Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Australian Federal Election 2016: going down like skittles

In a federal election campaign where all three big political brands have been hustings-ready since March, candidates are still going down like skittles........

The latest are the Liberal candidate Carolyn Currie who was contesting the NSW lower house seat of Whitlam and first-time Labor Senator for the Northern Territory Nova Peris.

Ms. Currie’s rather novel reason for withdrawing from the fray is that she is like a general with no troops because no party rank and file were coming to her support on the election trail.

Senator Peris intiallly failed to give any explanation for retiring from the lists, leaving mainstream media to speculate that she is seeking employment elsewhere. Later she cited family reasons.

Also in the Senate the Liberal’s Concetta Fierravanti-Wells is tettering on the edge of the political gutter with The Canberra Times revealing on 26 May 2016 that:

The preselection hopes of controversial Turnbull government minister Concetta Fierravanti-Wells have been hit by allegations she broke a promise not to employ a key Liberal Party executive and factional ally.
The hard-right NSW senator hired as an electorate officer Nathaniel Smith, a Kogarah councillor and the son of former NSW attorney-general Greg Smith, who also serves on the party's state executive.
Liberal sources accused Senator Fierravanti-Wells of breaking an explicit promise to senior party figures that she would not employ Mr Smith or run a "factional office".
She is also accused of trying to conceal Mr Smith's employment by demanding his removal from her staff list and denying him a parliamentary email address.
As an electorate officer his taxpayer-funded salary would be close to $100,000.
It comes as a spectacular factional battle over preselection for the NSW Senate ticket comes to a head, with the state executive trying to relegate Senator Fierravanti-Wells into sixth place, against the wishes of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull……

Rumour has it that Ms. Fierravanti-Wells' political future may be on the line despite Malcolm Turnbull's support keeping her on the senate ticket.
In 2015 Labor’s then MP for Oxley  Bernie Ripoll announced he would not be standing at the 2016 federal election so as an official retiree he escapes being included in the skittles tally, however Minister for Territories, Local Government and Major Projects & Liberal MP for Bradfield Paul I Know Nothing Fletcher does not and has apparently been caught out sidestepping full disclosure of his wife’s interests in his 44th Parliament Statement of Registrable Interests.

The Australian, 27 May 2016:
Mr Fletcher, a stalwart ally of Malcolm Turnbull, declined to disclose the business interests of his jeweller wife, Manuela Zappacosta, exploiting a rule that only requires MPs to disclose family interests “of which the member is aware”.
Consequently Mr Fletcher’s declaration omits Ms Zappacosta’s directorship and 50-per-cent shareholding in Baba Management, a firm run from an accountancy practice in Albury, southern NSW.
Mr Fletcher wrote in his declaration of interests: “I do not know if Manuela Zappacosta is a director of any other companies and I have not made inquiry.”
A Liberal spokesman said: “Mr Fletcher said his approach was consistent with the approach used other Members of Parliament since at least 1990 and that the Clerk of the House had not raised any concerns about it.”
Mr Fletcher’s position mirrors that of Bob Katter, the independent Queensland MP, whose declaration obscures his wife Susan’s vast wealth as “she regards this as her private business”.
Clerks do not generally raise concern about MPs’ declarations. Liberal senator Chris Back mistakenly filed an essentially blank form in August 2014 that went unnoticed until The Australian brought the oversight to the senator’s attention 11 months later…
Four days earlier Fletcher had been reported as using the completion of multimillion dollar works on Tasmania's busiest section of road as a Coalition election promotion despite the funding being secured by former Labor MP for Franklin Julie Collins.

Tony Abbott’s 2015 captain’s pick in Canning, former army officer and Liberal MP Andrew Hastie, in what looks suspiciously like a desperate throw of the dice is defying the Australian Electoral Commission order to remove corflutes and other campaign material which depict him in military uniform.

Both images of Hastie are old pics – in uniform he looks to be around seven to eight years younger and the babe in his arms in 2015 is now a considerably larger 10 month old.

Come 28 and 29 May and there was another foolish rabbit in the headlights over at The Sydney Morning Herald

A Liberal candidate's bid to gatecrash one of Bill Shorten's campaign events has backfired spectacularly with a car-crash media interview.
Chris Jermyn found himself unable to articulate the Coalition's health policies before declaring his hatred for journalists and beating a hasty retreat.

The Liberal candidate for the Victorian seat of McEwen showed up at Mr Shorten's event at the Sunbury Community Health Centre on Saturday. Mr Shorten shook his hand on his way in, joking that at least he was getting to see one leader this election...... []
Coalition candidate Chris Jermyn was involved in a notorious student politics conference in which his fellow Young Liberals proudly chanted about being racist, sexist and homophobic.
But Mr Jermyn insists he was there in an official capacity and did not participate in any protests or chants.
Television footage of the 2005 National Union of Students conference in Ballarat shows Mr Jermyn, then a Melbourne University student and active member of the Young Liberals, walking through a raucous crowd.
This was the same conference where a group of right-wing Young Liberals wearing black T-shirts emblazoned with the words "Shut the f--- up" sang this chant: "We're racist, we're sexist, we're homophobic."
That was followed by "Glory, glory Liberal students"…..

Then ABC News and other mainstream media outlets delivered a body blow to the Liberal Party image on 30 May 2016:

NSW Police have charged a Central Coast man over allegedly posting racist comments on the Facebook page of outgoing Northern Territory Labor senator Nova Peris.
Woy Woy-based chiropractor and osteopath Chris Nelson, 64, was arrested at his business this afternoon.
He has been charged with using a carriage service to cause offence.
Nelson has denied he is responsible, saying his account was hacked.
At the time the comments were posted, Nelson was a member of the Liberal Party's NSW division.
A spokesperson for the Liberal Party has confirmed that Nelson has been stripped of party membership over the allegations.
The comments included several instances of profanity.
"You were only endorsed by Juliar because you were a black c***," the comments read.
"Go back to the bush and suck on witchety grubs and yams."
On her own social media accounts, Ms Peris labelled the comments as "racist and vile hatred".

Just when the Liberal Party thought things could not get any worse along came The Kelly Gang and this was reported in The Sydney Morning Herald on 30 May 2016:

Liberal MP Craig Kelly, one of the most vociferous supporters of Tony Abbott before and during the challenge by Mr Turnbull in September, has been handing out election flyers that contain his wish to "contribute to a Coalition government under Tony Abbott".
Liberal MP Craig Kelly, one of the most vociferous supporters of Tony Abbott before and during the challenge by Mr Turnbull in September, has been handing out election flyers that contain his wish to "contribute to a Coalition government under Tony Abbott".

Fairfax Media has obtained a copy of the flyer, which was being handed out by personally by Mr Kelly at Sutherland railway station on May 20.
"When talking to people across Hughes, it is clear they want a government that will reduce cost of living pressures, support local jobs and small businesses," the flyer states.
"I want to continue my fight to protect the way of life we have all worked hard to build and am looking forward to having the opportunity to contribute to a Coalition government under Tony Abbott."
Mr Kelly insisted on Monday that the brochure was not a bizarre factional call-to-arms but rather a clerical stuff-up……
Meanwhile, much earlier in May the Greens candidate for Grayndler Jim Case, accidentally shot himself in the foot from a distance of years when old YouTube footage surfaced which recorded him in 2014 seated next to Greens member for Melbourne Adam Bandt and NSW Greens senator Lee Rhiannon while expressing a preference for Mr Abbott’s re-election.

Around the same time Arfur came back on the radar one more as reported in the Brisbane Times:

Cabinet secretary Arthur Sinodinos has been referred to the powerful Senate privileges committee to determine if he is in contempt by refusing an order to attend an inquiry into political fundraising bodies.
The Senate on Wednesday resolved to refer Senator Sinodinos for an inquiry into whether he "disobeyed a lawful order of the Senate without reasonable excuse" and "whether any contempt was committed in that regard".

It follows Senator Sinodinos' refusal last week to appear before an inquiry into the controversial Free Enterprise Foundation and similar fundraising bodies, despite the Senate directing him to do so.....

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