By-elections, preselections and Section 44

A round-up of the latest news on by-election and related fronts.

A little extra polling:

• The Australian on Tuesday provided an extra finding from the weekend Newspoll: that opposition to reforming Section 44 has hardened since August, when Barnaby Joyce’s difficulty first emerged. Fifty-one per cent now believe dual citizens should be disqualified from parliament, up seven, with 38% opposed, down five. Forty-six per cent opposed a referendum being held on the matter, with 43% in support.

By-election latest:

• Western Australia’s Darling Range state by-election will be held on June 23. Nathan Hondros of Fairfax reports the Liberal preselection, which will be determined by the party’s state council on Saturday, will be contested by Alyssa Hayden, who unexpectedly lost her upper house seat for East Metropolitan region to One Nation in 2017, and Rob Coales, a police sergeant and Serpentine-Jarrahdale councillor. The early mail was that Coales was favourite, but according to Hondros, it is “understood party powerbrokers are supporting Ms Hayden”.

David Crowe of Fairfax reports the date for the Super Saturday by-elections could be pushed back to July 7, as the government looks at an Australian Electoral Commission recommendation to implement an online tool for candidates to lodge declarations and supporting documentation, so as to avoid further issues arising from Section 44. This had caused initial plans for a date of June 16 to be scotched, although concerns linger about the electoral impact of an eight-week campaign.

• Speaking of, Michael McKenna of The Australian reports the Liberal National Party preselection for Longman is being held off until next Tuesday to ensure frontrunner Trevor Ruthenberg was able to clear up his own Section 44 issue, arising from his being born in Papua New Guinea.

• Georgia Downer has emerged unopposed for Liberal preselection in Mayo. The Australian reports “ambitious conservative” Michael van Dissel was another potential nominee, but withdrew as it became clear the Right was solid behind Downer. In contrast to the Liberals in WA, Labor will be contested Mayo, despite never having held hte saet before. A Labor source quoted by Philip Coorey said the party believed its preferences could assist Rebekha Sharkie, and that failing to run would suppress the party’s Senate vote at the next election.

• Braddon will again be contested for the Liberals by Brett Whiteley, who held the seat from 2013 until his defeat by Labor’s Justine Keay in 2016, and served in the state seat of Braddon from 2002 until his defeat in 2010. The Burnie Advocate reports former McDonald’s licensee Craig Brakey and Wynyard RSL president Gavin Pearce also contested the state executive vote, but Whiteley was chosen unanimously.

• The Western Australian Liberals’ decision to forfeit the Perth by-election, said to have been instigated by Matthias Cormann, has been widely criticised in the party. Following Tim Hammond’s resignation announcement on May 1, Christian Porter told Sky News Australia the party would “undoubtedly” run, and state Opposition Leader Mike Nahan, who had mocked Labor’s unsurprising decision not to field a candidate in the recent by-election for Colin Barnett’s old seat of Cottesloe, said the by-election was “one we need to contest”.

• The Western Australian Greens have announced their by-elections candidates: Caroline Perks, senior sustainability officer at the City of Perth, in Perth; and Dorinda Cox, domestic violence campaigner and former police officer, in Fremantle.

Other preselection news:

• Jane Prentice’s preselection defeat in her Brisbane seat of Ryan has roused controversy over the lack of gender balance in the Coalition. The winner was Julian Simmonds, a Brisbane councillor who once worked on Prentice’s staff when she herself was on council. Simmons, who is identified with the Right, won a local party ballot by 256 votes to 103 over Prentice, a moderate and early backer of Malcolm Turnbull. Charlie Peel of The Australian reports the vote was “roughly split along traditional party lines, with Nationals backing Ms Prentice”. Critics of the decision include Campbell Newman, Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch and Capricornia MP Michelle Landry.

Jared Owens of The Australian reports Ian Macdonald and Barry O’Sullivan, who respectively hold Queensland Senate seats for the Liberals and the Nationals, face preselection challenges from Scott Emerson, the former state Shadow Treasurer who lost his seat of Maiwar to the Greens last November, and Susan McDonald, managing director of a chain of butcher’s shops and a member of “one of Queensland’s grazing families”.

• Michael Owen of The Australian reports on a “strong challenge” for Liberal Senate preselection in South Australia from Alex Antic, an Adelaide councillor. This apparently poses a threat to another female Liberal MP, Anne Ruston, who might otherwise be expected to lead the ticket, but not to the mooted number two candidate, David Fawcett. It might also endanger Lucy Gichuhi’s hold on number three, long shot proposition though that may be.

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.

1,071 comments on “By-elections, preselections and Section 44”

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  1. Indeed the term “special needs” has bern coopted for derogatory uses – “a little bit special” for example.

  2. American culture summed up:

    2 people die from an Islamic terrorist attack – “WE MUST BAN MUSLIMS. ISLAM IS EVIL!”
    12+ children die in a school shooting 2 or 3 times in a year – “Nothing we can do. Guns aren’t the problem”.

  3. Zoomster

    There was a much more robust press in 1965. There was much less surveillance.

    I think it part it was an attitude and sense of courage to speak out

  4. I’m sick of these posters that say, “Have you seen this dog?” with a telephone number underneath.

    It’s costing me a fortune to ring them and say, “No, I haven’t.”

  5. If I thought one place would be safe from the news from the UK it would be here.

    No wonder we’re not a bloody republic!!!!!!!

    You can’t expect to wield supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at you.

  6. Well, that was quick! A quick nosh and a naughty and it’ll be little coffee colored bubs to bring an upturned lip to QE2’s face.

    Oh, the democracy…

  7. I think there’s a hidden group of victims of all these shootings, whose suffering might not be in the public domain but is nevertheless very real. That group is, of course, kidnappers.

    I mean, imagine you’re a professional kidnapper, and your latest captive lies bound and gagged on your cellar floor. You aim to produce a video which demonstrates proof of life for the benefit of those from whom you intend to extort ransom. You position a camera before said captive, and unveil the latest headlines from the newspaper of your choice.

    The headline reads, “Mass Shooting At US School”.

    And you realise, “Oh freak! That doesn’t narrow things down at all. That could be any day for the last umpteen decades. I’m stuffed!”

    See what I mean? Please send your thoughts and prayers and, preferably, money to these poor suffereng business people who are striving to make a meagre living in uncertain economic times.

  8. A R says:
    Saturday, May 19, 2018 at 8:03 pm
    Australia is not going to be given back to the original inhabitants. The Australian aborigines lost the war, the Europeans won it.

    To the winners go the spoils.

    ‘Twas ever thus.


    As moral/ethical justifications go, that one’s about a weak as they come.


    Morals and ethics usually play little if any part in wars of conquest.

    And my statement remains true.

    To the winners go the spoils.

  9. C@tmomma says:
    Saturday, May 19, 2018 at 7:42 pm

    I haven’t shed one tear for the innocents who lost their lives in Texas today. Nor will I. Doesn’t mean I can’t express my sympathy for the senseless loss of life there today. You can’t seem to make that distinction.

    Thoughts and prays- good on you- just want the NRA has asked for.

  10. Tom the first and best @ #1039 Saturday, May 19th, 2018 – 10:06 pm

    Even with more guns than before the post-Port Arthur buybacks, we still have 4 very important things from the buybacks and other restrictions.

    We have fewer guns than we would have without the buybacks.

    The guns are owned buy fewer, more tightly controlled, people (a person can only shoot one or (with reduced aiming capacity) two guns at once).

    The guns are more safely stored.

    Fewer of the guns are semi-automatic and/or have high capacity detachable magazines, restricting their massacre capacity.

    Yes, and now for some strange reason, since all this has taken place every policeperson in the country now wears a gun on their hip.

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