Politics

‘Lack of curiosity’ from Liberal candidates could possibly be reward to Labor in Longman | Australia information

A “lack of interest” in running for office has delayed the Liberal preselection in the Longman byelection, with party insiders shocked such a “winnable, potentially long-term seat” has attracted so few candidates.

Meanwhile, Labor is positioning itself to ruin the Liberals’ chances of taking Mayo from crossbencher Rebekha Sharkie, with plans to run a candidate in the conservative South Australian seat in order to boost Sharkie’s vote through preferences, a move that will be bolstered by the Greens.

Sign up to receive the top stories from Guardian Australia every morning


One-term Newman government MP Trevor Ruthenberg leads the Longman preselection pool, with former LNP candidate Jason Snow and local businessman Terry Young rounding out the field. The vote is due to be held on Tuesday night.

Candidate discussions for Queensland began in January, while Susan Lamb’s citizenship was in question late last year, leaving LNP members and their out-of-state colleagues “flabbergasted” no candidate was in place, ready to begin campaigning.

“It’s crazy,” one Liberal source told Guardian Australia. “Longman is winnable. We could hold it for terms. And, so far, we have ‘OK’ candidates but can’t seem to find a superstar. A oncer and a former candidate lead the pack. We should be doing better. We should have been in there from as early as possible laying the ground work for the next campaign. We knew Wyatt [Roy] wasn’t interested in coming back, so why we haven’t been on the ground with a candidate is outrageous.”

It came down to interest, one Queensland LNP insider said.

“Most people are just sick of politics. So we are not getting the talent we used to. Why leave the business community, or whatever it is you are doing, to enter politics? Where is the reward these days? The people we would usually be targeting to join hold politics in as much contempt as the rest of the public does, so you end up with the same people stepping forward. It’s not just us, look at South Australia.”

No date yet has been set for the upcoming five byelections, with Perth, Fremantle, Mayo, Longman and Braddon all set to go to the polls on the same day.

The lack of a Liberal candidate in the Queensland byelection is being put forward as one of the reasons for the delay in calling the date, which had been expected to be 16 June.

Ruthenberg, who was born in Papua New Guinea before it became an independent territory, is waiting on confirmation he is not a dual citizen.

But Labor wants a date, with the campaign having already begun on both sides.

Bill Shorten has focused on Longman so far, while Malcolm Turnbull embarked on a tour of Braddon, with the Liberal candidate Brett Whiteley. The Liberals will not be contesting either of the two WA byelections, as the party narrows its focus and resources to seats its considers “winnable”.

Without reflecting on the Speaker, Shorten was critical about the wait for the writs to be issued, calling it “surprising”.

Anthony Albanese suggested on Monday the delay may be intentional to protect Turnbull from scrutiny, by pushing the byelections into July, during the parliamentary winter break, where no party room meetings were held.

Christopher Pyne just as quickly dismissed that claim as rubbish.

Georgina Downer was endorsed by the Mayo branch to run as its candidate in the upcoming byelection earlier this week.

Her past statements calling for the abolition of the minimum wage, as well as scrapping penalty rates, on top of her history as running for preselection in the Victorian branch of the Liberal party have already surfaced, with Labor quick to point out her flaws.

After Jamie Briggs lost the seat to Sharkie, the Liberals have been keen to reclaim it, with Labor and the Greens just as determined to keep it out of their hands.

It is understood the Greens plan on announcing Major “Moogy” Sumner, a Ngarrindjeri elder, as its candidate for Mayo later this week.

Labor is also expected to announce a candidate within the next couple of days, with both parties planning on bolstering Sharkie’s vote, while laying the ground work for senate quota votes at the next election.

Sharkie won 34.9% of the vote at the last election, which was held at the height of the Xenophon brand’s popularity. The Liberals managed a higher primary vote at 37.8%, while Labor won 13.5% and the Greens, 8.1%.

Sharkie’s primary vote is expected to be lower, after having taken support from both Labor and the Greens last time. But any votes returned to the Greens and Labor at the byelection are expected to flow back to Sharkie under preferences. Centre Alliance, formerly the NXT, are expected to run an open ticket and not preference any party.

But it is Longman and Braddon that have been the focus of both the major parties for the upcoming “super Saturday”, created after the high court ruled “reasonable steps” for divesting foreign citizenship, was not just about filing paperwork, as Labor had maintained, but also required confirmation.

While the focus is on the byelections, which now can not be held before 23 June, after Monday went by without the writs being issued, both parties are manoeuvring to have candidates in place for all other electorates, ahead of the general election, which is due in the next year.

Queensland senator Ian Macdonald is facing pressure to step down, with those in the LNP pointing to his age as the main factor. Macdonald would be close to 80 at the end of another term in the Senate.

“Jane Prentice proved that longevity is no longer protection, you don’t just get preselected, because you are already in there,” a LNP source said. “Ian was basically told at the last preselection, this time round would be his last.”

Macdonald has been working branch members very hard though, while Barry O’Sullivan has also confirmed he would like more time in the Senate, and has been using the banking royal commission as proof of his effectiveness. A disgruntled insurgency against Keith Pitt, which emerged after Barnaby Joyce was made to step down as Nationals leader, has also been reportedly quelled.

Tags

Leave a Reply

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share this post with your friends!