With the excitement of the British election over and done with, now begins the extended nothingness of the silly season. A few points worth noting to keep things ticking over:
• A by-election looms in the Northern Territory for the Darwin seat of Johnston, not far out from a territory election scheduled for August 22. This follows the retirement of Ken Vowles, who has held the seat since 2012. Vowles served as a minister after Labor came to power in 2016, but was one of three members expelled from the party caucus in December 2018 over a feud with Chief Minister Michael Gunner. Labor held the seat with a 14.7% margin in 2016, an election at which it won the two-party vote 58.5-41.5. A heavy swing at the by-election seems inevitable, but the Country Liberal Party to this point appears to be dragging its heels on naming a candidate. Labor has chosen Unions NT general secretary Joel Bowden, a former Richmond AFL player who says he’ll be putting in a 100% team effort. Former Chief Minister Terry Mills’ CLP breakaway party, Territory Alliance, is running Steven Klose, who according to the Northern Territory News held the curious position of “political adviser at the Northern Territory Electoral Commission”. Also in the field will be Braedon Earley of the Ban Fracking Fix Crime Protect Water Party.
• In other by-election news, there isn’t any. Confident speculation a month or so ago that Eden-Monaro MP Mike Kelly would be gone by Christmas has less than a fortnight to bear fruit, and there also are no visible signs of progress on suggestions that Mark Dreyfus and Brendan O’Connor would be pulling the plug in Isaacs and Gorton.
• Michael Koziol of the Sydney Morning Herald reports on jockeying for the Liberal preselection in Warringah, where the party faces the difficulty of its branches being dominated by conservatives in a seat whose voters gave Tony Abbott the flick in favour of independent Zali Steggall. Included on the watch list are “NSW upper house member Natalie Ward, Menzies Research Centre manager Tim James, Downer EDI executive and former Scott Morrison staffer Sasha Grebe, as well as management consultant and NSW Liberal Party state executive member Alex Dore”, along with Manly barrister Jane Buncle. Mike Baird, former Premier and now senior executive at NAB, set the hares running when he declined on opportunity to seek the position of chief executive at the bank, but “several Liberal sources doubted Mr Baird would want to take the pay cut to go to Canberra”.
• A number of victims of the Liberals’ 2018 Victorian election disaster are identified in The Age as potential successors for Mary Wooldridge’s Eastern Metropolitan seat in the Victorian Legislative Council, following her retirement announcement last week: John Pesutto, Heidi Victoria and Michael Gidley, respectively the former members for Hawthorn, Bayswater and Mount Waverley.