I’ve been a bit lax on the by-election coverage front lately, so here’s a post for discussion of the forthcoming events, including tomorrow’s two South Australian by-elections which will as always be covered live on Poll Bludger tomorrow evening. All three are for safe (or reasonably safe) Labor seats and none will be contested by the Liberals.
Two by-elections will be held in South Australia tomorrow, to fill the vacancies created by the retirements of former Premier Mike Rann and Deputy Premier Kevin Foley. The more interesting contest is for Foley’s seat of Port Adelaide, where Labor has a weaker primary vote (49.9 per cent in 2010) and faces some reasonably solid opposition from independents. A poll of 402 respondents in The Advertiser last week had Labor candidate Susan Close on 44 per cent, independent Liberal Sue Lawrie on 18 per cent, independent and Port Adelaide-Enfield mayor Gary Johanson on 14 per cent and the Greens on 12 per cent. There are nine candidates in the field all told.
The by-election for Ramsay, where Rann polled 57.9 per cent in 2010, is unlikely to present any trouble for Labor candidate Zoe Bettinson, who faces six other candidates.
Another former Deputy Premier, this time Rob Hulls in Victoria, is also headed for the departure lounge, citing a health scare late last year. The by-election will be held on March 24. Most frequently mentioned in relation to Labor preselection have been Ben Carroll, a ministerial staffer; John Sipek, an aircraft maintenance engineer; and Jaclyn Symes, a former staffer to Hulls. VexNews respectively describes the first two as highly regarded and popular, which I take to mean they’re from Labor Unity; the latter like Hulls is presumably from the Socialist Left (UPDATE: Shows you how much I know Hulls is from Labor Unity too, as is Symes. The Moonee Valley Leader notes factional arrangements will ensure the seat stays with Labor Unity.) The Age also mentions Hawker Britton lobbyist Danny Pearson. Despite the government’s one-seat majority and a reasonably modest Labor margin in the seat of 6.9 per cent, the Liberals announced this week they will not be fielding a candidate, prompting a slew of negative headlines.