Double dissolution (maybe) minus 14 weeks

Senate preselection wreaks more discord among the NSW Liberals; Tim Wilson snatches victory in Goldstein; Stan Grant fields approaches from the Liberals; preselection challenges aplenty to sitting Liberals in WA; and Bronwyn Bishop reportedly in strife in Mackellar.

As the likelihood of a July 2 election firms, the preselection treadmill gathers pace. All the action this week is on the conservative side of the fence:

• New discord has emerged in the fractious New South Wales branch of the Liberal Party over its preselection for the Senate, after a party vote on Saturday delivered top position to Hollie Hughes, Moree-based autism support advocate and the state party’s country vice-president. This reduced the remaining incumbent, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, to number two, in defiance of the wishes of the Prime Minister, who had recently signalled his support by promoting her to the ministry. With number three reserved for Nationals Senator Fiona Nash, the result also meant neither of the Liberals’ winnable positions was available to Jim Molan, a former senior army officer who was heavily involved in the government’s efforts against unauthorised boat arrivals. Hughes has since forestalled a looming state executive intervention by agreeing to be relegated to number two. At issue was the presence on the preselection panel of two lobbyists and moderate factional operatives, Michael Photios and Nick Campbell, two years after Photios had been forced off the state executive by a Tony Abbott-sponsored rule forbidding the involvement of lobbyists. Opponents of the moderates cited in a report by David Crowe of The Australian claim that without the involvement of Photios and Campbell, Fierravanti-Wells and Molan might have taken the top two spots, with number three going to Andrew Bragg, policy director at the Financial Services Council. Tony Abbott described the outcome of the vote as “another exercise of stitching up”, which had been “tainted” by the involvement of Photios. If a double dissolution elections is called, the entire process will need to be revisited in a way that also accounts for Marise Payne, John Williams and Arthur Sinodinos, who were elected in 2013.

• Outgoing Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson has been preselected to succeed Andrew Robb as Liberal candidate for the Melbourne seat of Goldstein. The Australian reports Wilson prevailed in the local party ballot over Denis Dragovic, a “lecturer, former hostage negotiator and columnist”, by the paper-thin margin of 142 votes to 140. Eliminated in the first round were Georgina Downer, with 66 votes, and Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive John Osborn, on 18 votes. The vote came shortly after a pamphlet was distributed to preselectors describing Wilson as “a danger to our families, schools and the local community”, owing to his “unrelenting campaign for gay rights issues”.

• The Daily Telegraph reports Bronwyn Bishop faces defeat in the Mackellar preselection at the hands of Jason Falinski, owner of aged care business Carewell Health. Falinski was Malcolm Turnbull’s Wentworth campaign manager in 2004, and has worked for John Hewson and Barry O’Farrell. While Falinski is strongly associated with the moderates faction, the Telegraph reports he “will get the support of much of the Right because of an anyone-but-Bronwyn attitude caused by her switching sides on Tony Abbott”.

• A further three challenges have emerged against federal Liberals in Western Australia, in addition to the widely reported contest between Tangney MP Dennis Jensen and the state party’s former director, Ben Morton. Liberal sources invoked by Andrew Burrell of The Australian suggest Nola Marino is under pressure from Ben Small, although all I can discern of Small is that he lives in Bunbury. Elsewhere, Swan MP Steve Irons faces Carl Pallier, state manager of Suncorp Insurance, and Durack MP Melissa Price is opposed by David Archibald, a geologist.

• Seven Liberal Party members have nominated for preselection in the new southern Perth seat of Burt. Andrew Burrell of The Australian suggests the front-runner is Matthew O’Sullivan, “who runs Andrew Forrest’s GenerationOne philanthropic movement aimed at ending indigenous disparity”. However, Gosnells councillor Liz Storer is reported to be “backed by conservative forces”. Also in the field are Marisa Hislop, a small business owner; Daniel Nikolic, a company director; Lance Scott, the party’s divisional president; and a low-profile figure named Lesley Boyd.

Sarah Martin of The Australian reports the Liberal Party has approached indigenous journalist Stan Grant about running for preselection against Labor’s Julie Owens in her highly marginal seat of Parramatta. The Liberals will be choosing their candidate for the seat through a trial plebiscite of local party members of more than two years’ standing, amid an ongoing brawl within the party over the power of head office in the party’s preselections.

• Melissa Grant of AAP reports on a second contestant for the Liberal National Party preselection to succeed Ian MacFarlane in the Queensland seat of Groom, joining the widely touted state member for Toowoomba South, John McVeigh. The candidate is Toowoomba general practitioner David van Gend, who describes himself on his Twitter bio as a “combatant on matters of life and death: euthanasia, cloning, abortion, gay ‘marriage’, faith and freedom” – his perspective on such matters being conservative.

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.

1,390 comments on “Double dissolution (maybe) minus 14 weeks”

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  1. No Steelydan, you refuse to engage because you have NO argument. You know you’re wrong, you just can’t admit it.

  2. Go back and show me where I supported the privatization of HECS your the one that assumed it and have gone off on a tangent, I believe in free education right through including University and hopefully one day we can afford it.

  3. Steelydan – I never said that’s what you think, I said that’s what the Liberal Party thinks. And by voting for them and arguing for them, that’s what you sign up for.

    If you believe in free education, then how can you support the Liberals? Opposing things like free education is a core principle of the Liberal Party.

  4. Opposing things like free education is a core principle of the Liberal Party.
    Again with the exaggeration it is not a core principle of the Liberal Party, the Liberal parties core belief on education is to have the best education system in the world exactly the same as the Labor party there are differences on both sides on how this can be best be achieved and how to pay for this is the biggest difference. I do not profess to be an expert on funding education and I will look at both side and the proposals they put forward.

  5. Steelydan – that is utter garbage. The Liberals have gutted the Gonski reforms by withholding the fifth and sixth years of Gonski funding, when the bulk of spending was to go into the system, and which would have reformed federal education spending into a needs-based system – meaning wealthy schools would get much less, and all others schools much more. Schools that looked after kids from disadvantaged backgrounds and with disabilities would get extra funding as well.

    Their 2014 budget proposed to “deregulate” universities, allowing them to set tuition at whatever they wanted, which in combination with federal university funding cuts of 20%, were designed to drive tuition costs UP. Adding on HECS interest set at market rates and privatising that debt, it all adds up to driving down participation in university study by making it un-affordable for most people.

    On their very best day, the Liberals don’t care about education. At their worst, they attack it.

  6. Time for you to go to bed I think Davo, Jimmy’s whole argument centers around my children getting HECS and that somehow by being a liberal supporter I must agree with there policy of privatising HECS, what makes this silly as you know that but your still banging on.

  7. [Steelydan
    Posted Monday, March 28, 2016 at 12:20 am | PERMALINK

    Time for you to go to bed I think Davo, Jimmy’s ]

    You mean its time for you to run away yet again hey TBA.

  8. “The Liberals don’t care about education” there you go again complete rubbish why do you do that, why! I don’t get it. Education and Health are probable the two strongest policy areas for labor, try to argue them without exaggeration and bullshit. The only real argument the Liberal party have in this area is how do we fund the education system we need. There is also an argument to be made that extra money does not always mean better education outcomes.

  9. I don’t run away I am here when I have the time to do so, usually after new polls or when I have bugger all else to do, I will definitely be here after the next election, damn am I looking forward to that. I feel a shiver of antic……………..pation.

  10. Someone mentioned Kinky Friedman earlier. I was reminded today of reading in the novels about Kinky’s sidekick “Ratso” who only read books about three people; Hitler, Jesus and Bob Dylan.

    While it was highly improbable, even in fiction, that anyone would have the space, time or inclination to read 10,000 books on only three people, the idea struck me as fascinating and I eventually chose four people to read about every year; Hitler, Oppenheimer, Frank Lloyd Wright and Caravaggio.

    I mention this because an English translation of a biography of Hitler has just been released (vol 1) by Ullrich which has received rave reviews. It should be well worth reading for history buffs.

  11. Steelydan – you are the one that said Liberal policy is to have “the best education system in the world” – that takes the cake in exaggeration and BS. This is so categorically untrue you just sound silly in saying it.

    You are the one defending the Liberal record on education with meaningless platitudes, and it is telling that you cannot offer a single factual response to the fact that the Liberals attacked Gonski and attacked university education.

    We can more than adequately fund education in Australia. That’s never been an issue. Gonski was only partly about increasing funding, as it involved redirecting future spending that would have taken place anyway. University education pays for itself.

    If you truly support education, including making it free for all, you should vote Labor – they are the party of education in Australia.

  12. paywalled
    [Newspoll: dozen seats in danger for Malcolm Turnbull
    THE AUSTRALIAN MARCH 28, 2016 12:00AM
    Phillip Hudson Bureau Chief Canberra

    Queensland is emerging as a problem state for Malcolm Turnbull’s government, which is also losing ground in Victoria, Western Australia and NSW as it counts down to a July 2 election.

    The Coalition has also suffered a fall in support among men and country voters which is more than double the overall decline in its primary vote, according to an analysis of Newspoll surveys conducted exclusively for The Aus­tralian in the first three months of this year.

    In the battleground state of Queensland, Coalition support has dropped six percentage points in two-party terms since the 2013 election.

    However, it remains ahead with 51 per cent of the vote in two-party terms in the state, where it holds six seats by a margin of 6 per cent or less and a further four seats by between 6 per cent and 7 per cent.

    Labor’s biggest slump is in South Australia and the opposition is losing women voters to the Greens, while its core support in NSW has flatlined since 2013.

    While he remains easily preferred as prime minister over Bill Shorten, Mr Turnbull has suffered a hit to his satisfaction rating in all states, with voters in his home state of NSW the least satisfied and most dissatisfied with his performance.

    The state-by-state and demographic breakdown of Newspoll surveys of 7508 people in the March quarter comes at the start of what could be a three-month run to an election and suggests the Coalition is on track to retain power with the loss of about 10-12 seats, leaving a reduced ­majority for Mr Turnbull to govern.

    While support for the ­Coalition is higher in every state and on every measure than it was in the final quarterly poll under Tony Abbott’s leadership, the government is facing an overall fall in its primary vote of 1.6 percentage points and a two-party-preferred swing against it of 2.5 percentage points.

    The strongest gains for the Greens are in Victoria and Queensland, and among women and country ­voters.]

    Full quarterly summary details here (no paywall)

  13. GhostWhoVotes ‏@GhostWhoVotes 11m11 minutes ago

    #Newspoll Jan-Mar Quarterly Preferred PM: Turnbull 55 (-6) Shorten 21 (+4) #auspol

  14. GhostWhoVotes ‏@GhostWhoVotes 11m11 minutes ago

    #Newspoll Jan-Mar Quarterly NSW Federal 2PP: L/NP 52 (-1) ALP 48 (+1) #auspol

  15. I looked at the comments under the report in the GG that Leroy has linked at 1368

    As long as there are lots of Liberal supporters who think like those commentators, Labor can look forward to an excellent electoral victory. It’s worse than Labor v the Greens here – but at least those are separate parties!

  16. GhostWhoVotes ‏@GhostWhoVotes 10m10 minutes ago

    #Newspoll Jan-Mar Quarterly VIC Federal 2PP: L/NP 47 (-4) ALP 53 (+4) #auspol

  17. GhostWhoVotes ‏@GhostWhoVotes 10m10 minutes ago

    #Newspoll Jan-Mar Quarterly QLD Federal 2PP: L/NP 51 (-1) ALP 49 (+1) #auspol

  18. GhostWhoVotes ‏@GhostWhoVotes 11m11 minutes ago

    #Newspoll Jan-Mar Quarterly WA Federal 2PP: L/NP 53 (-1) ALP 47 (+1) #auspol

  19. GhostWhoVotes ‏@GhostWhoVotes 10m10 minutes ago

    #Newspoll Jan-Mar Quarterly SA Federal 2PP: L/NP 53 (+5) ALP 47 (-5) #auspol

  20. GhostWhoVotes ‏@GhostWhoVotes 10m10 minutes ago

    #Newspoll Jan-Mar Quarterly SA Federal Primaries: L/NP 41 (+3) ALP 29 (-7) GRN 10 (-1) Others 20 (+5) #auspol

  21. Emmo on the money here:

    [‘The former Labor minister Craig Emerson said it was strange the prime minister had left the timing of the next election in the hands of four senators “who hate his guts”.

    ‘“That’s a master stroke, apparently,” Emerson said.’]

    LOL. Exactly. Cant believe journos have bought in to this crap. Here’s an alternate narrative for ya: TURNBULL DOESNT KNOW WTF HE’S DOING!

  22. Those SA TPP figures don’t make sense. I wonder if the allocation of NXT preferences unrealistically favours the Liberals (i.e., NXT this time round is attracting voters from Labor who will return preferences to Labor in much larger percentages than occurred in 2013).

  23. [ and how to pay for this is the biggest difference. ]

    It certainly wasn’t at the last election…a unity ticket no less!!!

    Oh,,,i forgot..its Liberal, It Lies, and they cut the funding.

  24. TPOF

    Allowing for 80% Greens prefs, they are allocating others at 50/50, which I think is a bit generous to the Libs.

  25. I doubt anyone here could name a Fed lib mp in SA and the state lib opposition has no profile, with whatisname as leader, so i don’t see from where the sudden increase in lib support is coming.

    Also the feds are seen as the catalyst of all our economic problems, so unless people are trying to go liberal to get a bit of relief from the SA bashing in the fed lib gov’t i just cannot understand it.

    I think that is a rogue.

  26. I had a thought, though, on that SA poll result. Weatherill is holding that review of nuclear power and one of the things being talked about is storing nuclear waste (including overseas waste) in SA, as an industry.

    we have a love/hate relationship with the international nuclear industry down here. We put up with and benefit from exporting uranium, but any talk of storing waste here bristles the average SA person.

    Marralinga is within living memory and the protests over uranium mining were strong at the time it was started.

    It is quite possible that Weatherill publically stating that it is being considered would drive people to The Greens or Undecided. I do not remember the Libs saying much about it, so I cannot see a protest vote going there, but you never know. This state is very different and beyond the ken of people who don’t live here.

  27. Ptmd

    [This state is very different and beyond the ken of people who don’t live here.]

    The rest of us watch with wonder as very strange interlinked murders unfold in SA on a regular basis.

  28. Good morning Dawn Patrollers. rather a small collection for you today – but it IS Easter.

    Shorten says Abbott is at the heart of the government’s division and chaos. And the CPG get a bit of a serve.
    Turnbull declares war on Abbott with his captain’s call for an early election.
    Up to 90000 vacant homes in NSW. And most of them are investment properties supported by negative gearing and CGT treatment.
    Protest as he might, Arfur’s getting deeper and deeper into the poo.
    Reopening the Parramatta gaol will ruffle a few feathers.
    Tim Dick has a justified dig at the selection of the date for the Easter.
    These Tory messages show is why faith has no place in politics.
    Amanda Vanstone says a July 2 DD is not a foregone conclusion. Rather a poisonous contribution.
    Could the flawed Boris Johnson become the next UK Prime Minister?
    The Coalition is bringing out the big guns for the New England contest.

  29. Section 2 . . .

    The Pakistani Taliban has just claimed responsibility for this atrocity.
    The AFP have been called in to investigate an undefined issue at Defence Housing. Could become interesting.
    John Kerry describes the US presidential election as an embarrassment to his country.
    How to inoculate people against Trump’s fact-bending claims. The science of misleading.,8819
    The pressure is building on airlines to stop fleecing customers.
    The worldwide refugee problem has been fixed!§ion=australia&utm_hp_ref=world
    Mark Knight gives us “Not Batman vs Superman”.

  30. A more than usually impenetrable column from Mandy Vanstone, full of “union thuggery, Labor hopelessly caught up in their patronage, venal Senate cross-benchers, cunning Malcolm, lazy Press Gallery (who will cheer Abbott, then turn on him, then turn on Malcolm and then round it off by attacking just about everybody else)… youse get the drift?

    About the only one who doesn’t get a guernsey is Uncle Arfur.

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