Now that John Brogden has achieved his goal of becoming New South Wales Liberal leader, there’s talk that Chikka mightn’t be the only person to lose her job. The Liberal leadership changes may well spark a shake-out of sitting MPs. Hillary has been prowling around the Parliamentary Liberal Party and produced this seat by seat guide to where the action is. And at the bottom we have a further update from a mysterious contributor.
Baulkham Hills: AKA Wayne’s World. Wayne Merton has a solid grip on the seat for the right. He’ll go when he wants to and choose his successor.
Bega: The retirement rumours are also swelling round Russell Smith. Is he going to hang up the whip? Keep your ears and eyes open, kiddies.
Cronulla: There was talk Malcolm Kerr would go last time. This time, electorate conference president Mark Speakman and Kogarah Mayor Sam Witheridge seem very keep to facilitate a departure. Kerr is a noted non-performer and this is a seat to watch.
Davidson: Andrew Humpherson was given fright by the former Lane Cove Mayor Steven Bowers, a right winger, last time round. Both sides have been digging in since then, and word on the street is that Bowers will use Humpherson’s support for Brogden as an excuse for another tilt.
Gosford: Chris Hartcher see Pittwater.
Hawkesbury: We’ve talked about this one before Kevin Rozzoli, the Libs’ elder statesman, is digging his heels in for one hell of a pre-selection challenge. Electorate conference president Rick Forbes is still said to be interested despite vigorous denials and legal threats to Crikey for saying so. There have supposedly been conversations with Anthony Roberts in the PM’s office in the hope that the Rodent will offer Big Kev some sort of appointment and get him out of there. That still leaves the problem of Hornsby Mayor Stephen Pringle plus a few small fry. The dirt has already been flying thick and fast on this one and don’t be surprised if the writs start flying soon.
The Hills: Michael Richardson went into the party room meeting that chose Brogden as an undeclared voter. He is now on the front bench and the right are seething. A revenge attack seems inevitable.
Hornsby: New girl Judy Hopwood was outed in her local rag as a Brogden supporter by the genial Fatty O’Barrel causing ripples amongst a few of her local supporters. John-Boy worked hard for her to get the Liberal candidacy, and while her preselection opponents seem to be concentrating their energies elsewhere, the right are steadily muttering away.
Kuring-gai: Fatty’s fearsome threats during the leadership challenge have helped his career no end not and the left are lining up a couple of challengers to help him on his way. If he’s feeling humble when the time comes, there’s even some talk that newly appointed Liberal Party federal treasurer Malcolm Turnbull might decide not to become Prime Minister and throw his hat into the ring here.
Lane Cove: Chikka seems to have accepted the inevitable fairly well, so poor old Anthony Roberts will just have to wait and pray he can keep a hold on the numbers.
North Shore: De51ja vu! Most observers believe that Jillian Skinner should have no trouble at preselection time but should be watching out for a popular North Sydney Mayor and the Nor Shore NIMBY factor come March next year.
Pittwater: It seems reasonable to assume Broggers isn’t going to be challenged in the next few weeks.
Southern Highlands: For once, there appear to be advantages in holding a relatively marginal seat. The conservative members of Peta Seaton’s conference are most unhappy that she voted for the Boy Wonder but don’t want to rock the boat.
Vaucluse: The heart of Sydney’s battler belt so the left feel they should have this seat. They are believed to be prepping up a couple of challengers to Peter Debnam, but the newly reappointed shadow treasurer has supposedly been off on a recruiting drive of his own lately and should hang on.
Wagga Wagga: Daryl McGuire ain’t going nowhere.
Wakehurst: The hazard lights are flashing. The left are bummed at Brad for backing Chikka and the numbers are tight. They face a slight problem, though there’s no obvious challenger.
Willoughby: Last but not least, the small but perfectly formed Potts Point habitue51 Peter Collins MP QC. A few short weeks ago he seemed set for retirement or toppling but he now enjoys a whole new lease on life. Putative challenger, moderate and former Collins staffer Gladys Berejiklian looks set to leave him alone, while the other wannabe, right wing maniac and former Collins staffer David Elliot, now has his eye on Parramatta. The right might have a go, but the biggest threat may well be looming from Chikka’s clan. Their little girl may no longer be leader, but the Bartels family still has clout and popular independent Mayor of Willoughby Pat Reilly could well be the tool of their revenge. One to watch.
Feedback and further contributions from mystery contributor
You deserve to be congratulated for the excellent piece you wrote on Liberal pre-selections in NSW. Your article obviously concentrated on seats that the Liberal Party currently holds in the NSW Parliament. If that was the case, there was one ommission (and only one) that you made in that you didn’t mention the seat of Camden, currently held by Dr Liz Kernohan.
That is just as well as the ALP are set to make a strong challenge to the Liberals hold on this seat. Word has it that they have a former Mayor of Camden ready to roll for the upcoming campaign. It will be interesting whether Liz actually runs agains as rumours have persisted for the past three years that she may not re-contest. The biggest problem for the Liberals will be whether they could find a suitable replacement. Incumbent MLCs John Ryan and Charlie Lynn have been spoken of as potential replacements. However it is unlikely that they would sacrifice another four years in the Upper House, with its guarantee of a pension at the end of it. The Left is holding out hope of another Pat Farmer-type candidate coming forward. It is the best they can hope for in what is undoubtedly Right wing territory.
After narrowly losing the last couple of Liberal pre-selections in Manly, local Mayor Jean Hay is expected to be endorse quite easily, possibly even unopposed. With past opponents having dropped out for a range of reasons (business, local government investigations, defamations cases) and Hay having the strong support of Alan Jones it appears that nothing will get in her way. There is some regret from local males, however, that stunning Liberal Manly Councillor and solicitor Karina Page is not going to put her hat in the ring.
The pendulum says this is a seat the Libs can’t hope to win but local Labor MP Gabrielle Harrison (and a littany of scandals in the past four years) has given them plenty of hope.
Former Collins and Howard staffer, and Army spokesman, Mayor David Elliott appears to be positioning himself at a tilt at Parramatta now that his former boss appears intent on spending another term as Member for Willoughby.
Parramatta Councillor Chiang Lim is believed to have the best chance of resting the seat from Labor with his strong contacts within the local Chinese community and Catholic Church. Strathfield-based Left winger Tania Baini is another who is believed to be preparing for a tilt. The fact that the Parramatta electorate has a large Maronite population and her Dad is a Lebanese community leader is expected to weigh heavily on the minds of pre-selectors. However, the right-wing dominated conference is likely to make a factional decision which puts Elliott in the box seat.
Labor have become increasingly cocky in what was traditionally safe Liberal territory. With former Police Minister and local member Paul Whelan expected to retire at the next election, popular Strathfield Mayor and Gwyneth Paltrow look-alike Virginia Judge appears to be in the box seat for ALP pre-selection.
It is believed this fear of failure in Strathfield has resulted in only two candidates stepping forward for Liberal pre-selection – Burwood Mayor Joe Tannous (supported by the Left) and Warwick Jones (Right) the husband of Strathfield Councillor Helen Jones. The Conference is however run by the ultra-Right of the Party (disciples of David Clark and Lyenko Urbanchich) who see the moderate Right as a bigger threat than the Left. This has the makings of a surprise come pre-selection day.
Speaker of the Legislative Assembly and regular international tourist John Murray is believed to have an iron grip on this seat. The Liberals therefore are not expected to be mounting a strong challenge for this Harbourside electorate.
The Liberals are believed to be undecided on who to run with past candidates Michael Megna and Peter Phelps (not the Water Rats star) unavailable. Perhaps a celebrity like the brother of the AMA President could be the answer for the Liberals. Rumour has it that Marie Ficarra, the former Liberal MP for Georges River, could be making a move to run. Her strong Italian community links are believed to have her in good stead should she choose to run.
Hawkesbury – update
Saturday 11 May is set to be a landmark day in the run-up to the Hawkesbury pre-selection with the re-formation of Hawkesbury Young Liberals. This branch is expected to be crucial to the pre-selection chances of both Hornsby Mayor Steven Pringle and incumbent MP Kevin Rozzoli. It is, however, also believed to be a test of strength for newly-endorsed local MLC David Clarke. Clarke’s brown shirts are believed to be working furiously on having the numbers ready for the big day.
Hawkesbury YLs used to be a strong Right wing branch with recruits over the years from organisations like the Shooters Party and National Action. Neglect from the Right however gave Pringle, then the local State Executive representative, the opportunity to close the branch down. Now he is trying to re-open it as a Left wing branch, which is where the real intrigue begins. Pringle is working with the Young Liberal Left on State Executive in trying to secure the numbers for the Left, promising a number of recruits from Galston and Dural. However, his campaign manager and Hawkesbury Conference President Rick Forbes is working tirelessly to stitch up a deal with the Right, promising Pringle’s vote for the Right once he gets to Parliament.
The Hornsby Mayor appears to have is bread buttered on both sides which should put him in an unbeatable position come pre-selection time. The contest will become even more interesting after 11 May.
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