Crikey is toying with a tilt against Peter Costello in his seat of Higgins at this year’s federal poll and would love your help tracking down some of the candidates who have run in the seat in recent years. Below we’ve also included some recent sealed section material on related matters, such as Andrew Wilkie’s tilt against John Howard in Bennelong.

Colourful candidates all over the place

March 5 sealed section

Whistle-blowing spook Andrew Wilkie has confirmed today that he is standing for the Greens against John Howard in the seat of Bennelong at the Federal election.

With a 7.75 per cent margin on the 2PP, Howard is safe but Wilkie could be good for lots of publicity and a 10 per cent primary vote that would force the PM to preferences.

The Greens got 4 per cent last time and the Dems almost 6 per cent so there is a solid base for Wilkie to work with.

Check out this transcript from The World Today here:

One wonders what Laurie Oakes would have thought if he’d known this when he broke the Wilkie story on the cover of The Bulletin about 12 months ago.

With Crikey likely to run against Peter Costello in the seat of Higgins, this means we’ve got “mad” publicity-seeking, whistleblowers popping up all over the place.

What next, “Deepthroat” to run against President Bush, Hanson against Abbott, George Pell against the thrice-married Lindsay Tanner in Melbourne?

Why the AEC’s website is so bad

March 11 sealed section

So you want to know what Andrew Wilkie is up against in John Howard’s seat of Bennelong in the NSW?

The Australian Electoral Commission’s website – – would be a good place to start if it was at all intuitive or logical. While most websites will try and limit the number of steps you take to get to the information you want, the AEC’s website is like trying to navigate a minefield.

Here are the steps you have to take just to bring up the federal elections results for 2001:

1. On the ACE homepage click on “When”
2. Choose the option “Past Federal Electoral Events and Results”
3. Under the heading Federal Elections and Results choose “2001 Federal Election”
4. Under the heading Results choose “2001 Federal Election Results”
5. From the three drop-down boxes select NSW in the Divisional box
6. Click on Bennelong
7. And you have the results – finally.

In contrast the Victorian Electoral Commission’s is a breeze:

All the Higgins stats since 1996

Crikey may be a luddite but we were literally unable to find the 2001 results for Higgins until the AEC sent through some instructions.

Peter Costello holds the seat with a comfortable 8.39% margin and only finished second to Labor in two of the 41 booths in 2001. The booth of “Toorak” would have to be one of the safest in any metropolitan seat because in 2001 Cozzie scored 2261 primary votes whilst Labor’s Katie Stephens only managed 417 votes.

Crikey is still toying with the idea of having a crack at Higgins an an independent later this year. It may have something to do with this recent piece in The Australian’s Strewth column:

Crikey, what a candidate

INTERNET publisher Stephen Mayne of is considering running as an independent against Peter Costello in the seat of Higgins at the next election — and it could all be coming to you on your ABC.

In a decision that will thrill the Treasurer and his anti-Aunty Liberal colleagues, the national broadcaster has committed seed money for The Candidate, a documentary that would chart Mayne’s simultaneous attempts to get elected to federal parliament, to the board of a public company, and possibly an AFL club and the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria.

Melanie Coombs, who produced the Academy Award nominated short film Harvie Krumpet, is developing the series. Costello should not be too worried. As Mayne tells Strewth, “I am Australia’s most unsuccessful candidate.” He ran in his old boss Jeff Kennett’s seat and was unsuccessful, and also lost his bid for Melbourne’s mayorship.


CRIKEY: The subsequent big news was that Melanie and Adam Eliot won the Oscar, knocking over Disney and others in the process. And what hasn’t been reported in the press so far is that Melanie is the grand-daughter of Nuggest Coombs, the most famous Australian public servant of them all.

The other point to make is that if it does proceed, and things have changed a little since that Strewth item, there is no suggestion that the ABC would be funding a candidate running against Peter Costello as all campaign costs would be met within Crikey’s limited resources. Besides, Crikey is considering running regardless of whether The Candidate project gets up or not.

Therefore, if this could be happenning, we’re keen to track down the candidates in Higgins from 2001, 1998 and 1996. Anyone got a number or an email for the following and note that the Dems and the Greens both did quite well in the primary votes in 2001:

Peter Costello (Lib) 42,437 (53.19%)
Katie Stephens (ALP) 23,038 (28.88%)
Katie Moss (Dems) 7,275 (9.12%)
Tania Giles (Green) 7,029 (8.81%)

It was a bigger field in 1998:

Peter Costello (Lib) 41,353 (53.44%)
Jude Wallace (ALP) 24,852 (32.12%)
Craig Shaw (Dems) 5,770 (7.46%)
Robert Trafficante (Grn) 2,155 (2.78%)
Rod Spencer (Han) 1208 (1.56%)
David Zyngier (Uni) 1031 (1.33%)
Ian Lawson (Ind) 584 (0.75%)
Russell Dwyer (Ind) 128 (0.17%)
President Torney (ACS) 93 (0.12%)

And these are the figures from 1996 on the clunky AEC website:

Peter Costello (Lib) 42,778 (55.80%)
Ilias Grivas (ALP) 23,392 (30.52%)
Nicolle Kuna (Dem) 7002 (9.13%)
Mark Nicholls (AGV) 2995 (3.91%)

Once again, all help in contacting any of these candidates would be greatly appreciated. Please email boss @