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ACT Election ’16 – now on!

By John Hargreaves - 18 April 2016 94


Racing now in the Election Cup 2016! We now have candidates in all seats from the major parties. More on this later.

It needs to be acknowledged that there are other candidates running in the ACT election this year besides the major three parties.

We’ll have some independents running and we need to be able to distinguish between the genuine independents and the bogus independent who is really a major party player in disguise, with the intention to draw votes towards a particular party by subterfuge. Last time there were bogus smaller parties, like the Motorists Party (who fielded the “unaligned” Chic Henry) and the Citizen’s Action Party (who fielded the “unaligned” Val Jeffrey, who had been a card carrying Liberal for 40 years but didn’t tell anyone until after he lost the election).

Good luck with that.

I haven’t heard of many true Independents putting their hand up this time, but maybe it’s early days. It is not early days from this old campaigner’s view. Time is a commodity in short supply for newbies in the political contest and particularly so for independents who want to have a real go at it.

But the party to look out for is the Sex Party.

This one is the surprise packet of the election. Led by Steven Bailey, the party is a serious contender in this election. To take this lot lightly is to ignore the success of Fiona Patten in Victoria. Remember that Fiona Patten won an upper house seat, in a proportional representational system, on a platform that was broad based, sensible and not at all on the subject about which we don’t talk at the dinner table in front of the kids. I predict a good showing for this latest of minor parties.

So let’s have a look at the candidates from each of the three parties and see what’s on offer.

In the sitting member stakes, Labor has eight, the Liberals have eight and the Greens one. But not all are seeking re-election. Continuing MLAs include Labor’s Barr, Burch, Gentleman, Berry, Bourke and Fitzharris. Six in all. For the Liberals, all sitting members are seeking re-election – eight in all. For the Greens, since they only have Rattenbury as an MLA, again, 100% of their sitting members seek re-election (ha, ha!)

In the gender race none of the parties have given the female candidates a majority but the Greens come first with 7 out of 15 positions (46.7%), Labor next with 11 of 25 positions (44%) and the Liberals have 10 of 25 positions (40%).

On the multicultural stage, Labor has Ceramidas, Maftoum, Fischer, Kulasingham and Gupta, against the Liberals Doszpot, Lee and Vadakkedathu. The Greens have Merezian, Vassarotti and Faerber. Pretty much even I would say.

On the indigenous front, there has been a conversation on the candidacy of Paul House, a former ALP member who has switched to the Liberals, with him saying that there was no room for indigenous candidates. He seems to forget that Fred Leftwich was an indigenous candidate in, from memory, the 2004 election and that Chris Bourke is indigenous and is a minister for the second time. So much for that theory. The Greens have no indigenous candidate.

Candidates who have stood before include; for Labor, Maftoum, Drake and Kulasingham, for the Liberals, Milligan and the Greens, Le Couteur (a former MLA), Esguerra and Davis.

The candidates, from the three major parties, who will be presenting themselves to you are: (Sitting members are asterisked.)


Labor: Burch*, Gentelman*, Maftoum, Drake, Werner-Giddings

Liberals: Smyth*, Wall*, Lawder*, Cocks, Fazey

Greens: Mazengarb, Murphy, Davis


Labor: Berry*, Bourke*, Fischer, Cheyne, Ramsay

Liberals: Dunne*, Fisher, Kikkert, Sweeney, Rozario

Greens: Esguerra, Merzian, Chappel


Labor: Kulasingham, Cody, Long, Newman, Steel

Liberals: Hanson*, Jones*, Ellingham, House, Hosking

Greens: Le Couteur, Faerber, Davidson


Labor: Barr*, Ceramidas, Dwyer, Niven, Stephen-Smith

Liberals: Doszpot*, Burch, Curtain, Lee, McKay

Greens: Rattenbury, Vassarotti, Thomsen


Labor: Fitzharris*, Hinder*, Gupta, Orr, Pettersson

Liberals: Coe*, Lynch, Milligan, States, Vadakkedathu

Greens: Wensing, Braddock, Holm

It has been said and promoted by those of short memory, that the Labor Party has been in office for too long; that it is seeking its fifth term in government. It has been in office for 15 years already and is tired and out of puff. Let’s look at the reality.

This party has been in renewal for many years now. There are no MLAs presenting themselves this election who were elected in the 2004 election. There are three MLAs who have only served two terms (Bourke, Burch and Gentleman); there are two MLAs who have only served part of one term (Fitzharris and Hinder on countbacks) and there are two MLAs who have retired at this election. The party has well and truly refreshed itself. On the negative side, there will be no sitting MLAs presenting themselves for re-election who have served in Opposition. Simon Corbell’s exit sees the last of that cohort. Finally, the Chief Minister has not been in the job for a full term.

The Opposition has done some refreshment over the years. It has one MLA who has been there since 1998 (Smyth) and you’d reckon he’d be a bit tired after all this time. Dunne was elected in 2004; Doszpot, Coe and Hanson were elected in 2008, Wall and Jones came into the Assembly in 2008 and Lawder joined them on Seselja’s move to the Senate.

I would suggest that neither party can be regarded as old and tired. Both have had renewal of members with fresh minds being brought in. Whether either have the right mix is the big question.

The work experience of the two major contenders is quite varied as well. As might be expected, the Liberals have a smattering of professional and business expertise with some defence experience. Labor has public service, academic, private sector finance and law, and community experience in addition to experience in politics itself.

The emergence of Lee for the Liberals is another to watch. She is an impressive candidate and according to the rules of Hare-Clark, thine enemy is within not without. The game of Hare-Clark is about members of a party taking out a sitting member not so much as replacing an opposing candidate. The Labor experience of 1998 is a good case in point. If I were gazing into my tea cup, I would predict Lee to take the second (perhaps first) Liberal seat in Kurrajong.

The difference this time is that there are an additional eight positions up for grabs so look out for fresh talent in addition to the odd execution.

Now that the major players have been outed, I predict that Labor will get twelve seats, the Liberals will get eleven seats and the Greens will get two seats.

In 2003 I suggested that in the normal course of events, under Hare-Clark, a party will take government with one seat less than a majority and rely on a cross bencher for government. I see no need to change that view.

What’s Your opinion?

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