A 2019 Australian Federal Election Policy Guide






Cross-Bench Members of Parliament election prospects










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In yet another episode of masterful insight, the most respected and quoted Australian election analyst, Antony Green, wrote an article for the ABC explaining why “Independents won’t matter as much as you think at the next election”.


In this article Antony teases out the typical characteristics of successful independent House of Representatives candidates, noting only twelve independents have won seats from hundreds of attempts since 1950 [including 108 independent candidates in 2016].


Source: Antony Green. Independents won’t matter as much as you think at the next election. ABC online. January 16 2019. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-01-16/independents-wont-matter-as-much-as-you-think-next-election/10716834?section=politics




1      Contesting a traditional conservative electorate;


2      Contesting a regional or smaller metropolitan area seat;


3      Contesting a safe seat with a low opposition primary vote;


4      A former MP with past connections to party politics;


5      Has formally and voluntarily resigned from a political party;


6      Promising to put the local area above party politics;   


7      Promising to focus on local issues - tending to their local patch;


8      Not being seen as supporting the other side of politics (in most cases the ALP);


9      The person has a high profile;


10    Voters know the name and reputation of the candidate;


11    A person with extensive local connections;


12    A person able to build name recognition against political party advertising;   


13    A person able to attract national or at least local media attention;


14   A person with a large volunteer campaigning network; and   


15   A person capable of polling a minimum of 20 - 33 per cent of the primary vote.         


The  cross- bench House of Representatives candidates discussed below have many if not all of these Antony Green identified characteristics. 



Source: Antony Green. Independents won’t matter as much as you think at the next election. ABC online. January 16 2019. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-01-16/independents-wont-matter-as-much-as-you-think-next-election/10716834?section=politics  



The Seven current Cross Benchers Prospects: Who Cares?


Australian political opinion polls continue to show national primary vote support for each of the major parties stuck is the thirties. This ‘flight to the minor party and independents’ in first preference votes can be temporary or permanent and explained in several ways. The most frequently mooted reasons are -- 


(a) disenchantment with ‘two horse race democracy’ expressed in an often unbridled vote against both of the dominant major parties rather than a positive vote in favour of other options; 


(b)   Respect for the policy position of a minor party or micro party, such as the loyal Greens voter deeply concerned about climate change, forms of discrimination and refugees or Derryn Hinch Social Justice Party for everyone deeply troubled by institutionalised child abuse and free ranging paedophiles wandering our neighbouhoods;


(c) an attachment to an independent, often initially an (a) vote,  then a genuine respect for the individual concerned, Or


(d) a one off reactionary vote against the one major party the person “usually” votes for such as the Victorian State election in 2018 which saw 9 Liberal heartland seats lost due to a collapsed primary vote.




The influence of minor parties and independents second preference flows in 2016 will feature in the minds of both Coalition and ALP election strategists in 2019.


102 of 150 seats in the 2016 election were won or lost on the back of the preference flows of their opposition and the increasing influence of minor parties and independents. This election deciding influence is why minor parties, macro parties and independents matter. Having no care for their behaviour patterns is politically fatal. 


The last time a House of Representatives had a crossbench of 5 was in 1996, when the major parties received 86 per cent of the primary vote between them and the rest shared 14 per cent.


It might expected that the more than doubling of that “other” primary vote would have produced a significantly larger number of seats.


One reason this hasn’t occurred can be found in Labor and Liberal how-to-vote cards. At the 2016 election, 33.2 % of voters gave their first preference to a minor party or independent.


Yet the figure translated into a ‘cross bench’ of only 5 seats of 150, 3.3 percent.


The two additions of Banks and Phelps came after the 2016 election.


Cross benchers Katter, Wilkie, Bandt, McGowan and Sharkie were all elected for the first time despite trailing on primary votes to major party candidates, thanks to friendly major party how-to-vote cards.


Now all five top the primary vote in their respective electorates and win their seats almost irrespective of major party second preferences. 


Rebekah Sharkie won Mayo in 2016 thanks partly to the poor standing of the Liberal incumbent Jamie Briggs and the popularity of her party leader Nick Xenephon in South Australia. Sharkie lost the primary vote in her first election bid


However, in the 2018 by election Sharkie retained Mayo with a primary vote of 44.3 percent, well ahead of the Downer family candidate on 37.4 percent. Kerryn Phelps won the seat of Wentworth with a massive protest swing of 21.7% primary vote against the Liberal Party along with a 54% 2PP result



Since One Nation’s emergence in 1998, Labor has consistently preference directed Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party behind the Coalition.


At the last two federal elections, the Liberals have put the Greens behind Labor.


These two strategies make it difficult for any minor party to gain lower house seats. The Greens Adam Bandt initially won Melbourne in 2010 under the old Liberal practice of preferencing Greens ahead of Labor.


The four current cross - benchers who won their seats in the 2016 general election and are not retiring are very likely to retain their seats at the forthcoming election.


Dr Kerryn Phelps will only have a few months to establish her credibility in Wentworth before the general election. Moreover, rusted on Liberal voters may return to the Liberal fold having vented their rage at the dumping of Malcolm Turnbull. This seat and Julia Banks are expected to go to major party candidates in 2019.


The woman replacing Cathy McGowan has a very good chance of winning INDI , as does Rod Oakeshott who is recontesting the seat of COWPER and therein adding another Independnet cross bench House of Representatives member to the Parliament.



Adam Bandt [Melbourne], Andrew Wilkie [Clarke], Bob Katter [Kennedy] and Rebekah Sharkie [Mayo] (4) are certain to be re-elected


McGowan’s replacement Dr Helen Haines has the backing of the the Voices 4 Indi community based group who put McGowan in Indi (5)


Rod Oakeshott in Cowper (6) if he can overcome the high level of baby boomers

[58.6 %] dominating the electorate -cash refunds backlash and


Dr Kerryn Phelps (7) in Wentworth if she continues to hold a profile.


That makes seven [status quo] and any additions Liberal/National -Independent women who can stand in Coalition REGIONAL or RURAL seats as a farmgate woman well known to the community.


Zoe Steggles attempting to unseat Tony Abbott in Warrringah has no chance and Julia Banks even less chance of unseating the Health Minister in Flinders. 


Catherine McGowan announced her retirement from politics on January 15 2019. 







Andrew Wilkie is an independent federal member for Clark, renamed from Denison in an Australian Electoral Commission redistribution process following the 2016 election. Wilkie has been active in politics since 2003.


Once a Young Liberal, Wilkie was a member of the Australian Greens by 2004, standing against John Howard in NSW for a House of Representatives seat of Bennelong. Wilkie improved the Greens primary voted to 16.3 percent from 4.0 percent in the previous election (2001).


The strong first preference swing against the Liberal Prime Minister forced him to rely on second preferences to retain his seat with a 2CP margin of 7.7 percent instead of 11.1 percent in the 2001 election.



Source: Australian Electoral Commission. 2004 Election Results by Division. Bennalong. https://results.aec.gov.au/12246/results/HouseDivisionFirstPrefs-12246-105.htm


Armed with the political confidence that comes from taking a significant chunk of first preference votes from a sitting Prime Minister, Wilke later moved to Tasmania and was pre-selected as the second Greens senate candidate for Tasmania behind Greens national leader Bob Brown for the 2010 election.


Brown won 5,291votes for 8.3 % of the Tasmanian Senate votes and was elected. Wilkie only received 858 votes for 1.3 % of the vote and was not elected.


Sources: Australian Electoral Commission. 2010 Election. Group Voting Tickets -Tasmania. https://results.aec.gov.au/13745/Website/SenateStateGroupVotingTickets-13745-TAS.htm Australian Electoral Commission. 2010 Election SENATE FIRST PREFERENCES BY VOTE TYPE FOR THE DIVISION OF DENISON https://results.aec.gov.au/13745/Website/SenateDivisionFirstPrefsByVoteType-13745-194.htm



Wilkie subsequently resigned from the Greens party in 2008, criticising them for a lack of professionalism. Hobart Mercury columnist Greg Barns knows Mr Wilkie well and endorsed him before the election.


"I think there were two reasons why Andrew Wilkie and the Greens differed. The first reason is that during the 2007 election campaign, the focus was on Bob Brown. Bob Brown gets all the attention for the Greens, he's the leader, he's one of the founders of the Greens, and there was just no room or space for Andrew Wilkie in that campaign. The second issue is that Wilkie in a sense was never a Green. I think that's what that shows about Wilkie - not that he's a difficult character, simply that he is a person of integrity and he's finally found his natural home, which is to be a true independent."


Source: Connor Duffy. Who is Andrew Wilkie? ABC News Online 26 August 2010. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2010-08-26/who-is-andrew-wilkie/959112


In 2010, Wilkie stood for the first time as an independent candidate- in the seat of Denison at the Tasmanian state election. He narrowly missed the final vacancy.


5,382 votes first preferences votes were not enough to win the final of 5 seats from Elise Archer of the Liberals whose 2,999 primary votes were topped up with enough second preferences to win by 315 votes. The Greens candidate Cassie O’Connor won a Denison State senate seat in the same year.


Source. Tasmanian Parliamentary Library. Results in Denison for the election held on 20 March 2010 http://www.parliament.tas.gov.au/tpl/Elections/e2010Den.htm0


Later in the year, Wilkie stood as an independent for the federal Division of Denison, which has the same boundaries as the state division.


Wilke received 21.2 percent of the primary vote to finish third by the Labor incumbent on 35.7%, and the Liberal candidate on 22.6 with the Greens trailing behind on 18.9 percent primary vote.


The 12.3 percent swing against the Labor candidate on primary votes opened the door for Andrew Wilkie. Greens preferences pushed him into second place and Liberal preferences pushed him into the winning position after several preference flow counts.


The independent candidate Wilkie won the seat with 51.2 percent 2PP, 425 votes ahead of Jonathon Jackson.


Source: Australian Electoral Commission Election 2010. Tas Division -Denison https://results.aec.gov.au/15508/Website/HouseDivisionFirstPrefs-15508-194.htm


Following the election, Wilkie declared that he would join a voting bloc with Greens MP Adam Bandt and two conservative independents {Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott} to guarantee confidence and supply to an Australian Labor Party minority government.


Prime Minister Gillard made a commitment to provide $340 million to the Royal Hobart Hospital and to address problem gambling by the end of 2014. Beyond these concessions, the agreement to support the government only extended to issues of supply and no confidence motions.


Source: Matthew Liddy. Labor's minority government explained. ABC News Online 8 September 2010. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2010-09-08/labors-minority-government-explained/2253236


This agreement was pleasing to voters of Denison who had abandoned the Australian Labor Party and swung their support behind Andrew Wilkie. He had won immediate funding for a local Hospital and would not be swayed by the Coalition. Here was a man focused on local Tasmanian issues and already gaining benefits for his constituents.


For these and other reasons, Wilkie did more than survive the 2013 rout of the Australian Labor Party Government in 2013. 3 of 5 Tasmanian House of Representatives seats (Bass, Braddon and Lyons) changed hands from Labor to Liberal seats and the seat of Franklin suffered a drop in 2PP from 10 percent to 5 percent for Labor.


In Denison, however, Independent Wilkie received a 16.8 percent primary votes swing in his favor to finish on 38.0 primary votes. A positive swing of 14.3 percent saw Wilkie’s 2PP margin rise from 51.2 to 65.5 percent. This result made Denison one of the safest seats in the country after the 2013 election.


Wilkie took the 2PP margin to 67.7 percent in the 2016 election, making him one of the most successful Independent's in Australian electoral history for a person who stood as an Independent and never formed his own political party as Bob Katter did.


Sources: Australian Electoral Commission Election 2013. Tas Division -Denison https://results.aec.gov.au/17496/Website/HouseDivisionFirstPrefs-17496-194.htm https://results.aec.gov.au/17496/Website/HouseSeatsWhichChangedHands-17496-TAS.htm


2019 election prospects


It goes without saying that Andrew Wilkie, Independent member for Clark following the electorate name change, will remain the member for Denison-Clark for the foreseeable future and is under no threat at all in the 2019 election. The same can not be said for other independents in the House. 






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Cathy McGowan AO is an Independent member of House of Representatives. She won her seat of Indi in 2013 and 2016. With the support of a grassroots local community group called Voices 4 Indi , McGowan defeated the Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella.


Before entering into political representation in the Australian Government, McGowan worked as a staffer for Indi's Liberal MP Ewen Cameron during the late 1970s and early 1980s. McGowan has also worked as a regional councillor for the Victorian Farmers' Federation and is a former President of Australian Women in Agriculture.


In 2004 she was made an Officer of the Order of Australia "for service to the community through raising awareness of and stimulating debate about issues affecting women in regional, rural and remote areas."


Sources Wayne Jansson. Independents day looms large as Indi finds its voices. Citizen Journalism. https://nofibs.com.au.


Baxendale and Kerr, ‘Mirabella rattled by the indie from Indi’, The Australian, 9 August 2013, p. 5 Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. "It's an Honour - Honours - Search Australian Honours". Itsanhonour.gov.au.



In the 2013 election McGowan received 31.8 percent of the primary vote in Indi, Mirabella received 44.6 % for the Liberal Party. However, McGowan finished with 50.25 percent on the Two Candidate Preferred [2CP] result to win the seat by 439 votes. The swing against incumbent Mirabella was 9.9 percent 2CP.


Source: Australian Electoral Commission. Results by Division 2013. https://results.aec.gov.au/17496/Website/HouseDivisionFirstPrefs-17496-218.htm


In the repeat 2016 battle between McGowan and Mirabella, Mirabella’s 2CP vote slumped a further 4.5 percent to 45.1.


McGowan received an improved 34.6. percent of the primary vote in Indi. Mirabella’s primary vote slumped a whopping 17.0 percent to finish with 26.7.


This was mostly accounted for the by the introduction of a Nationals candidate into the contest- this candidate received 17.2 percent of the primary vote.


Nonetheless, McGowan won the second round with Mirabella by 8,705 votes, a much-improved result compared to just 439 votes in 2013.


Source: Australian Electoral Commission. Results by Division 2016. https://results.aec.gov.au/20499/Website/HouseDivisionPage-20499-218.htm 2019




Both former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce and outgoing Indi independent Cathy McGowan are encouraging Nationals deputy leader Bridget McKenzie to "have a crack" at the marginal Victorian electorate of Indi, albeit with different motives.


"If Bridget was to stand I think she would be an excellent candidate and quite obviously would be doing a very courageous thing," Mr Joyce said.


Source: Max Koslowski. Barnaby Joyce - and Cathy McGowan - want Bridget McKenzie to run in Indi. Sydney Morning Herald Jan 14 2019. https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/barnaby-joyce-and-cathy-mcgowan-want-bridget-mckenzie-to-run-in-indi-20190114-p50r90.html  


Bridgette McKenzie is currently a National Party senator for Victoria who will not have to stand for re-election until 2022. She would have to resign from her Senate seat to stand for the House of Representatives seat in Indi.If she were successful in winning the seat she would be in a position to challenge Michael McCormack for the leadership of the National Party after the 2019 election.  


UPDATE 22/1/2019.  Bridgette McKenzie announced that she would not be contesting the seat of Indi at the 2019 election. 


Source: Parliament of Australia. Senators and Members https://www.aph.gov.au/~/media/03%20Senators%20and%20Members/31%20Senators/chamber.jpg?h=189&la=en&w=758


The Liberal Party will again stand a candidate for the Indi election in 2019 (engineer Steve Martin) to replace the retired Sophie Mirabella.If the Liberal Party were genuinely planning on winning this seat back they would have to choose a female local candidate given the current woes of the party brand in the minds of rural women at the present time. 


Leading Australian election expert Antony Green had this to say about Dr Helen Haines prospects of winning Indi in 2019 prior to Senator McKenzie deciding not to contest the seat of Indi


"The announcement that Cathy McGowan is not re-contesting Indi puts into question whether the seat will stay with an independent. The Voices for Indi movement has selected Dr Helen Haines as its new candidate, but Dr Haines must now convince Ms McGowan's supporters to transfer their allegiance. Independents being succeeded by another independent has not happened previously at a federal election. Many former Liberal and National voters who gave personal support to Ms McGowan may gravitate back to their traditional political home. The absence of Sophie Mirabella and the potential candidacy of National Party Deputy Leader, Senator Bridget McKenzie, would give Indi voters another option to choose from". 


Source: Antony Green. Independents won’t matter as much as you think at the next election. ABC online. January 16 2019. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-01-16/independents-wont-matter-as-much-as-you-think-next-election/10716834?section=politics

Passing on the Baton - 2019


Catherine McGowan announced her retirement from politics on January 15 2019. She has endorsed Helen Haines who was selected by the Voices 4 Indi community based group  in an unorthodox preselection process.


Supporters of McGowan launched an unorthodox hunt for her successor, calling for expressions of interest for candidates to take over her federal seat in north-east. Victoria. Voices 4 Indi placed advertisements in local newspapers calling for aspiring independent MPs to step forward. The advertisement appeared in The Border Mail and the Wangaratta Chronicle.


Source: ABC Goulburn Murray. Independent MP Cathy McGowan launches hunt for successor. ABC online 20 November 2018. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-11-30/independent-indi-mp-cathy-mcgowan-launches-hunt-for-successor/10570362


McGowan's retirement is in some ways involuntary, given the Voices of Indi group invited her to 'stand aside' and let another local woman take over her role.


McGowan supports any "talented" female candidate to actively pursue a role in the Parliament representing the local Indi community and getting things done in the local area. 


Election Prospects


Independent candidate Helen Haines has the backing of an incumbent going into  retirement and the campaigning network of the Voices 4 Indi in her corner for this campaign.


Haines will need every one of those volunteers to be active in getting her message across to a sprawling electorate. The seat of Indi stretches from Melbourne's northern and eastern fringes to the NSW border, and includes the centres of Wodonga and Wangaratta.


Moreover, the most respected and ever accurate Australian election analyst - Antony Green - observed that an Independent to Independent post election transition has never happened in Australia at a federal election level. On the other hand,  Haines brings to the table most of the characteristics Green identified as necessary for an Independent to poll well.


These Antony Green identified markers for polling well as an Independent candidate include a good volunteer network to get the message out, a focus on local rather than national issues, standing for election in a rural or regional location and standing for election in a seat where the Australian Labor Party poll poorly enough to finish third or worse on primary votes and a conservative front runner primary vote puts them within reach when preference flows are distributed. 


Source: Antony Green. Independents won’t matter as much as you think at the next election. ABC online. January 16 2019. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-01-16/independents-wont-matter-as-much-as-you-think-next-election/10716834?section=politics


This does not auger well for a National Party candidate in what was before McGowan a long term Liberal Party seat. Moreover, the Nationals took 17.1 percent of the primary vote from the Liberal candidate in 2016, not Cathy McGowan.


Given these circumstances, it would be surprising to find that Helen Haines does not win this seat once again for the Voices of Indi group in 2019 and take her place in the  Parliament.  A 5.5% 2PP margin is a bridge too far for any Coalition candidate. 


Sources:  Melissa Clarke. Independents tip cross-bench to maintain balance of power in wake of Cathy McGowan's resignation. ABC news online January 16 2019.https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-01-15/cathy-mcgowan-steps-down-crossbench-balance-of-power/10715076?section=politics

Max Koslowski Barnaby Joyce - and Cathy McGowan - want Bridget McKenzie to run in Indi Sydney Morning Herald Jan 14 2019. https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/barnaby-joyce-and-cathy-mcgowan-want-bridget-mckenzie-to-run-in-indi-20190114-p50r90.html



xx “Nup. McGowan got up because she wasn’t Sophie Mirabella (twice)


N0 –it  might have been the case the first time because Mirabella was self-interested [trying to get a Ministry], hard to get an appt to see, ignored local issues and snubbed her constituents and these issues inspired the creation of the Voices4 Indi group in the first place;


In the second contest, McGowan had made a name for herself in the Parliament and earnt a second tilt regardless of who she was up against (including the washed up Mirabella);


xx ” We’re already seeing people who worked on her campaigns volunteering for the ALP”.


If they are volunteering for the ALP they are wasting their energy. In 2013 the 2PP went 60 % Liberal 40% Labor and Labor dropped 16 % of their PV. Mirabella lost by not much on the 2CP and dropped 7.1 % of her PV. In 2016 the 2PP went 54.5% to 45.6 % but Labor dropped more PV to finish with 9.7%.


Mirabella got beaten by 8,000+ votes 2CP and that was with a Nationals candidate in the mix taking 17 % of the PV from Mirabella, not the ALP. The ALP have no hope of winning from a 9.7 % PV kick off point.


xx “Whereas everyone basically knew Cathy, Haines doesn’t have that kind of profile. There will be nothing identifying her as Cathy’s successor on the ballot paper, and there will be at least three or four other indies in the mix”.


Haines will need the Voice 4 Indi volunteers to be active in getting her message across to a sprawling electorate. The seat of Indi stretches from Melbourne's northern and eastern fringes to the NSW border, and includes the centres of Wodonga and Wangaratta.


However, none of any of the other “3-4 indies in the mix” will be able to match the on the ground campaign resources at Haines disposal, even if 50% of the Voice4 Indi mob defected to Labor or back to the Liberals.


Also, voters on polling day will be confronted by volunteers at most booth’s flogging Haines HTV cards, another thing other independents will lack. 




Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news/image/7799060-3x2-940x627.jpg





Source: blob:https://v4.simplesite.com/ce74cd38-518d-4468-a54d-ac6ddd80f680



Bob Katter has been a member of the federal House of Representatives since 1993. He was previously a Queensland State politician from 1974 to 1992. Katter beat the man who had put his father into retirement, Labor incumbent Rob Hulls, by 4,000 votes to reclaim the seat for the National Party in 1993.


Katter has won the seat nine elections in a row, despite leaving the National Party to stand as an Independent in 2001 and then as the leader of the newly formed Katter’s Australians Party.


The only time so called ‘King Katter of Kennedy’ came under threat of blowing the inheritance and losing his throne was in the 2013 election. Kennedy had built a reputation as an agriculture Senator above and beyond fidelity to any party line before resigning the National Party.


He is known as a sometimes controversial maverick politician in his home seat and in the Parliament.


Katter’s first blemish came after the 2010 election when the Australian Labor Party failed to win enough seats form a second term majority government. Katter threatened to form a three-member conservative bloc with Rob Oakshott and Tony Windsor to guarantee support for an Australian Labor Party ‘minority government’ ahead of the Coalition.


The ALP failed to fill his 20 point wish list, so he declared fidelity to the Coalition.


Sources: Australian Politics. Minority Government in Australia. http://australianpolitics.com/democracy/key-terms/minority-government Emma Rodgers. "'Potent' Katter's arm twisted by Rudd". ABC News. September 3 2010.


Following the 2010 federal election, the ALP won 72 seats, Coalition 72, Independent Nationals 1, Greens 1, Independent 4.


With the support of the Greens member (Bandt) and three Independents (Wilkie, Windsor and Oakeshott), the ALP was able to form a minority government which could muster 76 votes to 74 in the House of Representatives.


At the end of that year, four of Australia’s nine governments were a Labor minority government. The Federal Labor government governed with the support of four crossbenchers. The Tasmanian Labor government survived by forming a coalition with the Greens, as did the ACT Labor government. In the Northern Territory, the Labor government relied on the support of an independent.


Source: Australian Politics. Minority Government in Australia. http://australianpolitics.com/democracy/key-terms/minority-government


The maverick threat by Katter in 2010 was not received well in the electorate of Kennedy, nor was his decision to direct Senate preferences to the Australian Labor Party in the 2013 election that followed.


In the 2013 election, Katter’s primary vote fell from 46.7 percent to 29.3 percent and his overall Two Candidate Preferred [2CP] vote slipped from 68.3 percent to 52.1 percent. The Liberal National Party came within 1,846 votes of winning the seat.


Katter’s primary and 2PP vote recovered in the 2016 election to a more typical level. His primary vote improved 10.4 percent to 39.8 percent and his 2PP margin improved to 61.1 percent in that 2016 election.


Source: Australian Electoral Commission. Election Results 2016. House of Representatives by Division. https://results.aec.gov.au/20499/Website/HouseDivisionPage-20499-167.htm


Katter once again tested the resolve of Kennedy electorate voters in 2017 during the citizenship crisis which saw several members of Parliament dismissed over dual citizenship status. Kennedy informed then Coalition Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that he could not guarantee confidence and support if then National Party leader Barnaby Joyce lost his seat through High Court disqualification.


Political World View


Katter is known for being a social conservative and economically uncertain politician on the whole. However, his voting patterns in the Senate display a nuanced, if not unpredictable, history.


He voted against same-sex-marriage and once claimed there were “no homosexuals in north Queensland”. He voted for increasing the pension age to 67. 


Sources: Mike Seccombe. Bottom Line for Katter. The Sydney Morning Herald. P.2 10 0ctober 2010.

Parliament of Australia. House of Representatives Hansard. 7 December 2017.


Below is a complete lists of Katter’s voting patterns as a House of Representatives member since 2016. 


Election Prospects





Unless Katter does something extraordinary to disrupt the voting habits of the Kennedy electorate as he did between the 2010 and 2013 elections, he can be assured of winning the seat for the 10th time in 2019.





Katter only attends House sittings around 42 percent of the time. Therefore, it is not surprising this list beginning in 2016 seems to be short in comparison to other House Of Representative members.




A Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia

A plebiscite on the carbon pricing mechanism

An NBN (using fibre to the premises)

Civil celebrants having the right to refuse to marry same-sex couples

Greater control over items brought into immigration detention centres

Increasing access under Freedom of Information law

Government administered paid parental leave

Increasing consumer protections

Increasing the age pension

Increasing the diversity of media ownership

Putting welfare payments onto restricted debit cards

Regional processing of asylum seekers




A carbon price

Increasing Aboriginal land rights

Increasing investment in renewable energy

Restricting foreign ownership

Temporary protection visas

The Intervention in the Northern Territory

Turning back asylum boats when possible

Decreasing the private health insurance rebate

Increasing competition in bulk wheat export

Increasing political transparency

Reducing the corporate tax rate

Same-sex marriage

The Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme

Restricting donations to political parties

Ending immigration detention on Manus Island

Ending immigration detention on Nauru

Increasing availability of abortion drugs

Increasing funding for legal aid

Privatising government assets

Stem cell research


Source: The Open Australia Foundation. Transforming democracy in Australia Representatives and Senators: The people who vote on your behalf in Parliament https://www.oaf.org.au/





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Dr Kerryn Phelps faced very different circumstances to Julia Banks, Andrew Wilkie, Cathy McGowan, Rebekah Sharkie, Adam Bandt and Bob Katter when she won a cross bench seat in 2018 - 


- It was in a by-election;

- The by-election was triggered by the controversial dumping of a Prime Minister and leader of the dominant political party between general elections; 

- Dr Phelps had no previous membership of a federal election political party, and 

- Dr Phelps was attempting to win the seat for the first time, not retain the seat as Julia Banks is attempting to do in 2019.


Maxine McKew had previously won Prime Minister John Howard's seat of Bennelong when he lost the 2007 election and his seat along with it, however she stood as Australian Labor Party candidate, not an Independent. 


Phelps predesssor was Phil Cleary who won the seat of Wills in Victoria as an Independent in a 1992 by-election. This by-election was also triggered by the controversial dumping of a Prime Minister and leader of the dominant Australian Labor Party, Bob Hawke.  Phil Cleary also had a high profile in the local area before he stood for election and was also known for his forthright, common sense approach to politics. 


Phelps is hoping to emulate Cleary in winning a by-election as an Independent in a seat previously occupied by a Prime Minister and in the very next year retaining that seat in a general election. Cleary retained Wills in 1993 but lost the seat in the anti-ALP electorate mood which swept John Howard to power in 1996.



This is what election expert Antony Green had to say about Phelps prospects of retaining Wentworth at the general election in 2019


"She won the Wentworth by-election in October 2018. Like Phil Cleary, Dr Phelps benefited from the deposition of a prime minister, in this case Malcolm Turnbull. Dr Phelps was advantaged by her high media profile, as well as the national media attention on a by-election with implications for the balance of power in the House of Representatives. Holding her metropolitan seat at a general election may be tougher with less media coverage and diminished anger at the manner of Mr Turnbull's departure". 


Source: Antony Green. Independents won’t matter as much as you think at the next election. ABC online. January 16 2019. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-01-16/independents-wont-matter-as-much-as-you-think-next-election/10716834?section=politics


Dr Kerryn Phelps will only have a few months to establish her credibility in Wentworth before the general election. Moreover, rusted on Liberal voters may return to the Liberal fold having vented their rage at the dumping of Malcolm Turnbull. 


First preference count for the division of Wentworth by-election (NSW) 2018


Candidate                     Party             Votes           %        Swing     

                                                                  no                           %


Dave Sharma                Liberal          32,795      43.08    -19.18


Kerryn Phelps              Independent 22,219      29.19    +29.19 


Tim Murray                   Labor               8,777      11.53      -6.20


Dominic Wy Kanak      The Greens     6,543         8.59     -6.27


Others                                                      5,792        7.19      -----


Formal                                                    76,126      93.92      -0.95



The Liberal candidate received 10,576 more 1st preference votes than Phelps.


Eliminated candidates Two Candidate Preferred Preference Flows 


Party                                         SHARMA                    PHELPS


                                                   Votes         %               Votes        %


Labor                                         1,228       13.99           7,549     86.01


The Greens                                  935       14.29           5,608     85.71


Others                                        2,180       40.80           3,162     59.20


Second Preference votes      4,343         20.57         16,769     79.42


Phelps received 12,453 more 2nd preference votes than the Liberal candidate. Without the ‘Others’ preferences votes advantage (982 votes) Phelps would have still won the seat, but by less than a 1,000 votes (868).


Around half the votes she won by came from the micro party and independent voters 2nd preferences. This was fortunate for Phelps, given that the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Greens primary vote suffered 6.2 % negative swings at the by-election and therefore could not contribute to Phelps victory as much as might have been expected.



Two candidate preferred (TCP) for Wentworth (NSW) 2018


Candidate       Party           Votes      Margin         This election          Swing


                                                                                             %                        %


Dave Sharma Liberal         37,138     -1,850               48.78                 - 18.97


Kerryn Phelps Independent 38,988   1,850               51.22                  +51.22 Elected


The final result saw Phelps win by 1,850 votes over the Liberal candidate with 51.2 percent of the TCP vote to take to the 2019 election.





The problem for Phelps at a general election in 2019 is that it would only take ten percent of the 19,833 voters who abandoned the Liberal Party in the 2016 by-election to return to the Liberal Party 1st preference column in order to regain the seat for the Liberal Party and “send Phelps back where she came from”, the house next door.


For an independent to achieve 29.1 percent of the primary vote in her first effort was outstanding, even if it was a by-election which tend to be unfavourable to incumbent government brand candidates.


She drew first preferences from the Liberals, the Australian Labor Party and the Greens and won the micro party and independents 2nd preferences flow battle as well.


How much of the Liberal Party 19,833 primary vote swing was a vote for Phelps (vote type b mentioned in the introduction to this chapter) and how much of it was a one-off protest vote against the party brand that dismissed the people of Wentworth’s Prime Minister (vote type d) remains to be seen.


Phelps will gain second preference support if either the Greens or Labor improve on the 6.2 percent decline in their 1st preference votes in 2016 [but not at her 1st preference vote expense].


Phelps would have to do something substantial in the few months she has at her disposal to lift her own primary vote above 29.1 percent.


Historically speaking, Phelps must be coming close to the 1st preference vote ceiling for a first- time general election candidate. Only Cathy McGowan did better than 29.1 percent as an independent at her first general election in recent times (31.1 percent in 2013). Andrew Wilkie -the other always independent MP- only received 21.6 percent of the 1st preference primary votes at his first general election in 2010.


Moreover, McGowan and Wilkie were not running in ousted Prime Ministers seats - never a good place to start for a new Liberal or Labor candidate as the voters of Wills demonstrated in a 1992 by-election when Bob Hawke was dumped by the Labor Party.





With a NSW state election to come ahead of the federal election, any lingering protest against the Liberal brand over the sacking of Malcolm Turnbull can be dispensed with at local state government Liberal candidates expense.


Phelps is close to what she might dream of as the peak of her 1st preference votes precedent to a general election. If around 30 percent primary vote is her limit, it won’t be enough to offset even a low percentage of disgruntled Liberal Party voters reviving familiar habits to return this seat to the blue-ribbon cabinet.


Phelps will take no comfort in knowing only 12 independent candidates have won general election seats since the 1950s; there have been many unsuccessful precedents including 100 of them in 2016 alone, according to Antony Green.


Source: Antony Green. Independents won’t matter as much as you think at the next election. ABC online. January 16 2019. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-01-16/independents-wont-matter-as-much-as-you-think-next-election/10716834?section=politics







Source: https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/759322914495750144/c-vRauNz_400x400.jpg

UPDATE 31/1/2019


Trust an defecting ex Liberal to wait until you have completed an assessment of her re-election chances in the seat of Chisolm as an Independent to change the story by announcing a week later that she is switching to a different seat (Flinders) because, amongst other things, she has "unfinished business" with the Minister for Health, Greg Hunt


Jade Macmillan and Jane Norman from the  ABC advised that Ms Banks had attacked the credentials of Mr Hunt and confirmed she would challenge him for his Victorian seat of Flinders at the 2019 election.


Ms Banks is planning to compaign on climate change, refugees and live exports. 


She told Channel Nine people in Mr Hunt's electorate were still angry about his involvement in the dismissal of Malcolm Turnbull 


"The people of Flinders knew that he was a prime mover, together with Peter Dutton, in ousting Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop. And I want to be a member who focuses on the local community and not on self-promotion."


Ms Banks, who owns a family home in the Flinders, denied allegations that her decision to run in Flinders was an act of revenge against those who brought Malcolm Turnbull down.


"This is about offering the people of Flinders choice. As an independent candidate the people of Flinders will have direct access to me and I will be able to have a direct influence, rather than being caught up in what is the paralysis of the major party machines."


Ms Banks defines herself as a "sensible centrist" who is socially progressive on climate change, refugees and live exports. 


Source:  Jade Macmillan and Jane Norman.  Julia Banks to challenge former colleague Greg Hunt for Flinders at next electionABC news Online 31 January 2019. 


Is this a politically intelligent way to prolong her political career? 


On paper it does not look great  - 


1. Ms Banks is giving away a 1-2 percent primary vote 'somophore surge' she  may have receieved if she stayed with the ChIsolm electorate;


2.  Ms Banks switches from being an incumbent defending a seat against novice challengers [Chisolm] to a candidate challenging for a seat against a high profile Minister [Health] incumbent;


3.  Ms Banks is standing as an independent in Coalition seat [a tick from Antony Green] but she is campaigning on "refugees, climate change and live exports - national not local issues - and each from a perspective sympathetic to the arch enemy of habitual Liberal voters in a typically Liberal electorate [the ALP and the Greeens]. I am not sure this will go over well in Flinders. .I dont see how this campaign platform is "focussing on the local community" as Ms Banks put it. 


4.  Ms Banks goes from defending a seat on a 2.9 % 2PP redistribution margin to 0 votes against a man with a 7.0 percent 2PP margin in Flinders after redistribution dropped it from 7.8%. 


What Ms Banks is banking on [excuse the pun] above anything else are two essential ingredients.


- One is the hope that the 7.1 percent swing average of the nine Liberal heartland seats lost to Labor in the recent Victorian State election is mirrored in Flinders in 2019.  This prospect is supported by the well published fact that Greg Hunt was instrumental in bringing on the demise of then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in August last year. 


- The other is standing as a woman candidate against an arche-type Liberal brand male incumbent in Flinders [instead of standing against two women in Chisolm].  Here she will not necessarily have to share any anti Coalition backlash from the well published perception of a range of "womens issues" which dogged the 'muppet show' throughout the second half of 2018 and allegedly triggered her defection from the Liberal Party. 


Good luck Ms Banks. I think you are going to need it- stranger things have happened in elections. Maybe the Victorian Premier could give her some campaigning tips like adopt a cone of silence approach the minute you have spoken the words "Talcum Malcolm". 




Source; Poll Bludger site blogger Lizzie https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DyND4H6WwAImza0.jpg

Julia Banks WAS PLANNING to be the six incumbent House of Representatives MP to switch from being a major party elected member to Independent status and retain the seat at the next election [since 1950]. 


Source: Antony Green. Independents won’t matter as much as you think at the next election. ABC online. January 16 2019. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-01-16/independents-wont-matter-as-much-as-you-think-next-election/10716834?section=politics


The five that preceded her included Bob Katter who resigned from the National Party  ahead of the 2001 election. Katter won the seat as an Independent in that election. Katter was the only one of the five to repeat his success at subsequent elections. [Thas is, people who originally were sitting MPs for a Party].  Katter has since won a further 5 Kennedy election battles, the last couple as leader of Katter's Australians Party


Source: Antony Green. Independents won’t matter as much as you think at the next election. ABC online. January 16 2019. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-01-16/independents-wont-matter-as-much-as-you-think-next-election/10716834?section=politics

Australian Electoral Commission. Election Results 2016. House of Representatives by Division. https://results.aec.gov.au/20499/Website/HouseDivisionPage-20499-167.htm

Mike Seccombe. Bottom Line for Katter. The Sydney Morning Herald. P.2 10 0ctober 2010



Julia Banks resigned as a member of the Liberal Party in November 2018 to become an Independent incumbent in Chisolm.


The 2016 Election Results 



First preference count for the division of Chisholm (VIC) 2016



Candidate            Party                                        Votes              %         Swing  


Julia Banks           Liberal                                   39,265          45.28       +1.16     


Stefanie Perri        Australian Labor Party       31,160          35.93        -3.57


Josh Fergeus       The Greens                           10,647           12.28       +2.83


Others                                                                      5,648             4.65         -----


Liberal candidate Julia Banks received 8,105 more 1st preference votes than the new Labor candidate replacing a retiree. 



Two candidate preferred preference flow for the division of Chisholm (VIC) 2016


Candidate                                           Julia BANKS          Stefanie PERRI


                                                              Votes      %              Votes         %


The Greens                                          1,715    16.11          8,932     83.89


Others                                                  3, 457    61.20          2,191     38.80


Total                                                     5,172     31.66        11,123     68.34


Stefanie Perri received 5,791 more 2nd preference votes than Julia Banks. 


Two candidate preferred (TCP) for Chisholm (VIC) 2016


Candidate         Party          Votes     Margin       2016   2013       Swing (%)


Julia BANKS     Liberal       44,437     2,154       51.24   48.40       +2.84


Stefanie PERRI ALP            42,283    -2,154       48.76   51.60        -2.84


The final result saw Banks win the seat by 2,154 votes for a TCP margin of 51.60 percent.


The tale of these numbers is the fall in Labor 1st preference votes which went against both the state wide and national trend to hand the Liberal Party the only gain in 2016 across the country. The other gain for the Coalition was for the LNP in Queensland which wrested back the seat taken by Clive Palmer in 2013. 


Why 2,855 people in Chisolm abandoned the Labor Party as their 1st preference in 2016 is the more significant question to address.


Much of it can be attributed to the ‘retirement effect’ where a sitting member retires and the new candidate (in this case Stefanie Perri) loses 1-2 percent of the primary vote at the next election.


Finally, the 1st preference swing against Labor was 3.5 % but Banks got only a third of that swing in her 1st preference column.


First preferences from the Other column independent and micro parties lifted Banks 1st preference vote improvement to 1,275 votes. – most of the rest of those Labor 1st preferences swingers went to the Australian Greens candidate.


On the positive side for the Australian Labor Party in Chisolm this time around are these things


1      The ‘retirement effect’ is dealt with;


2       Because Banks is standing as an Independent in 2019 and the Liberal candidate will be new, neither of them will benefit from a ‘somophore surge’ which often gifts a second election battle of a winning candidate 1- 2 percent of the 1st preference vote. [see SOMOPHORE SURGE chapter]. Theoretically, the Australian Labor Party could have faced the 2019 election 2-4 percent TCP in arrears before a vote is cast, double the 1.6 % TCP recorded in 2016;


3       The Chinese woman who is standing as the Liberal candidate in Chisolm for 2019 was reportedly credited for driving much of the Julia Banks campaign in 2016. She is now standing against Julia Banks.


4       For every 1st preference vote Julia Banks draws away from the Liberal Party brand from people empathetic to the widely reported “bullying and harassment” she experienced in the August 2018 leadership spill, the tougher it gets for the fresh Liberal brand candidate to wrest Chisolm back to the Liberal Party; and


5       Labor has chosen a female Chinese candidate for Chisolm, a nod to the women’s issue motives of some Chisolm voters and the high Chinese community presence in the Chisolm electorate.


On the negative side for Labor, the Victorian seat redistribution conducted by the AEC between elections lifted the 2CP margin from LIB 1.6 percent to a nominal 3.4 percent because the geographical boundaries of the electorate were changed in favour of Liberal voter territory.




Taking all these things into account, I have some argument with journalists who visited the Chisolm electorate and interviewed a range of people, particularly Chinese voters.



Reporting for the conservative leaning Australian newspaper, Jeff Chambers and Jarred Owens concluded that


“In the Victorian seat of Chisolm which will probably be won back by Labor after Ms Banks defection to the cross bench, the prominent Australian Chinese community is expected to play a deciding role” (Jeff Chambers Jarrod Owens, The Australian).


Also,  I take into account -


(a) The difficult relationship the Coalition experienced with China throughout 2018 [See the AUSTRALIA-CHINA chapter] and


(b) The Coalition’s intentions to cut migrant intake {see the MIGRATION POLICY chapter], issues which will impact on Chinese voter’s perception of the Coalition’s attitude to all things Chinese and their ability to bring relatives to Australia;


It is highly unlikely that Labor will not regain this seat of Chisolm at the 2019 election.


A strong hint of the attitude of Chinese voters intending to switch to Labor in 2019 comes from one who told the Australian newspaper journalists that he was intending to vote for Labor because


migration and economic development” should be at the forefront. The Government should think about the position of different races in this country and about the sustainability of growth” (emphasis added)


Standing as an independent that defected from the Liberal party, albeit for apparently justified reasons, Julia Banks will not have the major party machine advertising or campaign soldiers on the ground needed to retain Chisolm. This and all the other things noted above mitigate against her 2019 election prospects.


Regarding the Liberal candidate, Senior Liberals were  trying to determine whether some anti Coalition voter anger has been expunged by the back-lash at the Victorian State election but “you can just kiss those tight marginal seats goodbye”. [Source: Remi Varga. The Australian p2 26 Dec 2018).










Source: https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/2b906525eb2b8ca0fccb9c18e4efcba0fad6808b/0_14_4256_2553/master/4256.jpg?width=620&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=0f5eaab70d84de87d542d7218e3b3a5f



The former independent MP Rob Oakeshott will contest the mid-north coast New South Wales seat of Cowper in the federal election, currently held by the Nationals’ Luke Hartsuyker in the federal election this year.


The former member for Lyne – who helped install Julia Gillard into government in 2010 - challenged for the seat of Cowper in the 2016 election after his home town of Port Macquarie moved in an electoral boundary redistribution. Oakeshott fell short, winning 26% of the primary vote and 45% in two-party preferred terms.


His decision to re-contest is bad news for the Morrison government, which is hoping to hold the seat in the face of Hartsuyker’s decision to retire at the election and a rising tide of rural independent candidates urging a protest vote against the Nationals.


“I’ve obviously thought long and hard about this decision and go into it eyes wide open,” Oakeshott said in a video on social media. If I don’t stand, nothing happens in our local area because nothing changes politically. I am contesting this election with a proven record of delivering on health, education and roads for this region.


 Oakeshott was silent on the point of whether he expected to win the seat, but said “competition is a wonderful thing in politics” that would help the local area “put pressure on politicians to get the results we deserve”. “We are no longer forgotten if I do stand as a candidate,” Oakeshott said.


He singled out the Coffs Harbour bypass and a Port Macquarie aquatic centre as examples of projects on a long list that were well overdue and not getting the attention they deserved.


In 2010, Oakeshott, along with Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie and NSW independent MP Tony Windsor, were kingmakers for the Gillard minority government. He retired from politics at the 2013 election because he said he was exhausted from the demands of the hung parliament.


The father of four has been working in recent years as a consultant for the United Nations Development Program and doing advisory work with the Myanmar, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, Fiji and Vanuatu governments.


Oakshot has a very good chance of winning this seat as an Independent in 2019.


Source: Lisa Martin. Former member for Lyne will run in a seat currently held by the Nationals. The Guardian 15 January 2019.


Oakeshott began his political career in state politics. Originally elected as the National Party candidate for the state seat of Port Macquarie in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly in 1996, he left the party to become an Independent in 2002. Oakeshott retained the seat until 2008, when he resigned to contest the federal seat of Lyne in a by-election which he won with a large margin.


 The 2008 by election


Standing as an Independent against the National Party’s Rob Drew, Oakeshott won virtually every booth in the electorate, receiving about two-thirds of the primary vote.




Candidate               Party                Votes       %     Swing


Rob OAKSHOTT    Independent  47,306     63.8   +63.8


Rod DREW             Nationals        6,946      22.8    -29.3


Susie RUSSELL     The Greens    5,206        7.0     -0.1


Others                                             4,089        5.4    + 4.8


Notes: The Australian Labor Party had won 32 percent of the primary vote in the previous general election. For this by-election, no Australian Labor Party candidate was present. It partly explains why Oakeshott's PV was so overwhelming. Rod DREW was a new candidate,therefore the 2PP margin swing below reflects the previous election result of Mark Vale.





Candidate                Party              Votes     %      2007     Swing


Rob OAKESHOTT  Independent  54,770   73.8  -----       +73.8


Rob DREW              National         19,377  26.1    58.5    -32.4



Australian Electoral Commission. By-Elections. Lyne 2008



Australian Electoral Commission. Seats by Division, Lyne  2007



In his first term, Oakeshott voted 32 times with the ruling Labor government -including  support of the proposed emission trading scheme- and nine times with the opposition. Oakeshott claims this record is not necessarily indicative of support for Labor's policy platform- because he believed in “allowing governments to govern”.


Source: Tom Arrup. Profile. Rob Oakeshott. The Age. Fairfax Media. 23 August 2010.




Second term 2010 -2013.


Oakeshott was re-elected in the 2010 general federal election.




Candidate arty Votes % 2008 Swing (%)


Candidate                Party             Votes     %    2008   Swing 


Rod OAKESHOTT Independent  40,061  47.1 63.8   -16.7


David GILLESPIE The Nationals 29,216 34.3 22.8   +15.7


Fred LIPS              ALP                  13,459 13.4  -----    +13.4


OXENFORD          The Greens        3.645 4.2   7.0     -3.8


Others                                                  586 0.6  5.4      -4.7


Source: Australian Electoral Commission. Divisions NSW Lyne. https://results.aec.gov.au/15508/Website/HouseDivisionFirstPrefs-15508-130.htm


 The softening of Oakeshott’s primary vote in the 2010 general election (-16.7%) could be read as punishment for Oakeshott giving at least a perception that he was ‘supporting’ the traditionally National party voter’s opposition, the Australian Labor Party - particularly the proposed Emissions Trading Scheme.


However, much of this slump could also be attributed to the pull-back that can occur at a general election after a by election and/or the presence of an Australian Labor Party candidate in 2010, absent in 2008.




 Candidate                  Party           Votes      %    2008     Swing 


Rob OAKESHOTT  Independent  53,297  62.7  73.8     -11.1


David GILLESPIE   National         31,670  37.2  26.1    +11.1 


Source: Australian Electoral Commission. House Division. Lyne 2PP 2010 https://results.aec.gov.au/15508/Website/HouseDivisionFirstPrefs-15508-130.htm


The 2PP preference flows of the Greens (82.3%), the Australian Labor Party (86.2) and Independent candidate Barry Wright (60.7) in favour of Oakeshott over Gillespie was very helpful given these three accounted for 18.6 % of the first preference vote in 2010. Oakeshott will be glad to see these players at the 2019 election in Cowper.


Source: https://results.aec.gov.au/15508/Website/HouseDivisionTcpFlow-15508-130.htm


Neither the Australian Labor Party or the Coalition had enough members to form government on their own. Oakeshott eventually joined independent Tony Windsor and Australian Greens member for Melbourne to establish stable government given concerns that a 76-seat government was "a by-election away from trouble".  On 7 September 2010, Oakeshott gave his backing to the formation of a Labor minority government.


Source: Mark David. Labor over the line. Windsor and Oakeshott hand power to Gillard.

Sydney Morning Herald . 7 September 2010, p.1.


Shortly before the Australian Labor Party leadership spill (2012) Oakeshott stated that he would not continue to support the minority Labor Government if Labor changed leaders. Prime Minister Julia Gillard survived the leadership spill and Oakeshott continued his support for the minority Labor Government.  With the diverse crossbench holding the balance of power. Oakeshott, Tony Windsor and other crossbenchers provided confidence for Labor while retaining the right to vote on conscience in other matters.


Oakeshott's support for Labor didn't play well with some of constituent in an era historically accustomed to National -ALP match ups in both federal and State elections. In the State election that followed, a State electorate -Port Macquarie- would be framed as a litmus test of voters reaction to Oakeshott’s support of an ALP minority government.


The Independent holding the Port Macquarie seat, Peter Besseling,claimed he was not expecting voter backlash targeted at him for Oakeshott’s choices, hoping State issues would take precedence.


"What we are working on is state issues. This is a state election and less face it, there's going to be a change of government, but it's about what the State member can do to make sure that we have a better society"


The Nationals Port Macquarie candidate Leslie Williams focussed on her “strong campaign. But you know the only poll that is going to matter is on polling day, so I don't get too caught up in what people are telling me out there". On the other hand, she also observed


"Certainly there are a lot of people who are very disappointed with Rob Oakeshott's move to install a minority Labor government, so I guess there is a possibility that may have some impact on Peter's campaign,"


Source: ABC News: Close Battle expected for Port Macquarie electorate.26 March 2011. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-03-26/close-battle-expected-in-port-macquarie-electorate/2641240.


Oakeshott retired from politics before the 2013 election, leaving the question of electoral back lash unanswered. He claimed he was quitting because he was worn out from the extra work it takes for an Independent to keep with and support a minority government. 


The 2016 campaign 


Oakeshott contested the Division of Cowper at the 2016 election, challenging National incumbent Luke Hartsuyker. Cowper had absorbed Port Macquarie after the latest redistribution.


 Comeback In June 2016, Oakeshott announced his candidacy for a return to federal politics at the federal election on 2 July. While Hartsuyker retained the seat, Oakeshott reduced the National majority from a comfortably safe 11.7 percent to a marginal 4.5 percent. Oakeshott came close as anyone in more than half a century to breaking the Nationals' long-term hold on this seat.


The 2PP preference flows of the Greens (78.7%), the Australian Labor Party (77.1) and others in favour of Oakeshott over Hartsuyker was not enough to win the seat on 2nd preferences.


Still, he managed to reduce the 2PP margin from 61.7 to 54.5 and shaved 7.1 percent from the National primary vote inside only 3 weeks of campaigning. He was always going to come back for another tilt at Cowper on these results-


The retirement of Hartsuyker brought the announcement on after the Labor candidate tipped his hand.


Sources: Australian Electoral Commission. Election 2013. NSW Division Cowper. https://results.aec.gov.au/17496/Website/HouseDivisionFirstPrefs-17496-113.htm https://results.aec.gov.au/20499/Website/HouseDivisionPage-20499-113.htm


The  2019 campaign


Oakeshott lost the election in 2016, however he had turned a safe double digit safe National seat into a single digit marginal seat. That foray into Cowper was encouraging enough to inspire Oakeshott to consider another candidacy in Cowper. When the sitting member who won ahead of Oakeshott announced his retirement at the next election, Oakeshott took a few weeks to announce he would stand again for Cowper. 


 In 2016, Oakeshott ran what he described as a


"crazy three-week campaign.We're running a broader campaign this time. It's a marathon not a sprint. The lessons of [losing an election] and the reflections [after my retirement] in 2013 are very much around me personally — that I like helping people, that I like to get things done”.


Source: Melissa Martin and Fiona Poole Rob Oakeshott enters the federal election race looking to take the 'safe' Coalition seat of Cowper. ABC Coffs Coast 15 January 2019 https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-01-15/rob-oakeshott-announces-a-run-for-federal-seat-of-cowper/10716914 


  The other contenders


 Port Macquarie solicitor Patrick Conaghan has been preselected to by the Nationals for Cowper, Bellingen-based advocate for climate change action Andrew Woodward is the Labor candidate, and Coffs Harbour city councillor, Sally Townley, will contest the seat for the Greens.  


Source: Melissa Martin and Fiona Poole Rob Oakeshott enters the federal election race looking to take the 'safe' Coalition seat of Cowper. ABC Coffs Coast 15 January 2019 https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-01-15/rob-oakeshott-announces-a-run-for-federal-seat-of-cowper/10716914



Profile is the key to Independent success


ABC election analyst Antony Green said for an Independent to win a seat, they needed a minimum of 25–33 per cent of the vote to ensure they finished second.


Then they needed to gain the majority of preferences from minor parties and the second-placed major party.


Green believed Rob Oakeshott had one significant advantage over most Independents who would be contesting the 2019 election — people know who he is.


Being well known before an election was the most important prerequisite for an Independent to be successful.


"Independents need a higher profile than candidates of a party, whose low profile can be compensated for by voter knowledge of their party. Electors will vote for an Independent they know, but won't vote for an Independent they don't."



Source: Melissa Martin and Fiona Poole Rob Oakeshott enters the federal election race looking to take the 'safe' Coalition seat of Cowper. ABC Coffs Coast 15 January 2019 https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-01-15/rob-oakeshott-announces-a-run-for-federal-seat-of-cowper/10716914


Leading Australian election expert Antony Green also had this to say about Oakeshott's prospects in 2019


“Former independent MP Rob Oakeshott has announced he will contest the NSW north coast seat of Cowper. He polled 26.3 per cent in the seat in 2016 and previously represented parts of the seat as member for Lyne and the state seat of Port Macquarie. His prospects are improved by the decision of Nationals MP Luke Hartsuyker to retire. Mr Oakeshott has the significant advantage of being well known. But fame can be a double-edged sword. Many voters will have a positive view of his time representing Port Macquarie in both state and federal parliaments, but in a conservative seat like Cowper, others will mark him down for having backed the Gillard government”.


Source: Antony Green. Independents won’t matter as much as you think at the next election. ABC online. January 16 2019. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-01-16/independents-wont-matter-as-much-as-you-think-next-election/10716834?section=politics




Working in Oakeshott's favour are the following --


-  He has most of the characteristics Antony Green identifies as essential for a successful independent candidate;


-  This campaign will be more successful in terms of getting the message out because he is no rushing it as he did in 2016 by announcing his challenge very late;


-  There are conservative women in the electorate actively campaigning to send a message to the National party the reprentation of women,  the treatment of women and attitudes of men towards women inside the party and in the general community which needs to basically catch up with the 21st Century and change, soon;


- Ignoring the above concerns, the Nationals have selected a male candidate for the seat;  this would also have given the Nationals an advantage over Oakeshott; 


-  The sittng member is retiring which will shave 1-2 percent from the  2PP margin due to the 'retirement effect';


-  This seat is a neighbour to the seat of Lyne which Oakeshott successfully won and represented following a by election and a general election that followed not so long ago;


Working against Oakeshott is the perception among some that he sold out to the other side (the Australian Labor Party) in both the formation of an ALP minority government and in some of the policy platforms he supported and the large 2PP margin he will have to overcome to win- He has done it before in Lyne, but this is a different time and place.




If it was a Liberal candidate Oakeshott was up against, this seat would be handed to him on a plate.  The backlash suffered in Wentworth  NSW seat and in the Victorian State election was targeted specifically at the Liberal party brand, not the Nationals who held their ground with only one casualty to an Independent in Victoria whereas the Liberals lost nine.

On the other hand, the resignation of a second Nationals Minister in one term of Government  over sex scandal behaviours triggered a strong reaction from rural women around the country. Would such women in Cowper want a Labor candidate to support in order to send "a message" to the National party ? Probably not. However,  Oakeshott might well be a palatable message bearer in Cowper.  This one is too close to call for mine.