Mayo by-election thread

I’ve been too preoccupied to offer commentary on Saturday’s Mayo by-election, but maybe interested readers can do the job for me in comments. Liberal candidate Jamie Briggs is a short-priced favourite to succeed Alexander Downer in the traditionally safe seat, but two other candidates in the field are of at least theoretical interest. One is Bob Day, the cashed-up Liberal candidate for Makin at the November 2007 election who is running with Family First after being knocked back for preselection. The other is independent Di Bell, described on her website as “writer and editor in residence at our very own Flinders University” and “Professor Emerita of Anthropology at The George Washington University in Washington DC”. Bell has the backing of Senator Nick Xenophon, which was seen as a decisive factor in independent Kris Hanna’s surprise re-election in Mitchell at the 2006 state election after parting company first with Labor and then the Greens.

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.

88 comments on “Mayo by-election thread”

Comments Page 1 of 2
1 2
  1. You only need a majority of one to Govern, GO.

    I think Labor have a tad over that, and dont really need the distraction.

    Perhaps the Greens will give you the contest you desire. They are looking to be the second party in Federal politics as the Libs continue to implode, after all.

  2. GP

    How many safe labor bi-elections seats did the Liberals stand a candidate in the past 12 years?

    I’ll save you the trouble. ZERO. 😛

  3. Have heard absolutely nothing about this election with all the WA stuff, but was surprised by the candidate with the support of Xenophon. Given he won a Senate seat outright as an independent and boosted Kris Hanna, has there been any suggestion of a boilover?

  4. While you are correct that Hanna was a Labor member for Mitchell, William, he was a member of the Greens between February 2003 and February 2006 before he won Mitchell as an independent.

  5. As a Mayo voter I will share my thoughts……………………

    FF have spent heaps! lots and lots of corflutes and 3 types of junk mail, all utter rubbish about lighthouses and what Bob Day was like as a kid, just reactionary and sentimental crud with almost no policy.

    The Libs are running with the campaign “Send Rudd the strongest possible message”. In my opinion this is rubbish. A lot more heads would be turned in Canberra if ANYONE other than Briggs won. Independents and minor parties always get more for their constituents and it would be a far bigger wake up call to do something about the Lower Lakes if Di Bell or the Greens won, considering the Liberals did nothing for them when in power.

    The Greens have run a well-organised campaign. Plenty of corflutes and a very knowledgeable candidate in Lynton Vonow. Brown, Parnell and Hanson-Young have all been in the electorate campaigning for him. However today I received an anti-Greens leaflet in my mail that will hurt them a bit, though I still suspect that the Greens will finish second and perhaps even reduce the Liberals margin.

    Di Bell, though not very well funded has received much coverage. She has focused her campaign entirely on the plight of the Murray, which should give her broad appeal.

    Mary Brewerton, ex-ALP candidate is incompetent, stupid and under resourced. Some die-hard ALP supporters might continue to support her but not too many. I haven’t seen any corflutes of her and she didn’t attend the candidates debate.

    In the candidates debate Lib Jamie Briggs proved himself to be arrogant, rude and even a little bit scary (No change from the last member then). Whilst the Greens and Democrats candidates were the most impressive.

    The Local Rag (Mount Barker Courier) letters to the editor are overwhelming anti-Briggs. This is because he helped draft Work choices, was preselected through EXTREMELY UN-DEMOCRATIC means and is one of only two candidates that are not locals (the other being from the DLP). He is also from the extremist fringe of the Liberal Party as was Bob Day who wants to remove the minimum wage.

    The chief reason I can see for the ALP not to run is that the focus of the campaign is overwhelmingly to do with the state of the Murray, an issue they intend to do nothing about. That this disaster happens to coincide with the bi-election will benefit the candidates with an interest in such issues, like Vonow and Bell.

    Though Briggs will probably win I do not foresee a landslide. FF will take many votes from the Libs and only 75%ish will be returned in preferences. As the ALP isn’t running the contest has less to do with the bickering of the two establishment parties and more to do with policies and candidates, which won’t help the Liberals because Briggs is a Dhe@d. There are some important similarities between this bi-election and the one in Cunningham. Opposition leader Crean was on the nose then, Opposition leader Nelson is now and other nominees for sitting party candidacy angry at rotten pre-selection procedures ran as independents then and Bob Day is running for FF now.

    What I cannot begin to predict is the voting behaviour of the 31% of voters that supported the ALP last time. What will they do?

  6. @1 – the coalition did not once, despite 6 opportunities, run a candidate in any Labor held seat in their 11 years of government.

  7. I hope Briggs loses. He has not finished his university degree after I-don’t-know-how-many years, hasn’t had a career in the private sector, and has worked as a staffer his entire life.

    You either have to be a dishonest man to nominate yourself given this kind of background, knowing that you’re not meant to be in office when you haven’t really lived life like the rest, or barring that, just plain stupid.

    As a conservative my hopes are on Day. But I’d rather the Greens win than Briggs — at least their candidate is a real guy with a real life, real education and real job.

    Praying that the people of Mayo are smart enough to reject Briggs. I think they are.

  8. Stormboy

    I think that sums it up perfectly. Labor was very smart not to run a candidate because of the Murray River anger which shows little sign of abating. The Libs must be a bit worried about not looking too fantastic or they wouldn’t have introduced the Lower Lakes Porkbarrel Private Members Bill.

    Briggs does appear to show promise that he could be every inch the wanker his predecessor was. It’s a shame Brian Deegan chose not to run. He would at least have made sure Briggs only limped in.

  9. This is the first time that I have posted on this blog, I have followed this blog since the last Federal election.

    This thread is of particular interest to me, as I work for a member of the SA parliament.

    My mail tells me that alot of liberals who voted for Briggs in the pre-selection joined the party very very recently. Ive also heard that the decision to not run a candidate for Mayo was a tactical decision made by the ALP. Basically Brewerton is running again this time as the de facto ALP candidate in all but name. However, Briggs should win easily. In Adelaide, you would not even know of the by election.

    Michael @ 10, the fact that Briggs has not even finished Uni is not new to me. Plenty of staffers, both Labor and Liberal have started Uni but never finished, the best example I can think of being Sports Minister Kate Ellis MP.

  10. I don’t live in Mayo but just as an observation as a resident I have seen very little of Bob Day in the media lately. Maybe he is working hard just withing the electorate, maybe it is my steadfast avoidance of reading the (shudder) Advertiser. But I’d say Briggs has it from my perception at this stage. I’d be very happy to be wrong though, because we need another Howard-clone party machine Liberal member like a hole in the head.

  11. Eric Blair

    I also heard that many people who voted for Briggs were so enthused by his candidacy that they joined the party shortly before pre-selection. I believe Bob Day found fault with this groundswell and resigned with some recriminations over the transparency of the pre-selection process. I believe I heard the word “fixed” or “rorted” or “undemocratic” or something like that.

  12. What has Alexander Downer done since he’s gone to Cyprus??? Lot a lot!
    (from the Cyprus Mail)

    FOR THE first time since the disastrous Burgenstock lock-in four years ago, the leaders of the two communities will sit down for fully fledged negotiations this Wednesday.

    The 2004 referenda left the Turkish Cypriots beating their chests about their “unjust isolation” while the abject lack of diplomatic charm in the Papadopoulos government had the Greek Cypriots feeling the same.

    The voting public noted the lack of progress on the Cyprus problem in the last elections, leaving Papadopoulos out from the first round. The new government, headed by AKEL chief Demetris Christofias, promised to make an earnest start in ending the decades-old conflict. His Turkish Cypriot counterpart, Mehmet Ali Talat, offered the same.

    Soon after Christofias came to power, the Ledra Street crossing was opened, and the two leaders soon set up six working groups and seven technical committees to prepare the groundwork for direct talks. The technical committees dealt with day-to-day issues and confidence-building measures while the working groups focused on the core elements of a future settlement (security and guarantees, territory, property, governance and power sharing, EU matters and the economy).

    After a little flirting, some bickering, a few domestics and the odd dinner and wedding invite, Talat and Christofias finally agreed to a date and are now ready to start the next “big” effort to solve the Cyprus problem.

    The omens are never bright in Cyprus but with the pro-solution AKP government still in power in Turkey, and two leftist comrades leading negotiations, one could say there is reason to put the zivania in the freezer, just in case.

    The flare up on Friday after the Turkish Cypriot side refused to open the Limnitis checkpoint to allow Greek Cypriot pilgrims to visit Ayios Mamas in Morphou is a clear indication of how far apart the two sides remain and why that bottle of zirvania may never be opened.

    The Sunday Mail asked Presidential Commissioner George Iacovou just what could be expected from this Wednesday’s first meeting.

    “A nice photograph. It’s really the official kick-off but there’ll be no ball game on Wednesday,” said Iacovou.

    The two leaders will meet in the cosy quarters of the UN Chief of Mission Taye-Brook Zerihoun, along with the new UN special envoy for Cyprus, the former Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, for a simple opening ceremony.

    Downer will read a message from the UN Secretary General and give his own comments, after which the two leaders will each make a short statement. There’ll be an informal discussion and then a joint statement released. There’ll be no Beijing-style celebrations on Day One of The Talks.

    “The premises don’t offer the services for a bigger show,” explained Iacovou.

    A week later, September 10, will be the next meeting, where negotiations will start in earnest. The first subject has been suggested by Talat and approved by the Greek Cypriots, who will likely choose the topic of discussion for the following meeting.

    The leaders will meet on average once a week, as prepared in advance. There’ll be no set day for the meetings, which will depend on their commitments. The first break in talks will come between September 20 and 28, when Christofias will be in New York for the UN General Assembly. The working groups will continue to perform both preparatory and detailed work.

    “Once you get going, you need to put the negotiations into the shape of an agreement, so the working groups will be doing plenty of work,” said Iacovou.

    While the two leaders have met informally several times, the preparatory work for direct talks was largely undertaken by the two aides, Iacovou and his younger Turkish Cypriot counterpart Ozdil Nami. The two were responsible for coordinating, supervising and evaluating the work of the technical committees and working groups.

    Both Talat and Christofias have been keen to define the talks as a “Cyprus-owned” process. Though both don’t share the same view on when the process might end, they are in agreement that there will be no outside intervention or strict time frames, unlike 2004. As a result, the actual details of how the talks will be conducted remain specifically vague. Both leaders prefer to play it by ear and see how the first two or three meetings go.

    According to diplomatic sources in New York, Downer will attend the meetings once a month for the first four months, and then move to Cyprus in 2009 to play a more hands-on role. In the meantime, it’s not yet clear whether Zerihoun will deputise in Downer’s absence for negotiations to be conducted in between meetings, using the now familiar Iacovou-Nami connection.

    Speaking from Ankara last week, Talat predicted that the Cyprus problem could be solved by the end of the year. Given Downer’s planned living arrangements for next year, and lack of progress in the key issues of security and guarantees, territory and property, this seems a touch optimistic. It’s more likely the two leaders will take baby steps towards a solution, starting off with the easier issues before digging in to the more thornier chapters.

    As for Downer’s role: “Downer will play a significant role. But the UN Security Council has agreed that this is a Cyprus-owned process. The UN or Downer won’t be taking initiatives or preparing documents unless the leaders ask them,” said Iacovou.

    Asked whether Downer was in danger of becoming a glorified note-taker, the presidential aide replied: “No. It depends on his skills. If he’s sufficiently tactful and bright as opposed to abrupt or reacting on the spur of the moment, then he can make a lot of significant contributions.”

    The official language of the talks is English. There is no cap on the number of people in each delegation, but the confines of space will probably set the maximum at five for each, including the UN team. The Greek Cypriot delegation will be made up of Christofias, Iacovou, a note-taker, interpreter for the odd moment when Talat expresses himself in Turkish, and a fifth person.

    “We could use this fifth seat to rotate people. Depending on the subject, we could bring an expert or someone we trust,” said Iacovou.

    Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2008

  13. @10
    Of course they’re (we’re) not smart enough to reject him. Too stubborn to change as much as anyone else, of course…

    Not that I’m voting for him. Or would ever consider it.

  14. The Tiser has virtually ignored the by-election. The Sunday Mail ran a page of Briggs comments this week, with candidates listed neither alphabetically nor in order of position on the ballot paper. Briggs was on top though he’s actually well down the list. Pathetic.

  15. The Advertiser also has a love-affair with other staffer-hacks like Pyne (who, together with a senator, breeds future staffer-hacks in his office). Why doesn’t the press actually raise a voice against it? Labor is just as guilty.

  16. Pyne is an idiot – he’s said that the Liberal vote will drop at the by-election, as it is just “plain mathematics” when 11 candidates are fielded. What drugs is he on? There is no Labor candidate. That’s a third of the vote to go to other candidates. And the Lib vote is always very close to the 2PP vote at elections. There is no reason at all why the primary vote should go down. Pyne has simply said it so he can say after the election he said it would happen just so they dont have egg on their face.

    The coalition to suffer in Mayo, coalition to be reduced to 64 seats in the lower house thanks to Oakeshott in Lyne, and an unpredictable WA election but I still think Labor will get over the line.

  17. Michael @ 18

    Not all of us staffers are comlpete hacks 🙂

    Just those with no experience of real life or a real job are hacks. However the system that breeds them (this goes for ALP and the tories) encourages mediocrity and lack of imagination.

    The problem with the press, in particular the Advertiser/Sunday Mail here in Adelaide is that they with a very few honourable exceptions are in general also mediocrities who are satisfied with the status quo.

    BTW, i also agree that Pyne is a complete non-entity. Thank God the libs lost in november

  18. “Mary Brewerton, ex-ALP candidate is incompetent, stupid and under resourced. Some die-hard ALP supporters might continue to support her but not too many. I haven’t seen any corflutes of her and she didn’t attend the candidates debate”

    That’s rather harsh and, despite the under-resourced bit, is simply not true. Yes she has no corflutes but come election day she will have plenty of helpers and how-to-vote cards on every booth. She has also had plenty of publicity as the “ex Labor candidate”, so I think you find that a lot of the voters who voted Labor last time will support her again.

    She’s the dark horse in this campaign, along with Di Bell. Never underestimate the way that preferences spray…

  19. Surprise, surprise. The Tiser today breaks the silence with a piece saying Briggs is expected to win with a reduced Liberal majority. The Libs attack on the Greens (advocates of heroin injecting rooms etc) gets a mention.

  20. Eric @ 20. Apologies if I smeared with too wide a brush. I do know many staffers and they are good, hardworking people with life experience. It’s the ones who are nothing but career staffers, having done nothing else, and then try to enter politics and spuriously “represent the people”.

  21. Michael @ 23

    No worries mate, totally agree with you anyway. Must admit, from some of the staffers that I know in the ALP in SA, I fear for the future of SA

  22. It was good that Mary Brewerton gave Labor voters someone to support. And the piece she contributed to the Mount Barker Courier, though off topic (the River Murray), was pretty sensible amid all the current hype.

  23. Today I received a propaganda pamphlet entitled “Thinking of voting for the Greens? The information in this pamphlet is somewhat mis-leading and I realised that it emanated from the Liberal Party although they did not have the guts to put their Logo on the pamphlet. Why not? Are they not wanting people to see how low they can go. I suggest to people that the look at the Greens web-site to see what their policies actually state, as the pamphlet only cherry-picks information
    out of context, e.g. DEATH TAXES The Greens will re-introduce an inheritance tax., but omit to say that this applies only to multi-millionaires.,and so on.

  24. @27
    You received the Exclusive/Absolute Brethren pamphlet?

    There’s a large community of them in Littlehampton and Mt Barker (and probably elsewhere in Mayo, but I’m sure of them), so it’s not just general dislike of the Greens they’re pursuing here…

  25. PHIL Robins:

    Yeah I think the ALP vote will be split between Mary Brewerton and David McCabe (DLP).

    Thats the logically choice.


  26. The pamphlet that came out in Mayo in the last few days attacking the Greens ‘radical policies’ is definitely from the Liberal party, not the exclusive brethren.

    If you look really closely at the back, you may need a magnifying glass, you will see that the pamphlet was authorised by J Burston, 104 Greenhill Road Unley which is the same authorisation as all other Liberal material.

  27. The Tiser has been particularly silent on anything other than the libs. Even the letter to the editor seem to be edited with no commentary. From inside Di Bells campaign it feels like there has been a blanket put over alternative views. I hope people think before they vote. Also there are many things which distort the voting…like 3 weeks of prep-polling where if you want to you can vote anytime before the date. This advantages the major parties as they have their material/ machine ready to staff the booths with the how to vote cards etc ready. A short inside view!

  28. I think voters in Mayo should consider the lower Murray as the most urgent local issue. Given that none of the political parties have done anything about this issue (least of all the Libs) a vote for independent Di Bell would be the only sensible course of action in my opinion. While Di Bell doesn’t have the same monetary resources of the big political parties, she has made her commitment to solving this issue very clear on her website:

  29. There seems to be a question over whether a pamphlet attacking the Greens is from the Liberals or the Exclusive Brethren, but experience in Tasmania has shown that it could be both:-,20876,21114814-421,00.html

    It would not surprise me if they were so lazy as to use the same pamplet as used elsewhere. Afterall they have been caught out before but there were no serious consequences.

    Neil Cotter

  30. Just heard an interesting little snippet of information the other day which I will post as a blind item…apparently during the process of working out preferences, one of the candidates (male) contacted all the others and told them he was putting them at number 2 on his ticket and asking for a reciprocal arrangement. Some have obliged (or so I understand), but others were politely non-commmittal. A week or so later he put out his “this is me” pamphlet, complete with how-to-vote card. He had put a one next to his own name and…the rest of the boxes were blank, thereby keeping everyone guessing as to his actual intentions until election Day.
    It raises two issues for me; firstly, did he really think that the candidates wouldn’t speak to each other and therefore find out that he had lied to them (well, all but one) and secondly, is that really appropriate behaviour for someone who is currently very strongly playing the “you can trust me, mate” card? And isn’t lying a sin? (oops!)

  31. rod Says:

    “What is it with DLP candidates that they do not live in the seats that they are standing for.”

    Sorry Rod I thought this was a federal bi election, with national and regional interests.


  32. There are other candidates in this election apart from the pseudo Labor candidate, the protest candidate Di Bell and the major parties. Bill Spragg, Councillor on the Adelaide Hills Council is running a second time as an independent. Although not receiving the support of Nick Xenophon and the accompanying publicity, he is well respected in his council district and should do well in the north end of the electorate. Di Bell actually has more resources available to her than people realise. She had glossy flyers early in the election and has almost as many corflutes as the Greens. Bill has recycled posters from his earlier attempt and has been knocking on doors for weeks. He might surprise people with a stronger than expected showing. Since the Di Bell supporter posted a link to a website here is Bill’s
    Notice his domain is in Australia and he is more than a one issue protest candidate.

  33. ‘Professor Emerita’. That’s choice. Emeritus is so commonly used that it is now genderless.

    I suppose we should address her as the Candidata.

  34. If Di Bell or the Greens can get more than 20% of the first prefs then just maybe they might get an upset. Almost every candidate, except for Briggs and Brewerton has Di Bell as no 2 on the how to vote card. Brewerton has the Greens. Shame she doesn’t have Bell as well to help tip the balance.

    If Briggs wins this one then he’s more than likely set for life – what a depressing thought. He, Andrew Southcott, Birmingham, Trish Draper and a host of young liberals gatecrashed Bob Day’s campaign launch and then he tried to say it was a ‘co-incidence’ that they were there in the first place. Do we really need more wankers in parliament? There’s probably enough all ready

  35. Any info where Brewerton and FF preferences are being suggested? While preferences tend to spray around all over the place despite HTV cards its a huge help if all are getting to people like Bell and Vonow before Briggs

  36. Rory, it surely doesn’t matter much that Brewerton has the Greens second so long as she has Bell third, which she does. It will only matter if she needs Brewerton’s preferences to avoid exclusion by staying ahead of the Greens.

  37. I can tell you that Mary Brewerton has put the Greens second and Di Bell third; Bob Day is last and Briggs is just before him; her intention is obviously to try to get Lynton up and if not, then Di (which doesn’t mean she has anything against Di, just that she has a stronger personal relationship with Lynton).

    And don’t read anything into that…

  38. Ziggy – FF are not directing preferenced SO FAR. I bet any money they have a HTV card ready to go for election day and that it will ultimately preference the Libs (if not directly).

  39. As I understand it, FFP did make deals with a number of parties over preferences. They waited until those partiy’s HTVs were printed and then reneged in favour of an open ticket. This is not only dishonest, it also betrays their so-called ethics on preferences. Even though only about 40% of FFP voters follow a ticket, a flow of that magnitude would obv iously have helped the Libs. On an open ticket the preferences will scatter and Di Bell and the Greens (at bottom and top position respectively) will benefit. This should be anathema to them; but it just goes to prove that they are just like any other party – pragmatic and sometimes shady.

    Don’t write off the DLP. The DLP has always polled well in labor areas and with no official labor candidate, the DLP is marketing their candidate as ‘the labor alternative’. That’s gotta count for something. My feeling is that their preferences will flow through FFP to Briggs and get him over the line.

  40. I was at a candidates forum last night and the moderator, Professor Haydon Manning, said that he had been told by a journalist that yesterday Family First had definitively decided not to provide any preferences on their how to vote cards and only ask people to put Bob Day number 1.

Comments are closed.

Comments Page 1 of 2
1 2