial. Oh Dear. maybe they will be kind enough to run it after the election.

    The rest of the issue is virtually page after page of driveling suck up, bum kissing praise for Drew. Puke!

  4. I remember well the aftermath of Oakeshott quitting the Nationals there were rumours that Oakeshott was close to then Liberal Leader Brouden. Apparently the Nationals threatened the Liberals that if Oakeshott defected to the Liberals in Port Macquarie that would be the end of the state coalition. Subsquently Brougden was found to be unstable and attempted suicide. If Oakeshott was influenced by this man it raises questions on his political acumen. Residents of Lyne deserve decent and asute representation the Country/Nationals have provided that since the seat was created in 1949 and we saw the last member become Deputy Prime-Minister what could Oakeshott possibly provide.

  5. There would ahve been nothing wrong in Oakeshott quitting the Nationals and joining the Libs. There is no real difference between these two parties.
    I personally think that the Nationals are mad to be in Coalition with a party of business because most traditional country people are rural socialists in the best sense of that term. In fact without government intervention and services ( the ‘socialism’) the regions would be stuffed. In fact they already are due to the big business agenda of successive Coalition and ALP governments especially since the privatisations began in the mid 1980s era and continuing today.

    Say NO to Privatisation. Vote DLP.

  6. There would have been nothing wrong in Oakeshott quitting the Nationals and joining the Libs. There is no real difference between these two parties anyway.
    I personally think that the Nationals are mad to be in Coalition with a party of business because most traditional country people are ‘rural socialists’ in the best sense of that term. In fact without government intervention and services ( the ‘socialism’) the regions would be stuffed. In fact they already are due to the big business agenda of successive Coalition and ALP governments especially since the privatisations began in the mid 1980s era and continuing today.

    Say NO to Privatisation. Vote DLP.

  7. Mr Nash.. no actually, just Nash – “Mr” would confer some level of respect that clearly isn’t warranted here.

    Let me get this piffle right- if the rumor you heard about Oakeshott’s friendship with Brogden was true, and that being friends with someone that suffered a particularly nasty bout of mental illness “raises questions” (talk about grubby horseshit – is this what you clowns are honestly reduced to?), then somehow the Residents of Lyne deserve better than this?

    You’ll get all of the votes you deserve with that argument.

    Enjoy your electoral pounding on Saturday.

    The sheer cluelessness of someone pretending to have an interest in Lyne (an area with one of the highest suicide rates among adult males in the country) while simultaneously accusing anyone that has, not even a close, but merely a rumored closeness to a person with a mental illness as somehow lacking acumen, is simply astonishing.

    Simply astonishing.

  8. My pictorial hasn’t arrived yet. I look forward to it each month but I am surprised they even took Oakeshott’s money – I guess that everyone has his price. I once had the job of writing the Labor party advetorial for the pre-election issue of the Pictorial ($1000 for a half page) The editor was quite good about it – I could write what ever I like provided I did not say anything against Mark Vaile – you can’t ask for fairer than that.

  9. Mr Nash, it sounds as if you would know (and we are all friends here so you can share) have the Nationals stopped advertising in Lyne?

  10. #307
    mate were you involved in the Lindsay shite.from the tone of your ramble i suggest that you learn to evolve from the cesspit which you currently call home and get some form of treatment.
    ps did the heiferman put you up to this;as this sort of faeces has his distinct odour.

  11. I agree with Possums comments re “Nash”. The Coalition and State Labor policies of sweeping mental health under the carpet over the last decade haven’t helps a great deal.

    Now, I recall some DLP nitpicking over Greens policies a while back. I can say confidently that the Greens share some common ground on many of the DLP policies however, I can see some BIG differences.

    “Development of nuclear engineering and power generating capacity to promote conservation of non-renewable energy resources and to facilitate preparedness for “last resort” strategic defence contingencies.”

    Can I ask the DLP where they stand on nuclear power in the Lyne electorate and storage and transport of nuclear weapons and waste from the fuel cycle? This is a BIG policy difference. Personally I’d feel safer sharing a house with an Intersex person.

  12. Your policy on nuclear power and weapons goes strongly against the grain of another DLP policy

    “Limits on the manufacture, distribution and use of products with known toxic, destructive or pollutant effects and greater public access to information needed to assess the “accident” potential from such products and the risks to public health.”

    This one is good but doesn’t resolve too well with your nuclear policy as radio active waste is one of the most toxic substances. What is your policy on the storage of nuclear waste given its toxicity last hundred of thousands of years?

    Are you aware that the Port Macquarie Hastings is a Nuclear Free Zone?

  13. I could get into the gutter and respond to Nash comments by saying it is what you would expect from the typical nat, whose parents share the same set of grandparents.

    I could but won’t.

  14. Oh and this

    “Honesty from public authorities as to the incidence of HIV-AIDS in Australia being overwhelmingly a homosexual disease and honest endeavours by Federal and State governments to inform and educate the community as to the primary cause for its spread – non-monogamous and promiscuous sexual practices.”

    I’d like to see some statistics to back up this one. I agree with the second part of this, the primary cause, but does it matter that a disease affects one part of the community more than another. In other countries it is poor people who don;t have access to contraceptives either due to poor government policy or religeous reasons. Prostate cancer is overwhelmingly a male disease, what difference does that make? The only point of this policy is to blatantly discriminate against homosexuals. What does that achieve other than appeal to homophobia?

  15. Again, DLP

    “Development of nuclear engineering and power generating capabilities for peaceful purposes that facilitate future options for acquiring a nuclear deterrent capacity if international efforts to limit proliferation of nuclear weapons fail or the nuclear umbrella of our allies can no longer be guaranteed.”

    So lets say we’re against proliferation, but just in case, lets keep it as an option for ourselves. Nice piece of hypocrisy there DLP.

    No one wins a nuclear war.

    What is your policy on depleted uranium weapons? Of which, thanks to the previous government, we now have a capability and have used them in joint training exercises in Shoalwater Bay Queensland already, sensitive habitat for threatened dugong and world heritage marine park.

  16. DLP, your stance on Euthanasia may not go down so well in an aging electorate like Lyne:

    “Enforcement of the criminal law with respect to procured abortions and euthanasia through the prosecution of medical professionals who violate human life.”

    Due to the average age resulting from a large retiree population, a disproportionate number of people living in Lyne are facing the latter stages of their lives and would like to have some control over how and when they will take their final breath. This was one of the hottest topics at the Candidates Forum. You should have been their!

  17. ODGE:

    Cant be any worse than Bob Browns efforst to shut down our entire coal industry. Any solar system would require a base line power facilty to maintain supply.

    The Extreme Greens have no answer…. Their only answer is to shut down everthing and Tax everything we consume, or use, what we eat right down to how many children we can have.

    Yes the extreme green monster is attempting to change our life forever. We should all be concerned.

    <a href =<Never Happy

    We are not living in the 1950’s and 1960s where these types of technologies were new. We now live in 2008 where we are working on technologies(in nuclear) that will exhaust the rod and leave no waste.

    I think it would be irresponsible to not continue research in this area.

    We’ve all had enough of the scare tactics employed by the extreme greens,
    who will never be happy until everything is shut down.

    Sustainable population (Population Control) and Gloal Governance are the principles behind this monster.

    Lets hope the people in Lyne and Mayo send a message to this bunch of extremists that have the potential to change our lives forever.


  18. Odge
    I support life at every stage from conception to natural death.
    I also oppose the death penalty.
    And I oppose all killing, from the unborn, to those near the end of their lives. I oppose all wars, and the killing of any innocent civilians.
    For our country I HAVE A DREAM,
    that every individual from conception to natural death will have the full protection of the Law to live out their live in peace.
    I dedicate myself to trying to ensure that this dream becomes a reality in this country.
    I believe the best way to enable this to happen is to support the policies of the DLP, which are in accord with my views.
    I encourage all Australians to do likewise

  19. Odge

    Re euthenasia, which is the ultimate in Elde Abuse.

    Governments have to introduce laws to protect the most vunerable in our society from being abused by the more powerful.
    Most people think that the incindent of abuse is rare in our society.
    Unfortunately that is not the case.
    I have had 4 years experience investigation elder abuse in a large regional area. In that time I was able to prove 60 cases of elder abuse.There was a similar amount of cases that i was unable to prove, or I was able to resolve in some other way.
    The abuse involved, physical, emotional, and financial abuse, and neglect. By far the greatest number of cases was of financial abuse.
    When elderly people become vunerable, and especially when they have substaintal assetts, and develop dementia, it is amazing how many ‘relatives’ suddenly become ‘ interested’ in them.
    The level of financial abuse ranged from stealing their Pension, to stealing $140,000.
    If euthenasia became legal I fear for the safety of these vunerable people who would be subject to enormous pressure from relatives who would benefit from their early demise.
    There are people in our society who would use euthenasia to hasten the death of vunerable elderly people.
    Laws have to be in place to protect them.
    Euthenasia should be a crime in our society.
    To kill any human being between conception and natual death, should be, and always remain, a crime in our society.

  20. Nice attitude Ziggy. Sticks and Stones….

    So, back to my question, do you sanction a nuclear power station on the Manning, Hastings or Macleay rivers??????

    By your logic, nuclear, a “technology from the 50’s 60’s”, is better than utilising the limitless nuclear reactor in the sky, the Sun, the source of all energy on this planet that has the power to drive the wind and tides in conjunction with using electricity more efficiently than our current wasteful practices and stimulating jobs in new industries?

    Your nuclear aspirations sounds a lot more EXTREME to me. But there you go.

    Surely our renewable technology has come a lot further than its origins in parallel with nuclear technology in the 50’s and 60’s? Australia had been world leaders. We’re not stuck in some Apollo 13 time warp fellas. If renewables had the development funding that we use to subsidise the coal industry in 1 year (millions instead of hundred of thousands), we would certainly be a lot further down that road. China is investing more in installing renewables than we are per capita. Its a joke!

    Any response to your blatant homophobic policies? Its not like homosexuality hasn’t been around since the dawn of time. Why do they deserve to be treated any less human than the rest of us? How many “family” men leave their wife and kids to hangout down at a local beach or park after dark with other men? Yes, for some family life is a thin veneer of reality. They are the ones you need to worry about. That is the dishonestly that affects families.

    Greens extreme? No, I think your grasping at straws there. You are genuinely afraid because we are actually becoming more mainstream every day as people wake up the the solid policies we are pushing. Why else would the ALP and Conservatives pick them up as their own? Just look at Drew’s latest flyer. Its almost embarrassing.

    See you at the polls. I’m going for 10% Green this time 🙂

  21. I take it all back. Drew TV ads have reappeared
    I also have my copy of the pictorial. Better than ever. Where did they get the editorial photo of Oakeshott? – he looks about 25 and in a very tired and emotional state.
    Odge I thought you said all the candidates had taken out advetorials but the only ads I can see are 2 pages for Drew and half a page for Oakeshott.

  22. ODGE:

    No I wouldn’t.
    Solar is not the answer. It can support another base power system and thats what we have to discuss.

    ODGE says:”China is investing more in installing renewables than we are per capita. Its a joke!

    As well as Nuclear stations and clean power coal as well.

    Your right odge we’re not living in the 50′ or 60s so you’d be quite aware of the very new and safe methods available. We need to keep our eye on the ball on these techologies.

    Look the greens have run very good scare campaigns. But can only come up with a tax. They rubbish clean coal, and to think that wind driven power can drive the needs of this country is laughable.

    Heh look we’re not against renewables. If the nation could throw out this carbon trading/tax systems we would (as we’ve learnt from europe) save billions of dollars. Everyone agrees that the ETS will criple and change this country forever.

    We need more research and more funding into the right areas and less talk of this ETS, which both sides of government agree will achieve nothing.

    Yes Nobody denies that the greens are the most extreme party in Australia today. They reject everything, pass nothing through parliament and have policies that can only harm Australia.


  23. France has no problem with nuclear power and neither should we in Australia in any electorate.
    It is a non-issue made into an isse by the non-thinking Australian socialist Left and liberalists with perhaps too much affluence on their hands.

    France is doing well by using nuclear for most of its energy needs.
    A total non issue except for those who think that the greatest IQ levels are found on the ABC’s Q & A or on other biased inner city audience talk fests that pass for open debate on the ABC and SBS.

  24. Thats better, rational discussion instead of heated emotional responses. Funny, I never mentioned an ETS. The current ETS proposals being discussed are a product of the ALP, and if they are just going to hand out exeptions to already heavily subsidised industries, I agree, there will be no point to it anyway.

    The Greens have strong policies that are developed from the grass roots of the party. We have regular state delegates conferences where delegates bring the decisions made on issue from their local branch. It is very democratic. Policies can change as more information comes to light on a topic. You’d be surprised how many scientists, economists, farmers, doctors, lawyers and academics are involved at all levels of the Greens.

    Midcoast, I said they offered all candidates free editorial, but only on the condition that the candidates took out paid half page ads. I agree about Oakeshott’s photo. Looks like he is worried the camera is going to bite him.

    Clean Coal? Sounds good, but very early days technology wise. Despite the fan fair and ministering unveiling some new pipes on the side of the Munmorah coal fired power station, we still don’t have an operational demonstration plant and they’ve been working on this for close to 5 years. How much longer before we can definitely say it will work?

    As far as the French and nuclear power, What are they doing with their old power plants when it comes time to decommission them? I don’t believe they have all the solutions yet either. Why do countries that use nuclear power have such difficulty with long term storage of waste? Because it is really nasty toxic stuff. Just shipping it around is extremely dangerous, there is even a global register of accident and incidents that includes a spill from a shipment on the Pacific Highway near the Camden Haven River some time ago, in the Lyne electorate, and I don’t need to remind you of the very real terrorist risk. Why do has the US not built a new reactor in nearly 50 years. Apart from China and a couple of dubious states, who is building new reactors. The new technologies that you speak of mostly remain on the drawing board, in theory, and un-proven. Apart from that, nuclear can only take us 40- 100 years before viable supplies are exhausted, it is energy intensive to mine and process, leaving us in the long term with even more problems.

    If the sun can power the planet, why can it not provide for us. Sure, it is going to take some readjustment, but we’re pretty good at that. Look what we’ve achieved with CFC’s and the Ozone layer. I believe that is in your policies too.

  25. Goanna,

    I agree there is a lot of abuse out there regarding elderly people. But hasn’t your experience shown you that the current system is not working. People don’t just start or stop killing each other just because there is a change of law. Murder is murder. The idea is not to make murder easier, on the contrary, euthanasia legislation is aimed at making it safer and giving the power to the person who’s money and life it is before they loose control, not family, friends or nursing home administrators. Think of the aging population issues we are going to face over the next 30-50 years. Choice is going to be a very big issue and a blanket ban just isn’t going to cut it with the Baby Boomer Generation who are wealthier and more educated than any before them. Experienced people like yourselves will be required to ensure all the important safe guards ar in place and constantly monitored and re-evaluated. By your own admission, the system is already being abused, so lets work towards fixing it.

  26. There’s an ABC feature on the Mayo and Lyne by-elections:

    The Nationals’ Rob Drew is not resting on his laurels, stepping up his campaign with television advertising.

    But the poll is expected to be close and Professor Hayden Manning said an Oakeshott win could have far reaching consequences.

    Odd… they seem to be assuming the Nationals will retain it, with Oakeshott just giving it a bit of a shake. Opposite to everything else I’ve heard about it…

  27. Yes, it disagrees with the local ABC news service which predicts a strong oakeshott win (who is Hayden Manning)

    Meanwhile torrential rain means the election is on the back burner to flood warnings.

  28. I am sticking with my prediction of (based partly on state results and the poor choice of a nationals candidate): Oakeshott 65 Drew 18 Russell 8 fishing 4 (with a significant donkey component) that does not leave a lot left over.

  29. Oakeshott must be glad he got out of that monkey house a couple of hundred km down the coast… it’s chaos over there! 😛


    I can’t see oakeshott getting 65% and I think Drew will cetainly get more than 18%.
    We’ll see how good you are I’ll say both oakeshott and Drew on 40% each and the rest will decide on preferences. A lot of oakeshott’s vote will go donkey.


  31. Lyne bi election will be decided on local issues despite efforts by the Nats to try to show concern about the Rudd government. These are the issues we have top consider with only two mgenuine candidates standing out in the field. Independent Oakshot has a proven record as local State member, he is running a conservative campaign based on this and his willingness to listen to the electorate with no malice for any of his opponents. Drew on the other hand enters the contest with huge amounts of baggage which the Nats seem to dismiss as not important. As mayor of Port Macquarie – Hastings Council Drew and his fellow councillors were dismissed for incompetance. While in office they were also responsible for encouraging the building of a Diesel Powered Power Station in the Camden Haven without any communnity consultation. A subsequent bitter fight was eventually won by the locals and the submission rejected by the Dept of Planning. To the disgust of the local community the Nats and Drew are trying to rewrite history and take the credit themselves. Drew is a very unpopular personality in the area at present and is basically running a smear campaign against Oakshot which is further angering the locals. My reading of the mood locally suggests a huge defeat for the Nationals.

  32. AJ Dunlop

    With tonights news indicating that the fuel will rise 20% and Electricity 40% under the proposed ETS Scheme, we should all step back and have a think.

    What party is the only party that will do all in it can to stop this monster from being released onto the public.

    A Tax that will serve no purpose. A Tax that will hit the poorest and reward the polluters.

    What party is that….. The DLP thats who.
    So the way I see it is the DLP is up againts a bunch of yes men you are all in agreeance that this tax should be introduced.

    So think hard (These bi elections might be our last chance) and lets all get behind Michael O’Donohue of the Democratc Labor Party. (DLP)

    Otherwise we will end up with this monster and only have ourselve to blame.


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