So much going on at the moment that it can’t wait for the next opinion poll post:
Brendan Nelson’s announcement he will vacate his blue-ribbon northern Sydney seat of Bradfield at the next election could initiate another of the classic preselection clashes for the NSW branch of the Liberal Party has become justly famous in recent years. Party sources quoted by Imre Salusinszky of The Australian say the preselection will be the most open and hotly contested since Bronwyn Bishop succeeded Jim Carlton in the neighbouring seat of Mackellar in 1994, with no clear front-runner and neither Right or Left controlling the seat. However, it is also understood party bigwigs are intent on avoiding a repeat of the preselection debacle in 2007 in the southern Sydney seat of Cook. Salusinszky’s report floated the possibility of his paper’s conservative pundit Janet Albrechtsen taking the field, but she promptly ruled herself out. Live possibilities apparently include another connection with The Australian in Tom Switzer, former opinion page editor and staffer to Nelson; Arthur Sinodinos, John Howard’s legendary chief-of-staff; Nick Farr-Jones, former rugby union international; Julian Leeser, executive director of the Menzies Research Centre; Geoff Selig, former state party president; Alister Henskens, barrister and local party office-holder; David Elliott, former Australian Hotels Association deputy chief executive; Paul Blanch, a sheep farmer who ran in Calare in 2004; and, as always, Adrienne Ryan, former Ku-ring-gail mayor and ex-wife of former police commissioner Peter Ryan. The Sydney Morning Herald reports we shouldn’t hold our breath waiting for a result:
A state executive meeting tomorrow is likely to discuss the timetable for the preselection race but because of a redistribution of seats in NSW, the final ballot will not be held until the end of the year. Because of that, most Liberal insiders believe the final candidate has yet to emerge.
The Electoral Commissioner’s federal electoral determination has been published, confirming redistributions will need to occur to remove a seat from New South Wales and add one to Queensland. There seems to be some confusion abroard as to whether this scotches any chance of an election this year. As Antony Green explains, it is indeed the case that Queensland cannot be deprived of the seat which it is constitutionally entitled to at the next election now that the determination has been made, and it is indeed true that a redistribution process takes the better part of a year. However, the Electoral Act lays out a set of procedures for mini-redistributions in these circumstances, in which the two most or least heavily enrolled adjoining electorates in the state are either divided into three or merged into two. This has never happened before, and there would be obvious political difficulties in justifying an election held under such slapdash arrangements if it could possibly be avoided.
Could Western Australia’s May 16 daylight saving referendum be the catalyst for a super Saturday of state by-elections? It certainly seems war clouds are gathering over the electorates of the two most powerful figures in the defeated Carpenter government: Jim McGinty, the member for Fremantle, and Alan Carpenter himself, who holds the neighbouring seat of Willagee (surely I have not so pleased the Lord that He would grant me neighbouring same-day by-elections in my own backyard?). According to Jenny D’Anger of the Fremantle Herald:
In the face of persistent rumours that veteran state Labor MP Jim McGinty is about to trigger a by-election for Fremantle by announcing his retirement, the Greens have called a war cabinet to talk tactics and anoint a candidate. It is all but certain they will choose South Fremantle’s Adele Carles, who came within a whisker of taking the seat at last year’s state election … Ms Carles says if the powerbroker is considering calling it quits he should do it so the by-election can coincide with the daylight saving referendum in May, saving thousands of dollars … The tom-toms have been beating for weeks that Fremantle mayor Peter Tagliaferri was the shoe-in as Labor’s choice to replace Mr McGinty. But more recently a senior union figure has emerged as a front-runner, which a Labor insider says had Mr Tagliaferri threatening to run as an independent (Word around the campfire is that this refers to Dave Kelly, one of McGinty’s successors at the LHMWU – PB). The Herald’s Labor source said Alan Carpenter also had to be taken into account: If the former premier decides to quit politics the union figure may prefer Mr Carpenter’s safe Willagee seat, which is not threatened by the Greens. This would leave Fremantle open for Mr Tagliaferri. But both Mr McGinty and Mr Tagliaferri are denying a by-election is imminent. It’s no more than rumour-mongering, Mr McGinty barked down the phone, adding he stood by the Herald’s report last November that he had no plans to go early but was unlikely to run again in 2013.
Killjoy Harry Quick has gone back on his threat to run against Treasurer Michael Aird as Greens candidate in the looming upper house election for Derwent. According to the ABC, Quick says his family has played second fiddle to his political aspirations for too long. An earlier report said he was understood to be ready withdraw his nomination due to family pressure to stay true to the Labor Party.