Midweek mélange

New fronts open in the Liberal Party’s internal warfare as it scrambles to prepare for an election looking increasingly to be in May.

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.

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.

1,977 comments on “Midweek mélange”

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  1. Pegasus

    Re Jobson Groethe. This bit sounds like today. GDP growth mainly coming from stuffing in more people and wage growth largely ‘not happening’.

    You can be employed in a growing economy and still be in miserable poverty, if growth comes from population, and rising costs leave wages behind. That was the plight of workers during the First Industrial Revolution.

  2. poroti

    Indeed. The insidious nature of appealing to aspirational voters which politicians of both major parties do, also has a lot to answer for.

  3. Howard actually convinced people he could keep interest rates low and when they were at 7-8%. What politician of the past ten years has had that sort of bullshit swallowed by the public?

  4. RD

    The Howard battlers who switched allegiance from Labor to the Coaition- What a masterstroke by Howard to gull people, particularly tradies, into getting ABNs and striking out as ununionised workers.

  5. The Howard battlers were an echo of the Reagan Democrats.

    The right can only win when they convince people to vote against their interests, as the people they actually represent make up only 10% of the voters.

  6. Pegasus

    particularly tradies, into getting ABNs and striking out as ununionised workers.

    Reforms under Hawke and Keating saw that trend re tradies . Took off in the construction industry. The tradies who had been working for the companies became subbies doing work for the construction company. They quickly showed their inner ‘grasperational’ selves. Especially those tradie subbies who employed some workers !

  7. How can this person sit when they don’t understand the penalties available?

    The children’s court has now overturned the decision of a magistrate who criticised restorative justice, then later in the same hearing asked: “But what is it?”

    The magistrate refused to consider the process when sentencing a young offender who was later described as “extraordinarily well suited” to it.

    “I’m not in great favour of this restorative justice. It’s all airy fairy, if you ask me,” the magistrate told the court in Rockhampton last year.

    “I’d rather that people be supervised and get to the root of the problem, because what’s happening here is, this young man’s running amok for some reason, and that needs to be addressed because he can’t afford to keep on running amok because he is going to be facing much more heavy penalties if he keeps doing it … Things are going to get worse for him, and may get worse for the community.”

    The magistrate then asked a representative from the department of youth justice, which had recommended the process, to explain it.


  8. The highest interest rate from 1982 onwards was under the Fraser government (when Mr Howard was treasurer), 21.4 per cent in April 1982.

  9. This made me laugh – a comment in the Brisbane Times re the discovery of Matthew Flinders’ remains.

    40 minutes ago
    Meanwhile, Scott Morrison has claimed credit for the discovery. It was the sound of Flinders rolling in his grave after ScoMo claimed that Cook circumnavigated Australia first, that led researchers to the grave.

  10. Upnorth @ #1809 Friday, January 25th, 2019 – 7:08 pm

    This made me laugh – a comment in the Brisbane Times re the discovery of Matthew Flinders’ remains.

    40 minutes ago
    Meanwhile, Scott Morrison has claimed credit for the discovery. It was the sound of Flinders rolling in his grave after ScoMo claimed that Cook circumnavigated Australia first, that led researchers to the grave.

    So, is ScoMo going to fund a re-enactment of Flinders discovering Australia?

  11. Murdoch seems to get an awful lot of ‘private’ or ‘confidential’ information from the Federal Treasury, most of it critical of Labor. Amazing!

    ALP sparks property warning
    Australia’s top business leaders have privately warned Treasury investors are retreating due to “uncertainty” about Labor’s tax policy.

  12. citizen

    Murdoch seems to get an awful lot of ‘private’ or ‘confidential’ information from the Federal Treasury,

    And some of the reported ‘information’ might actually have come from the source claimed 😉

  13. And there ends the AOTY awards for 2019. My friend didn’t win in her category, but I was so pleased to see the Young Australian of the Year winner, such a star. And one of the winners of AOTY tripped walking up to the stage which had me wondering how Kurt Fearnly would’ve gotten there had he been the winner.

    ScoMo had his smug grin pasted throughout the presentations. He really does need to work on that in my view.

  14. Yesterday’s temp here of 17 was our coldest day since 1989. Amazing considering the heat records breaking on the other side of the country.

  15. The Australian of the year committee seems to have broken with the idea that winners are awarded for a life time of service to the community.
    It’s getting to be a bit too popularist

  16. The SmearStralian has a Higgins poll, can’t get it into it via Outline. But it appears to be the one reported here in the last few days

    Higgins in Labor’s grasp: poll
    2019 Australian Open – Day 11
    The ALP would win Kelly O’Dwyer’s blue ribbon Liberal seat if an election were held now, according to a poll by Costello backers.

  17. “It’s getting to be a bit too popularist”

    I take you point, but nah……… i reckon in this case well deserved. I have done serious zero vis diving in relatively open conditions. That’s hard enough when you have a job to do and are getting paid for it. What these guys did and where? Very serious and risky stuff that they made significant contributions to the planning as well as the execution of.

    Only one casualty over the event? Amazing stuff. they stepped up and just did the business very well.

  18. The Australian of the year committee seems to have broken with the idea that winners are awarded for a life time of service to the community.

    Well I watched the ceremony and all the nominees in all categories were worthy of nomination in my view. From what was said about the divers they went above and beyond what could reasonably be expected from two guys who dive for a hobby.

  19. Sprocket

    Here ya go

    “Higgins in Labor’s grasp: poll
    JANUARY 25, 2019
    Labor would win the once blue ribbon Liberal seat of Higgins if an election were held now, according to a poll of almost 860 residents conducted on Thursday night.

  20. @ Sprocket and poroti

    Thanks for the Higgins good new guys – no wonder she is bailing out. Panic and fear will start to infect the Tories even more than current.

  21. I worked for the AEC at the 2016 election. I got the call up to work about 6 weeks before election day. I was 2IC on a large booth in suburban Adelaide.

    Today, I got a call from the AEC checking my willingness to work at the next election. I said YES, of course, but it did get me thinking about timings …

  22. mikehilliard:

    [‘The highest interest rate from 1982 onwards was under the Fraser government (when Mr Howard was treasurer), 21.4 per cent in April 1982.’]

    Indeed they were, but the yield from a term deposit was circa 13% – now the best you can get is around 2.75%. I loved the old days.

  23. The poll, conducted by ReachTEL subsidiary UComms, shows Labor ahead 52-48 two-party-preferred in the seat soon to be vacated by Jobs and Industrial Relations Minister Kelly O’Dwyer, based on 2016 preference flows.

    The Liberal Party’s primary is at 36.9 per cent, compared with 24.8 per cent for Labor, 17.7 per cent for the Greens, 8.4 per cent undecided, 7.1 per cent for “a minor party” and 5.1 per cent for “an independent”.

    No Two-Party-Preferred calculation was done for the Greens, who arguably stand a stronger chance, having fared better than Labor with 42 per cent two-party-preferred in 2016.


  24. Rex Douglas:

    [‘Howard was a master at selling aspiration to his dreaming battlers. Insidious is a good description.’]

    One post critical of the Tories doth not a true believer make.

  25. Morrison changed the parliamentary sitting times so that the Budget could be brought down early, and said this was happening so he could call an election soon afterwards. The AEC would have to take that at least a little seriously.

  26. Still chance for a Costello souffle to rise, esp if they make him leader from outside parliament? If those undecideds shifted into the ‘yes’ column it’d be neck and neck.

    Rachel BaxendaleVerified account@rachelbaxendale
    2m2 minutes ago
    25.7% of Higgins voters said Peter Costello was “the only Liberal who could lead the Liberal Party to success at the next federal election”, compared with 49.3% who disagreed, and 24.9% who were unsure or didn’t know #auspol

  27. Its very hard seeing this mob in power in Canberra willingly presenting themselves for a complete shellacking on either the 9th or 16th of March!
    The NSW election is on the 23rd of March.

  28. Laura Tingle has a new piece, on election tactics..

    Laura Tingle
    By Laura Tingle
    Updated 25 Jan 2019 — 4:09 PM,

    “Three days after calling the 2013 election, Kevin Rudd unveiled what was supposed to be one of the killer blows of the campaign that had begun a few weeks after he was returned to the prime ministership in late June.

    On August 7, it was announced that former Queensland premier Peter Beattie would be parachuted in to contest the Brisbane seat of Forde for Labor.

    It was a truly cunning plan, in the best Blackadder tradition, to capitalise on Beattie’s high recognition factor in the Sunshine State.”

    I think you can guess where she’s going…


  29. Has there ever been a more cringe-worthy television event than tonight’s Australian of the Year awards. Who on earth came up with this concept of a televised Academy Awards for worthy Australians with Scott Morrison opening the envelopes. Oh, I forgot. It’s run by the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

    The Australians who were honored obviously should be recognized as role models. But this kind of Hollywood-inspired hype cheapens and takes attention away from the more deserving Order of Australia awards. It demeans the participants, who all deserve the accolades they earned, by subjecting them to a phony competition. It encourages the worship of celebrity rather than achievement. And it costs a huge amount of taxpayer dollars that could better be spent on things that matter. Somebody should ask the ABC and the Prime Minister’s office what the budget for this spectacle was.

    In many cases the nominees have already been recognized and awarded with Order of Australia gongs or other accolades.

    The idea that nominees from the Northern Territory or the ACT should have to compete against New South Wales and Victoria, for example, is ludicrous. Rather than uniting Australians, this sets up a winners and losers situation. How can these worthy endeavours be judged like an event in the Olympics. The selection of the courageous Thai cave divers was more or less preordained, but overshadows many less sensational but equally worthy subjects.

    Such an event honoring our best and brightest would be more meaningful covering the Order of Australia inductees without the phony competition. Too often, worthy recipients of the Order of Australia are not adequately covered by the media who focus on celebrities or sporting and political figures.

    The Order of Australia itself has come under justifiable criticism for a gender imbalance and the idea that people are being recognized for just doing their day jobs. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-01-25/order-of-australia-award-for-doing-your-job/10746294 The bloated awards list itself, with four categories, suggests that sooner or later every Australian will have one.

    One analysis showed that the higher the nominee’s status, the higher the award. It revealed that those at the lower levels did more in voluntary service than those at the higher levels. The list includes scores of these Australians who have made valuable contributions in their local community. However, these people should be recognized with state awards.

    The Order of Australia should be confined to those who have made a contribution at the national and international level, beyond what would have been expected of them. The citations should explain explicitly why they are being honored instead of the current generalities. Politicians and senior public servants should be included only for services beyond their political or administrative roles.

  30. fess

    Maybe if the question hadn’t been so stupid, they’d have got a more meaningful response.

    What if I thought PC was OK but not the Messiah?

    Or did he commission the polling himself, and will only consider running if The Australian People beg him to?

  31. Confessions

    There must be some strong whispers going on about Costello, what with those those polls being done and PvO’s ‘out there’ articles about the second rise of the saviour Souffle.

  32. A win in Higgins is I think a bridge too far. However, with even a wisp of a chance is sufficient to send the Tories into a tail-spin, shoring up previously safe seats, where under normal circumstances they would concentrate their resources on marginals.

  33. zoomster:

    The questions were shite as was mentioned the other night.

    But parachuting Costello into the seat has apparently been discussed by Victorian Liberals in the past. I think it speaks volumes about the state of the party that he is the answer to their leadership woes.

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