Roughly six months out from a likely federal election, a gathering storm of preselection action. (Note also the thread below this one on the Victorian election campaign).
• Phillip Coorey of the Australian Financial Review reports Scott Morrison has sought to save Craig Kelly from a preselection defeat in Hughes, but that moderate backers of challenger Kent Johns are not to be deterred. According to a source identified as one of his conservative allies, Kelly “has been remiss in looking after his branches and would be lucky to have 25 per cent of the vote”. Quoth a moderate: “As far as the moderates are concerned, Malcolm Turnbull saved Concetta Fierravanti-Wells and Angus Taylor and Kelly last time, and look what they did to him.” Among the quandaries this raises are that Kelly may react to his defeat by moving to the cross-benches, further weakening the already shaky position of the government.
• There have been a few suggestions that Barnaby Joyce may fall foul of a new candidate-vetting process the Nationals have introduced, ostensibly to prevent further Section 44 mishaps. Figures in the party appear to have been putting it about that Joyce might face trouble due to the fear that even after the events of the past year, there remain “skeletons in the closet”. However, inquiries by Richard Ferguson of The Australian suggest that “a few members on the NSW Nationals’ 84-people-strong central council do plan to refuse to endorse Mr Joyce but they are in the minority”.
• David Johnston of the Border Mail reports nominees for a Liberal preselection vote for Indi, to be held on December 8, include Steve Martin, project manager for the Mars Petcare Wodonga plant expansion and Seeley International’s relocation from Albury to Wodonga, and Stephen Brooks, a local businessman. Another potential nominee is Greg Mirabella, husband of former member Sophie Mirabella. The seat’s independent member, Cathy McGowan, has not yet committed to seeking another term. The report also raises the possibility that Senator Bridget McKenzie, who is preparing to move her electorate office to Wodonga, might run for the Nationals.
• Christian Knight of the Nambucca Guardian reports the Nationals have preselected Patrick Conaghan, a local solicitor who was formerly a police officer and North Sydney councillor, to succeed the retiring Luke Hartsuyker in Cowper. The other candidates were Chris Genders, a newsagent; Jamie Harrison, former Port Macquarie-Hastings councillor and owner of an electrical business; and Judy Plunkett, a Port Macquarie pharmacist. Conaghan appears to have won over half the vote in the first round.
• Labor has recruited Brian Owler, neurosurgeon and former Australian Medical Association president, as its candidate for Bennelong. The party had initially preselected Lyndal Howison, communications manager at the Whitlam Institute and the party’s candidate in 2016, but she agreed to step aside for Owler.
• Gladys Liu, director of Blue Ribbon Consultancy, has been preselected as the Liberal candidate to succeed Julia Banks in Chisholm, having emerged “the clear winner in the field of eight candidates”, according to Liberal sources cited by Benjamin Preiss of The Age. Other candidates included Theo Zographos, a Monash councillor, and Litsa Pillios, an accountant. James Campbell of the Herald Sun reports Liu had backing from party president Michael Kroger and conservative powerbroker Michael Sukkar.
• David Alexander of the Pine Rivers Press reports the Liberal National Party has preselected local small businessman Terry Young as its candidate for Longman. The party recorded a portentously weak showing in the seat at the Super Saturday by-election on July 28, for which Young was an unsuccessful preselection candidate.