As many people now know, despite the best efforts of Malcolm Turnbull, Craig Kelly’s preselection has been assured by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, after he use ‘emergency powers’ to prevent Kelly losing his preselection to popular local moderate Kent Johns1.
In May, Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services, Jane Prentice, lost preselection for the seat of Ryan to the Brisbane City Councillor, Julian Simmonds, who previously worked for Prentice. Upon winning preselection, Simmonds said that “Jane Prentice has been a faithful servant of the Australian people and has our thanks and gratitude for a lifetime of support for the Liberal Party and LNP”2. Malcolm Turnbull attempted to make sure Prentice was preselected, but that attempt failed, and Prentice lost convincingly.
Prentice and Simmonds had a long-term deal in place for Prentice to hand over her position to him, with the only dispute being when the handover was to take place. Prentice said she had one more term, while Simmonds maintained 2016 was to be her final election. While Prentice’s Queensland colleagues in federal parliament have spoken out against the move, Turnbull, then Treasurer Scott Morrison, and Simon Birmingham ruled out using ‘emergency powers’ to reverse the decision3.
Liberal MP for Gilmore, Ann Sudmalis, has decided to quit politics at the 2019 election, blaming “branch-stacking, undermining and leaks” for her decision4. This was despite then Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull stepping in to attempt to save her preselection in May5. The rot started in Sudmalis’ seat when her fundraising committee, campaign committee and other associates were all voted out in the Annual General Meeting of her local federal electoral conference. This happened a week after Malcolm Turnbull was dumped as PM. Sudmalis believes that NSW Liberal MP and party powerbroker Gareth Ward is behind the move to unseat her. According to Sudmalis, Ward’s hallmarks are “bullying, betrayal and backstabbing”, noting that he had “approached friends asking me to nominate my retirement date and then he’d call off his people”. Morrison, in his usual wishy-washy way stated that he was 100% confident that bullying was not an issue in the federal Liberal Party, but when asked if Sudmalis had been subjected to it, said that politics was a “pretty rough business”6. Julia Banks’ resignation from the Liberal Party shows that Morrison’s confidence is misplaced. Indeed, it has been reported that “the conduct of the member for Kiama [Ward] and his bullying treatment of women have been the focus of widespread community concern”7.
I get the distinct impression that politics attracts the wrong sort of person, particularly among blokes; the venal, self-aggrandising, bullying kind. How do we prevent people like that getting into political parties? I wish I knew. However, I think we could at least prevent some of them getting into parliament by getting rid of above the line voting, and having universal Robson Rotation8 of parties on the ballot paper.