Watching Werriwa

An automatic consequence of Latho’s resignation from Parliament will be a by-election for his seat of Werriwa. One Labor member is quoted in the SMH as saying:

“There’s a real prospect in the current climate that we’ll lose that seat,” one MP, who asked not to be named, said. “It’s an unfair legacy for whoever becomes leader. This could be a Wills [lost by Labor after Bob Hawke quit] or a Cunningham [lost after Steve Martin quit].”

Nevertheless, there’s already interest in contesting the seat:

Members said there were “a couple of high-profile candidates” in consideration for Werriwa. “At any Labor Party funeral it’s always a hot topic at the wake,” said one MP.

A bungled preselection in Cunningham early in Simon’s reign led to the seat’s loss to the Greens, and some early loss of authority and legitimacy for Crean. There are two important things about the preselection in Werriwa. First, as any number of observers (including Peter Beattie) noted, poor candidate quality was a factor in the last election loss. Safe seats are too often given to hacks. Who can remember any contribution made by the current Member for Blaxland? Secondly, a by-election will probably lead to a candidate being selected by the NSW executive rather than through a plebiscite. This raises the stakes for the new Leader to insist that a quality candidate be selected, rather than someone who’s done the hard yards in the NSW Right machine.

Latham held Werriwa with a margin of 9.3%, attracting a swing of 0.8% over 2001. It’ll still be a difficult campaign for Labor so it’s important the party get it right.

About Mark Bahnisch

Mark Bahnisch is a sociologist and is the founder of this blog. He has an undergraduate degree in history and politics from UQ, and postgraduate qualifications in sociology, industrial relations and political economy from Griffith and QUT. He has recently been awarded his PhD through the Humanities Program at QUT. Mark's full bio is on this page.
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Guido
2022 years ago

I couldn’t agree more. Cunningham was a foregone conclusion for Labor until the machine stepped in. And who could forget Aston, where the ALP candidate in this crucial by-election was a 27 year old still living at home electoral officer, selected because of his factional alignments.

An article in the The Australian mentions that probable candidates are Steven Chaytor, a Campbelltown City councillor, Paul Lynch,a left-wing ALP member for the NSW seat of Liverpool, and ‘left-aligned’ Wendy Waller.

I certainly would not go for a ‘celebrity’ candidate but a solid community centred one.

Rowen
2022 years ago

Yeah, as a cunningham voter it was interesting watching the ALP fritter away Martin’s 60+% majority into a narrow loss. The media was fairly harsh on Sharon Bird, and the Libs didn’t run a candidate.

Then of course, as Abbott predicted, we all started being forced into homosexual marriages and made to eat pot flavoured tofu, so we voted Organ out.

Antonio
Antonio
2022 years ago

If the NSW Libs are smart, we won’t run a candidate in Werriwa a la Cunningham. Would the Greens win it though???

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

Steve Hatton in blaxland was voted in a pre-selection. He did all Keating’s membe’s work while he was treasurer and then PM!

A better example of a hack would be Janice Crosio who replaced dick klugman however she also was pre-selected.
you have a very elitist view of members.

some like Hatton do the work well and will never be ministerial material. so what. we need them to keep ‘star’ candidates feet on the earth.

I will let the Werriwa pre-selectors do their job.
It isn’t true time is too short to have a pre-selection contest either.

Ron
Ron
2022 years ago

I have seen a few suggestions today that Bob Carr might give it try but I seriously doubt it.

When Carr leaves the premiership it will be to his nest in NZ.

Stephen Hill
Stephen Hill
2022 years ago

There was a rumour they were going to parachute Michael Lee into the seat, but he’s ruled himself out.

ctd
ctd
2022 years ago

Is there a convention that the party not holding the seat doesnt run candidates in by elections required due to retirement from ill health? Would have thought, particularly with such a high profile retirement, that much could be made of the (appearance of) impropriety if the Libs run a candidate.

Stephen Hill
Stephen Hill
2022 years ago

Don’t think so. When the member for Aston passed away, Labor ran a candidate, albeit not a very compotent one.

Joel Parsons
2022 years ago

The question is, do NSW Libs want to drive the last nail in the ALP’s coffin or not?

Tactically, a Lib winning the seat is the worst case scenario, because it would give the ALP a kick in the pants and some momentum to change. We don’t want them to have a wake up call this early in the term.

A Greens victory would be nice. Now we would have something to run scare campaigns about (2007: “a vote for the ALP is a vote for the Greens”). The negative side would be that it could break the ALP out of complacency.

An ALP victory would be reasonable, something nice and convincing, maybe a swing to the candidate, to keep them all complacent. Then we can use it to motivate our troops and win again in 2007.

I hate to be Macchiavellian, but we already control both houses, there is no point winning an extra seat.

Darlene
2022 years ago

Can’t even remember who the current member for Blaxland is.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Homer says it’s Steve Hatton, Darlene, but the Member for Blaxland is actually Michael Hatton.

http://www.aph.gov.au/house/members/member.asp?id=LN6

I’ve no doubt that he may well be a good local member, Homer, but my point is that a safe seat deserves a representative who can do more than the parish pump stuff and make a real contribution nationally.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

PJK bequeathed Blaxland to Michael Hatton, his longtime elecorate assistant, and childhood friend in a blatant act of nepotism when he huffed off to Woollahra in 96. Hatton has sunk pretty much without trace since. He did get up once to tell the House of Reps why the year 2000 wasn’t the start of the millenium and he also actually released a presser denying he was deadwood when the Tele claimed he was a prime example of same, back in 2003, (Sussex St was running a destabilisation number on perceived time-serving, lacklustre, federal wastes-of-space at the time).

in a desperate bid to say something – anything – interesting about him the Australian Political Almanac offers this: “As a teacher in local schools, he remembers being in the staffroom in 1975 when news of Gough Whitlam’s dismissal came through.” And that’s it. Oh and he enjoys reading the novels of Margaret Yourcenar apparently. Especially the one about Hadrian….

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Hmmm, I remember being in my grade 3 classroom when out teacher told us about Whitlam’s dismissal. Does this mean I should run for Werriwa?

Stephen Hill
Stephen Hill
2022 years ago

Hatton obviously shares the tastes of premier Bob Carr who is a bit “Memoirs of Hadrian” buff. Unfortunately, unlike Hadrian his Imperius Carrusius seems to have struggled in his quest to bring the fruits of civilisation to the outer outposts. And it is not like he has had to endure the disaffection of a phalanx of plotters set on steeling his life – that is other than a couple of NSW right power-brokers shouting “Weez been robbed” and chucking a hissy-fits when they find they have to earn their ministry post.

So why is that the demizens of Sydney’s north-west have such an inadequate transport system. It seems rather annoying for those citizens who find that there are just too many chariots on the road. And part of the problem of this is the lack of a decent public chariot system, which ensures the sort of unrest that should be left in the gladiatorial arena.

Maybe his Imperius has a reason that he will narrate to his Marcus Aurelius (can we guess who in his cabinet would be his Aurelius). For at the moment there is still only the “ghost train (chariot)” in Sydney’s north-west. Could it be Carrusius thinks similar to what Hadrian did about the zealots – feeling a sense of impotent frustration when the topic comes to mind. Does he consider that any form of intervention would be useless, they will just continue with their barbaric practices, voting Liberal or for Reverend Nile.

Maybe his Carrusius should listen to one of his centurions Tony Hayusius who has suggested that if infrastructure was in place it might even lead to a strengthening in the Imperial Senate, as some of the demizens who had previously been forced to catch bus-bus-train to get everywhere might actually show some form of appreciation.

And maybe with John Watkinus, moving from centurion patrol to department of chariots, living not the far from the region, there might be someone else who might cotton on. Surely Watkinus previously minister for gladiatorial contests knows the twinfold pattern used to quell the angry masses, drunken revels (in short supply in the area) and entertainment.

Sure there will always be some zealots with rigid beliefs who will want to make the region an “alchohol dry” area. And those who put pigs-heads in mosques and who terrorise anyone who looks a little odd. But despite the “Bible belt” tag, a lot of people are not into ritual circumcisions and would prefer to be able to go about their life – and are about as interested in Rev Nile and the policies of Liberal “uglies” as they are in catching the latest crucifixations and impailments put on for those with a thirst for vengeance.

But maybe more important Imperius Carrusius should look at the re-distribution that has taken place in the area. With one of his rivals Wayne Mertonuses (the Mr Snufalufagus of NSW politics), he might actually gain some territory that will help fortify him a little against some of the unrest in other regions.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

congratulations Mark,

you advocate an elitist view of safe seats.

Hatton does a good job i’m told as a local member.
He won the pre-selection.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Homer, Labor needs to look beyond the parish pump if it’s to have a good chance of both winning government and being an effective government. I don’t deny that Hatton is a good local member but the party ought to put good local candidates in the marginals and people with Ministerial talent in the safe seats.

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