Sturtin’ over

As Liberal MPs stampede for the exit, some detail on a number of looming preselections.

We may not get a new federal poll this week, with the fortnightly Newspoll and Essential Research having reported last week, and the monthly Ipsos doing so the week before. However, two further Liberal resignations (with widespread suggestions Craig Laundy will shortly follow in Reid) are keeping the preselection news treadmill rolling:

• Christopher Pyne’s departure announcements opens a vacancy in the eastern Adelaide seat of Sturt, which he has held since 1993, when he was 25. However, the loss of his personal vote may damage the Liberals’ chances of defending the seat’s 5.4% post-redistribution margin, with Phillip Coorey of the Financial Review reporting a “senior South Australian Liberal” saying the party was in “big trouble” in the seat. Luke Griffiths of The Australian cites “multiple Liberal sources” as saying the preselection is “almost certain” to go to James Stevens, the chief-of-staff to Premier Steven Marshall, who is aligned with Pyne’s moderate faction and has his personal support. However, Pyne’s own former chief-of-staff, Adam Howard, is “considered an outside chance”, and there “might be a push by branch members to preselect a female candidate”.

• The Gold Coast seat of Moncrieff will be vacated by the retirement of Steve Ciobo, who came to the seat in 2001 at the age of 27. The aforesaid report in The Australian identifies four potential nominees: Karly Abbott, a staffer to Ciobo and the reputed front-runner; John-Paul Langbroek, who holds the state seat of Surfers Paradise and served as Opposition Leader from 2009 to 2011; Tim Rawlings, former chief-of-staff to Tracy Davis, then a minister in Campbell Newman’s government; and Bibe Roadley, managing director of a training company.


The West Australian reports five nominees for preselection in Curtin: Celia Hammond, until recently the vice-chancellor of Notre Dame University, whom media reports suggest is the front-runner; Erin Watson-Lynn, director of Asialink Diplomacy at the University of Melbourne, who is said to have backing from Julie Bishop; Anna Dartnell, an executive for resources company Aurizon; Karen Caddy, Stirling councillor and management consultant for BusinX Consulting; and the sole male candidate, Andres Timmermanis, Cambridge councillor and manager for IT firm Scantek Solutions, who has been mentioned in relation to a number of western suburbs preselections over the years.

• The Saturday Paper reports a uComms poll conducted for UnionsACT on January 23 suggested ACT Liberal Senator Zed Seselja was in danger of losing his seat to an independent or the Greens. The polling is said to show Liberal support at 22.4%, down from 33.2% at the 2016 election and 24.2% in a poll conducted in October; Labor on 33.1%, down from 37.9% in 2016 and 39.3% in the October; the Greens on 19.9%, up from 16.1% in 2016 and 17.0% in October; and independent/other on 17.7%, up from 12.7% in 2016 and 13.9% in October. This leaves 6.9% undecided in the January poll, and 5.6% in the October poll. Seselja is also credited with an approval rating of just 29%, compared with 59% disapproval. Anthony Pesec, “local businessman, former investment banker and renewable energy developer”, announced last week he would run as an independent. Were Seselja to lose, it would be the first time in either of the two territories that the two Senate seats did not split between the two major parties.

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.

2,872 comments on “Sturtin’ over”

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  1. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.

    Jacqui Maley reveals that Australia’s surveillance of single mothers on ParentsNext payments would make George Orwell twitch.
    Noel Whittaker looks at Labor’s housing policy and concludes that the certainties are that Australia’s population will keep growing, property will stay out of reach for many renters and builders won’t build to sell at a loss.
    Michelle Grattan uses the fleeing ministers to illustrate the problem the government is facing.
    And Judith Ireland examines the Liberals’ “women problem”.
    Peter FitzSimons declares that doubters’ outcry over the Pell verdict disrespectful to our jury, legal system.
    Julie Szego wonders how former prime ministers Howard and Abbott reconcile their loyalty to Pell with the shocking crimes he’s been found guilty of?
    Andrew Bolt has for a long time been George Pell’s staunchest supporter, among a large group of acolytes in the media ranks. But his decision to back the cardinal after he was convicted of child sexual abuse this week has cost his employer dearly, both in ad dollars and reputation.
    Ian Warden poses the question, “If George Pell really does go to hell (hecklers outside Victoria’s County Court forecast that he was going there, to “rot” or to “burn” or perhaps to do both) what will he find there?”
    Alan Austin reports that the Coalition has just doubled all government debt accumulated since Federation. In under six years.
    The SMH editorial calls for more action on the scourge of youth suicide.
    An old press secretary of Tony Abbott’s writes, “One mob that comes close to politicians’ poor ranking on trust is big business. Which is why it was extraordinary to see the Business Council of Australia’s chief executive Jennifer Westacott’s blunt attack on the current state of politics.”
    The national mean temperature for summer smashed the 1961-1990 average by a whopping 2.14 °C, almost a full degree above the previous hottest summer on record (2012-2013), which was 1.28 degrees above the old average. Over to you Craig Kelly!
    Walter Shapiro writes that Trump is a national security risk yet still Republicans back him.
    I think this couple qualify for nomination for “Arseholes of the Week”!

    Cartoon Corner

    From Matt Golding.

    And Mark David has a couple for us.

    Zanetti farewells The Fixer.

    As does Rocco Fazzari.

    John Shakespeare and Morrison’s double act.

    What a cracker from Glen Le Lievre!

    Jon Kudelka and Morrison’s deserters.

    And he looks at loan approvals post royal commission.

    From the US.

  2. Thanks BK for the Dawn Patrol.

    The sheer bastardry involved in the first item is hard for me to comprehend. What drives well off sleekit mongrels to do this ❓

    Jacqui Maley reveals that Australia’s surveillance of single mothers on ParentsNext payments would make George Orwell twitch.

    Great cartoons and enough intrigue and mystery to keep me occupied for quite a while. 😍😍😍

  3. This could start a civil war but is Michelle Grattan from Victoria? I know it’s in consequential but the linked article by BK is headed by a reference to “hay-band”.
    I work with a chap who hails from Shepparton and I’m always chipping him about calling baling-twine, hay-band! Totally incorrigible he is, and those ‘Mexicans’ say lots of other strange stuff too!

  4. Double the debt
    From Alan Austin (BKs dawn patrol)

    …The Coalition did this in just three years and seven months. During a period of robust global recovery. No pressing need for economic stimulus. And no infrastructure investment or other benefits to show for it.

    There was no excuse for this. Revenue plummeted since 2013 as the Government allowed tax evasion to escalate. The total of the debt accumulated is close to estimates of the total corporate tax uncollected…

    Best economic managers? Pfft

  5. For those who missed this last night, the Resurection of Saint Julie or a reigniting of the disunity which has been a hallmark of the ATM period.

    Whilst PyneO is still in Parliament, he should be asked daily why he ratted on Julie, and then scuttled off like a cockroach leaving the party with a clown as PM.

  6. If Zed is really only getting 22% in primary vote, he is in trouble. I suspect the figures are a little undercooked as even the Labor vote is low.

  7. Interesting read for The Greens:
    “To be honest, when I started my research I was surprised to find that this relationship exists between environmental regulations and fossil fuel plants being built,” Severnini said. “These rules appear to have encouraged utilities to build dirtier plants.”

    Why is this happening? The laws that greens successfully pushed back in the dam-busting heyday were concerned with saving unique places and wildlife. The climate wasn’t a consideration.

  8. @BK
    Your articles and cartoons in todays blog create yet another chapter to be included in The Decline and Fall of the Liberal Empire. Cartoon pick of the Day-Kudelka. Priceless!

  9. Zoomster, Terry would appreciate being called an aberration, but I must admit he’s not the first Victorian I’ve heard say hay-band.

  10. A middle of the road Insiders panel.

    Insiders ABCVerified account@InsidersABC
    41m41 minutes ago
    Coming up at 9am on #Insiders, @barriecassidy interviews Energy Minister @AngusTaylorMP + @mpbowers talks pics with satirist @markhumphries. On the couch are political journalist @KarenMMiddleton, #7News’ @Riley7News & @RNBreakfast’s @frankelly08.

  11. Dog’s

    I’m an incurable googler – lots of references to baling twine and baler twine. The only one referring to hayband says it’s what you get when you twist hay together to make a rope.

    Not suggesting you’re making it up, just trying to see if there’s a Thing.

  12. Morning all. Thanks BK for the roundup. ScumMo wants to turn this from a climate change election into one about non-existent boats. Yet his economic record should also be under scrutiny and it is not good, especially considering he was previously treasurer.

    ScumMo has achieved the unique combination of both doubling Australia’s debt (faster than in the stimulus under Labor) and yet household real incomes are falling. We would criticise Greece for this.

    The debt

    GDP per capita:

    ScumMo style welfare austerity has been a disastrous failure, as it was in Greece. What Noel Whittaker thinks about housing is irrelevant, and probably biased by his own investment advice business. Labor can legitimately say that the current Liberal economic policy, the road to nowhere, needs to be changed. And housing is turning point one.


    Richard Dennis of the Australia Institute sagely noted in November last year
    “ It’s amazing what a good old-fashioned electoral drubbing can do to the principles of our elected representatives. After the Victorian state election, progressive ideas become the new reactionary politicians “sensible centre” of Australian politics, Progressive is the new black”. His best ever piece can be found here.

    As Dennis noted –

    Josh Frydenberg, the man who replaced Julie Bishop as deputy leader of the Liberals immediately declared “when Sir Robert Menzies established the Liberal party he made it very clear we were a progressive party, not a reactionary party”. Scott Ryan said his party needed to listen to voters not conservative commentators, senator Jane Hume said the Liberals needed to preselect more women, Tim Wilson now thinks the party needs to take climate action seriously and Julie Bishop declared that the Liberals should adopt a bipartisan approach to climate policy during the 2018 leadership spill.

    Scott Morrison removed pollution targets from his energy policy and dragged a lump of coal into the Parliament. Suddenly, hi vision and values have had a Damascus road conversion that few voters will believe and those that do [the reactionary climate change deniers in the Coalition] will curse him for it. He and Angus Taylor are suddenly wary of using the ‘coal’ word, came out spruiking Snowy 2.0, and rebranded Abbott’s climate change response policy only last week.

    That cartoon above tells the story so succinctly.

    Why ?

    It has been clear in Coalition polling and door-knocking feedback that the non-loyal environmentally concerned voter {NLEC} in urban Australia that appeared in the 2016 election have been joined by rural and regional voters who traditionally would vote for Coalition representatives because they now recognise climate changes is causing much of the droughts, floods, bush-fires and shrinking, polluted waterways rural economies rely on.

    The 2016 Australian Electoral Study data by the Australian National University found 23.8% who identified the environment as “extremely important” in how they voted were not always loyal to one party. This equates to around 3.2 million non-loyal environmentally-concerned (NLEC) voters.

    At the 2016 election, 22% of NLEC voters voted for the Liberal party; 33% for Labor, 2% for the National Party, 23% for the Greens and 19% for other parties or independents. The NLEC 2016 Liberal voters self-identify as centrists in the AES data. When asked to locate the parties on the same left to right spectrum, these voters self-identify as sitting between the Liberal party and the Labor party, well to the right of the Greens.

    Source: Gabrielle Chan. Next election test of leadership on climate and the environment. The Guardian. December 9 2018

    Andrews clearly believed voters would support his progressive credentials, declaring on election night: “We are the most progressive government in the nation. We are the most progressive state in the nation.” His progressive policy agenda of using regulation and subsidies to tackle climate change and debt funding to boost infrastructure delivered him 52 or more of the 80 lower house seats.

    The upcoming NSW election will tell us if was just the dumping Malcolm Turnbull that handed those urban Liberal seats to Andrews. The regional/rural seats of the NSW State election in an ABN [anyone but Nats] political environment may well see the beginnings of the end of a post-election Coalition in Canberra.

    Comments welcome. Good morning all.

  14. ScumMo has achieved the unique combination of both doubling Australia’s debt (worse than in the stimulus under Labor)

    Yes quite a stunning achievement. The stimpac at least achieved something useful: keeping Australia out of recession. What have this govt achieved with their debt blowout?

  15. Nuclear our energy panacea
    chris kenny dink for the oz
    Chris Kenny

    We exaggerate the threat and despair about the future, when all the while there is a silver bullet waiting to be used.

    Whether you blame our collective guilt or unbridled altruism, we are the only country on the planet doing itself serious economic harm in order to deliver climate gestures. And gestures are all they remain, because the indolence of the rest of the world means global carbon dioxide emissions continue to grow strongly (this year they will increase by the equivalent of twice Australia’s total annual emissions). Think about that. We could shut down and evacuate our whole country and within six months global emissions would be back to the same level.

    The silver bullets (minus those held in reserve to deal with Werewolves and would be Marry me please somebody/anybody contestants) have been loaded into the smooth bore cannon shown behind the wildly gesticulating Mr. Morrison. These recent additions to the Orstrayan defense capability have been tested by firing Mr. ………and Mr. ……. and Ms. ……..far out to sea. The race is now on as to which of these worthies will reach safe harbour in a neighbourhood far removed from the nuclear option espoused in Mr. Kenny’s article.

    It is noted that the total evacuation of Orstraya has commenced with the departure of some hand picked extreme sports type LNP members. Postcards from the beyond are expected momentarily.

    Ms. …… a short priced favourite according to information shown at

    Sunday, March 3rd, 2019 – 8:09 am
    Comment #6

    Please – always bet responsibly. 😵

    Note to self. Do not look at The Australian again for at least another week.

    E & OE 😎

  16. I glanced at ‘The Australian’ on a newsstand whilst on holiday and did a genuine LOL – the headline was wtte of “Labor secretly meets with anti Adani lobby” and then talked about MPs being given information packs.

    Waiting for the headline “Shorten in secret meeting with constituent”.

  17. Trump has obviously caught Morrison Disease when it comes to renewable energy.

    Daniel DaleVerified account@ddale8
    Trump, mocking the Green New Deal, acts out a husband peering up at the sky as he attempts to watch TV but can’t because it is not windy. He says, “Darling, is the wind blowing today? I’d like to watch television, darling.” There is raucous laughter and applause.
    9:28 AM – 2 Mar 2019

    Steve InskeepVerified account@NPRinskeep
    3h3 hours ago
    This was an understandable joke in, say, 1987. Today, states that voted for the president (Texas, Kansas and the Dakotas come to mind) draw much electricity from wind farms, which bring profits to local land owners, to whom TV is available 24/7, regardless of who they voted for.

  18. I’m an incurable googler – lots of references to baling twine and baler twine. The only one referring to hayband says it’s what you get when you twist hay together to make a rope.

    Yes, once you filtered out music (Colin Hay, 50 Shades of Hay etc.) there were several references to hay band cutters – but not hay bands. It’s a new one to me!

  19. Confessions

    Exactly. What have they achieved? Their business backers now pay virtually no tax and get given corporate welfare by taxpayers. All the leadership changes, racism and scandals obscure the fact that economically, this is a really hopeless government. They spend more advertising infrastructure spending than planning it, and their plan is to do stuff in ten years time. There is no stability and there is no plan.

    This is why they run the lie of being hard on boats, while having record high immigration via airports. Without the spending of new arrivals, we would literally be in recession. We should be reporting per capita GDP growth, not total, as the latter figure has become irrelevant.

    No wonder retailers are closing across the country.

  20. Hay band must be one of those nasty yankee terms slipping in. Although this site,praise the lord, still refers to baling twine when selling the ‘hay band’ cutter.
    The $6 wonder product! This ultra handy little hay band cutter is designed for easily and quickly cutting the baling twine from bales of hay……………..No more arguments with stubborn baling twine,

  21. Zoidlord

    Why can’t Julie Bishop accept that most Liberal MPs wanted to be led by a bloke as dumb as themselves?

  22. This is the worst federal govt in living memory. Watching the intro of Insiders and I’m shocked to see that their ‘plan ‘ for AGW is just dusting off Abbott/Hunt’s plan to just plant trees and cleaning up the environment!

  23. Zoidlord


    Nevertheless, if the Liberals were ever serious abut getting more women into politics, a seat like Sturt would be an obvious place to start. But, sure enough, the two main contenders are blokes who are staffers.

    Speaking of which, if Sturt is now winnable, and this is a real opportunity to establish a new Labor MP, would Mia Handshin ever consider having another go? She was a great candidate in 2007, spoke well, and has since gained a much more impressive CV via chairing the SA EPA board, which would be an asset in an election where climate change will be an issue.

  24. Peter Dutton doesn’t need to worry about the Defined Benefits Super Scheme for pollies. He’s made himself rich as Croesus by working the payments system in government.

  25. Nevertheless, if the Liberals were ever serious abut getting more women into politics, a seat like Sturt would be an obvious place to start. But, sure enough, the two main contenders are blokes who are staffers.

    And Simon Birmingham’s wife. Who is a woman I believe. 🙂

  26. How many women will be in Labor’s next Cabinet? If they win the election. That is, taking the same front bench across to government.

  27. @Confessions

    Just remember the planting trees policy has been around since John Howard days, I use to do it at school.

    Slave labor :/

  28. Wilson Asset Management


    Spot the similarity?

    And where and how they derive their (no doubt lucrative) income?

    What Whittaker does not cover off on is that Negative Gearing is premised on borrowing full (by the provision of collateral security in which there is equity) AND borrowing Interest Only

    The reasons for these factors are to arrange that the cost of interest and other property maintenance costs (Land Tax, property Insurance, Council Rates, Repairs and Maintenance etc etc) EXCEED the Rental Income so there is a LOSS made on the property, that LOSS then offset against taxable income from another source (eg Salary).

    So, as with Franking Credits, deliberately manufactured

    The bigger issue is Interest Only Lending being addressed ( because reducing debt by Principal plus Interest repayments impacts on the LOSS because principal debt and therefore interest is falling – without going into increasing interest rates which must happen at some stage when the economy recovers)

    Then you get to the Capital Gains discounts, which is a different issue – and why a discount?

    Wilson and Whittaker talk thru their pockets

  29. zoid:

    There simply isn’t the available land to plant the number of trees required to abate our GHGEs. Direct Action 2.0 is just a figleaf for the Liberals because they can’t have a sensible, credible policy on emissions reduction.

  30. Barrie: “is the desertion of Pyne and Ciobo lowering morale”?

    Angus: “ No of course not. The Labor Party blah, blah, blah”

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