What does the retirement of Environment Minister Dr David Kemp mean for
his electorate of Goldstein and the Liberal Party? See
what’s been said in recent subscriber only emails below:

So farewell then, David Kemp

Subscriber email – 13 July

His preselection helped shatter John Howard’s first term as Leader of
the Liberal Party. What will the retirement of Environment Minister Dr
David Kemp mean?

Another preselection shitfight, for starters – this one just weeks away
from an election. A preselection fight with leadership implications,
too. The contenders for Goldstein? Party identities Ian Carson and
Margaret Fitzherbert must both be starters – but keep a very close eye
on Josh Frydenberg from the PM’s own office. Camp Costello will be.

Frydenberg worked alongside Peter Reith’s successor, Greg Hunt, for
Alexander Downer and has even higher goals in his sights than the PMO.
Crikey knew Josh from the junior tennis circuit in the late 1980s and
early 1990s in Melbourne where he was decidedly unpopular with his
self-important demeanour and loud tracksuits.

However, this might have reflected latent anti-semitism and a tall
poppy syndrome as he was ambitious and confident. The Liberals don’t
have a Jewish MP anywhere in Australia and with Labor re-embracing the
decisively pro-Israel Kim Beazley, putting someone like Josh into a
safe seat would go down well in the Jewish community. Unlike most
people lining up for a seat in Victoria, Josh also wouldn’t be an
automatic vote for the Treasurer’s ticket in any leadership spill.

Meanwhile, there will also be pressure on David Kemp’s little brother
and Arts Minister Rod Kemp, who also entered the Parliament in 1990, to
stand aside.

But more interesting of all here are the Cabinet dynamics. Have another
look at Kemp’s mauling at the hands of a raging Kerry O’Brien on The
7.30 Report last month when it became very clear that the Government’s
much touted environment package was nothing but a diesel engine fuelled
by pork.

Kemp had obviously been rolled in Cabinet. He couldn’t have made it
much clearer. He’d been a good Environment Minister, kept the lid on a
sensitive portfolio but been rolled – rolled by his colleagues and
rolled by his Prime Minister.

Just like Daryl Williams, another member of the Cabinet so unhappy in
his portfolio that he’s leaving, too. John Howard PM deserves the full
Lady Bracknell treatment over this one. To lose one Cabinet Member may
be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness.

Especially, Prime Minister, especially so close to an election.

And isn’t it interesting how the 60-something Cabinet member are bowing
out. David Kemp turns 63 in October whilst Daryl Williams reaches 62
next month. Does this mean Philip Ruddock, who turned 61 in March, is
next to go? And what about Kay Patterson who turns 60 in November?

John Howard turns 65 on July 26 and if he wins the election he will be
three years and eight months older than the next youngest person in his
fourth term Cabinet. Does anyone fancy doing an analysis of the
relative age of John Howard to his Cabinet colleagues over the years?

Goldstein rush – is it interstate Robbery?

Subscriber email – 15 July

Forget about the Michael Kroger yarns – but keep a very close eye on
former Liberal Party federal director Andrew Robb. If the missus
doesn’t mind – and she’s a gal from Victoria’s Western Districts – Robb
could well be Melbourne bound and Kerry Packer could have a second
former top executive in the Liberal Federal Parliamentary Party.

That will leave a heap of disappointed nobodies, has beens, could-bes and wannabes on the ground – people like:

  • Geoff Leigh, the ex state MP for Mordialloc
  • Michael Heffernan, a former state candidate for Higinbotham
  • Peter Goudge, a former state candidate and local councillor
  • Jason Aldworth, a Kroger employee and friend of State Director Julian Sheezel
  • Margaret Fitzherbert, Kemp staffer
  • Daryl Williams, the former Party Constitutional Committee Chair
  • Inga Peulich, the current Victorian Liberal Party Vice President
    and former State MP who thinks highly of her own campaign techniques.

If Robb’s running, forget all about them. He’ll be the official
Costello camp candidate with strong support from the PM. That’ll be
hard to beat, although you should remember that preselection battle for
Goldstein in 1989 was arguably the most bitter and divisive in the
history of the Liberal Party.

Then Victorian state director David Kemp, with Michael Kroger, Peter
Costello and all those right wing think tanks backing him, decided to
run against Ian McPhee who Howard had dumped to the backbench in April
1988 after he cross the floor over non-discriminatory immigration
policies. With the support of the Admin committee, Kemp got over the
line by 3 votes in a battle tinged with racist overtones. For many
people it was the death of Liberalism as Chris Puplick and other
prominent wets left soon after.

This preselection battle was also caught up in the 1989 leadership coup
that saw Andrew Peacock topple John Howard. For the sake of the
government, let’s hope Howard and Costello back the same man – that man
being the widely respected Andrew Robb.

Crikey is having a chat with Stateline at 3pm this afternoon for a
story on Goldstein this Friday so all intelligence to
[email protected]

Why Andrew Robb must run in Goldstein

Subscriber email – 16 July

Victorians should tune in to Stateline tonight as Josephine Cafagna has
pulled together what sounds like a comprehensive wrap of the issues in
the forthcoming Goldstein preselection battle after Environment
Minister David Kemp announced his shock retirement this week.

For Sydneysiders who don’t understand, Goldstein is the closest thing
we’ve got to all those North Shore seats with snobby Brighton being the
Melbourne equivalent of Mosman. Check out the Goldstein map and profile
on the AEC website here.

As Christian Kerr wrote yesterday, the seat is Andrew Robb’s for the
taking. However, if he doesn’t put his hand up then there will be a
factional bunfight because the rump of the Kennett faction still
resents the recent dominance of the rival Kroger and Costello forces.

So who and what is the Kennett faction? The only prominent Federal MP
is Petro Georgiou, the former Victorian state director who holds the
blue-ribbon seat of Kooyong which he inherited from Andrew Peacock in
the last major preselection prize that cropped up Federally for
aspiring Libs in Melbourne.

Louise Asher is the most prominent State Liberal MP in the Kennett rump
and this is where it gets interesting because her state seat of
Brighton falls completely within Goldstein and she will have some
influence in some of the branches. Check out the Brighton map from the
VEC website here.

The next three most prominent members of the Kennett rump include
former Presidents Joy Howley and Ian Carson and former deputy president
Peter Clarke. Carson has long been rumoured to covet Goldstein on
Kemp’s retirement so he is the most obvious “name” for the Kennett rump
to throw up if Robb doesn’t run.

However, even if Carson were to run he would be unlikely to succeed as
the Costello-Kroger faction has rarely suffered a preselection defeat
in Victoria since Mitch Fifield was beaten into Alan Stockdale’s seat
of Brighton by Louise Asher in 1999.

As we all know so well, the Kennett faction was diminished by the loss
of the 1999 state election, further damaged by the successful
leadership challenge by Robert Doyle against the Kennett-endorsed state
leader Denis Napthine and then routed at the state conference after the
2002 state election when the Kennett rump was widely blamed for the
disastrous result. This was when the Costello forces swept the Admin
committee, Helen Kroger became party president and Julian Sheezel was
installed as state director.

Admin committee and other non-branch delegates have about 40 per cent
of the votes in the forthcoming preselection ballot and this is where
the Costello-Kroger faction will be able to force the numbers in
Goldstein – even if they endorse a relative non-entity. Incidentally,
AIJAC executive director Colin Rubenstein is another name being
mentioned in passing.

The Brighton set are already talking about getting someone of Cabinet
material and the Victorian Libs do have the problem of putting too many
ambitious 30-somethings in Parliament – look at Tony Smith, Mitch
Fifield, Sophie Panopoulos and Greg Hunt.

Costello can’t be left as the only seriously “big name” frontbencher
from Victoria so it is time for Andrew Robb to step up and straight
onto the front bench. After all, this is the guy who turned the
National Farmers Federation into a powerhouse when he was executive
director from 1985 until 1988. More importantly, he had seven years as
Federal Director of the Liberal Party, which included John Howard’s
1996 small target landslide.

However, Robb isn’t exactly Melbourne establishment. The Catholic
Parade college in Bundoora and Latrobe Uni (both about 40 clicks from
Brighton and in Labor territory) followed by Dookie Agricultural
College is not your classic Melbourne Grammar-Melbourne Uni path to the
top. But he’s still a local boy with a decade of top-level experience
inside the Liberal Party and a solid record in business and lobbying
over the past seven years.

Jokes aside, could it be Bolt for Goldstein?

Subscriber email – 16 July (second edition)

A well connected political pundit writes:

It’s Bolt for Goldstein.

Honestly, I’m not making it up – just heard it from Melbourne –
unsubstantiated and most unlikely but still possible. Why not invite
Andrew to submit a 20,000 word email detailing his vision for
Australia? On second thoughts, he needs no invitation.

As far as Crikey knows Bolt lives in Peter Costello’s seat
of Higgins, however, that’s only a stone’s throw from Goldstein and
Bolt does hold the sort of staunchly conservative views the Liberal
Party admires. The Brighton set love to beat up on the towel-heads.
Bolt has has a swag of loyal readers, although whether or not they too
reside in Goldstein is another matter.

Then there is the Liberal breakfast Bolt did for Tony Abbott this
morning. It all point to just one thing. Look out Goldstein, here comes
Andrew Bolt! How about the Abbott-Bolt dream team to rival that dynamic
duo of Brendan Nelson and Santo Santoro. Look out Peter Costello!