Preselections, defections and state elections

Jockeying begins in earnest for Liberal preselections in Warringah and for the Tasmanian Senate ticket, and a new milestone in the decomposition of Nick Xenophon’s party.

There probably won’t be any polls this week, with the fortnightly Essential Research and tri-weekly Newspoll having dropped last week. But there will of course be a Northern Territory election on Saturday, which is the subject of its own thread here.

Other news:

Sue Bailey of the Launceston Examiner reports that Eric Abetz is expected to retain the top position on the Tasmanian Liberals’ Senate ticket at the next election, contrary to earlier reports that Jonathan Duniam was planning to topple him, after the two “kissed and made up”. However, the report further says that “another senior Liberal” is doing the numbers for the third candidate who will be seeking re-election, Wendy Askew, who filled the Senate vacancy created last year when her brother, David Bushby, took up a diplomatic post in the United States. Also: “It is believed Prime Minister Scott Morrison wants the pre-selection delayed until next year so as not to be a distraction during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Michael Koziol of the Age/Herald has a story on the willing Liberal preselection contest in Warringah, which Tony Abbott lost to independent Zali Steggall at last year’s election. Abbott loyalists are said to be advancing the claim of Sacha Grebe, a former Scott Morrison staffer and employee of lobbying firm DPG Advisory, whose principal is David Gazard, a Morrison ally and candidate for Eden-Monaro in 2010. Grebe backer and local party activist Walter Villatora is engaged in a seemingly forlorn bid to have the preselection held as soon as possible. Others said to be in the hunt are “state MP Natalie Ward, state executive member Alex Dore and Menzies Research Centre manager Tim James”.

• There has been a change in the party balance of the Senate with Rex Patrick’s resignation from the Centre Alliance to sit as an independent. The Advertiser ($) has also reported the party’s two remaining members, Stirling Griff in the Senate and Mayo MP Rebekha Sharkie, are the subject of approaches from Liberals to defect to the party, although the notion is meeting bitter resistance from conservatives.

• The results of Tasmania’s recent upper house elections have been finalised, and as expected have resulted in the election of Labor’s Bastian Seidel in the seat of Huon south of Hobart, and of Liberal candidate Jo Palmer in Rosevears. The former was achieved over independent incumbent Robert Armstrong by the comfortable margin of 7.3% at the final count (12,284 votes to 9,152), but the latter proved a close run thing, with Jo Palmer landing 260 votes clear of independent candidate Janie Finlay, 11,492 votes (50.6%) or 11,232 (49.4%).

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.

1,622 comments on “Preselections, defections and state elections”

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  1. There is no need to have another poll. It would still be 52-48 to the Coalition. It is amazing how much the Aussie voter will suffer before letting go of their infatuation with Liberal leaders. Nats voters are beyond help and have been for generations.

    I can only suggest the Aussie voter is in some sort of Stockholm Syndrome relationship with whatever sociopathic scumbag the Liberals throw up as their leader and thus our Prime Minister.

    As some-one infamous recently said, ‘It is what it is.’

  2. Good morning Dawn Patrollers

    Gregg Jericho accuses the Morrison government of trying to lock in a less equitable economy for years to come. He says anyone thinking this government will use the economic crisis to give workers a better say at the bargaining table has a near life-threatening level of gullibility.
    Jacqui Maley looks at how Jacinda Ardern got to be New Zealand’s PM and says that good politics may not have been the aim of Ardern’s strategy, but they have been its by-product.
    Lisa Visentin says that the Berejiklian government is maintaining radio silence on the report into the Ruby Princess debacle until next week, despite the report finding “serious mistakes” in NSW Health’s response.
    Pregnant federal MPs have warned they risk being shut out of parliamentary discussions because of the failure to agree on virtual participation with video-conferencing technology when Parliament returns later this month. She says that with this, and other issues, we are owed “radical transparency”.
    Jacqui Maley thanks the gods for the aged care royal commission, because despite Morrison’s moral outrage, there would have been no other mechanism to discover the poor preparedness and conditions of the sector, for which his government has responsibility.
    And on the subject of transparency (or lack thereof), The Age tells us that the Morrison government intends to assert cabinet confidentiality over meetings of national cabinet, potentially denying Victoria’s hotel quarantine inquiry of documents.
    Elizabeth Minter asks “Wen will politicians demonstrate the accountability they foist on the rest of us?”. She describes them as gutless wonders.
    Frontline health staff are being ordered to not wear celebrated Adelaide-made masks – unless they also wear plastic face shields – after concerns were raised they were not fluid-resistant.
    Some US scientists have come up with a molecule that is highly protective against the coronavirus – and because it can be administered by a nasal spray or inhaler, they say it could replace the need for personal protective equipment.
    Professor Gary Martin explains why robot recruiters are rejecting job applications,
    Bevan Shields writes about the deteriorated and potentially unsafe condition of the Palace of Westminster.
    Nancy Pelosi has accused Donald Trump of “openly working to destroy the post office”, and said the US president is actively trying to “sabotage” the agency’s ability to deliver Americans’ mail-in ballots in time to be counted for the 2020 election.
    Why Germany would be especially happy to see the back of Trump.

    Cartoon Corner

    David Rowe

    Matt Golding

    Mark Knight

    Matt Davidson

    Reg Lynch

    From the US

  3. Thanks once again BK for today’s Dawn Patrol.

    From what a recent poster referrred to as “that august…..” (something or other).

    “The Australian” the national “Am I completely bonkers or is this a spoof?” newspaper has this offering –

    Victoria and its Premier Dan Andrews have given the nation their own uniquely branded Versions 2.0 and 3.0 of “destroy-the-economy — businesses, jobs and indeed lives — to fight-the-virus”.

    Now we have Western Australia and its Premier Mark McGowan unveiling Version 2.0 of the WA Inc we all thought had long since died with Alan Bond and Brian Burke — literally, of course, in the case of the first.

    McGowan has embarked on the most outrageous abuse of power we have seen from any government in Australia in the 120 years since Federation. In blunt, undeniable terms his government has legislated with the specific and stated aim of stealing $28bn from a single person, Clive Palmer.

    Thanks Terry – what would we do without you ❓ The answer comes courtesy of Johnny Cash

    ♫ Everybody knows ♪ where you go ♫ when the sun ♪ goes down
    ♪I think you ♫only live to see ♫ the lights of ♪ town
    ♫ I wasted my ♪ time when I ♫ would try, try, ♪ try
    ♪When the lights have ♫ lost their glow you’re ♫ gonna cry, cry, ♪cry

  4. Never mind Abetz, who is from the shallow pool of Tasmania after all. What is going on in NSW that the Liberals there have no talent to draw from apart from among party apparatchiks and lobby group hangers-on to try to win back a seat that has always been Liberal?

  5. John Hewson
    Our border forces will stop you bringing in a banana; will turn your boat around if you are an asylum seeker; but when it comes to the quarantining of a virus their responsibility ends – and don’t even have to answer questions. Really?

  6. lizzie @ #6 Sunday, August 16th, 2020 – 7:36 am

    Why is Eric Abetz so popular?

    Mr.Abetz is the top position on the Liberals ticket as pointed out by William and to which you seem to be referencing.

    I can only assume that his winning personality, love of humanity and constant acts of charitable good works coupled with his desire to have bridges suitably married to appropriate partners plus one can only assume would be dirt files of humongous proportions to be released on news of his death which will ensure that Mr. Abetz lives forever.

  7. I always knew Nick Xenophon was a Light Blue Liberal. I wonder if Stirling Griff will make the same mistake as Lucy Gichui and accept the Liberal Party blandishments, only to be stabbed in the back when they want to instal one of their own? Rebekha Sharkie did used to be a Liberal but I’m not so sure she would do as well as a Liberal. She could probably do a Helen Haines and run as a Conservative Independent and hold the seat.

  8. Confessions @ #9 Sunday, August 16th, 2020 – 7:48 am

    Never mind Abetz, who is from the shallow pool of Tasmania after all. What is going on in NSW that the Liberals there have no talent to draw from apart from among party apparatchiks and lobby group hangers-on to try to win back a seat that has always been Liberal?

    I think Zali Steggall will be safe.

  9. Being a pollie doesn’t pay enough for (most) Liberals so you end up with

    — people who can’t get a job anywhere else but are part of the Old Boys network;
    — people who are on the company payroll, and are in Parliament to deliver for their ’employer’;
    — people who are genuinely in it for public service (fairly rare);
    — people pushing a personal agenda;
    — people who have made a motza already and are pursuing politics as a hobby/bucketlist item.

    Happy to agree that you get these types in all parties, but it’s still largely true that for most parties, being an MP pays more than they’d get in the private sector.

  10. C@t:

    The state of the Liberal party in NSW reminds me of the federal Liberals when they’d been in government for over a decade and were left with hardly any women among their ranks and those preselected for winnable seats were either pale, male and stale or crazy ideologues. Kelly O’Dwyer being the notable exception.

    The NSW Liberals have been in office for nearly 10 years and still they can’t attract candidates with a diversity of experience.

  11. “Why is Eric Abetz so popular?”


    I have wondered that myself many times over the years. Really don’t get it hey. You’d be hard pressed to find someone in the parliament who is as uninspiring as him.


    Victoria’s firefighters union is ­enlisting thousands of members to lobby the community to support the Andrews Labor government.

    The militant union has launched its campaign backing the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic amid increased scrutiny over the failures of hotel quarantine, believed ­responsible for the state’s deadly second wave.

    This article contains the usual pejorative descriptions, but is not paywalled.

  13. ‘fess,
    The NSW State Liberals have two factions: the Opus Dei acolytes led by Damien Tudehope and Dominic Perrotet and the Spivs and Apparatchiks, led by Gladys Berejiklian. 🙂

  14. When crook (not infrequently) I rely on those with the expertise requisite to diagnose and treat sickness. Others, which is, of course, their right, rely on alternative medicine, sometimes downright quackery. With regard to C.19, I turn to those trained in epidemiology, virology for their expert knowledge – funny that!

  15. Not having seen the PM’s press conference during the week I’m startled to see that while apologising and saying he’s “deeply sorry” that he is actually smirking while saying it!

  16. Good god the ABC bloke is already musing about Victoria coming out of lockdown. It’s been a week! There’s a long way to go yet.

  17. As stated and from a Tasmanian who detests him the word that is associated with him is power. He knows how to play politics, sees himself as a conservative warrior against Greens, any socially progressive idea (he sees it as attacking the traditional way we live) and the appointer of new Liberals both in Federal and State seats.

    He is not popular he is powerful. Big difference.

  18. If aged care residents move to hospital that takes up hospital beds. Surely it would be better to treat them in situ by having appropriately qualified workplace and procedures.

  19. ———
    Okay, so if there was a Morrison plan to deal with Aged Care and COVID-19 it was a very poor one.
    Of course there was a plan. These peeps don’t get to the top without doing the paperwork that absolves them of all responsibility when things go wrong but allows them to take credit for everything else.

    He strips money away from institutions and replaces it with a useless piece of paper with a plan on it written by a committee for a committee.

  20. Speers is doing quite a good interview with Shorten, simply because Shorten has facts at his fingertips so the questions don’t “upset” him.

  21. Shorten not only has facts but has personal stories of individuals he’s come into contact with. That is one of the things I always appreciated about him.

  22. Someone tell me if Shorten nails them to the mast with clear and concise statements and answers to Q’s; cutting to the crux of the matter with his easy flowing and engaging style.

  23. Shorten is simply reminding us all why the Australian people have never warmed to him. The mannered, preachy style of speaking, the insincere carry on (a la US politics) about “Theo” (why is it relevant for us to know the guy’s name?) The tedious use of a prop in the form of the Constitution.

    And, after running of the line “you can’t serve two masters: providing care and profit”, he didn’t have any sort of convincing answer to the inevitable follow-up question: “so you are saying there’s no place for the private sector in aged care?”

    Why is the guy still in politics? Indeed, given that it was an interview that ranged across a whole lot of topics, where was Albo?

  24. I loved Bill Shorten’s insertion of the colloquialism, ‘getting off Scott free’ into the conversation with David Speers. 😀

  25. meher baba

    Shorten shows that he is in touch with people, unlike Morrison. I’m not saying that he’s perfect, but I think you’re a grouch.

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