turncoat politicians

Back in 2013, Crikey published this comprehensive list of 97 political figures who changed allegiance during their career. Call them turncoats or independent thinkers, these people — ranging from Billy Hughes to Cheryl Kernot — did not stay rusted to the same registered party.

We’ll be re-heating and updating Andrew Crook’s original effort as part of the 2017 Crikey Lists project, but seeing as there has been a spate of defections of late, here are 12 new names, the majority coming from the splintering conservative side of politics:

Cory Bernardi: elected as No. 2 on the South Australian Liberal Senate ticket in 2016 and with a six-year term worth $2 million locked in, he quickly defected to set up Australian Conservatives in 2017, which has now merged with the South Australian division of Family First.

Sam Cox: was the second former LNP MP to defect to One Nation in January 2017 when he was unveiled as Pauline Hanson’s candidate in the sugar seat of Burdekin. Served one term as the state LNP member for Thuringowa after the 2012 Campbell Newman landslide but wasn’t re-endorsed in 2015 after making critical statements about the proposed Townsville stadium.

Bob Day: a former endorsed Liberal who contested the federal seat of Makin in 2007 but then lost a preselection contest to Jamie Briggs, who won the battle to succeed Alexander Downer in Mayo. Day then defected to Family First, where he was twice successful in getting elected into the Senate. He resigned in 2017 after running into financial difficulties and was later declared ineligible to have been elected in the first place by the High Court.

Steve Dickson: after 10 years as an LNP state MP in Queensland, the former minister in the Newman government defected in January 2017 to One Nation, so the member for Buderim is Pauline Hanson’s only MP currently serving in the Queensland Parliament.

Lucy Gichuhi: chosen by the High Court to replace Family First senator Bob Day but despite being No. 2 on the party’s South Australian ticket in 2016, won’t serve a day as a Family First senator after the party instead merged with Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives, which she has declined to join. She will initially serve as an independent, but she will have no prospects of re-election in 2019 unless she registers her own party.

Dennis Hood: first elected as an upper house South Australian MP for Family First in 2006, but in 2017 agreed to fold his party in with Cory Bernardi’s newly created Australian Conservatives.

Billy Gordon: elected as the state Labor member for Cook in the Queensland Parliament in 2015 but was serving as an independent within two months after being expelled by Labor when his local criminal history was revealed, including allegations of family violence.

Jacqui Lambie: first elected in 2013 as a Palmer United senator from Tasmania but resigned to sit as an independent less than five months after commencing her term. Had earlier worked for Tasmanian Labor Senator Nick Sherry and also contested a Liberal Party preselection. She was re-elected in 2016 and leads her own party, the Jacqui Lambie Network.

Glenn Lazarus: first elected as a Palmer United Party Senator in Queensland but then followed Jacqui Lambie out the door in March 2015 when he became an independent. Lazarus failed to be re-elected at the 2016 election when leading his newly formed party the Glenn Lazarus Team.

Michael Pucci: the former US Marine and state LNP member for Logan lost his seat in 2015 after one term and has now signed up as Pauline Hanson’s paid campaign director for the forthcoming Queensland election.

Neil Symes: at 23, Symes became the youngest Queensland MP after the Newman landslide of 2012 but was an LNP oncer who comfortably lost his seat of Lytton in 2015 and has subsequently joined One Nation.

Craig Thomson: the former Health Services Union boss was elected to Federal Parliament in 2007 but resigned from the ALP in April 2012 after his various scandals, such as using union funds to visit brothels, proved too embarrassing for the party. Eventually convicted of multiple offences and lost his seat in 2013.

* Have we missed anyone? Let us know.

Peter Fray

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