The week’s federal election preselection developments:
• Facing the apparent certainty of preselection defeat, Craig Kelly announced his resignation from the Liberal Party at a party room meeting Wednesday. Kelly says he will sit as an “independent Liberal” and then run in his Sydney seat of Hughes again at the election, which I believe leaves open the possibility that that may be as the candidate of another party. He appeared to rule out running for the Nationals, as some in the party hoped he might, saying he was “not sure whether a pair of RM Williams and a big Akubra and a Driza-Bone will necessarily work in Sutherland”.
• It had generally been assumed the Liberal preselection in Hughes would prove third time lucky for Kent Johns, Sutherland Shire councillor and factional moderate, from whom Kelly had to be saved by prime ministerial intervention before the 2016 and 2019 elections. However, The Australian reported on Tuesday that moderates were cooking up a deal with conservatives in which Hughes would go to Dallas McInerney, chief executive of Catholic Schools NSW, in exchange for a free hand in the preselections for Warringah and Gilmore. Reports that the Hughes preselection might be contested by police commissioner Mick Fuller were dismissed as a “furphy” by a source quoted in the St George Shire Standard. Those who may run were said in the report to include Carmelo Pesce, a cafe owner and former Sutherland Shire mayor; Ned Mannoun, a former Liverpool mayor; Bree Till, a veterans service adviser whose husband was killed on service in Afghanistan in 2009; and Naji Najjar, a former Bankstown councillor and staffer to Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells.
• Nicolle Flint, two-term Liberal member for the marginal Adelaide seat of Boothby, announced on Friday she would not contest the next election. Flint said she had soured on politics after personal attacks against her during the 2019 election campaign, which the Liberals have cited in support of proposed electoral law changes that would clip the wings of the GetUp! organisation, and the recent rape allegation by former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins.
• Labor has announced that Ali France, a motivational speaker and former television producer who lost a leg in a car accident in 2011, will again be the party’s candidate in Peter Dutton’s northern Brisbane seat of Dickson. Dutton won the seat by 4.6% in 2019 after a favourable swing of 2.9%, a fairly typical result for Brisbane.