May 18, 2018

A guide to Australia’s (many) political dynasties 

With the preselection of Georgina Downer in the seat of Mayo, Crikey looks at whether Australia may be more prone to political dynasties than we might think.

Charlie Lewis — Journalist

Charlie Lewis


This week brought the news that Georgina Downer has been preselected as the Liberal candidate for the seat of Mayo (recently vacated by the Centre Alliance MP Rebekha Sharkie, who was taken in the great Section 44 purges of 2017/18). Should she be successful in the upcoming byelection, Downer -- a research fellow with the right wing think tank the Institute of Public Affairs -- will be the fourth consecutive generation of the Downer family to serve prominently in Australian politics. 

Australia is, it turns out, more seduced by dynastic authority than we like to think.

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11 thoughts on “A guide to Australia’s (many) political dynasties 

  1. AR

    Pity about this country having such a shallow political gene pool.
    Is there no medication for it or does it require major surgery?

  2. mary wood

    How about changing the rules so no-one can serve more than two consecutive terms in parliament – either in the house of reps or the senate. This would mean that each elected person knows they have only six years (0r eight if we go to four year terms, preferably fixed). So they know they have a limited time to do something (anything) which has impelled them to seek election. Gets rid of those who are there with no ideas of what needs to be done. Further, a period equal to the time served before being appointed to any government body or employer (or union) group. Perhaps we would see a re-invigorated parliament including people from all walks of life, and get rid of the career politicians such as are filling up the benches. This could also have the effect of restoring the public service to its intended role of giving frank and sensible advice. Something has to be better than what we now have.

    1. Julie Burns

      What great ideas, Mary. We can only dream, methinks.

    2. AR

      Excellent suggestion!
      I’d vote for that.

    3. Peter Hannigan

      In other countries (let’s keep them unnamed) the knowledge by a politician that they are likely to be only there for 1, maybe 2, terms has been a great incentive to grab as much as possible in the time available. Negative publicity does not matter if you are not going to be reelected anyway.

      1. Richard Barratt

        It has also led to a revolving door between big business and politics, with concomitant conflicts of interest.

        Not that we’re entirely free of that, but it could be a lot worse.

    1. Peter Schulz

      Nice summary of Downer’s (non)contribution to Australia, Irfan, even if it’s a tad too polite. The man really does belong to the cream of society – rich and thick. For many years he wrote a weekly column in our local NewsCrap daily, The (Adelaide) Advertiser. In both form and content it had the intellectual sophistication you’d expect from a mediocre Year 8 kid. And I doubt that Georgina is any brighter. Her appearances on Q&A suggest she’s an airhead (now I’m being too polite). Paul Keating hit the nail on the head by once describing Alexander as ‘the idiot son of the squattocracy’, and I’m afraid the good voters of Mayo may end up being represented by the idiot grand-daughter of the squattocracy.

  3. klewso

    Oh, joy.
    Another Downer, I can see it now :- AWB II, Iraq II, Children Overboard II and NPA II.

    1. Peter Wileman

      But think of the fish net stockings – that thought has to be less shudder provoking

  4. 3 Policy Options

    Mayo, you can do better by not having another Downer.

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