As we approach the 2019 federal election, which is expected to carve a vast swathe of the Coalition from parliament, let’s look back at those who have decided to cut out the middle man and jump before they are pushed (and those who were simply chucked out).
The most recent of the resignations, O’Dwyer’s desertion was no less damaging (the loss of yet another Liberal woman). Can we accept that it’s for her stated reasons — more time with her young family — and not her worries about being associated with “homophobic, anti-women, climate-change deniers“. In a theme that we shall see again, she was aligned with recently axed prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, who paid tribute to her as a “true liberal”.
It was in the immediate aftermath of Turnbull’s axing that the Liberals really started to quake themselves to rubble. Member for Gilmore Ann Sudmalis announced her resignation, singing a refrain that would become familiar: making allegations of bullying, harassment, “plotting and manipulation“. Sudamalis went further than any of her colleagues and named names.
“Bullying, betrayal and back-stabbing have been the hallmarks of one of my state Liberal colleagues, Gareth Ward, over the past six and a half years,” she said in a speech announcing she wouldn’t contest the next election. “This is not the first time that Gareth has flexed his vengeance on strong Liberal women. He doesn’t just get even; he annihilates anyone who opposes him.”
An assistant minister in the Turnbull government, Jane Prentice was ditched as the LNP candidate for the key Brisbane seat of Ryan, to be replaced by “political careerist from central casting” Julian Simmonds. This was a decision that must be respected, according to then treasurer Scott Morrison, who was once parachuted into the seat of Cook over preselected candidate Michael Towke and who recently intervened to save the preselection of perpetual soggy embarrassment Craig Kelly.
Speaking of Gilmore and respecting preselection decisions, have a quick look at the Illawarra Mercury, December 13, 2018:
Milton real estate agent Grant Schultz came up trumps at the Liberal Party endorsement meeting in Bomaderry tonight. At the Bomaderry Bowling Club, his peers overwhelmingly backed him in, 40 yes votes to nine no votes.
Then, The Australian, January 23, 2019:
Earlier, the dumped Liberal candidate for the seat, Grant Schultz, said he feels ‘quite sorry’ for [Warren] Mundine, arguing the former ALP president would come undone by the wrath of voters and was “played” by the NSW Liberal Party.
Mr Schultz, the son of former Liberal MP Alby Schultz, said Mr Morrison was ignoring the needs of country people by parachuting the Sydney-based Mr Mundine as the Liberal candidate for the NSW regional electorate. Mr Schultz said he would run as an independent to ensure his community had a voice
If one were to make a Venn diagram of “reasons the Coalition has recently haemorrhaged MPs” Banks would be more or less in the centre. She announced in the wake of Turnbull’s ousting that she would not recontest her seat of Chisholm, which the only seat the Liberals won from Labor in 2016. She cited bullying behaviour by supporters of Peter Dutton — including threats against MPs’ preselection — during the leadership crisis. She timed her announcement to undercut Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s announcement that the next budget would be in surplus. She has shifted to the crossbench for the remainder of her term.
I mean, he counts, doesn’t he?
Somehow, in spite of a quite remarkable combination of calamity and incompetence from the party in 2018, only one National MP has actually announced that they would step down at the next election (Kevin Hogan moved to the crossbench but is still a National Party member, and may yet run for them again in 2019).
In December, it was revealed that National Andrew Broad had been using a “sugar daddy” website to meet women (of the “not his wife” variety) while on government business overseas. He liked to be referred to as James Bond, living up to the name with urbane bon mots such as “I pull you close, run my strong hands down your back, softly kiss your neck and whisper ‘G’day mate'” while complaining about how expensive restaurants are.
Oh, and he went to the cops when his date threatened to go public. Just like James Bond would.