Broadmeadows by-election: February 19

Friday, January 28

The Victorian Supreme Court has rejected the attempt to force a normal preselection process, clearing the path for Frank McGuire’s endorsement. The ABC reports Justice Tony Pagone “found that the internal party rules used as the basis for the unions’ case were not legally enforceable”, while VexNews says the applicants’ failure to pursue the matter through the party’s disputes resolution processes was a “big factor” in the decision. Andrew Crook of Crikey wrote yesterday that the challenge threatened the unintended consequence of a party investigation into local preselectors’ bona fides, which Yigit’s opponents claimed had the potential to expose a “ghost branch” of 200 members where “a mysterious anonymous benefactor services most of the membership fees”. Crook also reported that the local balance of power was finely poised between Yigit in central Broadmeadows and the Socialist Left around Craigieburn and Sunbury, where federal Calwell MP Maria Vamvakinou wields considerable influence.

Thursday, January 27

Evening. VexNews reports the Supreme Court is today hearing a challenge being pressed by HSU national secretary Kathy Jackson, who has engaged Minter Ellison to pursue a strategy that most likely involves seeking an injunction or application to conduct a local vote. Given that nominations for the by-election close on Monday, this would not allow time for local preselectors’ bona fides to be checked. The site tells an intriguing tale of the NUW/SDA bloc of the Right being desperate to remain on side with Burhan Yigit owing to his standing in the local Turkish community and consequent ability to deliver it votes at State Conference. VexNews appears to think a legal challenge more likely to succeed than I suggested in my previous entry, given the disconnect between “the rarefied air of the Practice Court of the Supreme Court” and the “real-world issues and problems” facing a functioning political party. However, it is suggested that the challenge might be a token effort to keep Yigit on side, given that it is being pursued so late in the game.

Morning. As reported by Richard Willingham of The Age yesterday, Labor’s administrative committee has voted 18 to 13 to fast-track Frank McGuire’s preselection by referring the matter to the national executive, while also waiving the usual requirement that candidates be party members of over a year’s standing. David Rood of The Age today reports that the elements who favoured Hume councillor Burhan Yigit, namely the SDA, NUW and HSU on the right and the CFMEU on the left, have threatened legal action to enforce the normal procedure in which preselections are jointly determined by local members and the Public Office Selection Committee. A case brought by former South Australian deputy leader Ralph Clarke in 1999 established the power of the courts to rule on internal party matters, but the effect of this was to overturn a crude branch-stacking operation: what the aforementioned unions appear to be hoping for is a highly prescriptive intervention into the way the party organises its affairs, which would not seem to be promising ground. McGuire’s backing comes from the Shorten-Conroy axis on the Right and the Socialist Left, the latter of which is identified as accusing Yigit of having “effectively killed local activism” through branch-stacking.

The Richard Willingham report also tells us that Gerrit Hendrik Schorel-Hlavka and Joseph Kaliniy have nominated as independents, while the Moreland Leader relates that hardy perennial Phil Cleary is considering once again throwing his hat into the ring.

Saturday, January 23

The by-election to replace outgoing former Victorian Premier John Brumby has been set for February 19. Labor’s state administrative committee will meet next week to select a candidate, having chosen to circumvent the normal process where the vote is jointly determined by local branches members and the party’s Public Office Selection Committee. This decision has presumably been taken to smooth the path for Frank McGuire, a property developer and former journalist best known as the brother of Eddie. Although he has not been a member of the party (and served a decade ago as a strategist for the Australian Democrats), McGuire has in his favour a lifelong family association with an electorate which – with all due respect to it – would count few likely ministerial contenders among its residents. Royce Millar of The Age reported that possible rivals with more current links to the area included Hume councillor Burhan Yigit, a member of the NUW/SDA sub-faction of the Right, and Mehmet Tillem, a convenor for the rival Bill Shorten-Stephen Conroy group. Also hoping for the latter’s support were Nathan Murphy, who lost his Northern Metropolitan upper house seat at the election, and Danny Pearson, a “former Bracks adviser turned lobbyist”. However, Millar also wrote that it was this group which first floated McGuire as a contender. More recently, but The Age’s Richard Willingham wrote that McGuire was “believed to be enjoying growing cross-factional support as the preferred candidate”. State party secretary Nick Reece was believed to have been Brumby’s choice, but he met resistance due to his lack of connection with the area.

The Liberals will not be fielding a candidate at the by-election, which even after a 10.8 per cent swing at the recent state election has a Labor margin of 21.0 per cent. It would thus appear that only the emergence of a strong independent candidate between now and the closure of nominations on February 1 offers the chance of a serious electoral contest. VexNews believes the Greens candidate is likely to be Graham Dawson, a City of Hume librarian who ran for the seat of Yuroke at the state election.

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.

70 comments on “Broadmeadows by-election: February 19”

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  1. Been chatting to some of the Braody contacts,. Not happy.
    Any takers on swing against the ALP. Will infact they maintain the State Poll vote, Libs not running makes it tricky,. Maybe better to see how many % the Greens vote goes up. My call ALP just to hold, (Mainly with Fib voters) the primary vote, Greens up to 10%., Indies, no deposits returned.

  2. One other comment, this by-election is recieving such small coverage locally that I wouldn’t be surprised if the turnout was down 1-2% maybe more.?

  3. so Williams point still applies

    ‘All 3 Labor leading candidates were backed by factions which is why th Labor party is democratic and th liberals and Greens Partys is not Factions is democraticly in effect shop stewards representing th mass Labor members so Party can efficent functon’

    So given all candidates backed by such democratic sytem , a faction , then it would NOT hav mattered who th labor candidate was , th Green hypocrits here wuld STILL hav blogged saying Labor is “faction controlled’ being std anti labor Greens talking points

    Labor over many yrs has often used safe labor seats to elect a candidate who has actual potential as a future high qual Minister , so that in Govt suuch skilled future Cabinet Ministers can actualy manage complex portfolio’s Only a naeve fool would think such quality skilled people will giv up a success professional career and lose it all makin a fool of themselves potential losing a marginol Seat Its called reality depite it being annoying bfore one considers why it is done

    Of couse in green Barkings world , any uneconamic fantasy land academic with fringe looney ideas can stand as a Green cndidate , as he not going to get elected and/or wont hold a cabinet position , so Greens can afford to pontifacate from unaccountabel sidelines preaching (false) superiority moralitys (but then even that there preachin is BS eg like limits on Bob Brown sayin there needs to be politcal donatoins on th same day Greens Party receivd th biggest politcal donation in oz history of 1.5 milion

  4. The DLP candidate is DR Mark Hobart, a G. P. from north Sunshine.The DLP received 2.5% for Broadmeadows during the recent state election, it will be interesting to see how much they can improve on this, in the absence of a Liberal candidate.

  5. Ron

    Nothing particularly democratic about factions – many distinguished ALP politicians over the years, the late John Button comes to mind, regarded them as a blight on the party.

    In pre-selections in the ACT for the recent Federal election, members revolted against factional manoevuring and effectively rolled the choice of factional leaders and voted for candidates in a process that was at least a shade more democratic than what had been in prospect. The result was we got a couple of candidates with strong local connections rather than people trying to climb the slippery pole through the avenue of working for Minister’s offices and no real connection to Canberra.

  6. Ron

    O by the way one of the ACT candidates was a distinguished young academic.

    Abuse of people with differing views re without discussing the actual merits of specific policies – eg those put forward by the Greens does nothing to add to the sum of human wisdom. Nor does it encourage civilised debate.

  7. Barking, turnout will be down by a lot more than 1-2%. It would not surprise me if the formal vote in this by-election sets a record low for Victoria, although how much of that will be people not turning up to vote, and how much of it informals I would not venture to guess.

  8. Power & Politics goes hand-in-hand. So that tend to be much of a correlation in this matter for Frank McGuire, a property develop and a relative to a well know journalist. However, not to worry because as Cowen (2003) stated ” idealy fame incentives should serve as a magnet to induce politicans to do the right thing”. So Frank McGuire should be fine with his contributions to the communities as his parents tend to be on good standing.

    Dr.Vanaja Kara

  9. [ The DLP candidate is DR Mark Hobart, a G. P. from north Sunshine.The DLP received 2.5% for Broadmeadows during the recent state election, it will be interesting to see how much they can improve on this, in the absence of a Liberal candidate. ]

    Y’know, as much as the DLP like big-noting themselves, I wouldn’t be surprised if something flaky like that happened. The Armadale by-election in WA late last year is pretty comparable – it’s a similar area to Broadmeadows, outer suburbs far from the cost, and Labor’s safest seat. A high-profile former minister quit in the boring time a while after Labor lost the state election (even the Vic 2010 and WA 2008 elections were similar, apart from the WA Nats playing hard to get). The Libs didn’t bother to run, and the CDP ate most of their vote – Labor and the Greens got a slight swing to them, but nothing to write home about. (Some random independent got another 8.7%, too). The CDP got 20.6% primary and 29.0% 2pp, which probably set a few records for them – unless there’s an obscure NSW by-election I don’t know about, that’s the only time they’ve ever come second.

    The main minor right-wing parties in Vic seem to be the DLP and Family First, so I wouldn’t be that surprised if one of them ate half or more of the Liberal vote. Maybe even the CEC? It’s a laugh to think of them getting more than 1%, but they seem to do OK in northern Melbourne.

  10. Broadmeadows does open an opportunity to the electorate to pass a protest vote.
    The DLP do look likely to pick up a sizeable portion from the ALP. (This has been brought out by lack of support for Macgurie of the unions) many would prefer to side with the DLP. Especially unions previoulsy affilliated.
    Mark Howard is a respected local GP and is certain to attract the vote of the more moderates in the electorate. If the liberals arent going to vote for the DLP then where else would they place their vote?
    Who knows it is well within the realm of possilbilty that this Bi election could produce a two party preferred battle between the ALP and the DLP.
    Lets face it ……there would be no reason for anyone standing in this seat to do a preference deal with the ALP. If any other contender wants to win it would be the DLP’s door they’d be knocking on first.

  11. The unions on the right might vote DLP. then again they might not. The CFMEU will probably go to the Left(Greens).

    I think the ALP will regain a lot of their lost votes from the libs and it will all be irrelevent as it wont go to preferences.

  12. Lets face the ALP have not looked after this seat.
    Brumby threw in the seat one month after winning it and they’ve had a dogfight over the candidate.
    Surely at least some of the electorate will have the sense to protest.

  13. Maybe so, but Broadmeadows is a touch safer than Burwood was in 1999.

    If you want to see some ex-premiers causing by-elections which don’t go so well, try these: Rob Borbidge in Qld in the late 90’s, quitting his seat on the Gold Coast and helping the Qld Nats get pwned back into the stone age; and the Nedlands by-election in WA after the 2001 election, when the Greens came pretty close to winning (probably the first time they ever got into a 2pp count… they weren’t even big yet outside WA or Tassie). And of course the obvious pair, Jeff Kennett and his deputy (Vic Nats leader) both losing their seats in 1999. Then there was John Howard and Denis Burke (NT CLP) losing their seats at general elections, and Rob Kerin in SA (hey, he was premier once) losing to an independent. Funny how they all seem to be your side of politics.

    When is the last time Labor lost an outgoing premier’s seat in a by-election after losing government, anyway? Alan Carpenter’s seat held up fine last year, and any previous example would’ve been in the early 90’s. Even the pack of disasters back then like Joan Kirner, Lynn Arnold, Carmen Lawrence and Peter Dowding left their seats to their own party. Has it ever happened?

  14. Rob Kerin didn’t lose his seat. He resigned and an independent beat the Liberal in the by-election. It was the same with Kennett, wasn’t it, except that a Labor bloke won?

  15. Probably no big deal, but it will be interesting to see if there’s any blowback for Frank Macguire from Eddie’s “falafel land” comments, given the large number of Muslims out Broady way.

  16. Bird of Paradox, my impression is that Upfield is the heart of the Turkish community- which is very substantial across the seat as a whole. The Liberals had a candidate with the wonderful name of Ozturk who apparently campaigned quite hard, both in the community and in the wider electorate. I’m guessing this was the reason for the massive swing there.

  17. For what it is worth, my predictions
    Labor 62
    Greens 11
    Sahin 6
    Marr 6
    DLP 5
    Sex Party 5
    Kaliny 2

    2PP Labor 74%
    Schorel Hlavka 1

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