May 10, 2018

Poll Bludger: more byelection angst for Shorten

The biggest danger to Shorten may lie in the one seat where Labor will not have a dog in the fight: the South Australian electorate of Mayo.

William Bowe — Editor of The Poll Bludger

William Bowe

Editor of The Poll Bludger

Bill Shorten’s niggling byelection headache following Tim Hammond’s resignation last week has now developed into a full-blown migraine, after another uncompromising High Court ruling on Section 44 triggered mass layoffs in the House of Representatives yesterday.

The latest developments are a serious blow to the credibility of a leader who claimed last year that the government's "legitimacy and integrity" had been called into question by the Section 44 debacle, while boasting that his own party had been spared by its "strict vetting process".

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17 thoughts on “Poll Bludger: more byelection angst for Shorten

  1. The Curmudgeon

    Not sure I follow the reasoning: how is Shorten embarrassed if the Libs regain a traditional Lib seat from a minor party? What would be more than embarrassing would be the loss of a Labor seat (obviously), but in my view, even the failure to secure some sort of swing to Labor would be ominous. Historically, governments have to be travelling very well to gain swings in government v opposition by-elections, and Braddon and Longman at least seem good territory for the equality/fairness agenda. They are certainly not Turnbull’s beloved “agile innovator” territory.
    If Labor does need to get some sort of swing in Longman to hold the seat (almost certainly true) and doesn’t get it, what would that say about its ability to make the gains in Queensland which are crucial to victory?
    I’m not the president of the Albanese fan club, but honestly, if an opposition can’t hold some marginal seats against a government which has been behind in the polls for ages, you’d have to ask some tough questions.
    As I keep repeating ad nauseam, no government party has taken a seat from the opposition party in a federal by-election since 1920. Not the sort of history Shorten should be making. No excuses acceptable.

    1. Arky

      Indeed. It may be a minor fillip to the Coalition but it hardly embarasses Shorten for a minor party MP to get turfed.

      Failure to secure a swing to Labor would not be a good sign, yes. While the excuse could be made that these byelections are being caused by a scandal which might temporarily dent the Labor vote in these seats, there was no visible dent in the votes for John Alexander or (hilarity of hilarities) Barnaby Joyce when they had their byelections due to s44 problems. So the excuse can’t really wash.

  2. Wallywonga

    From what I’ve heard Georgina Downer say publicly, she would have to be considered a lot more to the right than centre, so a good centre left Labour candidate here may have a chance, especially given Sharkie’s success previously.
    This elligibility issue is probably Shorten’s first major stuff up, and made him look as arrogant as Turnbull. Hopefully it won’t have any lasting damaging effect electorally.

    1. Woopwoop

      Agreed on Georgina Downer – she’s just an IPA mouthpiece. And maybe being Alexander Downer’s daughter will count against her in a”jobs for the boys” kind of way.

  3. klewso

    “Never put your hand up in a chaff-cutter.”

  4. Marilyn

    Under the law set down by a different high court 25 years ago the ALP processing was probably very rigid, this high court I think were dead wrong, you cannot take ”reasonable” out of the constitution just because you feel like it.

    1. Arky

      Reasonable wasn’t in the constitution, it was in the High Court’s previous reasoning.
      The ALP has been caught out by a High Court which has changed its interpretation of the Constitution from the High Court which decided the Cleary case a couple of decades back. However, this is always possible and even if the legal advice was (as it turns out, wrongly) absolutely confident in how “reasonable steps” would continue to be interepreted, it was a mistake for Shorten to be so publicly unequivocal about what the Court would do.

      Realistically, Labor should have said “our legal advice for 20 years has been that reasonable steps is sufficient, just as it says in the AEC handbook to candidates, but we will happily refer all questioned candidates to make absolutely sure, as long as the Coalition does the same”.

      Instead Shorten has ended up with a bit of egg on his face and a media which is not inclined to do anything but attack him, rather than explain why Labor wasn’t unreasonable to think their MPs were in a different boat.

      1. The Curmudgeon

        Poor judgement by Shorten, but given that he’s running against the guy who gave us Godwin Grech, do the Libs really want “judgement” as a leadership issue? Keating certainly got that bit right about Turnbull.

  5. Sleuth

    The media never question why the coalition are permanently on the nose. Perhaps they don’t watch question time.

  6. AR

    Unless there is a significant swing to Labor, anywhere, it will reinforce the point of how insipid & uninspiring gumBoil Shlernt is, even compared to Talcum.
    They continue to be each other’s best/only asset.

  7. CML

    What about the other Coalition members who are still under a cloud…as far as section 44 of the Constitution is concerned??? No one has had anything to say about them.
    Josh Frydenburg anyone?…it doesn’t seem to matter what excuse is offered by the politicians, the High Court does not appear to discriminate. So…are they going to make a ‘special’ deal in his case???
    Or worse…is Frydenburger just going to get away with sitting in the HoR as a dual citizen?????

    1. Itsarort

      Cleary his mum has more pull than the HC.

  8. bref

    What is it about this issue that’s got all the parties in such a lather? Talk about a non issue. How on earth did a seasoned politician like Shorten get wedged into guarantying that such an issue couldn’t arise in the Labor party? For god’s sake, nobody cares! Change the law so dual citizens can be parliamentarians, as they do in other countries! This is so indicative of politics in Australia today, we get bogged down over the simplest issues. FFS fix it already!

    1. bref

      Guaranteeing of course.

  9. klewso

    The High Court has redefined “all reasonable steps” as “a slippery slope”?

  10. Metal Guru

    I never cease to be dismayed and amused by citizens who dwell on the entrails of the recent High Court decision re: S44 of the Constitution and the citizenship fiasco which has engulfed Labor even more than its opponents – lib, independent centrists, Nats and Greens. The High Court decision is FINAL!! Damnit!! FINAL!! And any sophistry about its decisions in another lifetime are surely matters for another place and time and something Labor can ruefully reflect on publicly if they want after they lose the next Fedeal elelction – which they most certainly will do with a turkey like Shorten leading them. Shorten’s position as leader is untenable in the light of this recent High Court decision and the arrogant manner a la Turnbull in which he has managed his political party. He isn’t a leader at all but I think that speculation here is futile unless is it backed by proper polling. Shorten will struggle in QLD and NSW – he did in Bennelong and New England and failed in QLD at the last federal election where he couldn’t even pick up the most marginal seat in the country – Petrie at a fraction of a percent!. He will probably hold his own in Victoria and may scrape back in Tassie and WA but there is no reason why a good centrist candidate can’t hold Mayo given its candidate is an IPA stooge. But Shorten has been outsmarted time after time in by-elections and general politicking that I think it is time for him to go despite his more favourable budget position. I think its about time to hand it over to Albo. You heard it from me first – or did you? Cheers

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