Thursday, December 3
With two days to go, the Sean Nicholls Sydney Morning Herald reports that a ReachTEL automated phone poll of 678 respondents, conducted privately by the Save Our Councils Coalition, shows Liberal candidate Trent Zimmerman on 54.7% of the primary vote after exclusion of the 15.3% undecided. Accurately interpreted, this amounts to a 6.4% drop from Joe Hockey’s vote in 2013, rather than the 14.7% identified in Nicholls’ report, which ignores the undecided component. The poll result has the Greens on 22.8%, the Christian Democratic Party on 4.1%, and everyone else on 18.3%.
Friday, November 13
The declaration of candidates and ballot paper draw was conducted today. There are 13 candidates, with the ballot paper order shown here. I have a paywalled article on the by-election in in Crikey today.
Friday, October 27
Things are moving very quickly towards a by-election to replace Joe Hockey in North Sydney, with Hockey formalising his resignation and conducting his farewell speech on Friday, the date of December 5 being set yesterday, and the Liberals conducting their preselection last night. As anticipated, the winner of the preselection was Trent Zimmerman, the party’s acting state party president and a former staffer to Joe Hockey, and more recently deputy chair of the Tourism and Transport Forum. Sean Nicholls of the Sydney Morning Herald reports that North Sydney mayor Jilly Gibson is considering running as an independent, potentially following the same path as Ted Mack, a former mayor who held the seat as an independent for two terms prior to Joe Hockey’s entry to parliament in 1996. The Greens are reportedly set to endorse Arthur Chesterfield-Evans, a former Australian Democrats member for the state upper house. Given the seat’s 15.9% margin, it is very unlikely that Labor will field a candidate.
The haste with which the Liberals wrapped up their preselection process has aroused controversy, which can be broadly understood in the context of factional disputes that pit an alliance between moderates and the Centre Right, who between them control the state executive, against harder-edged Right elements who are frozen out by the arrangement. James Robertson of the Sydney Morning Herald reports that registration forms were emailed to eligible preselectors on Thursday evening, with the requirement that they be submitted no latter than noon the next day. The ABC reports that the preselection meeting attracted a small group of protesters, whose complaints partly related to the state council’s recent rejection of a push by the hard Right to have preselections determined by party plebiscites, in place of the existing model where the vote is divided between branch delegates and members of the state council and state executive.
In the event, Zimmerman enjoyed a fairly modest winning margin of 47-35 over John Hart, chief executive of Restaurant and Catering Australia. Hart was described by the Sydney Morning Herald as “another ally of Joe Hockey’s”, but David Crowe of The Australian reports that conservatives threw their weight behind him, presumably as an expression of displeasure with the way things were handled. A third nominee was Helen Cartledge, a late entrant whose credentials included a doctorate in engineering and a position as science adviser in the Australian Defence Organisation, could manage only two votes.