Galaxy: 56-44 to Coalition
• WA Treasurer Christian Porter’s bombshell announcement that he will seek to enter federal politics at the next election has transformed the Liberal preselection contest for the Perth hinterland seat of Pearce, where incumbent of 19 years Judi Moylan will retire at the next election. Porter entered state parliament at a February 2008 by-election and assumed the role of Attorney-General when the Barnett government came to power seven months later, winning promotion to Treasurer in December 2010. Marcus Priest of the Australian Financial Review says Porter is “often seen as part of the right of the WA Liberals”, being “an economic dry and law and order hard-liner”, but “can be socially liberal on issues such as native title”. Prior to entering politics he had been a public prosecutor, adviser to Howard government Justice Minister and WA Senator Chris Ellison and law lecturer at the University of Western Australia. The front-runner for the preselection was previously thought to have been 24-year-old trademark lawyer Alex Butterworth, who is planning to fight on. The West Australian reports the field also includes “two locals, Bill Crabtree and Rod Henderson”. Another contender, high-profile financial adviser Nick Bruining, has conceded Porter’s entry has left him with no chance and withdrawn.
• Richard Torbay, state independent member for Northern Tablelands, has all but been confirmed as the Nationals candidate to take on Tony Windsor in New England, with Imre Salusinszky of The Australian reporting the party has guaranteed him “freedom to speak with an independent voice on local issues”. Nationals internal polling reportedly found Torbay rated more highly in the electorate than both Windor and the other mooted Nationals contender for New England, Barnaby Joyce. Labor’s NSW state secretary, Sam Dastyari, has accused Torbay of offering to join the ALP in November 2009 if it agreed to make him Premier, shortly before Nathan Rees was dumped in favour of Kristina Keneally. The claim has been vigorously denied by Torbay, who was a member of the ALP during his days as mayor of Armidale in the 1990s. This is consistent with reporting at the time from the Daily Telegraph and Barrie Cassidy on Insiders, which indicated that approaches to Torbay were at Labor’s initiative rather than his own. (UPDATE: Fairfax further reports that John Della Bosca, who was involved in the talks with Torbay, has said Dastyari’s account is inconsistent with his own recollection).
• Sarah Henderson, former state 7:30 Report presenter and unsuccessful candidate in 2010, has easily won a fiercely contested struggle for Liberal preselection in Corangamite, polling an absolute majority in the first round. Her main rival was Rod Nockles, an internet security expert and former Peter Costello staffer who also sought preselection last time. Henderson’s backers were said to include Tony Abbott and Michael Kroger, while Nockles reportedly had support from Peter Costello, Andrew Robb, Senators Arthur Sinodinos and Scott Ryan and Higgins MP Kelly O’Dwyer.
• Michael Sukkar, a 30-year-old tax laywer for the firm Ashurt, has emerged a surprise winner in the Liberal preselection for the marginal eastern Melbourne seat of Deakin. The presumed front-runner had been John Pesutto, a lawyer and Victorian government adviser said to be closely associated with Ted Baillieu. In third place was Michelle Frazer, state government media and communications adviser. (UPDATE: VexNews relates that also-ran candidates Phillip Fusco, Terry Barnes, Andrew Munroe were eliminated in that order, at which point Sukkar and former Melbourne candidate Simon Olsen were tied for third. After winning a run-off against Olsen, Sukkar crucially managed to get his nose ahead of Frazer, who unlike Sukkar would not have succeeded in getting ahead of Pesutto in the final round due to a view among Sukkar’s backers that she “wasn’t up to it”.)
• Cate Faehrmann, who filled the vacancy in the New South Wales Legislative Council when Lee Rhiannon was elected to the Senate at the 2010 election, has won preselection to lead the party’s Senate ticket at the next election.
Categories: Federal Politics 2010-