First up, note the new post below on the Western Australian state election campaign. To the matter at hand: as talk proliferates of a federal election later this year, there has been a noticeable uptick on the volume of preselection news to report.
• A Liberal preselection for the eastern Melbourne seat of Menzies last weekend produced a boilover with the defeat of Kevin Andrews, who has held the seat since 1991. Andrews lost the local party ballot by a 181-111 margin to Keith Wolahan, a barrister and former army officer. Wolahan was reckoned to have enough support locally to have knocked over Andrews ahead of the 2019 election, but was thwarted when the state party organisation took charge of the entire federal election preselection process, much to the chagrin of the membership. Wolahan had support from factional moderates but took to Andrew Bolt’s program on Sky News to push back against the notion that he personally could be so described, and put it to Virginia Trioli of the ABC that he “never joined the Liberal Party to be called a moderate and very few people do in Victoria”.
• It appears increasingly likely that controversial Liberal MP Craig Kelly will be bumped aside for preselection in his Sydney seat of Hughes by Kent Johns, who had the numbers locally in both 2016 and 2019 but was saved on both occasions by prime ministerial intervention. The Australian reported on Friday that Nationals MPs, apparently including Queensland Senator Matt Canavan, wished to recruit Kelly to the party, apparently with a view to him seeking re-election in his entirely suburban electorate. However, a Nationals source was quoted saying this “wouldn’t happen while Michael McCormack is leader”.
• Nine News reports New South Wales Deputy Premier and state Nationals leader John Barilaro is considering a move to the Senate. The Coalition arrangement in New South Wales gives the Nationals second and third positions on the Senate ticket at alternating elections, with the next election being the party’s turn for the unloseable second spot. The party’s position is vacant because one of its two Senators elected at the 2016 double dissolution, Fiona Nash, lost her position amid the Section 44 fiasco in December 2017 and it was won on a countback by a Liberal, Jim Molan. Molan lost his seat after being reduced to fourth position at the 2019 election but returned to the Senate upon filling Arthur Sinodinos’s vacancy in November 2019. Since he is now 69, he is presumably set to retire. The Liberals’ first and third positions on the ticket will presumably remain with the incumbents, Marise Payne and Connie Fierravanti-Wells.
• With the retirement of Labor veteran Warren Snowdon, Sky News reports his regional Northern Territory electorate of Lingiari is set to be contested for Labor by the former Deputy Chief Minister, Marion Scrymgour.
• The Northern Territory News reports the Country Liberal Party’s Senator for the Northern Territory, Sam McMahon, may face preselection challenges from Damien Ryan, the mayor of Alice Springs, and Linda Fazldeen, a Darwin businesswoman. The report says the preselection is likely to be held in June or July.