Will there be any candidates left in this Election?

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One Nation's Steve Dickson is one of many candidates who has been rightly dumped (screenshot via YouTube).

Dumped candidates, new polling and political posturing has defined this past week of campaigning, writes Dr Martin Hirst.

I'VE BEEN CONSCIOUSLY participating in Australian politics since I first voted in 1974 and I can’t recall any campaign period that’s been more shambolic than this one.

Already, 14 candidates have been disendorsed by their parties and one, the bankrupt former One Nation senator, Rod Culleton, has been referred to police over his ineligibility to stand.

Most have been struck down since nominations closed a week ago, so they’ll still be on the ballot paper.

I don’t think even 1975 came close to being this bad and that was a bitter campaign on both sides that eventually saw Malcolm Fraser elected and Gough Whitlam vanquished.

The Murdoch press played a role then, in demonising the Labor Party (ALP) and helping Fraser win. The Murdoch papers and Sky News are playing a similar role today – as they have in almost every election since the late 1960s – this time, though, their preferred Prime Minister is looking like a cooked goose.

This campaign is a mess for the conservatives. As has been noted by the more honest elements of the mainstream media, Scott Morrison has got nothing positive to say, no policy to promote and no crowning achievements to crow about.

And he’s losing candidates faster than he can mint new ones.

After three weeks of campaigning, even The Guardian’s Katharine Murphy had to admit that Morrison is a dud:

What will Morrison do in his first 50 days in office if he wins?


What will he do for the next three years, apart from legislate the tax cuts, keep the boats stopped, and keep telling people not to vote Labor, because … Labor? I have no idea, honestly, and I watch politics for a living.

Murphy’s comments came after the first leaders’ debate held in Perth last Monday night and screened on the 7Two channel.

According to Twitter and the studio audience, Shorten won the debate hands down, but there were still elements in the Press Gallery who were desperate to give the night to Morrison.

Similarly, the Newspoll results, which dropped on the same day, showed Shorten and Labor in front on a two-party preferred basis, but The Australian still headlined the "preferred PM" number which Morrison has consistently topped to argue that the Election is going to be close and that the Coalition is gaining on the Opposition.

However, the actual numbers are cold comfort for Morrison. The "net satisfaction" rating for both leaders show approval for Shorten is rising and Morrison’s is falling. In other words, the gap is closing.

And it’s closing clearly, even in the "better PM" metric. In mid-May, Shorten was preferred by about 32% of voters. Now that number is about 37%. At the same time, ex-PM Malcolm Turnbull sat at 46%. Now Scott Morrison has the support of 45% of voters.

As usual, the poll results need to be treated cautiously. Some commentators were suspicious that Palmer’s Party was included in the poll questions for the first time, giving respondents a chance to nominate it as their preferred first choice. Peter Brent, writing at Inside Story, noted that Palmer had taken out expensive adverts in Murdoch papers and had also been given soft treatment their election coverage.

It’s hard to know if there is a conspiracy theory here. Nevertheless, there are too many assumptions embedded in the calculations and the margin of error on such a small sample size of only 2,140 voters. The fact it was conducted over landlines is also statistically relevant. However, the Newspoll results are still consistent with the YouGov Galaxy poll on a sample size of only 1,012. Labor is still in front with a four point lead 52-48 on two-party-preferred.

Interestingly, support for One Nation seems to be shrinking, perhaps a result of the bungled trip to the United States by Steve Dickson and James Ashby soliciting donations from the National Rifle Association (NRA).

YouGov Galaxy also asked voters how they felt about the various party leaders’ performance in the campaign’s first two weeks. The take-out is simple: we’re not very impressed with any of them.




Scott Morrison



Bill Shorten



Michael McCormack



Richard Di Natale



Pauline Hanson



Clive Palmer



Remember this was before the leaders’ debate and the unmitigated debacle of the past week.

A roll call of losers, tossers and turkeys

Week three has been pretty wild. A record number of candidates have been jettisoned by their respective parties, but several of them will still appear on the ballot paper making for an interesting and curious situation for electors in the affected seats.

Labor lose a couple

A Labor Senate candidate in the Northern Territory, Wayne Kurnorth, has resigned from the ALP after he was revealed as an anti-Semite via social media posts. He was followed on Friday by Luke Creasey, who was pinged for some outrageously sexist comments on his Facebook page.

The Liberals lose a few more

The Liberal Party has lost three candidates in Victoria alone and another one in the Tasmanian seat of Lyons. It seems some bigots are too bigoted even for the "broad church" of the Liberal Party.

My favourite is Peter Killen who was standing in the solid Labor seat of Wills, but who seemed to be more interested in attacking fellow Liberals than his ALP and Greens opponents.

It seems Mr Killen was also in favour of a rule change for the Liberal Party.

"My suggestion is to change a party from within: 1. Infiltrate 2. Influence 3. Impel. Pray and Do," he wrote in a blog post.

Perhaps Mr Killen wanted Monty Python’s infamous “rule number one” instituted so that people like Tim Wilson could not be preselected in future and then there would be “no homosexual MP”.

Mr Killen is a conservative anti-gay Christian. He probably won’t be missed in the 46th Parliament.

Neither will Jessica Whelan (now running as an independent), whose comments about Muslim women tick all the boxes. Whelan denied the comments initially, but then more and more were revealed and she couldn’t run away from them.

I also venture to say that dumped candidate Jeremy Hearn will likewise not be missed. Hearn was preselected for the Liberals in Isaacs to stand against shadow Attorney General Mark Dreyfus who has a comfortable 3 per cent margin.

Mr Hearn might well like gay people, but not if they are also Muslim apparently. According to the ABC Mr Hearn thinks the Muslims are taking over.

The Liberal hopeful's comments included several suggestions Muslim Australians were hiding their true intentions, which he said were to overthrow the Australian Government and introduce Sharia law.

We know that Mr Hearn and Mr Killen are just the tip of the bigot iceberg inside the Liberal Party, but Morrison is running a protection racket for the ones he thinks he can save, like the candidate for Chisholm, Gladys Liu who, it has been suggested, thinks that LGBTQI issues are “ridiculous rubbish”.

Morrison has stood by her side and smirked away any concerns, just like he’s done on so many other occasions when the poor behaviour of his candidates has been revealed.

Mr Gurpal Singh has not been disendorsed despite his comments linking gay rights and same-sex marriage to paedophilia. And there’s no sign that Mr Sachin Joshi, Liberal candidate in the safe NSW Labor seat of Paterson, will resign after his sexist comments about female doctors were revealed in The Sydney Morning Herald this week.

One Nation imploding on cue

The most fun and games in a week of chaos are the melting of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation due to several candidates being caught with their hands in places they shouldn't be.

Enter stage right one Mr Steve Dickson, then swiftly, exit stage left. It seems the high-profile former Queensland Liberal Minister and now number two on the One Nation Senate ticket in the Pineapple State was not just interested in Jesus and guns when he went to Washington DC last year.

New covert footage has surfaced from Al Jazeera of Mr Dickson in a Washington strip club groping one of the women, showering her with money and attempting – against all the rules of strip clubs – to induce her to go back to his hotel after work.

Mr Dickson also made some choice misogynist and racist comments about women while boasting about the number of females he’s shagged over the years, which I’m sure impressed the long-suffering Mrs Dickson and pleased his God no end.

However, it seems that Mr Dickson’s behaviour sets the tone for others further down the One Nation food chain. Another candidate in Queensland, Ross Macdonald, has also been outed as a groper of scantily-clad waitresses.

One Nation is an open sewer, but of course, "Poorlene" blames everyone and anyone except herself and her own poor judgement. She even went on A Current Affair to explain how sick she is of people attacking her party for being full of swamp-dwelling scum and how unfairly she’s been treated.

Despite these tawdry and bigoted behaviours coming to light, it seems that the Coalition leadership is willing to stick by its preference deal with One Nation. In fact, senior Liberal and National Party figures have been making the extraordinary claim that the Greens are a bigger threat to Australia than misogynistic and racist lowlifes from the far right.

Speaking of which, did he or didn’t he?

In a very strange video that has been archived on YouTube by an anti-fascist activist, convicted Nazi thug Neil Erikson is seen boasting about his close ties to several Liberal party figures, including WA MP’s Andrew Hastie and Ian Goodenough.

Erikson claims that the Liberals flew him to Perth to meet with Hastie and Goodenough and that the MPs encouraged his anti-Islam stunts, several of which have landed Mr Erikson in hot water with the authorities.

Hastie denied it, but Goodenough admits they had a brief moment at a Perth rally for the poor white farmers of South Africa.

And then there’s this.

The Liberal and National Party leadership are desperate to hang on to power. The dirty deals on preferences with Pauline Hanson, Fraser Anning and Clive Palmer are evidence that no rock is too low for them to crawl under to harvest the stinking votes of racists, homophobes, misogynists and bigots of every stripe.

I’m also wondering why some of Mr Morrison’s senior colleagues appear to be missing in action. Apart from Josh Frydenberg, most other ministers are keeping a very low profile.

Even Angus Taylor has barely been sighted, while is still refusing to answer questions about #Watergate. He has popped up on Facebook though.

I’m nearly over this whole shitshow, I’m going to vote early so I can spend all day on election Saturday scoffing democracy sausages.

Besides, at the rate they’re dropping, if we wait till the 18 May to cast our votes there might not be enough candidates to go around.

Unless you want to vote for those who’ve already disgraced themselves.

At least then you know what you’re getting.

You can follow Dr Martin Hirst on Twitter @ethicalmartini.

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