July 14th 2018

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY By-elections a trial run for next federal election

SOCIAL MEDIA Facebook bans reflect a lack of impartiality

CANBERRA OBSERVED The gloves are on for by-election proxy bouts

FEDERAL POLITICS Federal ALP platform reads like a radical on a soapbox

ENVIRONMENT 'Climate change' news is fake news

BRITISH HISTORY Abolition of the Corn Laws paved the way for cheap food

LIFE ISSUES A world of competing sorrows: Ireland's abortion referendum

CULTURE The wee folk and their cousins, up and down the scale

WESTERN CIVILISATION Three great anniversaries of the West

FICTION Autumn Alexei's Story

MUSIC ABBA; Unstoppable, ubiquitous

CINEMA Jurassic World: Fallen kingdom

BOOK REVIEW Vision for the future, if we want to claim it

BOOK REVIEW Taking to task failed privilege

BOOK REVIEW Where Tolkien and St Thomas agree


FOREIGN AFFAIRS Beijing goes 'boo', Qantas gets in a flap

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Opposition mounts to legalisation of cannabis

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The gloves are on for by-election proxy bouts

by NW Contributor

News Weekly, July 14, 2018

July 28’s five by-elections are being billed as a curtain raiser to the main event – the looming federal election.

However, much of the focus is currently on Bill Shorten and the degree to which his personal unpopularity is harming the Labor Party’s chance of winning government.

In normal circumstances, by-elections run against the government of the day. Even reasonably popular governments are often given a slap by the electorate when a sitting member retires mid term.

Therefore it is being interpreted that a poor result for Labor, particularly in two of the seats up for grabs, Longman in Queensland and Braddon in Tasmania, will augur badly for Mr Shorten, while there is less pressure on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to do well.

Three other seats are in contention on July 28, but the Liberal Party is vacating the field in the safe Labor seat of Fremantle and the relatively safe Labor seat of Perth.

The fifth seat in the “Super Saturday” poll is Mayo in South Australia, a once safe Liberal seat that was held by former Liberal staffer, NXT candidate and now Centre Alliance candidate Rebekha Sharkie, who was found to be ineligible on citizenship grounds.

The Liberals have nominated Georgina Downer in Mayo, which was held for 24 years by her father Alexander. However, Mayo has always been somewhat contrarian. The Australian Democrats recorded their highest vote in Mayo during the 1990s.

This time the Downer dynasty factor seems to be running against Ms Downer, who had been living in Melbourne before the by-election was called.

According to the polls, and going on previous examples of strong independents who have captured conservative seats, such as Tony Windsor and Cathy McGowan, once such seats are taken, they are very difficult to win back.

In Braddon the contest is again bet­ween former Liberal member Brett Whitely and sitting Labor member Justine Keay. The result will go to preferences, though Mr Whitely is being given a real shot at winning on the back of a popular state Liberal Government and a healthy Tasmanian economy.

Curiously, Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives (at the time of publication) has opted not to run in any of the five seats, not even in Mayo in the party’s home state of South Australia.

The party has struggled with infighting and resource problems over the past 12 months and Senator Bernardi’s main focus appears to be on the coming Victorian and Federal polls.

The conservative vote that left the Federal Liberal Party after Malcolm Turnbull ousted Tony Abbott, and relegated other key Liberal conservatives, Kevin Andrews and Eric Abetz, to the backbench, has splintered.

Some votes have gone to Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives, others to Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, and others even to the libertarian Liberal Democratic Party.

But with the Australian Conservatives regrouping, the DLP sticking to its home turf in Victoria, and One Nation engaged in ongoing internal squabbling, the conservative vote does not have a lot to choose from.

Mr Turnbull’s ability to win the next federal election will depend largely on whether he can regain any of these conservative votes. On present indications, he is not working overboard to regain them.

Longman is more of a Liberal seat, having been held only twice by Labor over the past couple of decades. A 20-year-old Wyatt Roy was the youngest person ever to be elected to an Austra­lian Parliament when Tony Abbott won government in 2013.

Roy held the seat for two terms, and was even made a junior minister by Mr Abbott. But he joined the group that plotted to get rid of Mr Abbott, and paid the price at the last election.

Labor and its affiliates in the unions and Getup! will be pulling out all stops to retain Longman and Braddon, and to help Sharkie win Mayo in order to maintain the momentum for the federal poll.

If Labor wins Braddon and Longman, it will be a fillip for Mr Shorten, but a loss in either or both should force Mr Shorten to rethink his class warfare strategy.

On present indications, the electorate is not particularly enamored with the Turnbull Government; but on the other hand the baseball bats are not out.

“Super Saturday” will provide us with a clearer idea as to where the electoral momentum lies: with a resurgent Prime Minister or with an Opposition Leader who has peaked.

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April 4, 2018, 6:45 pm