Crying Fowler

A plan to move Kristina Keneally from the Senate to the western Sydney seat of Fowler looks set to solve one problem for Labor while creating another. Also featured: a Senate vacancy and a state poll from South Australia.

Before we proceed, please note a) the post below on electoral developments in California, Canada and Germany courtesy of Adrian Beaumont, and b) the fact that tomorrow is the day of the by-election for the Northern Territory seat of Daly, where the Country Liberal Party is defending a margin of 1.2%.

Now to the week’s big item of federal election news, which is that Kristina Keneally is set to be parachuted from her current position in the Senate to the western Sydney seat of Fowler, which will be vacated with the retirement of Chris Hayes, who holds it on a 14.0% margin. The Australian reports this will be accomplished by fiat of head office, without a ballot of local party members.

Moving Keneally to the House of Representatives resolves a difficulty arising from the 2016 double dissolution, at which three of the four elected Labor Senators were allocated full terms of six years, which will expire in the middle of next year. This includes two members of the Right – Sam Dastyari, whom Kristina Keneally replaced after his resignation in February 2018, and Deborah O’Neill – and Jenny McAllister of the Left. Since factional arrangements reserve second position on the ticket for the Left, either O’Neill or Keneally faced delegation to third position, which has not been a winning proposition for Labor at a half-Senate election since 2007. As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, the power of O’Neill’s backers in the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association appears likely to secure her the top spot, although The Australian cites unidentified Keneally supporters saying she was confident of beating her.

The use of Fowler as a backstop for Keneally comes with the substantial difficulty that the electorate boasts the nation’s highest proportion of non-English speakers, in large part owing to the presence within it of the Vietnamese enclave of Cabramatta. As such, Labor appeared to have a promising successor lined up in Tu Le, a 30-year-old lawyer and daughter of Vietnamese refugees. By contrast, Keneally lives in a $1.8 million property in Sydney’s northern beaches. Le had the backing of Hayes and, according to another source cited by The Australian, would have won a rank-and-file ballot if one were held. The ABC reports senior front-bencher Tony Burke shares Hayes’ displeasure at the development, although it also notes that others in the Right felt Hayes “had no right to try to act as a kingmaker or name his replacement publicly”.

In other Labor preselection news, Tom Richardson of InDaily reports the South Australian Senate vacancy created by the death of Alex Gallacher last week is likely to be filled by Karen Grogan, national political coordinator with the United Workers Union and convenor of the state branch’s Left faction. According to the report, a Senate seat was set to pass from Right to Left in the factional deals arising from the abolition of the federal seat of Port Adelaide at the 2019 election. Gallacher’s death may have had the effect of preserving Steve Georganas’s position in the seat of Adelaide, which might otherwise have been used to create the requisite vacancy by providing a refuge for Right-aligned Senator Marielle Smith.

Also from South Australia, the Australia Institute has published a Dynata poll of state voting intention, although it was conducted back in July from a modest sample of 599. It suggests Steven Marshall’s Liberal government might struggle at the March election, recording 38% support to 34% for Labor, 10% for the Greens, 5% for SA Best and 12% for the rest.

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.

1,894 comments on “Crying Fowler”

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  1. God, Lib von Tryhard and nath, the Onion weed in my lawn is more welcome than those two again. I would have hoped Spring would bring something better than that.

  2. zoomster says:
    Sunday, September 12, 2021 at 8:54 pm


    You quoted an SBS article, not an academic study.
    I initially quoted the studies I did at Monash, which included looking at election studies. The SBS quote was to affirm that. By all means, let’s keep this going, I know you don’t mind looking foolish again.

  3. Found the original source:
    “Plans have already been drawn up for a worst-case scenario in the health network. In NSW, doctors and nurses have been told by hospital managers that life-saving support may not be provided, or potentially even be withdrawn, for those with a median age of 72 during the “overwhelming” phase of the current Delta outbreak – which is forecast for late October and early November.”

  4. Dr Fumbles Mcstupid at 8:50 pm


    Maybe that’s the difference between attending and staying there

    Non-U ‘stays’ , U ‘attends’.

  5. Goll

    I wonder if Morrison has finally been educated on what is going to happen with covid and realises the electoral implications. Was Morrison thinking that covid would be solved by vaccination and some pesky expert has finally educated him?

  6. @C@tmomma

    He’s scrounging vaccines like it was the Olympics!

    I see the SfM pressers have dropped off since there are no more gold medals on offer – just hope he is getting the lose to “use by date” vax at a discount

  7. P1 again believes her fantasies of Labor leadership challenges are the only currency in town. She says “We shall see”… as I said: “a giant of an imagination”.

    Lars reappears, claiming (as is so typical of the Right) to be persecuted. He even appeals to the ref for sympathy.

    All this is over an internal party preselection argey-bargey, of interest only to pro-Liberal media bum-lickers and 70+something grandfathers in the Regions glued obsessively to Sky News.

    Nothing much changes. But it’s be nice if they said something half-interesting, or even mildly witty for a change.

    If this is the kind of straw you’re clutching guys, Labor must be winning in a canter.

  8. zoomster says:
    Sunday, September 12, 2021 at 9:03 pm

    At least I don’t have to pretend to be someone I’m not in order to post here.
    I don’t know who any one is here, nor do i care. If you take some pride in your digital identity of ‘zoomster’, well, good luck to you.

  9. The Libs ran a Vietnamese candidate Andrew Nguyen in Fowler in 2013.

    You know, the election Labor was wiped out in.

    He suffered a 10.8% swing against him on primaries.

    The Libs haven’t preselected Vietnamese candidates in the past two elections.

    Perhaps there’s more to winning Fowler than being Vietnamese.

    It should be noted that this was a correction after the unusually bad result for Labor in 2010, and that the 2013 result was not much different from 2007. Kevin Rudd’s popularity among Asian communities probably had a lot to do with this. But the fact that Labor parachuted their candidate in from another electorate in 2010 under the terms of a factional deal may also have featured.

  10. Quasar

    What else that article says is even scarier..

    “with a peak demand for ICU beds of 947 in early November. The model suggested 560 of these would be used by Covid-19 patients. In total, the modelling, conducted by the Burnet Institute and augmented by state government health system data, estimates the number of people in hospital with and without Covid will peak at 3434.

    But that modelling was done on the assumption that all current restrictions in NSW would remain in place. It does not factor in ongoing issues and how Berejiklian’s Thursday announcement will affect them.”

  11. C@tmomma says:
    Sunday, September 12, 2021 at 9:03 pm

    Didn’t take nath long to start attacking zoomster again, did it?
    Actually, I think I was called ‘a little racist’ for suggesting a correlation between Vietnamese ethnicity and voting behavior, which is actually documented in Election Studies published after every Federal Election. But it’s all good.

  12. At least up here, when our version of “Bondi Beach” is crowded, that means there are 50 people on it.

    Every time I see “Sydneysiders” flaunting the lockdown loopholes, I thank my lucky stars I finally saw sense and got out of the place.

  13. @poroti

    Have to admit I never understood the college thing as i lived close enough to just attend uni and could never afford to stay anyway.

    Further, the first lot of uni was with mostly state school kids, lots of Greek/Italians/turks and other normal people Moving on to Uni Melb was a bit of a culture shock after that. This was about 1992.

  14. Nath,

    If the reasoning is correct for why more Vietnamese vote for Labor, then why would they change to the Liberals if the Labor candidate wasn’t Vietnamese?

  15. Zoomster:

    ‘He attended Ormond College at the University of Melbourne…’

    You left out the last (and most important), sentence in Mr Smith’s Wikipedia entry:

    Smith attempted to use donuts create the number 800, a reference to COVID deaths he attributed to Andrews, but was mocked[who?] for its apparent resemblance to male genitals.

    Mr Smith might the only politician whose career summary ends with the words: “male genitals”

  16. We had a BBQ tonight before expecting to view live the Wallabies -v- Springboks, on 9 Gem at around (as advertised) 1705, which didn’t transpire. I was under the understanding that free-to-air TV is obligated to telecast Oz matches live. 9 Entertainment has on the face of it abrogated its contractual obligations. Heads could roll but won’t, the bottom line being, watch it live on a streaming service or watch the replay – it stinks to high heaven.

  17. “Even after this acute disaster is over, the hospital system will remain critically strained – and will likely stay that way for several months or even half a year.”

    Why do people think this? The virus isn’t going away. There’s still plenty of people to infect. There’s no reason to think that the hospital system won’t be at crisis level for years.

    The only reason to think that it won’t be is if you postulate that people like Gladys will finally realise that the only sustainable policy is one where cases are down in the range where contact tracing can actually work – under 200 a day. That’s going to trigger the (false) belief that this is bad for business.

  18. Why do I get the impression that “Lurker’s” intention is motivated by an intention to divert attention to the Labor pre-selection process in the seat of Fowler and away from some very pressing issues rather than by any concern for the people of the Fairfield and Liverpool areas (who are doing it very tough at the moment) or by any concern regarding the ethnic diversity of candidates for a party he doesn’t vote for?

  19. “ Au countraire, Tim Smith, UK public school, rowing 8s at Scotch, Uni Melb boat club, a grand liberal CV what is not to like? Ability, qualifications? who cares about those pedestrian qualities”

    Rowing? Jesus look at the blob now. He’s really let himself go rapidly, hasn’t he?

  20. Andrew_Earlwood says:
    Sunday, September 12, 2021 at 9:25 pm

    “ Au countraire, Tim Smith, UK public school, rowing 8s at Scotch, Uni Melb boat club, a grand liberal CV what is not to like? Ability, qualifications? who cares about those pedestrian qualities”

    Rowing? Jesus look at the blob now. He’s really let himself go rapidly, hasn’t he?
    His nickname is Tim Sims. If you’ve seen Muriel’s Wedding you’ll understand.

  21. E. G. Theodore:

    Sunday, September 12, 2021 at 9:03 pm

    Based my searches, Artie’s a bit reticent about revealing his age. Viewing pics of him suggests he’s in his late 50’s, going stricly on the criterion that he hasn’t a grey in hair on his head. A man who dyes his hair can’t be trusted.

  22. @Andrew_Earlwood

    Well all the rowers I knew at school were always 3/8ths in the brain department and the rest muscle so he has maintained one part part of the equation.

  23. @Lurker says:

    His nickname is Tim Sims. If you’ve seen Muriel’s Wedding you’ll understand.
    In that case we have nothing to worry about as he doesn’t exist. Maybe it is is a comment on his fictional abilities.

  24. Dr Fumbles Mcstupid says:
    Sunday, September 12, 2021 at 9:34 pm

    @Lurker says:

    His nickname is Tim Sims. If you’ve seen Muriel’s Wedding you’ll understand.
    In that case we have nothing to worry about as he doesn’t exist. Maybe it is is a comment on his fictional abilities.
    I guess I will have to spell it out. Rachel Griffiths is looking at a tray of Dim Sims when she makes up the name of her fiance ‘Tim Sims’.

    Therefore, Tim Smith’s nickname is due to his predilection for the tasty morsel.

  25. William Bowe @ #1845 Sunday, September 12th, 2021 – 9:39 pm

    The Oz reports Joel Fitzgibbon to retire at the election.

    Oh dear …

    With the NSW branch in civil war over the decision to parachute Kristina Keneally into the safe western Sydney seat of Fowler, there is now concern the party will be vulnerable in the coalmining seat of Hunter, which Mr Fitzgibbon has held since 1996.

    NSW Labor. Always reliable 🙁

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