A lot of people were surprised in 2010 when Andrew Leigh, an economics professor from ANU, won the right to run as Labor’s candidate for the very safe seat of Fraser.
Surprised because some sort of factional thug seemed a more likely winner of such a prize.
Australian Policy Online has published a lengthy piece on how this came to be by Labor member Terry Giesecke.
It’s essential reading for anyone wanting to understand politics in Canberra.
Elections for office bearers of clubs and companies occur every day in Australia. Political party preselections are different. The ALP is one of only two gateways in Australia to high political office; therefore, it has a great responsibility to ensure sound preselection processes. Undoubtedly the lure of political power and prestige will attract a certain number of careerists and con artists. Pre selectors need to exercise “due diligence”.
Were the factions damaged? A little, but Federal preselections are not the only game in town. ACT Legislative Assembly preselections come up every four years. There are sub branch, ACT branch and conference positions up for grabs each year. Conference decisions on rules and policy are on the menu too, enough to keep them busy. The Centre Coalition probably suffered more, their candidate in Canberra also missing out by a handful of votes. There was talk of a new right faction, but only time will tell if it eventuates.
The new Labor Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, called a Federal Election for August 21, 2010.
Andrew Leigh did not have long to wait, he was easily elected.