The Canberra Liberals aren’t the only ones in need of new blood for the 2024 election.
The attention may have been on the Liberals’ internal ructions at the halfway point of this term, but ACT Labor will need to find some fresh candidates and think about replacing some who have reached their use-by date in the Legislative Assembly.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr, reinvigorated by the election of the Albanese Government, will stay on to lead Labor into the election.
Asked this week about the need for renewal in his team, now less than two years out to the election, he said he expected most of his team to run again, indicating that a couple might be considering their future.
Mr Barr also said Labor would need 25 candidates, so that opened the way for at least 15 fresh faces on the party list, and he hoped Labor would improve on the current “baseline” position of 10 MLAs.
“An outstanding result would be to win 15 seats,” he said, but realistically between 10 and 15 would be needed to form government.”
Labor will need to shake off accusations of being a tired, complacent government that has been in office too long, and that will be 23 years come October 2024.
It came through the 2020 poll but ceded seats to the Greens, as did the Liberals.
Labor might be betting on the Greens not being able to maintain their record 2020 vote, but that would be risky, given the independent mood of the ACT electorate.
It needs some high-profile candidates and some turnover in the Assembly if it is to fend off the Liberals under Elizabeth Lee, which have a host of longstanding issues in health, transport, education and housing to prosecute against the government.
There are three Labor MLAs that might not make it back after 2024.
The Tuggeranong twins – Speaker Joy Burch and Minister Mick Gentleman – have done a staunch job in the southern seat of Brindabella, but their longevity in the Assembly and what can only be described as mediocre performance point to them as possibilities for not recontesting.
Ms Burch has been around as an MLA, unsuccessful Minister and now Speaker for 14 years since being elected in 2008.
Mr Gentleman goes even further back, to the 2004 election, but lost his seat in 2008, only to return in 2012 and stick around.
He has been a minister since 2014 and is currently leading what is probably the government’s most important reform program – establishing a new planning system.
Mr Gentleman is a faithful servant of the party but is not regarded as a strong media performer or administrator, and when it comes to the key planning portfolio does not have the respect or trust of key community groups.
He is on surer ground as Police and Emergency Services Minister where he has been able to secure jobs in the unionised fire and ambulance services.
Both are at a stage in life where retirement beckons for most but these days that should not necessarily rule one out.
But 2024 would offer a graceful exit for the pair, especially for Mr Gentleman who should leave a legacy in a new and hopefully much-improved planning system.
It would also allow a fresh team to be presented to the voters in Brindabella and the probable entry of two new Labor faces into the Assembly.
The other MLA that might not make it back could be Yerrabi’s Suzanne Orr, who failed to retain her spot in the Ministry after 2020, and has failed to make much impact.
She could be vulnerable to a pre-selection challenge or left behind if Labor manages to find candidates who can galvanise the vote in Gungahlin where it has struggled since the departure of Meegan Fitzharris.
Labor will need to lift its performance in Yerrabi, where it suffered a 10 per cent swing, and in Brindabella (-7%).
However it plays out over the next two years, Labor will need to offer some regeneration and succession path after Mr Barr, who may not last the term if he returns as Chief Minister.
Managing that necessary regeneration and staying engaged with an electorate frustrated with intractable problems and weary of more than two decades of Labor rule will be a challenge.
But manage it Labor must.