Daily Bulletin

The Conversation

  • Written by Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

Liberal backbench senator Dean Smith will challenge on Saturday his party’s decision not to field a candidate in the byelection for the federal seat of Perth.

In the coming multiple byelections, the Liberals have decided to stay out of the two Western Australian seats – the other is Fremantle - while they will contest the other three – Mayo in South Australia, Braddon in Tasmania and Longman in Queensland.

Four of the five seats are held by Labor; the Centre Alliance’s Rebekha Sharkie holds Mayo.

The WA Liberals don’t want to spend the money on what they regard as the unwinnable WA seats; they are also concerned a bad vote would reflect adversely on Malcolm Turnbull.

The decision not to contest was taken by the Liberal state executive but Smith said the issue should be discussed by a broader group. He would take it to the party’s state council on Saturday.

He said politics was about consistency, conviction and momentum. “Against every one of those measurements, we fail by not contesting in the Perth by-election,” he said.

Fremantle is on a 7.5% margin; Perth is much closer – 3.3%. Also, Perth is unlike the other byelections, in which the former members, who all resigned in the citizenship saga, are re-contesting.

Perth’s former member, Tim Hammond quit parliament for family reasons so there is no “incumbent” seeking re-election. Labor is running Patrick Gorman, a one-time adviser to Kevin Rudd, who has most recently been ALP state secretary in WA.

Read more: View from The Hill: 'Super Saturday' voters get first say on tax

Smith told Sky that on the basis of the previous votes, by not running candidates the Liberals forfeited in public funding about A$90,000 in each of the two seats. “That’s money that goes into the coffers of the Labor party and Greens”, he said.

Smith is known for his forthrightness. He was one of the group that forced the question of same sex marriage back onto the government’s agenda, leading to the successful move to legislate last year.

The Speaker, Tony Smith, told parliament on Monday that changes to the nomination process were delaying the issue of writs for the byelections.

“The earliest possible date for the by-elections is 23 June if the writs are issued today. However, the Electoral Commissioner has advised me that, in light of issues to do with section 44 of the Constitution that have caused four of the five by-elections, the government is considering urgent changes, through regulations, to the nomination process to ensure that candidates are aware of their obligations under section 44 prior to the by-elections taking place.” The Commissioner supported these changes, Smith said.

The Speaker said he would continue to consult with the Commissioner and party leaders about the timing and hoped to be able to give an update later in the week.

The delay in announcing the date of what will be a “Super Saturday” has brought some criticism, and suspicion that the government is delaying the byelections to try to disadvantage Labor, which faces struggles in Longman and Braddon.

The ALP national conference is in late July and the run up to it is likely to see increased public debate over what will be controversial issues at it, especially the fate of refugees and asylum seekers on Manus and Nauru. The later the byelections, the more likely the campaigning could be affected by internal Labor bickering.

In her maiden speech on Monday the new ALP member for Batman, Ged Kearney, signalled she would fight for a softer policy on refugees.

“My commitment in this house is to the cause of humane refugee policy,” she said.

“We must - as a priority - move the asylum seekers off Manus and Nauru to permanent resettlement, and ensure that indefinite detention never happens again.”

She said she could not comprehend “how a nation that provided a safe home to so many in the wake of World War 2 – including our large Jewish community of Holocaust survivors - allowed the Tampa and the ‘children overboard’ scandal to evolve into the shameful policy of indefinite detention on Manus and Nauru.

"Racist dogwhilsting has demonised and vilified a community that has everything to give to Australia - and the sacrifice of this human potential has been made solely for political gain.”

Kearney said “the overwhelming majority of asylum seekers are from places of conflict. And the overwhelming majority have been assessed as refugees under the International Conventions to which Australia is a signatory.

"We are a rich country. We can afford to take more refugees.

"I doubt, however, we can afford the ongoing cost to our national psyche of subjecting men, women and children to years of punitive, indefinite detention.”

Authors: Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

Read more http://theconversation.com/liberal-rebel-dean-smith-to-fight-party-decision-not-to-contest-perth-byelection-96950

Writers Wanted

Victoria and NSW are funding extra tutors to help struggling students. Here's what parents need to know about the schemes


The mystery of the blue flower: nature's rare colour owes its existence to bee vision


Curb population growth to tackle climate change: now that's a tough ask


The Conversation


Ray Hadley's interview with Scott Morrison

RAY HADLEY: Prime Minister, good morning.    PRIME MINISTER: G’day Ray.   HADLEY: I was just referring to this story from the Courier Mail, which you’ve probably caught up with today about t...

Ray Hadley & Scott Morrison - avatar Ray Hadley & Scott Morrison

Prime Minister's Remarks to Joint Party Room

PRIME MINISTER: Well, it is great to be back in the party room, the joint party room. It’s great to have everybody back here. It’s great to officially welcome Garth who joins us. Welcome, Garth...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Interview with Ben Fordham, 2GB

BEN FORDHAM: Scott Morrison, good morning to you.    PRIME MINISTER: Good morning, Ben. How are you?    FORDHAM: Good. How many days have you got to go?   PRIME MINISTER: I've got another we...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Business News

Tips to find the best plastic manufacturing supplier for your needs

Plastics are very much an important part of all of our lives, but they’re particularly valuable to a wide variety of industries that rely on their production for their operations. The industries, ...

News Co - avatar News Co

7 foolproof tips for bidding successfully at a property auction

Auctions can be beneficial for prospective buyers, as they are transparent and fair. If you reach the limit you are willing to pay, you can simply walk away. Another benefit of an auction is tha...

Dominique Grubisa - avatar Dominique Grubisa

Getting Ready to Code? These Popular and Easy Programming Languages Can Get You Started

According to HOLP (History Encyclopedia of Programing Languages), there are more than 8,000 programming languages, some dating as far back as the 18th century. Although there might be as many pr...

News Co - avatar News Co

News Co Media Group

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion