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ACT elections – Let the games begin

By John Hargreaves - 21 September 2015 58

1024px-Election_signs_near_Wanniassa_Hills_Primary_School_October_2012

With the ACT election just over a year away, jostling for preselections has started, some more publicly than others.

Most non-party aspirants haven’t actually started thinking about it yet. I would expect that to start in about June or July, just after the ACT budget is brought down.

These aspirants are usually single issue people with a grudge of some sort. They’re there to make up the numbers so I won’t waste my time on them.

As always, we will see fringe groups put themselves forward as “parties” but again, they are really just single issue groups with a grumble. There will be a light rail mob, a motorists (or similar) group, and a citizen’s alliance party of some sort. Democracy at work, but there’s a little bit of noise and then a fade to obscurity.

The Sex Party will have a crack. It will interesting to see if they can emulate Fiona Patten in Victoria. She was was elected to the upper house, which is elected on a proportional representational model but I can’t see the Sex Party getting 16.5% of the vote in any of the ACT’s electorates.

What happens to their preferences will be significant though. Steven Bailey is a good choice so expect him to do better than some would think.

The interesting thing to watch will be the fortunes of sitting members and the rise of non-sitting candidates. The Hare-Clark system can be brutal with non-performing MLAs and throw up surprises with the election of previously unknown people.

Check out what happened to Paul Osborne in Brindabella in 2001. Smashed because he neglected his electorate and was rarely engaged in policy debates other than religious right issues like abortion and euthanasia. Being a sporting hero was not enough when the crunch came.

Hare-Clark can also weed out long term people who have not delivered in the eyes of the electorate, regardless of how hard they have worked. The accident-prone MLA also needs to be careful. The trick is to know when to go before the Hare-Clark axe falls. There is nothing dignified about losing an election. Ask Brendan about the 1996 federal election.

The electorate is a changing dynamic, driven in part by generational change. Governments and oppositions need to go with the generational change reflected in the community itself or risk being out of touch.

We have seen a number of Labor folk putting their names in the public arena as possibles for election. I can’t wait to see if the Liberals have the depth that we have seen popping up of late in Labor.

And I predict a Lazarus-like rising from the Greens. Although we haven’t seen any public utterances yet, I would be surprised if Meredith Hunter and Carolyn Le Couteur don’t nominate.

Amanda Bresnan may have another shot but we haven’t heard much in public from her in a while. I do know she is active within her community and it wouldn’t surprise if she gave it a tilt either.

Many in the community out there don’t know of the actual battleground that candidates do battle within. The system is about as good as it can get in terms of opportunities for non-sitting candidates to get elected but there is still barriers to overcome.

Here’s how it works. And it is the same for all parties so let’s not think this is a Labor thing.

There is an A-team, a B-team, a C-team and a D-team. People slot into these teams according to their energy, opportunity, mentorship and just plain luck.

The A-team is made up of ministers and the opposition leader and deputy, with the Greens MLAs (if there are more than one) making the team for their party (basically cos you can get them all in a shoebox).

The B-team are non-ministerial government MLAs and opposition members.

The C-team is made up of serious non-sitting candidates.

The D-team are those candidates who are there just to make up the numbers, to take the donkey vote and keep the votes in the column. They are either candidates in training or drones.

You will see that the A-team is in a privileged position. They set the campaign direction, they get the poll results (and usually keep them to themselves) and they command the media any time they like. They have the high profile that a success in Hare-Clark demands.

The flip side is that if it is perceived that a minister has performed badly, he or she is in trouble. David Lamont lost his seat as a result of that perception.

Other MLAs have the resources of the Legislative Assembly at their disposal. If they have worked hard as community representatives, they will have a decent profile. Mary Porter is the best example of these.

However, MLAs who have not built a following will be vulnerable. In Brindabella, the Liberals’ Andrew Wall and Nicole Lawder will have this problem. Longevity is a double edged sword and sometimes the community will seek change. Look out Brendan.

The C-team is made up of two types of candidates. The first group are people who missed out last time and have some profile and now experience in campaigning. In this group are both candidates who have the goods and might make it, and those who couldn’t win a chook raffle with $50 worth of tickets. Karl Maftoum in Brindabella and Mark Kulasingham in Murrumbidgee fit the former group.

The second group are quality candidates who need to get a profile. They are usually people with good community credentials and political experience, like Kim Fischer in Ginninderra or Deepak Raj Gupta in Yerrabi.

The D-team will emerge as the internal factional fighting of both parties finds expression. I hope that the genuine D-teamers learn from the experience and that the drones get outed.

Can’t wait to see who will challenge the sitting Liberals or whether the Greens will put up a fresh team or a back to the future mob.

Let the games begin!

(Photo: Posters advertising candidates at for the 2012 ACT election. Credit to Nick D, used under Creative Commons licensing.)

What’s Your opinion?


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58 Responses to
ACT elections – Let the games begin
Garfield 2:53 pm 23 Sep 15

watto23 said :

I’m trying to find the website, but based on the 2012 election results, the government would be 11-12 Labour, 2-3 Greens and 11 liberals. Only in the Brindabella electorate is there a chance of 3 liberal members (and last election that was due to Zed who only looks after himself gaining most of the vote). There would need to be a heavy swing to the Liberals and there was one last election. The issue the Liberals have is most of the independents who would support a liberal government are far right and will never gain a seat in the ACT. Chic Henry had a shot, but then he joined the liberals, which was silly, because there was every chance Chic Henry could have won the 5th seat in an electorate with liberals and Labor at 2 each.

I can’t see anything but a Labor-Green government again. If the liberal party ditched the conservatives or at least the far right wing conservative policies, they’d probably do quite well. A lot of people vote Liberal for what they think the Liberal party stands for and many including myself won’t vote for them, while ever their policies are conservative. I’m really hoping Turnbull can turn the Liberals back towards liberalism.

Based on the 2012 election results, with the high Liberal vote in the southern part of the ACT, I think the assembly would be 11-12 Libs, 11 Labor and 2-3 Greens and the Labor-Green coalition government would continue.

When Tony Abbott was PM, I was expecting his lack of popularity to contribute to a lower local Lib vote. If Turnbull can provide clear leadership and fulfil some of the hope invested in him by swinging voters, then he could prove to be a boost for the Liberals locally. However most people voting in the ACT election will vote on ACT issues and so the question becomes, will the ACT Libs take their lead from the majority in the federal party room, or will they stick to Zed Seselja and his right wing conservative values?

Nilrem 2:33 pm 23 Sep 15

rubaiyat said :

watto23 said :

I’m trying to find the website, but based on the 2012 election results, the government would be 11-12 Labour, 2-3 Greens and 11 liberals. Only in the Brindabella electorate is there a chance of 3 liberal members (and last election that was due to Zed who only looks after himself gaining most of the vote). There would need to be a heavy swing to the Liberals and there was one last election. The issue the Liberals have is most of the independents who would support a liberal government are far right and will never gain a seat in the ACT. Chic Henry had a shot, but then he joined the liberals, which was silly, because there was every chance Chic Henry could have won the 5th seat in an electorate with liberals and Labor at 2 each.

I can’t see anything but a Labor-Green government again. If the liberal party ditched the conservatives or at least the far right wing conservative policies, they’d probably do quite well. A lot of people vote Liberal for what they think the Liberal party stands for and many including myself won’t vote for them, while ever their policies are conservative. I’m really hoping Turnbull can turn the Liberals back towards liberalism.

I thought the 5 x 5 electorates will mean the Greens are pretty well locked out.

Interesting that Tuggeranong is such a arch-conservative stronghold.

Is that due to the age of the residents or was there some ultra-conservative department transferred to Canberra at the time it was developed?

Gungahlin also has conservative leanings. I assumed it was the blue-collar conservative vote, so critical in outer Western Sydney.

watto23 2:17 pm 23 Sep 15

rubaiyat said :

watto23 said :

I’m trying to find the website, but based on the 2012 election results, the government would be 11-12 Labour, 2-3 Greens and 11 liberals. Only in the Brindabella electorate is there a chance of 3 liberal members (and last election that was due to Zed who only looks after himself gaining most of the vote). There would need to be a heavy swing to the Liberals and there was one last election. The issue the Liberals have is most of the independents who would support a liberal government are far right and will never gain a seat in the ACT. Chic Henry had a shot, but then he joined the liberals, which was silly, because there was every chance Chic Henry could have won the 5th seat in an electorate with liberals and Labor at 2 each.

I can’t see anything but a Labor-Green government again. If the liberal party ditched the conservatives or at least the far right wing conservative policies, they’d probably do quite well. A lot of people vote Liberal for what they think the Liberal party stands for and many including myself won’t vote for them, while ever their policies are conservative. I’m really hoping Turnbull can turn the Liberals back towards liberalism.

I thought the 5 x 5 electorates will mean the Greens are pretty well locked out.

Interesting that Tuggeranong is such a arch-conservative stronghold.

Is that due to the age of the residents or was there some ultra-conservative department transferred to Canberra at the time it was developed?

Found it… http://blogs.abc.net.au/antonygreen/2015/04/draft-electoral-boundaries-released-to-the-act-legislative-assembly.html

Basically the Libs would get 11 seats and there is only one seat in any kind of doubt. But it would more likely go to Labor or the Greens. Greens most likely 3 seats and potentially 4 and Labor 10 or 11 (not 11-12 like i said earlier, my maths was off!).

What the new system does is make it harder for minor parties, but if you can pull 10% of the vote that is more than half a quota (16.7%) and most likely enough to win you a seat.

The issue is without Zed the Brindabella vote may decrease. In 2012 Zed polled the most votes, but labour candidates votes were spread more evenly, so its clear he drew a significant amount of votes, plus promised to build a pool. Hopefully he’ll lose his senate seat. Clearly he was only in politics for his own gain. There was a strong anti Labor sentiment last election also. Its really hard to tell if the Liberals can increase their vote in the two seats they are below 2 quotas.

The real issue in this system is winning the 5th seat, the motorists party took votes away from the Libs based on Chic Henry’s strong performance, but now he is a liberal party member, he will probably increase the vote for the liberals, but not enough to gain 3 seats, where as he may have won the 5th seat in an electorate and then sided with the liberals, effectively meaning they won 3 seats, along with Brindabella, that would mean only one other electorate.

However I think the conservative side of the Liberals is what voters have the most issue with, that is why Abbott lost his job. That is why many swing voters find it hard to vote for the liberals and I’m eagerly awaiting some policies from the ACT liberals for the next election, rather than the 3 word slogans.

rubaiyat 1:35 pm 23 Sep 15

watto23 said :

I’m trying to find the website, but based on the 2012 election results, the government would be 11-12 Labour, 2-3 Greens and 11 liberals. Only in the Brindabella electorate is there a chance of 3 liberal members (and last election that was due to Zed who only looks after himself gaining most of the vote). There would need to be a heavy swing to the Liberals and there was one last election. The issue the Liberals have is most of the independents who would support a liberal government are far right and will never gain a seat in the ACT. Chic Henry had a shot, but then he joined the liberals, which was silly, because there was every chance Chic Henry could have won the 5th seat in an electorate with liberals and Labor at 2 each.

I can’t see anything but a Labor-Green government again. If the liberal party ditched the conservatives or at least the far right wing conservative policies, they’d probably do quite well. A lot of people vote Liberal for what they think the Liberal party stands for and many including myself won’t vote for them, while ever their policies are conservative. I’m really hoping Turnbull can turn the Liberals back towards liberalism.

I thought the 5 x 5 electorates will mean the Greens are pretty well locked out.

Interesting that Tuggeranong is such a arch-conservative stronghold.

Is that due to the age of the residents or was there some ultra-conservative department transferred to Canberra at the time it was developed?

Nilrem 10:40 am 23 Sep 15

watto23 said :

I’m trying to find the website, but based on the 2012 election results, the government would be 11-12 Labour, 2-3 Greens and 11 liberals. Only in the Brindabella electorate is there a chance of 3 liberal members (and last election that was due to Zed who only looks after himself gaining most of the vote). There would need to be a heavy swing to the Liberals and there was one last election. The issue the Liberals have is most of the independents who would support a liberal government are far right and will never gain a seat in the ACT. Chic Henry had a shot, but then he joined the liberals, which was silly, because there was every chance Chic Henry could have won the 5th seat in an electorate with liberals and Labor at 2 each.

I can’t see anything but a Labor-Green government again. If the liberal party ditched the conservatives or at least the far right wing conservative policies, they’d probably do quite well. A lot of people vote Liberal for what they think the Liberal party stands for and many including myself won’t vote for them, while ever their policies are conservative. I’m really hoping Turnbull can turn the Liberals back towards liberalism.

+1 for real liberalism. I will not vote for the Liberals while they refuse to denounce bigots and racists, and while their shots are called by big business and mining companies. None of this is liberalism.

watto23 9:43 am 23 Sep 15

I’m trying to find the website, but based on the 2012 election results, the government would be 11-12 Labour, 2-3 Greens and 11 liberals. Only in the Brindabella electorate is there a chance of 3 liberal members (and last election that was due to Zed who only looks after himself gaining most of the vote). There would need to be a heavy swing to the Liberals and there was one last election. The issue the Liberals have is most of the independents who would support a liberal government are far right and will never gain a seat in the ACT. Chic Henry had a shot, but then he joined the liberals, which was silly, because there was every chance Chic Henry could have won the 5th seat in an electorate with liberals and Labor at 2 each.

I can’t see anything but a Labor-Green government again. If the liberal party ditched the conservatives or at least the far right wing conservative policies, they’d probably do quite well. A lot of people vote Liberal for what they think the Liberal party stands for and many including myself won’t vote for them, while ever their policies are conservative. I’m really hoping Turnbull can turn the Liberals back towards liberalism.

Nilrem 2:11 pm 22 Sep 15

John Hargreaves said :

martin75 said :

Hey John, couple of questions…

Where did Simon Corbell fit in your A, B, C & D team theory or was he an E?

You left out any info on how the factions within the Labor party pre selection work, can shed some light on it?

Do you think the stand of candidates has fallen since your day?

Cheers

In answer to all your questions, Simon was always an A-team member.

The factions work in different ways, some more rigid in their process than others. However, the factions of the Right, the Left and the organised Independents all put names forward to the party members who live in a given electorate and those members select the candidates to go forward in the election. Non aligned members can nominate for preselection if they like. It is true though that the more rigid the faction in its processes, the greater the chance of their lead candidate being preselected\ so long as they have sufficient numbers.

Are the candidates lining up at the moment better than those in the past? Different times and in some ways hard to judge. But I can say that this time round, the talent pool has a deep end to it.

The Libs have their similar practices when selecting their candidates. Let’s just say that if Zed doesn’t give the nod, that’s that. Ask Gary Kent about their processes.

Unfortunately, the ALP at its recent ACT conference, piked on the issue of banning the practice of “show and tell” voting, where factional enforcers get to inspect completed ballot papers before they are submitted. How on earth can an anti-democratic practice like this be justified? This, and the ALP’s unhealthy addiction to pokies, are the reasons I will no longer support them.

John Hargreaves 11:15 am 22 Sep 15

martin75 said :

Hey John, couple of questions…

Where did Simon Corbell fit in your A, B, C & D team theory or was he an E?

You left out any info on how the factions within the Labor party pre selection work, can shed some light on it?

Do you think the stand of candidates has fallen since your day?

Cheers

In answer to all your questions, Simon was always an A-team member.

The factions work in different ways, some more rigid in their process than others. However, the factions of the Right, the Left and the organised Independents all put names forward to the party members who live in a given electorate and those members select the candidates to go forward in the election. Non aligned members can nominate for preselection if they like. It is true though that the more rigid the faction in its processes, the greater the chance of their lead candidate being preselected\ so long as they have sufficient numbers.

Are the candidates lining up at the moment better than those in the past? Different times and in some ways hard to judge. But I can say that this time round, the talent pool has a deep end to it.

The Libs have their similar practices when selecting their candidates. Let’s just say that if Zed doesn’t give the nod, that’s that. Ask Gary Kent about their processes.

rubaiyat 9:47 am 22 Sep 15

aussie2 said :

REFERENDUMS-I love direct democracy! A question to all our budding pollies out there. The ACT Electoral Commission states on citizens initiated referendums, Citizens can propose a referendum as a form of direct democracy. Legislation for citizens initiative referendums has not been adopted by any Australian government. Our Assembly has asked for a Referendum but been told NO! I ask why not?

Because people are their own worst enemies. They all know what they hate, end of story.

America is the model of how not to do it. In California you have the insanity of the rich burgers of Orange County voting to cut the taxes they hate but NOT the services they insist on. To make up the difference in this obvious lunacy they made hugely risky investments leading to their bankruptcy in 1994.

So you had the spectacle of the loony right going cap in hand, as they always do when they have stuffed big time, to the Federal Government (that they hate) to bail them out of the stupidity they got themselves into.

The usual capitalise your wins and socialise your loses.

People love to hate politicians and blame them for everything that they voted them in for. Micro-management from the peanut gallery is NOT an improvement.

aussie2 6:42 am 22 Sep 15

REFERENDUMS-I love direct democracy! A question to all our budding pollies out there. The ACT Electoral Commission states on citizens initiated referendums, Citizens can propose a referendum as a form of direct democracy. Legislation for citizens initiative referendums has not been adopted by any Australian government. Our Assembly has asked for a Referendum but been told NO! I ask why not?

dukethunder 7:50 pm 21 Sep 15

A little off topic,
“There is an A-team, a B-team, a C-team and a D-team. People slot into these teams according to their energy, opportunity, mentorship and just plain luck.”

And hence the argument that we need to pay politicians more to attract better candidates is flawed. The barrier’s to entry are so numerous that in a democracy, the right person for the job, is replaced by career politicians and sycophants.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back 7:39 pm 21 Sep 15

“The Sex Party will have a crack.”

Tee hee hee…

martin75 6:14 pm 21 Sep 15

Hey John, couple of questions…

Where did Simon Corbell fit in your A, B, C & D team theory or was he an E?

You left out any info on how the factions within the Labor party pre selection work, can shed some light on it?

Do you think the stand of candidates has fallen since your day?

Cheers

bobzed57 4:23 pm 21 Sep 15

John, do you really think there’ll be any change from the status quo. Canberra is a left/centre town and rarely steps outside that pattern. It would be nice to see some real change. As a conservative, I always feel somewhat disenfranchised, but I guess that’s what a democracy is about.

rosscoact 7:34 am 21 Sep 15

Yes, with so many unknown to factor in, it will be very interesting.

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