It’s been a busy week on the Federal Politics front even with Federal Parliament in its long Winter break. On the Covid front, half of the states of the Commonwealth have lockdown now as NSW continues to have large daily case numbers, due to a lethargic rollout of the lockdown and a pitiful vaccine rollout. In Victoria, cases are staying stubbornly in the double-digit range and the lockdown there has had to be extended. Meanwhile, SA has gone into at least a week lockdown and we now have 12 cases in the state. Meanwhile, on a poll front Labor have increased their leads in multiple polls as the Liberal NSW lockdown is starting to bite in the community. Newspoll has the poll at 53-47 to Labor while 2 separate polls from Essential and ReachTel had the polling numbers at 52-48 and 51.5-48.5. Where is the improvement from Labor coming from? Well, the big improvement is in WA where Labor has improved by 9% or 10% depending on the poll. That would put 4 MPS in WA from the Liberal Party at threat of losing their seats including Cabinet Ministers Ken Wyatt and Christian Porter. In this blog, however, I thought I’d mix things up and look at the retiring MPS announced so far for the next election and do a seat profile for their seats.
So, Labor has three retiring members of Parliament at this upcoming election thus far. The first and most prolific is Warren Snowden who was the member for Lingiari for the entirety of its existence since 2001 and was also the member for Northern Territory for 12 years while the seat was the Territories only seat. The seat of Lingiari is very sparse and diverse as it covers the entirety of the Northern Territory aside from the Electorate of Solomon which covers the city of Darwin. As such it is a highly Indigenous populated seat which adds extra complexity to the seat. Over the years it has been fairly safe Labor although it has become more marginal over the last few elections. With the retirement of Warren Snowden, it is still probably a Labor hold but the Country Liberals will be chasing a win in the seat. The Labor Party have preselected a very popular former member of Arafura and former Deputy Chief Minister in Marion Scrymgour while the Liberal Party have preselected the current mayor of Alice Springs in Damien Ryan. Next, we move onto the seat of Fowler which has been held by Labor in the entirety of its history and has been held by retiring member Chris Hayes since 2010 after he served as a member for Werriwa for five years. Chris Hayes was never a Minister but he did hold the procedural role of chief government whip in the Rudd and Gillard governments. The Electorate of Fowler is in the outer metropolitan areas of Sydney and is rated as the most disadvantaged electorate economically in the country. As I said earlier Fowler has always been Labor held and I would expect another comfortable win for Labor in this seat at the next election. The last Labor electorate I will touch on of retiring Labor MPs is the seat of Spence which is held currently by the member evicted under 94a the most Nick Champion. Nick Champion announced his retirement from Federal Politics early this year after winning preselection for the safe state seat of Taylor. Nick Champion has held Spence since its creation in 2019 and before that held the seat of Wakefield since 2007. Interestingly Wakefield used to be a safe as nails Liberal seat being most famously held by the likes of former speaker Neil Andrew and former ministers under Hughes, Lyons, Menzies, Holt, Gorton and McEwen. Spence is located in the Northern Outer Metropolitan area of Adelaide and is as such a largely working-class seat, it, therefore, comes as not a huge surprise that it is a safe Labor seat, indeed the safest Labor seat in the state. The Labor and Liberal parties are yet to preselect anyone for the seat and indeed there has been some kerfuffle from the Labor Party about who they will preselect as the former daughter of Treasurer John Dawkins has wanted to run for the seat and has been blocked by a male factional stitch-up. Spence will be a safe Labor hold at the next election.
Now onto the Liberal Party and there have been 3 retirements so far from the lower house to go along with the retirement of Scott Ryan in the Senate. What makes the Liberal Party retirements more interesting is I think there’s a real chance of Labor winning all 3 seats at the next election. We will start with the most high profile of the retirees and that’s Tony Smith the current speaker of the House who I talked about in my last political blog. The Electorate of Casey has existed since 1969 and in recent times has been a Liberal seat albeit a more marginal one. The seat of Casey is located outer suburbs of Eastern Metropolitan Melbourne. The seat has been held by a few ministers as well as two speakers, one being Tony Smith and the other being Bob Halverson. Labor and the Greens have gone with their candidates from 2019 and Preferences may well end up deciding this seat, I would favour the Liberals to just hold on however but it is a big personal vote to lose. Boothby is the seat currently held by Nicole Flint who has bravely held the seat since 2016. She is a not at all shy Conservative and as such faced harsh and at times crossed the line attacks from the Labor Party and Getup. Boothby has been Liberal-held since 1949 and although it is a marginal seat, is one that Labor always are keen to target but for a myriad of reasons never seem to be able to get the job done of winning the seat. It is currently Liberal-held by a shade under 1.4% so is in real danger of being lost to Labor however there has been no preselection by Labor in the area yet and the Liberal Candidate Rachel Swift has been able to get out on the ground and run a strong campaign already. The most famous member for Boothby was Steele Hall who was Premier of South Australia. This is an interesting seat to call in so far as Labor should be favourites to win the seat, however with no candidate announced yet in the seat the Liberals might just hang on here again. The seat covers the southern outer metropolitan areas of Adelaide. The last Liberal Seat I am going to touch is the seat of Bowman in Queensland. The seat has been held by Andrew Laming since 2004 and probably would have been held by him for the foreseeable future until some alleged naughty behaviour out of parliament caught up with him and saw him first retire from the seat and then be disendorsed by the Liberals when he tried to renominate for the seat. Con Sciacca is the most famous member of Bowman has served as a Minister under Paul Keating. Bowman is located in the Eastern Metropolitan areas of Brisbane. Labor has preselected Indigenous health advocate Donisha Duff while the Liberals have gone with Henry Pike. Henry Pike has been in some controversy for fat-shaming a woman which is not a good look given the history of the last member for Bowman. this seat is held by over 10% which puts it in the safe column and yet I have an inkling it might be in the most danger of being lost by the Liberals given the reason the former member has lost the seat.
Lastly, we have the retiring Nationals members, and there are two of them, both of whom were Barnaby Joyce supporters of which you can take from that what you will. The most high profile is the member for Dawson George Christensen. Now his seat has often been quite marginal in his term of office but ballooned out at the last election with a plus 11% swing to Christensen thanks to some favourable votes for One Nation and United Australia Party. The most famous members of Dawson are all former Ministers, two being Nats members and one being a Whitlam Minister in one of the rare times the seat hasn’t been held by the Nats. Now George Christensen at one stage was famously referred to as the member for Manilla for his frequent overseas trips to the region during one of his terms in office. Dawson is a Rural seat in Queensland taking in the towns of Mackay and parts of South Eastern Townsville. Barnaby Joyce does not want to see George go using an answer in question time to publicly plea for him to stay on as a member. This is due to a large personal following in the area and despite the safe margin of the seat, Queensland can swing wildly from one election to the next so while I would favour the Coalition to hold this seat it could be closer than some may expect Labor has preselected Shane Hamilton to run in Dawson, he is a coal mine worker. Flynn is the other seat I will touch on in this profile and it is held currently by the Nats member Ken O’Dowd who is a huge fan of Coal. Flynn is another of the marginal Liberal/National seats going into 2019 that saw a large swing to the Nats at the election again due to favourable vote pickups by United Australia and One Nation. Flynn is a Rural Queensland seat and it extends from the far reaches of Gladstone to as far west as the rural city of Emerald. Both major parties have preselected candidates for Flynn with Gladstone Mayor Matt Burnett running for Labor while the former member for Callide is running for the Coalition. This is another relatively safe Liberal/National seat that will be one to watch on election night although I’d favour the Nats hanging on here.
Thanks for reading my weekly blog, stay tuned next week for another blog on politics.