Disendorsements again and again

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One of the surprising dynamics of the last week has been the large number of candidates who have been disendorsed by their party.

From last Monday to Friday there were six candidates from three parties who were disendorsed by their party.

Labor’s Wayne Kurnoth was disendorsed as the party’s #2 Senate candidate in the Northern Territory on Monday. He was joined by One Nation’s Steve Dickson, the party’s #2 Senate candidate in Queensland, on Tuesday.

Jeremy Hearn and Peter Killin, the Liberal candidates for the Victorian seats of Isaacs and Wills respectively, were disendorsed on Thursday. They were joined by Liberal candidate for Lyons Jessica Whelan and Labor candidate for Melbourne Luke Creasey on Friday.

This is in addition to a number of candidates removed before nominations closed, mostly because of section 44 concerns. Quite a few other candidates made it onto the ballot but could face section 44 challenges if they win a seat. The Guardian is keeping a full list of candidates removed, both before and after nominations close.

So what does it mean when a candidate is disendorsed after nominations close?

It doesn’t mean anything to the formal election process. Each candidate remains on the ballot with the name of their former party. They can still receive votes and can theoretically still win election (as in the case of Pauline Hanson in 1996). If they receive more than 4% of the vote then their former party will receive electoral funding for that seat.

I assume that the practical implications will be that their former party will no longer hand out how-to-vote cards for them in that seat. This is likely to be the case in Melbourne and Wills, where the disendorsed candidate had little to no chance of winning. It’s not clear to me what will happen in Isaacs.

It appears that the Liberals in Lyons have swung behind Deanna Hutchinson, the Nationals candidate, although Jessica Whelan will still have the Liberal name on the ballot. It’s not clear what this means, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see a Liberal how-to-vote recommending a vote for the Liberal ticket in the upper house (where the Nationals are running separately) but a vote for the National in the lower house.

There’s nothing that unusual about a candidate being disendorsed after nominations close, but it’s kind of shocking to have six candidates brought down in one week.

The most famous historical case of disendorsement was Pauline Hanson, the Liberal candidate for Oxley in 1996. She went on to win the seat despite the disendorsement, and sat in parliament as an independent before she founded One Nation.

I couldn’t find a list of previous post-nomination disendorsements at the federal level, but there haven’t been many. There are plenty more cases of candidates winning preselection and then being replaced or removed before nominations close. The only other post-nomination case I could find was Family First’s Andrew Quah, who was brought undone by years-old obscene images he had sent via email shortly after nominations closed in 2007.

There were three cases at the recent Victorian state election. Liberal candidates for the Northern Metropolitan region and the seat of Yan Yean were both disendorsed after nominations closed. Labor ran an unsuccessful court case to force the ballot papers to be reprinted, but a court prevented the Liberal Party from handing out a statewide how-to-vote which featured the former Yan Yean candidate on the grounds of it being misleading to refer to her as a Liberal candidate, despite that being printed on the ballot paper.

The Victorian Greens also disendorsed a candidate at the last minute due to serious allegations.

Is there a reason which explains the uptick of cases? Some may blame social media. That certainly can explain the Luke Creasey case – past examples of young men making awful jokes wouldn’t have been captured online to be brought up years hence, but we are now over a decade on from the launch of Facebook and Twitter, leaving a large legacy of historical posting. Yet the other candidates were all older, so I’m not sure it can just be explained that “youthful indiscretions” are now stored online rather than lost.

One possible explanation is that the new focus on section 44 of the constitution is both increasing the strain on the vetting capacity of even the biggest political parties while restricting the pool of candidates for thankless unwinnable campaigns.

The original Liberal candidate for Wills, Vaishali Ghosh, stepped down as the candidate due to concern about her possibly being ineligible due to her right as a person of Indian heritage to live in India. This was not a clear-cut case of ineligibilty, and Ghosh had no chance of winning so it never would have been tested in court. It only caused a problem for the Liberal Party due to the potential for an embarrassing story. Yet there are so many potentially ineligible candidates (hello the Liberal candidate for Canberra) that it is unlikely to have played out as a significant issue. Yet they replaced her with a relatively unvetted member who was then forced to withdraw due to nasty comments he had made about Tim Wilson. They would have done much better to just leave her in the seat.

Section 44 is still far from clear, and it will undoubtedly force the parties to reject otherwise acceptable candidates. That won’t be a massive problem in winnable seats (although some may still sneak through) but in tougher races they just don’t have many options available. It would be mad to give up your rights in another country to run and lose. So it will surely reduce the ethnic diversity of candidates in the country, and I don’t see how that doesn’t have flow-on effects in terms of who actually wins.

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11 COMMENTS

  1. Maybe we are starting to see the beginning of the end of political parties. Then we can get back to electing real community representatives rather that, in most cases, hack we have never heard of before the election.

  2. I’ll be so pleased to see this election over. We in NSW have had 2 in 2 months. I vote Liberal as Labor is a
    wrecker don’t care how they spend your money. This has been a horrible
    election. It’s very grubby.

  3. They’re easily forgettable but I’m pretty sure there’s been post nomination day disendorsements or resignations at most federal elections. I couldn’t remember exactly who, but from 2016 I found the Liberal candidate for Calwell and the Labor candidate for Farrer. In 2013 the Liberal candidate for Charlton and the high profile resignation of Wikileaks Party Victorian Senate candidate Leslie Cannold. I think there were also a couple of PUP candidates who were dumped post-nominations in 2013. But clearly there’s never been this many, at least from the major parties.

  4. I do not know about Victoria but from what I have seen of non political council elections in Qld give me parties any day over self interested independents.
    The ordinary voter is too lazy to check 4 candidates and the local newspapers are so in bed with land developers that the newspapers land developers and councillors are a triad that makes it difficult to defend local government’s very existence.
    I can see no advantage in electing an independent when a political party candidate with a sound ideology is an alternative.
    There is obviously a big advantage in electing a candidate whose vote is needed to form government. All Party MP’s just have to learn that their vote is just as valuable as a minor party MP’s vote and insist on Executive Government negotiating post election.
    Andrew Jackson
    apjackson2@bipond.com

  5. “Section 44 is still far from unclear”.

    Well that clarifies that, then :-).

    My feeling is that UAP could probably pick up a substantial chunk of the “Liberal vote”. I wonder whether the UAP HTVs would drop the “ex-Liberal” down the ladder or not.

  6. Andrew Jackson (no relation) – Logan and Ipswich councils In Qld; are they dominated by parties?

  7. Adrian
    Courier Mail stated earlier in year that
    Logan had 2ALP and 11 non alligned councillors
    And Ipswich
    2 ALP and 9 Non alligned councillors but problem is that they may well be a member of a party but stood S non alligned.

    My own Mayor is non alligned but was previously a Liberal Candidate.

    It is precisely this vagueness that makes voting for council so difficult.

    My own councillor who I voted for is not alligned but he is affiliated with Mayor.
    Party politics is practiced in Brisbane but old National Party in Queensland did not endorse any candidates. However most councillors were active members of National Party. LNP is split on issue.

    From my experience on Caboolture SHS booth at last election I would prefer that voters selected a party rather than refused to vote for a candidate because they do not like the candidate’s spectacles.

  8. There’s Buckley’s chance of getting a constitutional amendment, seen as intended to make it easier to get non-white foreign-born people into parliament, approved in the three smallest – and most monocultural, conservative, and parochial – states in a referendum.

  9. Andrew – thanks for this information but so many don’t have a declared political allegiance just like here in Melbourne. Some of these people are likely liars or party stooges though.

  10. Paul
    Australian’s do not support Apartheid or in English Seperate Development.
    The move by the left to support Apartheid is as evil as the move by the fascist Right to protect racial homogeneity.
    We need to move back to all who live here permanently will be assimilated into our community and an Ssumption that racial, tribal and ethnic divisions will become less divisive over time. This can be done we no longer burn RC at the stake for heresy, or throw red heads into the ducking pond for witchcraft.

    In most part of world One Nation is a uniting movement similar to Neville Bonner’s OPAL One People of Australia League.

    Andrew Jackson
    apjackson2@bigpond.com

  11. Isn’t the real question why does politics attract these sort of people?

    May be you have to be a bit “weird” to want to stand for elected office. Low pay, long hours – 24/7, no privacy for the family, everything you do is scrutinised by the media, whole bunch of other “weirdos” wanting to shaft you for their own benefit / advance their own agendas. Was it Barnaby who described Federal Parliament as the “crazy” house?

    Take Tony Abbott – back bencher pay circa $200k. If he retired he gets circa $450k as a pension. Wouldn’t a “normal” person retire?

    The alternative is that all the people who have been caught are just “ordinary” Australians and there are a lot of people who say the same thing but haven’t had their social media scrutinised. And when I say a lot I mean 10, 20 or 30% or more of the population. I just don’t know.

    Regards,

    Pollster

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