I have decided to run for the NSW Upper House, again, at the 2019 State Election. The Liberal preselection for the ‘At-Large’ positions will take place on 25 November, somewhere in Sydney.
I say “positions”, but this is not strictly accurate. You probably remember that in 2011 we had a landslide win, and three ‘At-Large’ candidates were elected: Catherine Cusack, Natasha Maclaren-Jones, and myself. This time we won’t be so fortunate.
As you may have seen, the last ReachTEL poll for NSW had us sitting on only 35% of the primary vote, down 6% from what it had been six months earlier. Even the earlier Newspoll has us on only 38%.
Why does this matter? Because the Upper House is voted on using Proportional Representation, the ‘two-party preferred’ vote is irrelevant. To get a seat, you need 4.54% of the primary vote.
Let’s assume that the real level of support for the State coalition (because we run a joint ticket with the Nationals) on election day is, in fact, about 38%. That would get us 8.37 seat quotas. Liberal State Executive determined the order of the NSW Upper House ticket as:
1. Liberal – Province
2. National – Niall Blair
3. Liberal – Province
4. Liberal – Province
5. National – Sarah Mitchell
6. Liberal – Province
7. Liberal – At Large #1
8. National – Wes Fang
9. Liberal – At Large #2
To get the ninth spot we’d need a primary vote of 41% – and this is not taking into consideration the propensity of some people to vote Liberal for their local member, and vote for another party in the Upper House.
Yes, this really happens – and we lose about 3% of the primary vote this way every election.
So this is where the problem commences: we are only likely to get ONE ‘At-Large’ spot elected, barring an electoral miracle which increases our primary vote by 7% between now and the election.
These are the Liberal candidates, in order in which we will be presenting on the day of the preselection:
1. Scott Yung
2. Leigh Wang
3. Alan Akhurst
4. Peter Phelps
5. Amy Lee
6. Pallavi Sinha
7. Pat Daley
8. Natasha Maclaren-Jones
Some of you might be thinking: what a great field, there are a few people there who should be MLCs!
But that option is not available. Only one person from that field will be elected, in all likelihood.
That is the reason for this post. I understand that calls from candidates have already started, although I am somewhat surprised at this fact, given that the draft roll of preselectors hasn’t even been distributed to candidates yet.
So what can you do?
If you are a State Council delegate, you will be able to vote in this preselection. You should ask yourself these questions:
Who is the best candidate to argue for Liberal values?
Who is the person who will take the fight up to Labor and the Greens in Parliament?
Who will have the courage to prosecute our battles against the Left in public forums?
Who will stand up in the Party Room and demand that Ministers stop being the playthings of bureaucrats, and start following the ideals of the ‘We Believe’ principles?
I’m not going to spruik my own claims here. If you want to, you can (and probably should) speak to your local lower house MP. Ask them one simple question:
Who, from the list of people above, is best able to do this job?
And don’t simply accept “oh, there are many good candidates”. There is only one spot up for grabs. Whether we like it or not, a choice must be made.
If you are a Liberal, but not a NSW State Council delegate, I need your help too.
You will be part of a Branch and/or Conferences who will be sending one or more delegates to the preselection. They are your representatives.
You should be in a conversation with them about who they are backing, and why they are backing that particular person for the #1 At-Large spot.
At the moment, I need my friends.
I have always tried to be honest and open in my dealings with Liberal Party members – I figure that, at the very least, is what they should expect from their Members of Parliament.
If I am wrong, I change my views. But I do not change my views simply because they are unfashionable or because the truth is too scary to say in today’s political climate.
My fights are not personal, they are political. My touchstone, for any issue, are those core values in the ‘We Believe’ statement, the values which we all signed up to when we joined the Liberal Party in the first place.
And whether you have disagreed with me on issues in the past, you always know where I stand.
But on 25 November, there is no ‘silver medal’.
It is my sincerest hope that, on that day, you will be able to support me for preselection.