As we wait for the 2019 polling machine to get cranking, a review of recent happenings:
• Indigenous leader Warren Mundine is to be installed as the new Liberal candidate for the marginal seat of Gilmore in southern New South Wales, supplanting the existing candidate, Grant Schultz, by decree of the party’s state executive acting at the behest of the Prime Minister. Schultz promptly quit the Liberal Party when the news broke yesterday and announced he would run as an independent. Schultz’s dumping was also blasted by Shelley Hancock, member for the corresponding state seat of South Coast, who spoke of “one of the darkest days of the Liberal Party”. A local real estate agent and son of the late Alby Schultz, former member for Hume, Schultz was preparing a challenge to the preselection of incumbent Ann Sudmalis last year, and was the only remaining nominee after she announced her retirement in September. Mundine was national president of the ALP in 2006 and 2007, but quit the party in 2012 and moved ever further into the conservative orbit thereafter. It is expected the seat will be contested for the Nationals by Katrina Hodgkinson, former state member for Burrinjuck and Cootamundra.
• Following Kelly O’Dwyer’s retirement announcement on the weekend, it appears accepted within the Liberal Party that it needs to pick a woman to succeed her. Katie Allen, a paediatrician and medical researcher who ran unsuccessfully in Prahran at the November state election, has confirmed she will nominate. Michael Koziol of The Age reports other names being discussed include Caroline Elliott, state party vice-president and daughter of businessman John Elliott, and Margaret Fitzherbert, who lost her upper house seat for Southern Metropolitan region at the state election. Senator Jane Hume has reportedly encouraged to put her name forward, but announced yesterday she would not do so.
• Anne Webster, founder of young mother support organisation Zoe Support, was chosen as the Nationals candidate for Mallee at a local preselection vote on Saturday. Webster will succeed one-term member Andrew Broad, who announced his impending retirement last month after he became embroiled in the “sugar baby” affair. Rachel Baxendale of The Australian reports Webster won in the second round of voting over Birchip accountant and farmer Bernadette Hogan and Mildura police domestic violence taskforce head Paul Matheson, with three other candidates excluded in the first round.
• Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie has announced she will not contest the lower house seat of Indi, contrary to expectations she would do so if independent incumbent Cathy McGowan announced her retirement, which she did last weekend.
• Two notable independents have emerged to challenge Tony Abbott in Warringah: Alice Thompson, a KPMG manager who worked in the Prime Minister’s Office under Malcolm Turnbull, and Susan Moylan-Coombs, founder and director of indigenous advocacy organisation the Gaimaragal Group.