Friday, December 4
Ben Raue of the Tally Room cases the joint, and reports the following intelligence concerning the Christian Democratic Party:
Apparently the party has divided the seat’s polling booths between the nine candidates. Each candidate has their own how-to-vote card which puts themselves first then goes to all the other CDP candidates through a donkey vote. Then the the vote goes to the DLP, Bill Koutalianos, One Nation, Simon Kelly, Philip Dowling, Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy, Brian Buckley, Liberal Democrats, Peter Hanrahan, CCC, the Liberals, the Greens and the Sex Party last.
Friday, November 20
A candidates forum will be held at 6pm tonight at the Killara High School, hosted by the school and the Australian Youth Climate Coalition.
Friday, November 13
The ballot paper draw has been conducted, and the full list of 22 candidates can be viewed here. Expect a high informal vote thanks to the Christian Democratic Party, which has been unable to make quite as much of a joke of this very serious process as they had hoped to: only nine candidates are being fielded, rather than the promised 11. Were I a Bradfield voter, I’d send these idiots a signal by placing them from 14 to 22.
Monday, November 9
News Limited reports that Zoo Weekly has approached “chk chk boom girl” Clare Werbeloff to promote its wares by having her run as a candidate. A similar enterprise proposed for the March state election in Queensland, at which former AFL player Warwick Capper was to join Pauline Hanson in running for Beaudesert, was thwarted when the great man and his policy brains trust, Mark Jackson, neglected to submit the nomination in time.
Friday, November 6
LATE: Antony Green has updated his by-election with candidate details, which lists two who had escaped my attention: medical practitioner Simon McCaffrey of the Democratic Labor Party, and fitter and turner Victor Waterson of One Nation.
EARLY: Imre Salusinszky of The Australian reports the Christian Democratic Party’s 11 candidates will run “an emotive anti-Muslim, anti-carbon trading campaign”:
The party’s propaganda for the December 5 by-election, which has been provided in advance to The Australian, declares “Enough!” and urges Australians to “Stand your ground in defence of Christian values”. It uses a selection of alternating slogans, including, “Ten-year moratorium on Muslim immigration”, “No nukes for Iran – we must defend Israel” and “No carbon tax – stop the ETS”.
Tuesday, November 3
The North Shore Times relates the aforementioned Simon Kelly is an “anti-safe seat campaigner”, and that the Liberal Democratic Party will also field a candidate.
Monday, November 2
Seven candidates are listed on Wikipedia: the aforementioned Paul Fletcher, Susie Gemmell, Marianna Leishman and Brian Buckley; another independent, “local IT businessman” Simon Kelly; and two Christian Democratic Party candidates, Leighton Thew and Heath Wilson.
Thursday, October 29
The Australian Sex Party has announced its candidate will be one Zahra Stardust, who is apparently no relation to Ziggy – her birth certificate reportedly records her as Marianna Leishman. Stardust-Leishman is billed as “a feminist writer and law graduate who also works as a trapeze artist, burlesque performer, showgirl, fire twirler and pole dance instructor”. Nominations close November 12, with the ballot draw to follow the next day.
Tuesday, October 27
UPDATE: And, in the interests of balance, Greens candidate Susie Gemmell’s. Thanks to Spanners and Marg for their awareness-raising efforts in comments.
Monday, October 26
Speaker Harry Jenkins has confirmed that the Higgins and Bradfield by-elections will be held on December 5.
Monday, October 19
Brendan Nelson formally tendered his resignation today to Speaker Harry Jenkins, who is expected to announce an election date of November 28 or December 5 in the coming days. Antony Green has weighed in on local reports that the Christian Democratic Party might field as many as 11 candidates: one for each disciple other than Judas, which is presumably how Fred Nile and campaign manager Michael Darby view estranged party MLC Gordon Moyes. Already pencilled in are Leighton Thew and Heath Wilson. Antony says the plan would amount to the CDP “abusing its privileges as a registered party”, which allow it to nominate candidates without obtaining the signatures of 50 voters as independent candidates are required to to. He suggests reforming the law to require nominating signatures if a party wishes to field multiple candidates.
Saturday, October 10
With the by-election process still not officially under way, Phillip Coorey of the Sydney Morning Herald discusses the question of timing:
Governments set byelection dates and, on average, have opted in recent years for polls 52 days after resignations were tendered. That would push Bradfield and Higgins back to Saturday, December 5. They could be a week earlier on November 28. Either way, the polls would follow the final two-week parliamentary sitting in which the Coalition – if it doesn’t filibuster – will have to vote on Labor’s emissions trading scheme.
Saturday, October 3
The North Shore Times reports potential independent candidates include Ku-ring-gai mayor Elaine Malicki and “Australian nationalist” Brian Buckley (hat tip to Nick C in comments).
Tuesday, September 29
An exquisitely detailed report on the preselection by Imre Salusinszky of The Australian details the ballot thus:
Courtesy of the special rule, the first ballot took care of everyone apart from Fletcher (28 votes), Switzer (15), Coleman (14), Leeser (11) and, surprisingly, Burton (12) and Alexander (7). A second ballot redistributed the vote as follows: Fletcher (40), Switzer (23), Leeser (19), Coleman (14), Burton (11), Alexander (7). The tennis champ was retired, hurt. Burton and Coleman were eliminated in the third and fourth ballots. As Coleman fell, the Left moved strategically against Switzer. Leeser leapfrogged him, picking up 13 of Coleman’s 17 supporters. The fifth vote came out: Fletcher (47), Leeser (38), Switzer (26). Leeser’s supporters began to speculate on how soon Turnbull would be elevating their man to the shadow ministry: with Switzer eliminated, they assumed the Right would lock in behind Leeser. They were wrong. Switzer’s vote split straight down the middle. Neeham walked briskly down the stairs of the RSL, to a room next to a billiard parlour, where the candidates were holed up. He told them Fletcher had beaten Leeser by 60 votes to 51, and took them through the successive balloting.
Sunday, September 27
Paul Fletcher won last night’s Liberal preselection over Julian Leeser by a margin of 60 to 51 in the final round, according to VexNews. Tom Switzer and David Coleman reportedly made it through to the third round, the also-rans presumably having been knocked out in the first and second. Stephanie Peatling of the Sydney Morning Herald reports the preselection proceedings were delayed by a bomb scare. Fletcher holds dual British citizenship which he says he will relinquish on Monday, the High Court having established in 1999 that this constitutes “allegiance to a foreign power” when it overturned Queensland One Nation candidate Heather Hill’s election to the Senate.
Other candidate that I’m aware of: Susie Gemmell of the Greens.
Saturday, September 26
Today’s the big day for the Liberal preselection. Writing in The Australian, Peter van Onselen describes the procedure thus:
If you are reading this on Saturday, take a moment to feel for the 117Liberal Party members locked away from the outside world at the Hornsby RSL. There won’t even be a television in the background broadcasting the AFL grand final. If they’re lucky, theyll get a few newspapers to share around. The process will continue through the day as the 17 candidates formally work their way around small groups of preselectors in round table format to answer questions and make short pitches. By 7pm the voting process starts as each of the candidates gets eliminated. It is entirely possible we won’t know the result until the early hours of Sunday morning. If you are reading this article on Sunday, in all likelihood the result will be available on The Australian’s website, even if it wasn’t known in time to make it into the Sunday papers. The talk will quickly move from the process of the preselection to the choice of the candidate selected.
These are the 17 starters in vague order of likelihood of victory, as best as I can ascertain it.
Paul Fletcher. Former Optus executive, described by Imre Salusinszky as “a communications consultant and former staffer with former federal communications minister Richard Alston”. Phillip Coorey of the Sydney Morning Herald reports “number crunchers” give Fletcher slight favouritism ahead of David Coleman. This is partly because he has strong support from the Left, which accounts for 35 votes, while Right (30 votes) support is scattered among Julian Leeser, Tom Switzer, Sophie York, Simon Berger and “dark horse” John Hart. Fletcher is also rated the favourite by Peter van Onselen, who nonetheless observes he “has the twin negatives of being close to the left-wing clique The Group and not living in the area”.
David Coleman. An executive with the Packer family’s Publishing and Broadcasting Limited who is associated with the Left faction and the other side of town, having run for the federal Cook preselection and been mentioned in connection with the state seat of Cronulla. Described as a “centrist” by Peter van Onselen, who rates him one of four front-runners but warns he “doesn’t live in the area and the risk for him is not having enough support early in the count to last long enough to pick up expected preferences”.
Simon Berger. Openly gay staffer for Nelson. Not Friends with Miranda Devine, who says he squibbed the emissions trading system issue while in Nelson’s employ. Andrew Landeryou at VexNews reports he “enjoys the doctor’s strong endorsement”, and is “loosely associated with the Alex Hawke part of the Liberal Right, but the associations with most of these candidates and the dominant factions are very loose”. Phillip Coorey of the Sydney Morning Herald observes that Berger’s branch will be transferred to North Sydney under the current redistribution proposal. Peter van Onselen says both Berger and Leeser “should get strong local support but the difficulty for each of them is winning enough factional support to secure a majority if they make it to the final two”.
Julian Leeser. Menzies Research Centre executive director. According to Andrew Landeryou at VexNews, he would enjoy support from within the Alex Hawke sub-faction of the Right, but “also worked for factionally Left Phil Ruddock so he maintains good relations across the usually warring NSW Liberal tribes”. Phillip Coorey of the Sydney Morning Herald says Leeser is a member of a Berowra branch that will be transferred into the electorate under the current redistribution proposal. Peter van Onselen reports both Leeser and Tom Switzer have been playing up the idea that a local resident is necessary to forestall a challenge by an independent running on development controversies, but says Leeser’s challenge is “winning enough factional support to secure a majority” if he makes the final two.
Tom Switzer. Former opinion page editor of The Australian, adviser to Brendan Nelson and waiter for Studs Afloat in a strictly “pants on” capacity. Said by Andrew Landeryou of VexNews to be backed by the David Clarke faction of the Right. Friends with Miranda Devine. Peter van Onselen reports Switzer has been playing up the idea that a local resident is necessary to forestall a challenge by an independent running on development controversies.
Sophie York. Like Tom Switzer, Friends with Miranda Devine, and evidently very good friends at that: she lists York’s qualifications as “barrister, author, lieutenant-commander in the navy reserves, mother of four sons”, being “part of a new breed of conservative feminists, generous and warm but with courage and a steely intellect”, and sharing Switzer’s qualities of being “successful, normal and fun, with a fine mind, good judgment, loving family and clear moral compass”.
Paul Blanch. Candidate for Calare at the 2004 federal election, at which time he was a spruiked as a sheep farmer who owned a property near Bathurst, he is now described by Phillip Coorey of the Sydney Morning Herald as a “local lawyer and businessman”.
John Alexander. Former Davis Cup champion (loosely defined), “voice of tennis” and referee on Gladiators. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Alexander only recently joined the Liberal Party and attended his first branch meeting last week. A day before the preselection. Imre Salusinszky of The Australian reported Alexander had “unleashed a late offensive, telephoning about half of the 120 preselectors”.
John Hart. Chief executive of Restaurant and Catering Australia, rated a “dark horse” by Phillip Coorey of the Sydney Morning Herald.
Paul Ritchie. Public affairs manager for the NSW Business Chamber.
Namoi Dougall. A solicitor who once sat with Malcolm Turnbull on the Republic Advisory Committee.
Greg Burton. Another solicitor, Burton contested preselection for the state seat of Davidson in 2002.
Maureen Shelley. Former Ku-ring-gai councillor who challenged Bronwyn Bishop for preselection in Mackellar ahead of the 2007 election, losing by 90 votes to 17.
Philip Senior. A late entrant described by Peter van Onselen as an “author and business analyst”.
Richard Bell. Another late entrant, described by Andrew Priestley of the North Shore Times as a “barrister and community radio presenter”.
Robin Fitzsimons. Still another late entrant, described by Andrew Priestley of the North Shore Times as a “Sydney University senate fellow and neurologist”.
Arthur Sinodinos. Considered the front-runner if he chose to run but has declined to do so, pleading the demands of politics on family life. Phillip Coorey of the Sydney Morning Herald quotes a “senior source” saying that if Sinodinos had run, “there would have been potential to embarrass him over his relationship with the disgraced Treasury official Godwin Grech”. Peter van Onselen of The Australian has been promoting the idea that Sinodinos might want to enter state politics instead, perhaps replacing the outgoing Peter Debnam in Vaucluse.
Nick Campbell. State party president, said by Phillip Coorey of the Sydney Morning Herald to have put his hand up on news of Arthur Sinodinos’s no-show, but ultimately didn’t follow through.
Adrienne Ryan. Former Ku-ring-gai mayor and ex-wife of former police commissioner Peter Ryan, mentioned in relation to every NSW Liberal preselection since time immemorial, but not ultimately a contestant in this one.
Nick Farr-Jones. Former Wallabies rugby union star mentioned early in the hunt, but evidently thought better of the idea.
Monday, September 14
Ben Raue at The Tally Room reports the Greens have preselected Susie Gemmell, their candidate from the 2007 election and for the corresponding state seat of Ku-ring-gai in 2003 and 2007. Gemmell works as an adviser to state upper house MP and Senate candidate Lee Rhiannon.
Friday, September 11
Imre Salusinszky of The Australian reports a “draft timetable” circulating the Liberal Party has the preselection scheduled for September 26. According to Salusinszky, Fletcher is “narrowly favoured … at this stage”.
Tuesday, September 1
Malcolm Mackerras in Crikey tips a Liberal-Greens two-party margin of 59-41. He also provides an interesting rebuttal of the conventional wisdom that by-elections are bad for governments: true of the days when most resulted from the deaths of sitting members, he says, but trumped by the desire of voters to react against a “greed-driven resignation of the sitting member” by voting against their party. Without question there’s a lot of meat on these bones, but it doesn’t explain last year’s solid swing to the Nationals in Gippsland.
There may be an interesting new addition to the Liberal preselection race if an item in yesterday’s Crikey Tips and Rumours section is to be believed:
The contest for preselection in Bradfield is about to get a little more interesting with international lawyer Jason Yat-sen Li to declare his candidacy. Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull has been working very hard to convince Yat-sen Li to run. Turnbull and Yat-sen Li have been very close ever since they first met at the Constitutional Convention in 1998. Other front-runners for Bradfield, including Julian Leeser and Tom Switzer, fear that Yat-sen Li might just have what it takes to win the preselection, especially if he has Turnbull’s backing.
Li was the lead New South Wales Senate candidate in 1998 of the Unity Party, formed to send a multicultural message against Hansonism. He left the party shortly after, accusing it of negotiating preference deals with unsavoury right-wing micro-parties. I will hold off including him in my Liberal preselection form guide, which I will move up to the top of this post each time I add a new update:
Monday, August 31
It is expected that the by-election will be held in November: around the time, notes Dennis Shanahan of The Australian, that the Rudd government will reintroduce its Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme legislation, daring the opposition to provide it with a double dissolution trigger. Helpful Liberal sources inform Glenn Milne that Malcolm Turnbull is “finished” if he can’t add 2 per cent to the Liberal primary vote. This is revealed in an interesting article for News Limited’s Sunday tabloids which doesn’t seem to be online:
The battle for Bradfield will be an internal Liberal party referendum on Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership. No more, no less. And for anyone who thinks that a cruel and unusual benchmark for a leader scraping the bottom of poll figures no politician would wish upon another, hark back a moment, if you will, to May, 2008. That was the time of the Gippsland by-election. A happier time for Brendan Nelson, whose decision to quit politics early has turned the contest for Bradfield into a make-or-break moment for Malcolm Turnbull.
Nelson was leader of the Liberal Party and Turnbull his putative challenger. Turnbull and his supporters told anyone who would listen that Gippsland was Nelson’s last stand. If Gippsland went, held by the Nationals for more than 20 years, so too would Nelson’s leadership. Gippsland happened in the full sunlamp glow of Kevin Rudd’s honeymoon. Back then, no one had heard of the global financial crisis. Nelson didn’t have an issue to fly with. But in tough-minded fashion, he grafted some. He opposed the Government’s alco-pops tax as an attack on the “ute-man” demographic in Gippsland, and he flayed Rudd over his broken election promises to bring down grocery and petrol prices. Critically, he used his Budget in Reply speech to propose a five-cents-a-litre-cut in fuel tax.
It flew. Behind the scenes, Turnbull described it as “populist crap”. But after Nelson announced – the first time around – he’d be retiring at the next election, Kevin Rudd had him around for a private cup of tea. Rudd declared Nelson’s speech on the Budget one of his finest moments as Liberal Leader. Unlike Turnbull, Rudd knew a good political manoeuvre when he saw one. The National Party went on to retain Gippsland with an 8.4 per cent swing against Labor.
Critically, the emphatic victory came off the preferences of the 20.4 per cent of the vote won by the Liberal candidate, Rohan Fitzgerald. And you know what that victory bought Brendan Nelson? Three weeks of clear air. That’s all. Three weeks before Turnbull and his supporters again began white-anting him before finally bringing him down five months later. So don’t let anyone tell you that posing the Bradfield by-election as a test for Malcolm Turnbull is a maliciously minded set-up. It is simply a matter of applying Malcolm’s own standards to himself.
The Liberal preselection will be decided at the end of September by 72 local branch delegates and 48 from the state council and state executive. There is talk of as many 20 candidates taking the field. Phillip Coorey of the Sydney Morning Herald reports talk in Liberal circles that some might be running to serve notice to the members for neighbouring Berowra and Mackellar, Philip Ruddock and Bronwyn Bishop, that it won’t do for them to squeeze out another term while the surplus of Bradfield preselection talent goes begging.
Elsewhere, AAP reports the Greens will preselect a candidate on September 14. There’s a crazy large guide to the electorate on Ben Raue’s The Tally Room. The similarly thorough Antony Green offers some late news on the 1952 by-election for the seat.
Tuesday, August 25
Phillip Coorey of the Sydney Morning Herald reports Brendan Nelson “will not stay until the next election” and will “make an announcement in the next 24 hours”, suggesting a by-election is imminent in his north Sydney seat of Bradfield. The electorate runs from Chatswood north through Killara, Turramurra and St Ives to Wahroonga and has been very safe for the Liberals since its creation in 1949, the inaugural member being a venerable Billy Hughes. Brendan Nelson came to the seat in 1996 after a preselection coup against David Connolly, member from 1974.
Nelson announced he would not contest the next election in February, leading to considerable jockeying ahead of a preselection that was delayed pending the announcement of new electoral boundaries. To head off branch stacking, the party’s state executive promptly ruled that any new members in the electorate would not be eligible to vote in the preselection ballot due nine months’ hence, whereas the rule normally requires only six months of membership. By all accounts the two front-runners will be Arthur Sinodinos, legendary former chief-of-staff to John Howard, and Tom Switzer, former opinion page editor for The Australian. However, other names were recently put forward by Phillip Coorey: Menzies Research Centre executive director Julian Leeser; Paul Fletcher, director of corporate and regulatory affairs at Optus; and David Coleman, an executive with the Packer family’s Publishing and Broadcasting Limited (last I heard) who is associated with the Left faction and the other side of the town, having run for the federal Cook preselection and been mentioned in connection with the state seat of Cronulla.
Antony Green has quickly whipped up a post on the matter, noting as a certain fact that Labor won’t run and that “the real contest in Bradfield is likely to be in Liberal pre-slection, not the subsequent by-election”.
UPDATE: According to Christian Kerr of The Australian, an “influential local Liberal” says: “If Arthur wants the seat, he’s got it. If he doesn’t run, then it’s an open race.”
UPDATE 3: Andrew Landeryou at VexNews says his sources believe Sinodinos is “not interested in running and has told people so as late as today”. He also names as another contender “master campaign tactician Simon Berger, an openly gay staffer for Nelson who enjoys the doctor’s strong endorsement”. Berger is “loosely associated with the Alex Hawke part of the Liberal Right, but the associations with most of these candidates and the dominant factions are very loose”. Leeser “would enjoy support from within the Hawke group. Interestingly, he once also worked for factionally Left Phil Ruddock so he maintains good relations across the usually warring NSW Liberal tribes”. Tom Switzer has support from the “Taliban Right” associated with local operative Noel McCoy and hard Right warlord David Clarke, “although they don’t really claim him as a member as such”. Apparently still in the mix is barrister Mark Speakman, recently discussed as a possible successor to Peter Debnam in Vaucluse and a challenger to federal incumbent Stephen Mutch in Cook way back in 1998, which led to the installation of Bruce Baird as a compromise candidate. Landeryou reckons David Coleman’s “decision to drag the party off to court over a previous preselection (for Cook before the last federal election) made him as popular as a bikini model in a Kabul coffee house”.