State elections are looming in Victoria and New South Wales but the
dirty battles are being fought now as Liberal MP wannabes sniff
government and scramble for a seat.

The Victorian Libs are only a few seats away from government so no
wonder Louise Asher and Ted Baillieu are talking up a challenge now.
Louise has even stopped her sessions in the Stranger’s Bar with MLC Ron
Best.

The threat of an early election has everyone on their toes and the
preselection brawls have been nasty, brutish and brief. Here’s a guide
to who’s left standing and lists of the dead and wounded.

Lower House

Bass: Robert Doyle’s number-counter, MLC Cameron Bordman, successfully
engineered a win for Ken Smith against the David Davis forces, winning
the right to go head to head with ex-Labor Party member and candidate,
“Independent” Susan Davies.

Bellarine: Whoops! Ian Cover tried to make the leap from the Upper
House, but then lost the preselection by just one vote. He’s blaming
David Davis and will be making his life a misery for the next eight
years.

Benalla: The support of federal MP Sophie Panopoulos wasn’t enough to
get Andrew Randall over the line, and the seat will be contested by
Asher candidate Andrew Dwyer. Resources are short on the ground,
however, and Dwyer will need Panopolous’ resources and support to
actually win the seat. Word on the street is that he is moving to the
right very quickly.

Burwood: Andrew Rule’s wife Di Rule has won out, despite some feral
branch stacking that had a lot of fingers pointing in David Davis’
direction.

Forrest Hill: Vasan Stingivasan won on the first ballot – despite
candidate and MLC Marie Luckins telling anyone within earshot he would
only get one State Council vote. Vasan is factionally ambiguous, so
Forest Hills may become exciting.

Gembrook: Member for Berwick Robert Dean decimated the veteran MP Rob
Maclellan in a post redistribution jump to a new seat despite all
Maclellan’s threats to quit and force a by-election. The rumour mill
now claims that Maclellan knew he had no chance, but huffing and
puffing was designed to force his old friend Dean into running for a
marginal so he could announce his retirement when the election was
called leaving Dean committed to a hard luck seat. Those pushing this
view will tell you the stunt was engineered by Asher and Baillieu.
Whatever the facts might be, it all explains why most independent
observers believe the Victorian Libs are on a hiding to nothing.

Macedon: A win for the Kroger/Costello forces with Bernie Finn one of
the strongest marginal seat campaigners in the State set to return to
Parliament unless the state secretariat stuffs up the campaign.

Mitcham: The backing of Victorian Liberal president Ian Carson saw
Russell Hannan, the brother of the party treasurer, easily headed
Marianne Johnston, despite her support from the new federal MP Tony
Smith. Pity they won’t win the seat…

Mt Waverley: Ron Wilson is the candidate after Opposition Whip Ross
Smith announced his retirement “graciously and with no pressure”.

Narre Warren North: In a bizarre display, it looked as if two
candidates from the same faction were slugging it out for this seat. In
the end, backroom powerbroker Guiseppie de Simone’s mate Marie Luckins
won the day. No doubt she’ll make him Godfather to her next child.

Narre Warren South: Casey city councillor Ben Clissold couldn’t win the
Young Liberal presidency and his bid to move to the big league fell
flat with Michael Shepherdson winning the preselection.

Oakleigh: Local Peter Goudge was preselected unopposed but will find
winning the seat a lot harder. The laid back Goudge is best known for
bringing unfair dismissal action against former boss Senator Tsebin
Chen.

Ripon: After a titanic struggle Rob de Fegely won the day.

Yan Yean: Denis Napthine’s chief of staff Matthew Guy seems to realise
trying his luck here is more likely to advance his career than waiting
for his boss to become Premier.

Upper House

Central Highlands: Sophie Panopolous has had more luck here, with local
farmer Kath Marriott winning convincingly against David Davis’s
candidate, Heather Tivendale, and the administrative committee-backed
Sol Green.

East Yarra: David Davis back, but a third of the floor voted for Kevin Donnelly a massive rebuke.

East Yarra: David Davis had more luck here, with his handpicked
candidate Richard Dalla Riva winning out despite after being asked to
name three political biographies he had read, enjoyed and that had
influences on his political philosophy telling the preselectors he was
currently reading the latest Harry Potter.

Higinbotham: After a Mexican stand off respected financial guru Michael
Heffernan won out over Asher candidate Andrew McLorinan and former Nick
Minchin staffer Ian Farrow. Heffernan immediately went to the library
to try and work out what a faction was.

Koonung: Gerald Ashman successfully held off a challenge by three votes with a wide coalition of support.

Western Port: Cameron Boardman changed seats with a convincing victory, giving the Peninsula Rat Pack a bloody nose.

New South Wales

The New South Wales Libs have a much harder task before them, but new
leader and boy wonder J-Bro has lifted their spirits. The rank and file
have even made a few intelligent preselection decisions.

Bligh – High-profile South Sydney Councillor Shayne Mallard is a good
choice to take on independent Clover Moore. He is popular in the gay
community and will be able to draw on the Young Liberals for campaign
personnel. A good move.

Menai: Recycling of failures is continuing, with local council no hoper
Brett Thomas back again in what should be a safe Liberal seat, going by
the support for local Liberal Fed Dana Vale.

Miranda: Another failure, aging former Sutherland Shire mayor Kevin
Schrieber, has been roped in to try and win moderate powerbroker Ron
Phillip’s old seat back.

Parramatta: The local Libs have been smart and made an excellent choice
in Parramatta City Councillor Chaing Lim, the first Asian Australian to
be chosen by the NSW party in a winnable electorate.

Heathcote: Viagra salesman and bible basher Peter Vermeer has strong
backing from Dana Vale and a good chance of beating the low profile
Labor MP Ian McManus.

There’s still more to come in New South Wales, with preselections for key seats continuing through July.

Hillary Bray can be contacted at [email protected]

Peter Fray

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