Phillip Coorey at the Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that Brendan Nelson will resign from Parliament today, with reports of a press conference planned for 2pm. Nelson had previously announced that he would retire at the next election, and Liberal figures had begun manouevring for the preselection for one of the party’s safest seats, but the preselection was delayed until after the redistribution is concluded. Thus there will be a Bradfield by-election this year, and the Liberal redistribution will be brought forward.
Bradfield is a northern Sydney seat, particularly centred on Ku-ring-gai. It has been held by the Liberal Party since 1949, when it was created, first held by former PM Billy Hughes for the last years of his life. It has never even gone to preferences. Prior to the redistribution, Bradfield is the fifth-safest Liberal seat and eighth-safest Coalition seat. It ain’t gonna fall to Labor.
I can’t see any circumstance in which Labor would run in this seat. They avoided Mayo and Lyne after the disastrous result in the much more marginal seat of Gippsland. They simply won’t win, and in all likelihood Bradfield won’t swing as much as we would expect in the average seat. The Greens will certainly run (I say that without any inside knowledge on the local group’s plans, but we always run in these by-elections) and will gain a whole bunch more votes, but we’re not about to win. This isn’t Mayo.
The most interesting element, then, is determining who will be the Liberal candidate. William Bowe at Poll Bludger has summarised the leading candidates:
By all accounts the two front-runners will be Arthur Sinodinos, legendary former chief-of-staff to John Howard, and Tom Switzer, opinion page editor for The Australian. However, other names were recently put forward by Phillip Coorey: Menzies Research Centre executive director Julian Leeser; Paul Fletcher, director of corporate and regulatory affairs at Optus; and David Coleman, an executive with the Packer family’s Publishing and Broadcasting Limited (last I heard) who is associated with the Left faction and the other side of the town, having run for the federal Cook preselection and been mentioned in connection with the state seat of Cronulla.
Another factor will be if an independent stands. I don’t know much about local politics, but commenters might have knowledge about any figures who could challenge the Liberal dominance in the seat with Greens preferences. It will be interesting to see.
Elsewhere: A quick post from Antony Green.