Super Saturday: July 28

More than nine weeks to go until Super Saturday, following today’s surprise announcement by Speaker Tony Smith.

Speaker Tony Smith today surprised all comers by indicating the Super Saturday by-elections will not be held until July 28. The Australian Electoral Commission has reportedly asked for a delay to allow it to introduce a new system for candidates to prove they are not dual citizens – the substance of which is being facilitated by new regulations, which can be viewed here. However, it is not clear the delay needs to be quite that long, with school holidays invoked as another reason. Labor believes the government wants this date because it clashes with Labor’s national conference that weekend. In a committee hearing earlier today, Senator Penny Wong suggested to Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers that the commission’s advice “looks partisan”. Links to my newly updated guides for each of the by-elections can be found on the sidebar.

Other relevant developments:

• The decision by the WA Liberal Party’s state executive to sit out the Perth by-election will be challenged by Senator Dean Smith at a meeting of the party’s state council on Saturday. Jim Grayden, whose father Bill Grayden was a veteran member for South Perth (state) and Swan (federal) as both a Liberal and an independent, will run as an independent liberal.

• The Liberal National Party’s candidate in Longman will be Trevor Ruthenberg, who held the state seat of Kallangur from 2012 to 2015 and is now chief executive of the Mosaic Property Group’s philanthropic foundation. Ruthenberg reportedly had a convincing win in the preselection vote over Jason Snow, disability support worker and candidate for Morayfield at the state election, and a local businessman.

• Ladbrokes has shortened the odds on a Liberal win in Mayo, bringing Georgina Downer in from $1.57 to $1.36, while Rebekha Sharkie is out from $2.37 to $2.75.

Then there’s the state by-election for Darling Range on June 23, my thread for which the other day found few takers. Labor’s newly anointed candidate, Colleen Yates, is off to a bad start, with claims she exaggerated her educational qualifications on her LinkedIn page reminding voters of the circumstances that brought the by-election about.

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.

43 comments on “Super Saturday: July 28”

  1. The date is a clear sign of desperation and a worrying suspected influence of this Government on the Electoral Commission. Burke couldn’t put it like that in Parliament for obvious reasons, but I can and the Australian people can too… The anti-Democratic trickiness of this Turnbull mob is getting completely out of hand. The sooner they are booted out, the better for our Democracy.

    The ALP should change the date of their conference and trash the Coalition at the by-elections, including helping defeat Georgina Downer in Mayo whose major “merit” is just being the daughter of Alexander and a member of IPA.

  2. The date is set to clash with the weekend of ALP national conference. AEC, arguably independent and impartial institution, has been reportedly used to get political advatage for LNP. Another public organisation is used by this government for political purposes.

  3. Senator Murray Watt asked Senator Matthias Cormann whether he could guarantee that one of Senator Cormann’s Western Australian colleagues was not going to resign before the date of these by-elections, triggering a further by-election.

    Senator Cormann professed not to know what Senator Watts was talking about.

    It was a peculiar question.

  4. Rewi, From Guardian Blog:

    There has been some chatter that Ken Wyatt was planning on resigning (which would spark another byelection in WA, this time in the Liberal seat of Hasluck)

    Apparently not, though:

  5. @Pegasus

    Any reason given why Ken Wyatt wanted resign from parliament?

    If these rumors are true then he will retire at the election.

  6. My guess is that Wyatt feels hopelessly compromised by the Coalition’s approach to Indigenous Affairs.

    If he doesn’t, he should.

  7. Liberals will almost definitely win Longman. Wyatt Roy was massively unpopular there in the last election and that cost them a lot of votes.

  8. Labor attacking the AEC does not come across well at all. They had months to sort out their own houses citizenship, Shorten said categorically none of his MP’s held duel citizenship and when it all blows up you blame the AEC, who is obviously non partisan.

  9. The Super Saturday date is well chosen. It keeps Turnbull’s options open. He can call a general election with a half Senate sometime before the by-elections if he thinks he’s likely to win. (the by-
    elections then would NOT take place).

    Conversely, the by-elections would (if held) give him a guide if he feels unsure.

    The ALP are certainly NOT favorites to win Longman this time (no Roy and unlikely to get ON preferences like last time).

    Downer will be very likely to win Mayo. The “new” NXT is nowhere near as popular and Briggs isn’t standing !

    Braddon in Tasmania is no certainty either.

    Only the two Perth seats (no LNP) are ALP certainties. If the LNP won 3 out of 5 by-elections it may well be a December general election.

    However, personally I think he’ll give it a go in August (if the polls keep running for him). He knows the media and the campaign are always good for a 1 or 2 % swing back to the LNP. The next 2 months will be very interesting (especially watching the opinion polls).

  10. Patrick

    You are full of shit the LNP will not win Longman Braddon Mayo as people don’t like Turnbull and they are on the nose with voters

  11. People like Turnbull a whole lot more than Shorten – it’s the one fact that keeps haunting the ALP.
    The ALP have long been woeful at picking leaders – mainly due to factional influences etc. The last really popular leader they had was Rudd and it only took a few years to screw that up.
    With everything the coalition have been through, it’s a miracle they are on the verge of drawing level. Tony Abbott has been trying to screw them over and even he is no match for Shortens unpopularity.

  12. Patrick

    You are in dream land the government as never won a by election from the opposition since 1901 and Malcolm Turnbull wanted to be a labor senator before he was elected member for Wentworth and joined the LNP

  13. Patrick

    You are in dream land the government as never won a by election from the opposition since 1901 and Malcolm Turnbull wanted to be a labor senator before he was elected member for Wentworth and joined the LNP

  14. I think it would be ideal if the conference date could be moved forward 1 week, rather than back, or left where it is.
    There is likely some policy dramas in the leadup to the conference, as factions set the scenes, and during the conference there is debate promoting more extreme views, but after the conference there should be consensus and solidarity.
    The conference could be a useful media platform to push labors broader vision for society to those electorates.

    Also i wonder if Turnbull delayed it because he wanted by-elections closer to a possible normal election date, which is 1 week later on 4th August. If he gets a good result, he might pull the trigger with minimal notice.

  15. A nine week delay on top of the delay from their resignation till now? What is the historical norm for bi-election timing? This smacks of the government hanging onto its extra majority for as long as possible.

  16. New England by-election took 36 days from Joyce’s ineligibility. Bennelong was 33 days after Alexander resigned. Batman was 44 days after Feeney resigned as the writ was delayed by six days.

    Super Saturday will be 80 days after the resignations of the four MPs.

    Excellent move for the government.

  17. The AEC might be at arm’s length from the government of the day, but they also take “advice” regarding the timing of elections. After all, it’s the PM who calls a general election for a certain date … why should by-elections be any different?

    Turnbull and others have been arguing that the timing was about avoiding the school holidays. But if you listen carefully to they way he and others worded it, seemed to suggest they DID have input into the date, and the Commission took their advice.

    Which, again, leads back to the issue of choosing a date when they would have known the ALP was having its National Conference.

    Has anyone asked them what was wrong about June 23 that it couldn’t have been done then? There would have been plenty of time if they had acted as soon as the High Court handed down its decision.

    Why the delay? I would suggest that it was:

    1) to string things out as long as possible; and
    2) to call it for the same day as the ALP National Conference.

    I can just imagine them sniggering at the brilliance of the suggestion.

    Oh, and my money’s on it being Christopher Pyne’s idea …

  18. I am assuming that the challenge by Dean Smith concerning the state Liberal council’s decision not to contest the by-election is not successful. In the event, with Jim Grayden running as an Independent Liberal how would it affect the result of the Perth by-election?

    Anyway the decision to have the by-election during the ALP national conference strikes me to as a desperate move. The government must be thinking they are going to lose all of by-elections (expect maybe Mayo) and there will be a sizable swing against the Coalition.

  19. The anti-Democratic trickiness of this Turnbull mob is getting completely out of hand. The sooner they are booted out, the better for our Democracy.

    When will the pubic realize this LNP Government uses the Machiavellian Hand book consistently!.

  20. Shellbell

    I thought Wong’s atrack on the AEC was tendentious and hollow.

    I think the case for July 28 is flimsy and unconvincing (school holidays ffs!) when balanced against the fact that it will leave 4 electorates without representation for a couple of months. There is also the small issue of picking a date that coincides with the ALP National Conference. If Rogers doesn’t resign after the next election he should be pushed.

  21. All the AEC did was give the Government the excuse to hold the elections when they chose.

    They AEC obviously want time to publicise and implement the new procedures but as we know from Wong’s questioning they could hold a full election in 3 weeks time if required.

    They also listed possible objections to holding them on a certain date ignoring the fact of the Labor Conference as being one.

    It was the Speaker, really the Government, that chose to accept everyone of those possible objections despite history showing that many of them were not a barrier.

  22. BIGD

    It was the Speaker, really the Government, that chose to accept everyone of those possible objections despite history showing that many of them were not a barrier.

    It was the AEC that named July 28 as the optimal date thus giving the Government decision a fig-leaf of credibility.

  23. Jolyon Wagg @ #29 Friday, May 25th, 2018 – 9:42 am

    BIGD

    It was the Speaker, really the Government, that chose to accept everyone of those possible objections despite history showing that many of them were not a barrier.

    It was the AEC that named July 28 as the optimal date thus giving the Government decision a fig-leaf of credibility.

    Yes, it was optimal as it was the first date that had no possible objections after saying it would like a certain period of time to nut in the changes.

    The Government decided on the date and trying to lay blame on the AEC discounts the tenuous reasons for the date chosen.

  24. Karen Middleton on the Drum tonight opined that Turnbull et al would be keeping the option open to call a general election and cancelling the by-elections.

  25. Not quite Lee
    A government has won one by-election from an opposition
    Billy Hughes won Kalgoolie from Labor in 1920 in truly extraordinary circumstances
    The by-election was caused by Hugh Mahon being expelled from the HOR for sedition after he made an inflammatory speech referring to the Empire as a “bloody and accursed despotism”. He was referring to the death on hunger strike of the gaoled Sinn Fein lord mayor of Cork, Terence McSwiney

    I think the number of wins will at least double after super Saturday

  26. “People like Turnbull a whole lot more than Shorten – it’s the one fact that keeps haunting the ALP”….. The voters like Turnbull so much that they want to send him and his party to opposition and dislike Shorten so much that they want make him PM at the head of the winning ALP…. That’s what the opinion polls and betting agencies are saying.
    Any comment?

  27. Richo gives a swingeing condemnation of the by-election date decision in The Oz today:

    ‘…
    The timing of the announcement was absolutely crazy. Senate Estimates Committees were in session so Labor Senate Leader, Penny Wong, was able to summon the AEC representatives back to explain their recommendation of the date. Rogers took great umbrage that his independence was being questioned. For a bloke who has risen through the ranks and is paid $533,690 per year he looked a tad ridiculous. You would have to assume he was bright enough to work out that his proposed date would cause problems for Labor. His proposal looked awful and reeked of a putrid odour. You can’t make a decision as he did and not expect blow back.

    Whatever respect or grudging admiration the Opposition may have felt for Smith is now lost forever. Question Time will no doubt see Labor testing him and highlighting his bias much more often. He should be considering whether this tricky, too-smart-by-half performance was really worthwhile. If the main reason for the downright obscene delay (it will be almost three months from the High Court decision to the holding of these by-elections) was to give the AEC time to draft a questionnaire that would be an effective guide to determining dual citizenship then again it was a total failure. The acknowledged expert on constitutional law, George Williams wrote in this newspaper on Monday that the AEC proposal was ineffective because it failed to ask all the questions which needed to be answered.

    Then once again we see the complete lack of political intelligence of the PM. If Malcolm Turnbull really thought he would throw a spanner into Labor’s works by wrecking their Federal Conference, he made not one but two critical mistakes. Firstly, within minutes of the announcement, Bill Shorten had spoken to the State Secretaries and senior colleagues and everyone was in agreement about postponing the conference. Secondly, Turnbull needed the conference to go ahead because those would have been debates about contentious issues like bringing those poor souls stuck on Manus Island or Nauru on shore and changing the date of Australia Day.

    No matter how the decisions would have gone, there would have been plenty of grist for the Coalition mill. It could have been political gold for the Prime Minister but therein lies the governments problem.

    There is so much that Turnbull could have or should have done and so little he ever did.’

    https://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/speaker-tony-smiths-byelection-timing-is-crazy/news-story/3cead7d71d7111a27fdcf3636b96204c

  28. thanks Boerwar for the post.
    For me the summary is Turnbull trying to be clever – again, and not thinking through the implications.

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