The belly of the whale — Andrew Leigh wins preselection

Economist and blogger Andrew Leigh has won preselection as Labor’s candidate for Fraser. Saturday saw preselections for both ACT federal electorates — Fraser and Canberra, with Canberra going to communications consultant Gai Brodtmann. According to the Canberra Times‘ Jessica Wright, the results represent a victory for the party’s rank and file:

Labor bosses had nutted out a cross-factional deal which would have swapped right and left preferences, ensuring Ms Wood — an adviser to Minister for Housing Tanya Plibersek and member of the Right — and Mr Martin, the assistance secretary for the national ALP executive and a member of the Left, a clear path to the two seats on offer.

But rank and file members rebelled, ignoring directives to participate in a show and tell ballot.

The ABC’s Stephen Dziedzic writes that both Leigh and Brodtmann are "effective and impressive candidates who were wily enough to take advantage of a struggle within and between the factions."

For Leigh it marks a turning point. He writes: "Thanks to a great campaign team, I’m slowly making the evolution from the academic style of hard facts and sharp differences to the political style of storytelling and common ground, but it’s been one heck of a learning experience."

And it’s true, voters don’t just want to hear a litany of issues. But perhaps Andrew will find a way to weave some of those hard academic facts into a compelling narrative.

Elsewhere: Andrew Norton writes: "Andrew is an outstanding candidate, but this is a big loss to Australian social science."

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Nicholas Gruen
11 years ago

Thatt’s phooey that Andrew is such a big loss to social science. Of course he is that, but there are lots of social scientists about – doing a great job. Sadly in an age where a distressing number of pollies are time-servers, Andrew’s presence will be more tellingly felt in Parliament.

Congratulations Andrew.

Andrew Norton
11 years ago

I can’t think of another Australian social scientist with Andrew’s productivity, range, or willingness to make findings available to a broader audience.

James Farrell
James Farrell(@james-farrell)
11 years ago

I just wish he was running for the Greens. But the fact that he managed to win the pre-selection in itself gives some hope for Labor.


[…] upcoming federal election (ABC report here, and Canberra Times reports here and here, and also via Club Troppo). Provided the ALP National Executive doesn’t overturn the result, Andrew is practically […]

Andrew Leigh
11 years ago

Guys, you’re too generous. I feel like I’m reading my obituary already.

Am sure you’ll be critiquing me before long (which I’ll welcome!).

Andrew Norton
Andrew Norton
11 years ago

AL – Indeed! You have an expectations problem. Nobody expects much of the typical Labor hack MP. But we will be looking for more from you…

11 years ago

Well done. I guess the big question as an outsider to the factions is how Andrew becomes a Minister or is it better to be an outsider.

My own view is that whilst it might be a tough balance, arguing for new positions for Labor, will be very fraught politically but ultimately what he could bring hat is new and different.

The main issue with both parties at present is the narrowness of the canvas they paint on … for example Andrew’s views on IR and work don’t in my view fit on the current political spectrum in Australia … so you either park those views or mount a long term case.

I guess the big issue is whether you do it solely within a political movement or more widely, say on radio and TV.

In my view the role of back benchers in Australia is greatly under-utilised when compared to say active thinkers in the US and Britain.

My other view is that Rudd will likely be in office for another decade perhaps so it could be a very long term stratgey.

Best of luck …

11 years ago

So Andy L, what are the two or three big policy issues you want to ride into the attention sphere of Government?

My sarc tags are totally off here. I’m seriously curious. Always up for any pollie who genuinely gets this whole intersocialtubewebthang 2.0. As you do.