A federal intervention into the New South Wales branch of the Liberal Party is set to end a long-standing preselection impasse and ensure the re-endorsement of three sitting members who would otherwise have faced strong opposition in rank-and-file ballots: Mitchell MP Alex Hawke, whose machinations as a leader in the centre right faction have been widely blamed for the deadlock; Farrer MP and Environment Minister Sussan Ley; and factional moderate Trent Zimmerman in North Sydney.
The New South Wales branch has also been directed to “rectify the circumstances that candidates have not been selected and endorsed in other House of Representatives seats” by March 25. According to Max Maddison of The Australian, the upshot of this is that the following candidates will be rubber-stamped without a rank-and-file ballot: Alex Dore in Hughes, where he will run against party renegade and United Australia Party member Craig Kelly in the face of fierce opposition from the local membership; cardiologist Michael Feneley in Dobell, held for Labor by Emma McBride on a margin of 1.5%; disability campaigner David Brady in Warringah, where he will run against independent Zali Steggall; Franchise Council of Australia director Maria Kovacic in Parramatta, held by retiring Labor member Julie Owens on a margin of 3.5%; banker Pradeep Pathi in Greenway, held for Labor by Michelle Rowland on a margin of 2.8%; and Jerry Nockles, former chief-of-staff to Senator Jim Molan, in Eden-Monaro, which Kristy McBain retained for Labor at a by-election held in July 2020 by 0.4%.
Further preselection news:
• Labor’s Victorian Senate preselection is moving towards resolution after the failure of legal action by Right faction unions associated with Bill Shorten to overturn the takeover of the process by the party’s national executive. Sarah Martin of The Guardian cites multiple sources within the party saying this is likely to result in the defeat of factional powerbroker Kim Carr, who has served in the Senate since 1993. Possible challengers for a position that is reserved to the Left include Linda White, the former national secretary of the Australian Services Union; Ryan Batchelor, a former staffer to Julia Gillard and the executive director of the McKell Institute; and Josh Bornstein, an industrial relations lawyer and Maurice Blackburn partner who appears to have reconsidered his earlier decision to withdraw over past social media posts criticising figures within the party and union movement.
• Anthony Byrne, member for the safe Labor seat of Holt in south-eastern Melbourne, announced on Thursday that he will retire at the election. According to The Age, there are two candidates for the preselection linked with the Right faction Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association, which has traditionally controlled the seat: its national assistant secretary, Julia Fox, and Stephen Parnis, an emergency physician. Other Right faction contenders cited by Greg Brown of The Australian include Helen Cooney, director of Rest Super, and Liberty Sanger, director of Maurice Blackburn and wife of former MP David Feeney, along with Jo Briskey, political co-ordinator of the Left faction United Workers Union.
• The Age reports Ross Lyman, head of supply and operations at McWilliam’s Wines and a former army commando who served in Afghanistan, will run against independent Helen Haines as the Liberal candidate for Indi.
• James O’Doherty of the Daily Telegraph reports the mayor and deputy mayor of Fairfield, Frank Carbone and Dai Le, are considering running as independents against Kristina Keneally in the western Sydney seat of Fowler, either individually and directing preferences to each other or with one supported by the other. Carbone polled nearly three-quarters of the vote in a two-horse race against a Labor candidate at the mayoral election in December, and Le polled 25.9% of the vote as an independent state candidate in Cabramatta in 2019, and 42.4% as the Liberal candidate in 2011.
• Roy Morgan released its second set of federal voting intention numbers in a week on Thursday, having conducted a fresh poll to ascertain any effect from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the previous poll having been conducted entirely before then. All we are provided with is a two-party result of 56.5-43.5 for Labor, no different from the previous poll, with no primary votes or state breakdowns.
• Market research firm Momentum Intelligence has published a report gauging voting intention and political views of professionals in specific industry sectors, which finds Labor strongly favoured among those in the legal services sector, but the Coalition preferred in, ascendingly, aviation, accounting services, defence and national security, financial advice and wealth management, real estate services and mortgage lending, from sample of mostly around 300. The full report can be downloaded here.