There are five by-elections scheduled in coming weeks. Four of these are the result of the ongoing parliamentary citizenship fiasco and Bill Shorten’s ‘rolled gold’ guarantee that all Labor MPs were constitutionally valid.
They weren’t - which only demonstrates Shorten’s Grand Canyon-esque credibility gulf.
Few people seem to like or trust Shorten, which gives hope to the Coalition despite deep misgivings about their own leader. I suspect this round of by-elections may prove politically fatal for one or the other.
Of the five by-elections, four will occur in Labor-held seats and one in a seat held by an independent. The two seats in Western Australia are deemed so left-leaning that the Liberals aren’t even going to contest them. It is in the three east of the Nullarbor where the political peril lies.
Of the 151 by-elections held since Federation only five seats have been lost by a party in opposition. That figure could grow in the weeks ahead.
Despite their public ‘humility’, the Coalition have a real shot in winning Longman (QLD), Braddon (TAS) and Mayo (SA). If they do so, the pressure on Bill Shorten’s leadership will be immense. The last Opposition Leader who lost a seat in a by-election was gone within a year. Shorten’s factional opponent and fellow Prime Ministerial aspirant - Anthony Albanese - is waiting in the wings to swoop on the political carcass of the ultimate hollowman.
Everything suggests that an Albanese leadership would buoy the electoral fortunes of Labor and I suspect a Labor leadership change would occur in the face of multiple electoral defeats.
If this change results in the Coalition’s polls heading further south, the leadership pressure will turn to the Government benches. With no clear successor to Turnbull it is difficult to predict the outcome. If you think it can’t happen, revisit the last 10 years of leadership chaos – and think again.
If the government comes up short in the ‘super Saturday’ of by-elections, one could forgive Coalition MPs for abandoning all hope of a win at the next general election. In such a circumstance, there is no doubt the government spin-doctors would massage the public message to its own benefit. Make no mistake, if they don’t win any of these by-elections it will be a disaster for the Liberals.
In an environment where the falsehoods of the Labor Party have seen a number of their members disqualified from parliament, where the Labor leader is deeply unpopular and where an independent ‘jagged’ a Liberal seat due to the misconduct of the previous Liberal member, there is no reason for the government not to eke out at least one win. There can be no excuse for a lack of success.
That’s why the Australian Conservatives have declined to contest these by-elections. For reasons I have given above, our absence sharpens the focus on the government and opposition alone. Seats won in by-elections will need to be contested afresh within 12 months. Our focus is on the general election where our candidates will help shape political outcomes whilst supporting our Senate candidates to hold the balance of power.
These by-elections are a mess of Labor’s own making and it is they - and the Coalition - who need to face the music. Our decision leaves both Bill Shorten and Malcolm Turnbull with nowhere to hide when the results are determined.
The next few weeks of this by-election fiasco could change the course of Australian politics as it will almost certainly change the leadership of at least one of the major parties.
We should all be watching with interest.
Things that make you go Hmm…
The nappy consent controversy we shared has gone global, yet this Brit doubles down. The WA fake medal scandal gets serious but an Adelaide MP was warned: donut try this at home. An SBS channel asks for trouble, Hillary poses with Julie, Julia, Bill and Chloe and Aussie electoral boundaries spark a diplomatic incident.
Saudis go to water over German beer caps, Deutschland goes to the wolves yet the lefty IMF criticises their surpluses. ‘Territorial discrimination’ halts this Italian football match as Berlusconi wins a consolation prize. Trump’s Iran pivot sees UN’s top nuke inspector suddenly quit and Seattle’s homeless tax scares investors away. Canadian boffins join in this monkey business and love knows some bounds, after all.