We’re not likely to see anything on the polling front this week, but there is other electoral news to relate following recent parliamentary vacancies and party defections:
• The Sydney Morning Herald reports preselection nominees to fill the late Jim Molan’s New South Wales Liberal Senate vacancy are likely to include Andrew Constance, former state minister and unsuccessful candidate for Gilmore, and Fiona Scott, who held the lower house seat of Lindsay from 2013 to 2016, together with reported front-runner Dallas McInerney, chief executive of Catholic Schools NSW. Constance and Scott are associated with the moderation faction, while McInerney is a conservative. Mary-Lou Jarvis, lawyer and Woollahra councillor, has also written to senior party figures staking her claim as a qualified woman and the third candidate on the ticket at last year’s election, while also criticising the party’s apparent intention to leave the position vacant until after the state election on March 25.
• The Australian reports the Liberal hierarchy’s hopes of fielding a female candidate for the Aston by-election stand to be complicated by the entry into the field of Emanuele Cicchiello, who is rated a strong chance by sources close to eastern suburbs conservative powerbroker and Deakin MP Michael Sukkar. However, other unidentified sources, “including some with strong Right faction allegiances”, rubbished the notion. Cicchiello is deputy prinicipal of Lighthouse Christian College, a former mayor of Knox and contestant for the seat of Bruce in 2013 and numerous preselections since. All other noted contenders have been women with the exception of Andrew Asten, a former staffer to Alan Tudge, who has since ruled himself out. Anthony Galloway of the Age/Herald reports the matter could be determined by a plebisicite of local members, which have lately proved resistant to female candidates, if the by-election is set for a date that allows sufficient time.
• Victorian Senator Lidia Thorpe’s resignation from the Greens last week marked the first change to party representation in parliament since the election, with the Senate numbers now at Coalition 32, Labor 26, Greens 11, One Nation two, Jacqui Lambie Network two, United Australia Party one and two independents, namely Thorpe and David Pocock. This leaves the government needing two extra votes when the Greens are on board and the Coalition are not, where formerly it needed only one. Thorpe was elected to a six-year term at the election last May, which will extend to the middle of 2028.