The news from Hughes (and Boothby and Dickson)

Craig Kelly quits the Liberals, Nicolle Flint to quit politics, and unsuccessful Labor candidate Ali France lines up for another crack at Peter Dutton.

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.

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.

1,965 comments on “The news from Hughes (and Boothby and Dickson)”

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  1. The discussion about presumption of innocence is now irrelevant. It applied if the matter was proceeding as a criminal matter.

    Minister X is now not subject to the presumption of innocence.

    The enquiry now is about his fitness for office.

    Over to you, Prime Minister.

  2. The next best question to ask around town to other ministers.

    When did you know about these allegations and what did you do?

    As I was saying the other night, the standard should be, could you hold a security clearence with these sorts of claims leveled at you. Better yet, could you hold a working with children certificate.

    If you can’t work in a crache, then you can’t work in cabinet. Zinger!

    Maybe Albo is the man for this moment. Though i do fear that if the LNP reskin the PM another time that they may get that new guy bounce.

    Also, here’s a fun angle. When Malcolm Turnbull was talking about his worry of compromise, do you think ASIO counter intelligence has investigated the minister X’s dealings. There may be a PHAT report that spells it all out. To bad they’re not like the CIA and don’t leak.

  3. Mavissays:
    Tuesday, March 2, 2021 at 11:10 pm

    “the bare facts of this case.”

    No one knows any relevant facts relating to the allegations.

  4. Andrew_Earlwoodsays:
    Tuesday, March 2, 2021 at 10:14 pm

    “I think that Tingle got to the nub of the issue.

    This is not about the criminal law anymore. It’s about the steps that ScoMo took to satisfy himself that the anonymous cabinet minister retained his confidence. Cabinet ministers serve at the pleasure of the GG. The GG takes the advice of his chief minister as to whom should be appointed and removed from cabinet.

    ScoMo has made a decision. He owns that decision. He made that decision based solely on the denials by the anonymous cabinet minister and without regard to the contents of the letter addressed to him, let alone the other material that is available.”

    This is no different to the decision made for Shorten to remain Leader of the ALP and Leader of the Opposition while under Police investigation for an historic allegation of rape.

    Why is he suitable to remain a Shadow Minister or even in Parliament if the Minister isn’t?

    Why isn’t there calls for Inquiries into Shorten’s allegations but there is for the Minister?

  5. Which Lib insider wants to depose Morrison and has had access to the letter alleging Porter’s assault? The atmosphere is heavy with scandal in Canberra…sexual scandals…the kind of subject that voters will notice and talk about, that will indelibly stain the LNP….Who leaked?

  6. Shorten’s reputation has suffered serious, irreparable damage. The same kind of damage is being inflicted on Porter and Morrison, and possibly on the whole LNP caravan. There’s hardly a voter in the country who won’t feel repelled by the accounts of assault, and by Morrison’s inability to deal with his Minister. Who leaked?

  7. Vogon Poet says Tuesday, March 2, 2021 at 10:43 pm

    These acts, as others have said, are never solo performances. Interesting from 4 Corners journo :

    Louise Milligan
    #Auspol Clarification: NSW police didn’t “end” their investigation. The investigation never began. Complainant never made statement. When I inquired, they were very interested to know if I knew of other complainants against #CabinetMinister. My answer: “Not in your jurisdiction”.

    Did they ask if there were complainants in other jurisdictions, and if there are, will they come forward? Even if there are no other claims of sexual assault, if there are confirmations of the controlling behaviour cited in Crikey on Monday then it’s not going to help the Cabinet Minister’s reputation.

    I have no idea if the allegations against Shorten are true or not, just as I have no idea if the allegations against the Cabinet Minister are true or not. However, it does leave a dark cloud over Shorten and it will over the Cabinet Minister.

  8. The FIFO PM cannot believe his luck.
    The LNP coalition government has now given the PM, having already established his lack of reputation, a chance for a desperate from within the ranks to take the coalition government to the next election. One of the desperates from within his own ranks will agree to whatever Morrison asks in return for the possibly be the next PM.
    Morrison has all the perks of having been PM all signed off.
    It’s a pattern.
    What does the FIFO PM want for his next gig ?
    The PM never having to clean out the
    chook house.


    The Royal Commission Report – destined to be added to previous 20 reports in a new “Museum of Oddities” to be built near Uluru as a sign of closing the gap.

    One of the comments —

    Disgraceful if they put another tax on Australians by way of a levy, given we are one of the most taxed countries in the world. The government is killing the goose that laid the golden egg; you cannot tax what isn’t there. The government needs to find another solution by way of cutting excess spending.

    Which I heartily endorse – cut wasteful spending on the NDIS, wind back Medicare – make your own list.

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