View from The Hill: Morrison’s Gilmore candidate is the man who’s been everywhere

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Scott Morrison’s controversial move to install former Labor party
president Warren Mundine as Liberal candidate in the ultra-marginal
NSW seat of Gilmore has triggered a local implosion.

As members of the Liberal state executive were voting on Tuesday to
admit Mundine to their party and nominate him as the candidate, Grant Schultz, who had been selected by the locals in
December, was exiting the party, as were some of his supporters.

South Coast state Liberal MP Shelley Hancock (who is Speaker in the NSW parliament) pointedly observed: “Only
recently Scott Morrison was talking about the importance of grassroots
processes when preselecting candidates”.

Schultz, son of the sharp-tongued former MP the late Alby Schultz,
told the South Coast Register that his dad would be “rolling in his grave in utter disgust and anger” at what had happened.

“He would take the same view of mine that the leadership of Scott
Morrison has taken the party to the days of Eddie Obeid and the
faceless men of Labor,” said Schultz, who is a local real estate
agent. “To turn their backs on the democratic principles of this party
is quite frankly extraordinary and without precedent in this party’s

Not quite. Late last year Craig Kelly, who helped bring Malcolm
Turnbull down, was protected from his locals who wanted to deselect
him. The Prime Minister feared that unless Kelly’s future was
guaranteed, the maverick backbencher could defect to the crossbench.

Read more:
Turnbull versus Morrison in Liberal crisis over Craig Kelly

Morrison and senior party figures have been in negotiations with Mundine for months, and party research has tested his popularity. Gilmore is currently held by Ann Sudmalis, who last year announced she wouldn’t stand
again, alleging branch stacking and bullying against her.

Read more:
Morrison tells Liberal organisation to act on bullying after second woman flags she’ll quit

Gilmore stretches along the NSW coast from Kiama in the north to
Tuross Head in the south. It takes in popular resort and
retirement areas and farming land.

The government’s grip on the seat is wafer-thin – less than 1%. In the
present climate, it is likely to be lost to Labor whoever the Liberals
put up. With this kerfuffle, and Schultz declaring he will run as an
independent, their chances could simply be further diminished.

To complicate the picture, the Nationals are considering whether to
enter the race, with local branch members wanting former state
minister Katrina Hodgkinson to stand.

Philip Ruddock, president of the NSW party, explained the refusal to
accept Schultz in a brief statement. “Mr Schultz nominated against a
sitting member who later withdrew and given these circumstance the
party has elected to not proceed with the endorsement. The party
should be able to consider the best candidate to represent voters,
their aspirations and concerns in each community.”

Mundine doesn’t live in the electorate, although he has family
connections there. He has been quoted as saying, “I love the place. I
feel most comfortable in that area, for me it’s like going home.”

ABC election analyst Antony Green describes Mundine as “a brave
choice” (in the Humphrey Appleby sense), pointing out that “it’s the sort of regional seat where
personal vote matters.”

In 2001 Mundine ran unsuccessfully in third place on the ALP Senate
ticket. Later he failed to get Labor preselection for a lower house

He was ALP national president in 2006-07. But his public profile has
come through his role as an Indigenous voice. He was a member of John
Howard’s Indigenous advisory council, and chaired that of Tony Abbott,
a position he lost under Malcolm Turnbull. (In late November Mundine
tweeted “I wish Malcolm Termite would crawl back into his little hole
he come from.”)

Mundine left the ALP in 2012 and became increasingly identified with
the conservative side of politics. He has also built a media presence
on Sky, where he has a program “Mundine Means Business”.

As he weighed his future in recent months, Mundine has been double dating.

In 2018 he joined the Liberal Democrats, and was being considered as a
potential Senate candidate for them.

Liberal Democrat senator David Leyonhjelm says he spoke to Mundine
late last year about reports that the Liberals were courting him.

Mundine played down the speculation as media talk, Leyonhjelm says.
But he said he had some issues with section 44 of the constitution
through his business interests which needed sorting out, and he
suggested leaving the discussion about the possible Senate spot until
the new year.

That’s where matters lay until last week when the president of the
Liberal Democrats received a letter from Mundine resigning from the
party. Leyonhjelm wasn’t totally surprised: he’d been watching
Mundine’s recent pro-Liberal tweets.

The Prime Minister will appear with Mundine in Gilmore on Wednesday. Morrison on Tuesday wouldn’t be drawn on his candidacy. But he
said that he’d been “a friend of Warren for some time” and described
him as a “top bloke” who had “a lot to offer”.

Be that as it may, this is shaping as a very inauspicious start to the
campaign of someone who will carry the tag of a captain’s pick
candidate.The Conversation

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Hung Parliament Likely in Australian Federal Election

Greens and Independents to Hold Balance of Power in Both Houses

It would seem that the likely outcome of the 2010 federal election in Australia is that of a hung parliament, with government going to the party that gains the support of one or two possible Greens members of parliament in the lower house, and three other independent members of parliament in the lower house. It seems likely that the Greens will hold the balance of power in the Senate.

The Greens have now clearly become the third major political party behind the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and the Liberal Party (Lib) – National Party (Nat) coalition. They have now gained a representative in the lower house with the seat of Melbourne in Victoria falling to Adam Bandt. It is possible that the seat of Grayndler in New South wales (NSW) could also fall to the Greens, with ALP member Anthony Albanese in a close fight with Sam Byrne of the Greens.

The three other certain independents, all former National Party members, are Bob Katter (Kennedy – Queensland, Tony Windsor (New England – NSW) and Rob Oakeshott (Lyne – NSW)

The ALP has also lost large numbers of seats in Queensland ( QLD – Flynn, Leichhardt, Forde, Bonner, Dickson, Herbert, Longman, Brisbane and Dawson) and seats in NSW (Bennelong, Macarthur, Macquarie and Gilmore), one in the Northern Territory (Solomon), one in Western Australia (Hasluck) and possibly one in Tasmania (Denison) to independent Andrew Wilkie. It would seem that a total of 18 or 19 seats have been lost by the ALP. They have gained two in Victoria, winning La Trobe and McEwan.

The ALP’s greatest hope would seem to be the seat of Boothby in South Australia, which still appears too close too call. At this stage Denison in Tasmania remains an ALP seat, but it also remains too close to call.

It seems to me that there will be 73 seats to the ALP (possibly 72 if Grayndler falls to the Greens in NSW), 73 seats to the Coalition, one seat to the Greens (possibly 2 if they pick up Grayndler in NSW – who would lean to the ALP) and 3 to the Independents (all formerly National Party members who would likely lean to the Coalition). If these predictions prove to be true, it would seem that the Coalition will be able to form a minority government with the support of the Independents.

After the promise of the ALP in the previous election and the result that occured, the ALP should have held office for at least two terms. However, the ALP has failed to deliver and instead gave Australia a very lazy, poor and mediocre government. Under Kevin Rudd the ALP successfully steered Australia through the financial crisis, for which Australians should be very thankful. However, there has also been poor management of ecomomic stimulus projects, environmental issues and other projects, which have left many Australians disillusioned with the government. This of course led to the downfall of Kevin Rudd prior to the election and the elevation of Julia Gillard to the Prime Ministership of the country. This was too little too late to save the ALP from electoral disaster and the Australian people have delivered swift punishment for their failure to deliver what we had hoped for under the Kevin Rudd led ALP government.

Perhaps the experience of a hung parliament and a minority government, from whichever side of politics, will result in someone or some party standing up with a real commitment to governance and leadership in Australia. At the moment there seems little of both and the Australian people are largely disillusioned with both major parties. The ALP should prepare itself for major defeats in state elections over the next couple of years, especially in New South Wales and Queensland, where voters are fed up with poor government – not that the alternatives are much better.