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. This blog post also asks the question I have been asking: can the Senate simply adjourn itself, if a motion to suspend standing orders to do so is passed?

    The answer appears to be “Yes”.

    As to whether this would constitute a “failure to pass” the ABCC bills, I’m not so sure. Surely if the SSO motion is passed before the first reading, then the bill has not been even presented to the Senate, so how could it be said to “fail to pass” it?

    Senate procedural boffins will know for sure.

  2. BB
    Wouldn’t it be depend on the President of the Senates call… Which motion comes first
    To suspend or address the bill.

  3. Because the Senate was recalled specifically to consider the ABCC legislation, a quick adjournment would reasonably be construed as a failure to pass that legislation. I don’t think there is a procedural way to avoid that outcome.

  4. Good morning Dawn Patrollers. (Nearly got me again William!)

    Stand by for Eric Abetz to come out and accuse the ABC of bias after this Tony Jones interview with Turnbull.
    All is not well within the broad church suggests Mark Kenny.
    Lenore Taylor says schools and hospitals deserve a straight message from Morrison and Turnbull. She also refers to the talk of the town in Canberra – the simmering tensions between said two.
    Peter Martin looks at interstate migration rates.
    Arfur lashes out as the finger gets pointed at him Again!
    And Labor calls for Arfur to stand aside.
    Ben Eltham looks at Arfur and the return of the Coalition’s probity problems.
    “View from the Street” sums up the sad. sad week for Arthur Sinodinos.
    This detailed poll is devastating for the government.
    The Rockefeller Family Fund has divested itself of fossil fuel assets.

  5. Section 2 . . .

    Religions’ tax break is a cross we shouldn’t have to bear.
    The Belgians are displeased with Turnbull’s “dangerous” comments.
    The scariest thing about terrorism is our reaction to it.
    I wonder how much Mehajer has been spending on lawyers. Is he on the brink of bankruptcy?
    The corporate values of the Catholic church on full display.
    More PR trouble for VW.
    Greg Jericho, with his usual detailed support, analyses just what is the “average Australian”.
    Rot in hell you stinking mongrel!
    Off-season hair testing of AFL players reveals a lot of use of illicit drugs. I wonder if there is a relationship between the extent of such drug use and the surface area of tattoos.
    Deservedly, on-line payday lenders are coming under scrutiny.

  6. Section 3 . . . Cartoon Corner

    Ron Tandberg with Arfur visiting the BSW Electoral Commission.

    Ron Tandberg and Morrison’s soft spot.

    David Pope picks up on the Tintin theme.

    Cathy Wilcox has worked out how the Safe Schools program got introduced.
    Alan Moir with a map of our national boundaries.

    Ugh! Andrew Dyson and Eurovision 2016.

    More from Ron Tandberg as he takes us to the hustings.

  7. Turnbull is in full “crash through or crash” mode.

    Last night’s interview on Lateline frustrated him because he thought he had a National Security” platform to strut around on, but Tony Jones pulled the rug.

    So Turnbull did what he always does when he thinks someone of lower intellect than he (pretty-well everyone) interrupts His Magnificence: he tried to bully Jones.

    Unfortunately for Turnbull, his Cabinet Secretary, Uncle Arfur Sinodinos has been lumped with at least partial responsibility for depriving the party of $4.4 million in electoral kickback moolah. The Golden Greek is upset, and is even threatening to sue the Electoral Commission (!), but wiser heads may advise him against it. It’s not a good look to be going to court over ill-gotten gains.

    Tought tits, I reckon, that this came up now. Luck of the draw and all that. But the Liberals MUST have known that such fraud couldn’t be ignored by the Commission forever. What better time to put the pressure on the Party to fess up their dodgy donors than in the run-up to an election that’s going to involve 15 weeks of heavy cash outlays?

    And what worse time for the Party to have to do it?

    Also, of course, whither the Free Enterprise Foundation? Something I’ve not seen yet is a discussion of just what monies they have laundered for the Federal Liberal Party. Noice.

    Of course it had to be stopped. Smartarsed lawyers thinking that a one-step separation between donor and donee was sufficiciently arm’s-length to sanitize crookery were too clever by half. Now it’s come back to bite them at a most inconvenient time: just when they need the money!

    When Turnbull crashes, he burns brightly. Remember Godwin? Remember the unloseable Republic Referendum?

    Yet to come is the Mal Brough investigation. Tony’s mates at the AFP will make sure that’s brought on closer to the election if they have any sense. Plodders and Keystone Cops they may be, but the AFP know an opportunity when they see one.

    But of course this brings up the whole “Abbott Thing”. Hate Turnbull as many may do, veen some of the rabids on the Right of the Liberal Party don’t want to actually lose an election. We may find that not only is the fight Tony/Malcolm, but also Tony/Tony’s-Mates.

    What will 2GB make of all this? Last night on the Bolt hour, callers were accusing Turnbull of all kinds of hateful things: being a friend to terrorists, a traitor to Australia, a closet Labor Man, and (worse) a tax dodger. Even Bolt eventually got sick of it, as he started hanging up on some of the wilder ring-ins.

    Dysfunction? Labor? Moi? When a shit fight gets going among the Liberals, make sure you have a large blanket ready. It’ll make a turd-flicking afternoon at the Taronga monkey cage look like cucumber sandwiches at Buckingham Palace.

    Yet to come we have … the Cayman Islands. I always thought that cries of Labor being envious were somewhat shrill. Be sure that there’ll be someone “of the Left” digging deep there, ready with some juicy tidbits on just what Malcolm has done with his and Lucy’s money in the island paradise.

    And our pals at the Senate will be no slouches, either. Don’t expect them to go down without a fight. The Greens, shown for the dupes they are (everyone seemed to know this, except them), will be particularly cranky. Libs bragging they put one over the naive tree-huggers will only goad the greenies into the red zone.

    So much time, so little known. About policy. About process. About Mal Brough. About Arfur. About tax havens.

    OK, so we DO know a lot about Tony Abbott, but none of it’s good for The Enlightened One.

    People say Malcom has aged in the last six months. By the time this 15 week – or was it years – election campaign is over (and that’s assuming it even gets started), he’ll be walking around with a Zimmer Frame.

    That’s what happens when you elect an ego maniac, and why they wisely chose to ignore Turnbull for so long. All the signs were there. We’re only just being reminded of them now.

  8. MARK GRAPH – Plus, Costello (team player that he is) will do whatever he’s told to do (except, probably, if there is no supply). Superb analysis, by the way.

  9. BUSHFIRE – Red Kerry used to pound Johnnie Howard, but I don’t remember Johnnie (I may be wrong) complaining that he wanted different questions. Turnbull is playing up the quality which would most concern voters (his arrogance). That bullying and arrogance are just going to get worse.

  10. [Libs bragging they put one over the naive tree-huggers will only goad the greenies into the red zone.]

    BK, as The Lorax has pointed out, the Greens have divested themselves of the Tasmanian tree-huggers. No more flora or fauna issues for them. They have become naïve fashionistas. The Greens name has been retained as they are the party of envy.

  11. I bet the Member for Ballarat has got all her ducks lined up for this fight.

    [In one week state premiers and treasurers will meet Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison to find out whether the federal government is going to offer them any more money to deal with the hospitals and schools funding crisis that hits next year, and has been going to hit next year ever since Tony Abbott ripped $80bn out of projected hospitals and schools funding in the infamous budget of 2014.

    Voters don’t want government’s corporate tax cuts, poll shows
    Read more
    As the Guardian revealed last month, Turnbull has been reassuring state premiers for some time that the commonwealth was going to stump up interim funding to tide them over while new long-term funding agreements are struck.

    But for a long time Morrison has been consistently sending a totally different message, essentially that the states are on their own, saying things like: “I don’t think states are branch offices of the commonwealth. I think they are sovereign governments … In no business in this country would anyone just accept someone walking into their office and saying the increase in cost is 8%, give me the cheque. We all have to manage our budgets. The states almost without an exception … are in surplus at the present.”

    At a recent meeting in Sydney, senior federal officials told their state counterparts that Turnbull was trying to get a funding deal through his cabinet for both hospitals and early childhood education but was coming up against resistance. The officials also said they still wanted to see movement on the states’ commitment to reduce their own taxes.

    This has left premiers somewhat dazed and confused. They say the federal government’s position seems to depend on who they talk to and the private messages have been as contradictory as the public ones.

    And they point out that it was the federal government that ditched the whole conversation about changing the mix of state and federal taxes when it backed down on plans to increase the goods and service tax.]

  12. Morrison: ” … In no business in this country would anyone just accept someone walking into their office and saying the increase in cost is 8%, give me the checque.”

    *cough* Private Health Insurance businesses.

  13. The Turnbull on Lateline is the same Turnbull who has, through-out his career, reacted to any opposition with bullying and intimidation. You criticise Malcolm, he rings you up and gives you a gob-full. Ask Mark Scott. I’ve spoken to people who’ve seen him in a titanic rage.
    However, when you’re PM, you can’t do that in front of a couple of hundred thousand viewers. But Malcolm can’t help himself. And, as the pressure builds, he’s going to get worse. If Labor doesn’t have its nose in front, I’ll eat my hat.

  14. Kevin 17

    Does MT try reasoning first (which is his public face), or does he assume from the start that he will be obeyed, and then over-react when it doesn’t happen?

    From what you say, I am expecting leaks of the ‘abused the airline attendant’ nature.

  15. How much impact does a single appearance by Turnbull on Lateline have? I’m not downplaying it, it’s a serious question. Would that kind of poor performance have a major impact, would it just be Lateline viewers who might potentially change their vote, or is it the Press gallery who see it and set the tone of future coverage (the “blood in the water” proposition)

  16. shiftaling

    [ How much impact does a single appearance by Turnbull on Lateline have? ]

    If this was truly a one-off, not much. But it isn’t. Turnbull is developing a reputation as a disappointing waffler who is not up to the rigors of the job of PM. Given enough time, everyone will notice one way or another – either by seeing it directly (as on Lateline) or by seeing reports of it by journalists keen to twist the knife – or even just anecdotally from friends and colleagues.

    If this was a short,sharp campaign, I’d say Mal still had a chance of sliding in before his fading popularity disappears altogether – but he has foolishly subjected himself and his bunch of incompetents to one of the longest election campaigns in history – which is what he will be by the end of it.

  17. Morning all
    this tweet sums it all up.

    [Dave Donovan
    8h8 hours ago
    Dave Donovan ‏@davrosz
    After the abomination of the Abbott years, the Liberals deserve to be voted out, irrespective of who leads them now. The Party is a mess]

  18. LIZZIE – I’m not that close to the details. All I know is that, when he doesn’t get his way, he’s volcanic. Even his wife admits that.

  19. Turnbull’s lack of judgment was there for all to see. He knew the stench around Sinodinos. Abbott never gave him a cabinet spot for this very reason.

    Of course according to the cheersquad in the msm, Turnbull recalling parliament was an audacious move! You gotta laugh at the chutzpah

  20. [ST Foreign Desk ‏@STForeignDesk 9m9 minutes ago
    JUST IN: Raid taking place in Argenteuil, near Paris, after arrest on Thursday morning in attack plot in France – interior minister]

  21. [The media piranhas can smell the blood in the water and are emboldened.

    Jones clearly no longer fears Turnbull’s late night demands to his CEO for his sacking for daring to express the bleeding obvious, and he and the other opportunistic piranhas will continue to tear little bits of flesh off until only a skeleton remains.]

    Yes. This is THE thing. All the ‘bias’ stuff that gets floated about is really that the media has a bias towards conflict and argument and away from policy and cooperation.

    That’s why R-G-R as such a disaster for Labor. It gave the media all the excuse they needed to ignore Labor’s policy achievements and ignore the oncoming disaster of an Abbott Government.

    But now the shoe is on the other foot. Last year the media tried to get Labor to follow the Libs into instability but they declined the offer. So the Libs were the only game in town for their preferred meal and boy are they keen on providing a feast!

    The stopper is out of the bottle and there’s no way to get the lid back on until all the contents are poured out. The media simply know that there’s too much easy work available digging around the skeletons in the Libs closets. There are far too many Libs eager to background and snipe. Tony is far too keen to get in public with something that can easily be seen as a veiled swipe at the PM. There are far too many people prepared to anonymously confirm that ScoMo and Mal are at war. Arfur and before him Brough and Briggs and Robert, they just make it too easy.

    None of the lazy sods in the gallery is going to pass up the opportunity for such easy copy to waste hours getting their em.pty heads around policy.

    The Libs are toast.

  22. [I am not convinced that a DD is a certainty …

    We’ve been discussing just that for several weeks now. Shorten seems to have indicated that a delay of supply is not on for them. Politically the recall may have made it a bridge too far for Labor. Before the Section 5 trick I was very confident that talking out the appropriations until the 12th was very much in Labor’s thinking, but with the recall now in play it would probably just look too tricky.

    I certainly don’t think anyone is going to make life easy for Turnbull in the Senate, but they will look to find other ways to make him look stupid.

    Perhaps talking out the appropriations until some time after 11pm on the 11th? Labor keeps it’s commitment not to block (or delay) supply, but make Turnbull look farcical by making him dash off to Yarralumla to beat the midnight deadline.

  23. My prediction for the future of Arfur ‘Bagman’ Sinodinos?

    After Malcolm Turnbull engineers his his dramatic political denouement, aka the Double Dissolution, (and, yes, I disagree with Mark the Ballot that we will not get a DD, for reasons I will outline in a subsequent post), as all positions on the Senate ticket have to be decided by the party and include all Senators, even those elected in 2013, I predict that Sinodinos will be shuffled into a precarious position on the ticket.

    Not one that says, wtte, ‘Don’t let the door hit your buttocks on the way out, Arfur!’ but that one that the new Senate Voting Rules have identified as problematical for the major parties to get an extra candidate on their ticket elected from.

    Yes, Arfur, may be Cabinet Secretary, but when fighting for his political life Turnbull has not been averse to jettisoning overboard from the Ship of State as it lists precariously, those who were weighing it, and him, down.

    It will be by artifice, to be sure, but I think I can hear the faint sounds, getting, louder, of Arfur’s family saying they need to see more of him too. Which will be Plan B if Plan A, the quiet acceptance of the ‘Precarious Position’ on the ticket isn’t accepted graciously.

  24. [ The Golden Greek is upset, and is even threatening to sue the Electoral Commission (!), but wiser heads may advise him against it. It’s not a good look to be going to court over ill-gotten gains. ]

    So he commences legal action against the AEC and presto – he cannot comment any further because its a matter to come before the courts – at the sametime he refuses to stand aside claiming he has done nothing wrong and demands due process?

    I doubt even that will get him or the tories off the hook entirely.

    The problem is the stench remains as Labor and others will point out.

    turnbull not having good week – long may such continue.

  25. Will be good to see Gillard and Rudd campaigning again for Labor… Trouble is will they be campaigning for or against Bill Shorten?

  26. c@t

    Sinodinos has been popping up everywhere over the past month, being the official mouthpiece for Turnbull. Especially as Morrison has been sidelined. This is not going down well in the nest of vipers. Not at all.

    And you gotta ask how Di Natale feels hitching his wagon to this mob.

  27. [turnbull not having good week – long may such continue.]

    When he avoids disaster for any 7 day period, expect Mark Kenny to tell us that “at last” Turnbull has his mojo back, and is now tempered steel ready for the field of battle, this has been his plan all along, and “Shorten Boo!”.

  28. Thinking of Kenny (and Hartcher) they told us last week this plan was absolutely brilliant, the output of a mind used to dealing in billions, a canny investor to knows when and how best to strike, and at one blow he has bamboozled his plodding enemies, setting a course for continuing excellence, Malcolm has not been campaigning he has been governing etc. etc.

    Don’t expect them to come off the boil too quickly, but if CPG herd mentality has it way, they will eventually.

  29. OK, so this is the Section 5 tactics that I would be advising, based around this scenario:

    Yes the motion could be defeated by the Government going back to the Governor General with another instrument under section 5 of the Constitution to prorogue parliament and recall it to sit (say) later that day or the next day. However, this could descend into high farce, with the Governor General repeatedly establishing a session of Parliament where the Senate quickly proceeded to adjourn itself. It would be undignified, and would not reflect well on the institutions of Parliament nor Prime Minister.

    I think that Labor only need to force the farce once. Make Turnbull race over to Yarralumla to get the Senate reconvened once. Then let Turnbull, as the desperate man he will so obviously seem then, have his Double Dissolution election. However, it will have been shown who has the whip hand and who is desperately seeking to abuse and traduce our democratic processes, again, in shades of 1975 Kerr and Fraser shenanigans, again.

    Labor don’t have to block Supply. They don’t have to engage in any tricky timing manouevres around Senate Sittings. They just have to call Turnbull’s bluff. Just once. To leave the Emperor of Potts Point standing stark, staring naked, with his BSD swinging in the cold Canberra Autumn breeze.

  30. BB

    Remember this from Mark Kenny in mid February?

    And then there’s the ministry. When you tote up the ministers lost from the frontbench this term, it’s not long before you get to double figures. Since Christmas, Turnbull has lost one to resignation (Jamie Briggs), has a cloud hanging over two more (Mal Brough and Stuart Robert), and has seen two of his most dependable senior cabinet colleagues announce their retirements on Thursday (Deputy PM Warren Truss and Trade Minister Andrew Robb).
    Rumours surround another cabinet figure, which if true, would end his career also. One Turnbull insider admitted things appeared “untidy” and even perhaps “out of control” but insisted that was not the case.
    The Turnbull operation is struggling between the reality of having to start most government policies and activities afresh and the unreasonably high expectations the change of leaders created.
    In the cases of Brough and Robert, Turnbull has been lumbered with infractions which predate his own prime ministership. But he appointed these ministers and thus owns their respective pasts as much as their contemporary performances.
    Brough’s fate turns on an AFP investigation into the Ashby-Slipper affair. Robert’s on the PM’s own application of the ministerial code of conduct.

    Read more:
    Follow us: @smh on Twitter | sydneymorningherald on Facebook

  31. Ratsak #36

    Here you discussed the implications of Senate strategy for whether or not a DD will happen.

    But what are your thoughts regarding Labor’s possible strategies around amending the Bill (increasing the scope wider than the BC industry) or even just letting it go through, thus pressurising the Waffler to honour his commitment of no DD in that case.

    If no DD that should stretch the campaign out another 8 or 10 weeks till September-ish, providing Waffler with much more rope in which to tangle himself.

    Someone above speculated about how many punters really would have seen his arrogance to Jones last night on Lateline (trying to demand what questions Jones should ask).

    But if he is given the opportunity to behave that way right up till September, especially in earlier time slot commercial channel interviews, Joe Public will certainly get used to seeing his temper on display.

  32. kevjohnno @ 43,

    Short and sweet as in a prediction for Bill’s time as ALP leader.

    Well that’s already been proven wrong over the last 3 years when it’s been the Coalition that have done as they said they never would and shit-canned a 1st Term Sitting Prime Minister.

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