Sins of commission

Kooyong and Chisholm legal challenge latest; by-election rumblings in Isaacs; Jim Molan strikes back; and the Victorian Liberals gearing up already for federal preselections.

Possible (or possibly not) federal by-election news:

• The Australian Electoral Commission has petitioned the Federal Court to reject challenges against the federal election results in Chisholm and Kooyong. The challenges relate to Chinese-language Liberal Party signage that appeared to mimic the AEC’s branding, and advised voters that giving a first preference to the Liberal candidates was “the correct voting method”. As reported by The Guardian, the AEC argues that “the petition fails to set out at all, let alone with sufficient particularity, any facts or matters on the basis of which it might be concluded that it was likely that on polling day, electors able to read Chinese characters, upon seeing and reading the corflute, cast their vote in a manner different from what they had previously intended”. This seems rather puzzling to my mind, unless it should be taken to mean that no individuals have been identified who are ready to confirm that they were indeed so deceived. Academic electoral law expert Graeme Orr argued on Twitter that the AEC had “no need to intervene on the substance of a case where partisan litigants are well represented”.

• Talk of a by-election elsewhere in Melbourne was stimulated by Monday’s column ($) from acerbic Financial Review columnist Joe Aston, which related “positively feverish speculation” that Labor’s Shadow Attorney-General, Mark Dreyfus, would shortly quit his Melbourne bayside seat of Isaacs with an eye to a position on Victoria’s Court of Appeal. Aston further reported that Dreyfus hoped to be succeeded by Fiona McLeod, the prominent barrister who gained a 6.1% swing as Labor’s candidate for Higgins in May. Dreyfus emphatically rejected such “ridiculous suggestions” in late August, saying he was “absolutely committed to serving out this term of parliament”, and again took to Twitter on Monday to say he would be “staying and fighting the next election”. Aston remains unconvinced, writing in Tuesday’s column ($) that the suggestions derived from “high-level discussions Dreyfus has held on Spring Street with everyone from Premier Daniel Andrews, former Attorney-General Martin Pakula, his successor Jill Hennessy and his caucus colleagues”, along with his “indiscreet utterances around the traps”.

Federal preselection news:

• Jim Molan has won the endorsement of both Scott Morrison and the conservative faction of the New South Wales Liberal Party to fill the Senate vacancy created by Arthur Sinodinos’s departure to become ambassador to the United States. However, the Sydney Morning Herald reports this is not dissuading rival nominee Richard Shields, former deputy state party director and Insurance Council of Australia manager, and the runner-up to Dave Sharma in last year’s keenly fought Wentworth preselection. Shields’ backers are said to include Helen Coonan, former Senator and Howard government minister, and Mark Neeham, a former state party director. Earlier reports suggested the moderate faction had been reconciled to Molan’s ascendancy by a pledge that he would only serve out the remainder of Sinodinos’s two-year term, and would not seek re-election in 2022.

Rob Harris of The Age reports the Victorian Liberals are considering a plan to complete their preselections for the 2022 election much earlier than usual – and especially soon for Liberal-held seats. The idea in the latter case is for challengers to incumbents to declare their hands by January 15, with the matter to be wrapped up by late February or early March. This comes after the party’s administrative committee warded off threats to members ahead of the last election, most notably factional conservative Kevin Andrews in Menzies, by rubber-stamping the preselections of all incumbents, much to the displeasure of party members. Other preselections are to be held from April through to October. Also proposed is a toughening of candidate vetting procedures, after no fewer than seven candidates in Labor-held seats were disendorsed during the period of the campaign.

Self-promotion corner:

• I had a paywalled piece in Crikey yesterday which noted the stances adopted of late by James McGrath, ideological warror extraordinaire and scourge of the cockatoo, in his capacity as chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, which is presently conducting its broad-ranging inquiry into the May federal election. These include the end of proportional representation in the Senate, the notion that parliamentarians who quit their parties should be required to forfeit their seats, and — more plausibly — the need to curtail pre-poll voting.

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.

1,817 comments on “Sins of commission”

  1. As Lizzie and others said earlier,

    This issue re Houston and Morrison is one worth pursuing.
    It is certainly one that rattles Morrison, which makes it all the more interesting.

    Just why it rattles him is the question.

  2. Where does “The law is an ass” expression come from?

    Friend came up against a magistrate last Friday who dismissed her case, brought by the Police, where an assault was reported. Even there was both a 000 call made at the time by an independent witness who saw the assault, with said witness being distressed enough to then go to police to make a statement shortly after.

    Friend had to leave family home, leaving her and child’s possessions. Said assailant changed locks and refused to let her get her and child’s stuff. So she went through courts, asking for a “property order (?)”, complete with receipts for her and child’s stuff.

    Case dismissed. Lucky Police brought charges rather than friend, or costs would have been awarded against her. So, she cannot redeem her property.

    Because I am good @research, I did I quick check on magistrate. There are a whole string of articles in SMH about magistrate presiding, none of which I want to point my friend to.

    Worst, to me, was case before said magistrate of driver who ran over and killed a person sleeping on a mattress on the street / footpath. 31 year old person. Dead.

    Said magistrate found driver not guilty of “negligent driving” because the case just showed how Sydney had become infested with rubbish, and hence it was easy to run over rubbish and kill someone.

    FFS – neg driving – what – 4 points off licence and a fine less that $500?

  3. Frank Houston founded Sydney Christian Life Centre, which would eventually come under the leadership of his son Pastor Brian Houston before merging into Hillsong Church.

    Frank was a paedophile. Brian allegedly failed to investigate his actions.
    Could be guilt by association, if not accessory after the fact.

    Morrison is a close friend of Brian.
    Just how much Morrison knows about this stuff is a good question.

    Morrison has skeletons in the cupboard.

    He was rattled today.

  4. And I have not yet even answered my second friend who is also getting a raw deal from the law.

    I would not have though I would be of a demographic that is regularly on the wrong side of the law.

    Do I know too many middle-aged females who are vulnerable to be chucked out of their homes because partner has decided they are no longer needed, and who put too much into building a “partnership”?

    Marriage does not seem to be the issue. Married or not, if you are female and partner with someone later in life, you seem to take all the caring role and risks, with no benefits whatsoever.

    Grumble 🙁

  5. Dan P:

    He’s in the twilight of his career, so a one year deal isn’t unusual. As I said before, my view is that Betts should never have been let go in the first place.

  6. D&M:

    The rising face of homelessness in Australia is older women. Principally because of the reasons you’ve identified, but also insecure attachment to the labour market, lack of superannuation, and haphazard work history that doesn’t give them a ‘career’ as such, but casual or part-time employment.

  7. Greensborough Growler @ #1807 Monday, October 14th, 2019 – 7:15 pm

    Danama Papers @ #1803 Monday, October 14th, 2019 – 10:11 pm

    Confessions @ #1788 Monday, October 14th, 2019 – 6:38 pm

    Dan P:

    Unlikely, but I’m very excited that he’s coming home.

    Just saw on the news that he’s only on a “one year deal”. That doesn’t sound like a great deal of commitment from him or Carlton.

    He had a three year deal on offer from Gold Coast and came back home instead.

    3 years at Gold Coast is equal to 1 year at another club. That makes sense. Or, it might not actually be 3 years at GC – it just seems that long. 😀

  8. Danama Papers @ #1813 Monday, October 14th, 2019 – 10:24 pm

    Greensborough Growler @ #1807 Monday, October 14th, 2019 – 7:15 pm

    Danama Papers @ #1803 Monday, October 14th, 2019 – 10:11 pm

    Confessions @ #1788 Monday, October 14th, 2019 – 6:38 pm

    Dan P:

    Unlikely, but I’m very excited that he’s coming home.

    Just saw on the news that he’s only on a “one year deal”. That doesn’t sound like a great deal of commitment from him or Carlton.

    He had a three year deal on offer from Gold Coast and came back home instead.

    3 years at Gold Coast is equal to 1 year at another club. That makes sense. Or, it might not actually be 3 years at GC – it just seems that long. 😀

    You are struggling aren’t you!

  9. Doesn’t seem right D&M. I thought if an assault had been reported the assaulter would be removed by the police and an interim order faxed to a magistrate to protect your friend. That’s how it’s done in Victoria I believe.

  10. They really needed to have the Foreign Affairs Minister on this Qanda. But true to form with this govt, they hide their ministers away from scrutiny.

  11. Fess,

    The rising face of homelessness in Australia is older women. Principally because of the reasons you’ve identified, but also insecure attachment to the labour market, lack of superannuation, and haphazard work history that doesn’t give them a ‘career’ as such, but casual or part-time employment.

    Very well stated. I was grumbling about particular things today, but all of the above factors lead to many women over the age of 50 living in poverty.

    A family friend, of my parents generation, was a High Court judge, Mary Gaudron. She was definitely before her time, and when thought I was doing it tough, I used to remember her strength.

    But I do remember her putting in a dissenting judgement as a panel of three hight court judges (from memory), about a disputed estate, saying that “A woman should not end up financially worse off than she was before she married”.

    Said woman did end up worse off, and this is a bad week for me, as some of my friends as worse off now.

    You would think that kids would be happy to see their older parents be happy with a partner, and not want to punish the partner for caring for their parent.

    Once again, l grumble, grumble, grumble.

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