Ring in the new year with two months of accumulated news concerning preselections for the next federal election – not counting matters arising from Section 44, which will be dealt with in a separate post during the January lull in opinion poll news.
• After falling short in the Bennelong by-election, Kristina Keneally’s most immediate pathway to federal parliament is the Senate vacancy created by the resignation of Sam Dastyari. However, The Australian reports the position is being eyed by Tony Sheldon, national secretary of the Transport Workers Union, and Tara Moriarty, state secretary of United Voice – either in opposition to Keneally or in her absence, since it is not clear she would not prefer to await a lower house berth. The Canberra Times reports the looming creation of a third electorate for the Australian Capital Territory could present such an opportunity. Other possibilities mentioned for the new seat are Thomas McMahon, economic adviser to Bill Shorten; Taimus Werner-Gibbings, chief-of-staff to Tasmanian Senator Lisa Singh; Jacob Ingram, 23-year-old staffer to Chief Minister Andrew Barr; Jacob White, staffer to Fenner MP and Shadow Assistant Trade Minister Andrew Leigh; and Kim Fischer, former territory ministerial staffer and current communications consultant.
• Another soon-to-be-created seat has been central to factional convulsions in the Victorian ALP in recent months. As in the ACT, population growth has entitled Victoria to an extra seat, which is expected to be established in Melbourne’s booming and strongly Labor-voting north-east. The Construction Mining Forestry and Energy Union wants it to go to Jane Garrett, who recently failed in a bid to move from her state seat of Brunswick to the Legislative Council after losing a Left faction ballot. Garrett feared Brunswick would be lost to the Greens, in part because of the efforts of the United Firefighters Union, whose dispute with Garrett over a pay deal caused her resignation as Emergency Services Minister in 2016. In tandem with other “industrial Left” unions, the CFMEU has walked out of the Left, which is dominated by Senator Kim Carr, and sought an alliance with the Right, which looks likely to proceed with the blessing of Bill Shorten. This will mean an end to the long-standing “stability pact” between the Carr forces and the Right, which has protected members including Jenny Macklin in Jagajaga and Andrew Giles in Scullin. However, Shorten insists he will ensure no sitting members are threatened.
• With George Brandis resigning from his Queensland Senate seat to take up the popular posting of high commissioner in London, The Australian reports a big field of potential successors includes three names from state politics: Scott Emerson, the former Shadow Treasurer who lost his seat of Maiwar to the Greens; John-Paul Langbroek, a former Opposition Leader who remains the state member for Surfers Paradise, but was unsuccessful in the post-election leadership vote; and Lawrence Springborg, repeatedly unsuccessful state Opposition Leader who did not contest the election in November (who would presumably faces a difficulty in being from the Nationals). Also in the mix are Joanna Lindgren, who had an earlier stint in the Senate when she filled Brett Mason’s vacancy in May 2015, but was unsuccessful as the sixth candidate on the Liberal National Party ticket in 2016; Teresa Harding, director of the Queensland government’s open data policy and twice unsuccessful candidate for Blair; and Amanda Stoker, a barrister.
• Surf Coast councillor Libby Coker has again been preselected as Labor’s candidate for the Victorian seat of Corangamite, after winning a local party vote over Geelong businesswoman Diana Taylor by 116 votes to 39. Coker ran unsuccessfully in 2016 against Sarah Henderson, who gained the seat for the Liberals in 2013.
• Mehreen Faruqi, a state upper house member, was preselected to lead the Greens’ New South Wales ticket in late November, winning an online vote of party members by a margin variously identified as 1301 to 843, and 1032 to 742. The preselection took place against a backdrop of conflict between the more moderate environmentalist tendency associated with the parliamentary leadership and Rhiannon’s hard left base in New South Wales. Anne Davies of The Guardian observes that Rhiannon will face “intense pressure to step down early”, so Faruqi can fill her vacancy and raise her profile ahead of the election.
Labor has completed preselections for the brace of Liberal-held seats where it is now reckoned to be competitive in Western Australia, after the resurgence in its fortunes in the state – all of which have gone to women:
• Hannah Beazley, policy adviser to Mark McGowan and daughter of Kim Beazley, will run against Steve Irons in Swan, which her father held from 1980 to 1996 before seeking a safer refuge in Brand. Hannah Beazley ran unsuccessfully for the state seat of Riverton in 2013.
• Lauren Palmer of the Maritime Union of Australia has been selected to run against Ken Wyatt in Hasluck, winning out over the Left-backed Bill Leadbetter, a history lecturer who ran in the seat in 2016, and very briefly served in the state upper house earlier this year. This comes after the MUA threw its lot in with the now dominant Right (“Progressive Labor”) faction in pursuit of its oft-thwarted ambitions to establish a parliamentary power base, together with the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union.
• Decorated police superintendent and Left faction member Kim Travers has been chosen to run against newly anointed Attorney-General Christian Porter in Pearce. Sarah Martin of The West Australian reported Labor’s administrative committee knocked back a nomination from Ann O’Neill, a campaigner against domestic violence whose estranged husband shot her and murdered her two children in 1994, who had not been a party member for the required period and was not granted a waiver.
• A little further up the pendulum, Melita Markey, chief executive of the Asbestos Diseases Society, will run against Michael Keenan in Stirling, and Melissa Teede, former head of the Peel Development Commission, will run against Andrew Hastie in Canning.