Modia Minotaur

Trawling the airwaves to spare you the agony!

Sunday, February 25, 2007


Early reports are coming in that Maxine McKew is planning not only to stand for election in this year's Federal Election, but as the Labor candidate for Bennelong, a seat currently held by one John Howard. I stress that these reports are unconfirmed, but I should also add that they do come after suggestions on this morning's Insiders that a `serious' candidate was being prepared for the seat.

Wow, let's take a moment to digest this.

Rumours have, of course, been circulating for some time that McKew would enter politics - no doubt much fevered Googling is going on as I type (and perhaps a few are stumbling upon this post as their first point of reference) - but this - well, this just blows it all out of the water, doesn't it? If true, it's audacious, ambitious, inspired - and a little bit scary.

It's little known that Bennelong is not only a marginal seat but has been made still more marginal after last year's redistribution, to the point that it was even suggested that long-time seatwarmer Alan Cadman would be asked to cede his adjoining, far safer seat of Mitchell to the Prime Minister (and who knows - this may still occur. Should it do, it would be pretty powerfully symbolic in itself - the Prime Minister quite literally on the run).

Nor was it easily won in the 2004 election, given the candidacy of Andrew Wilkie (the ONA officer who blew the whistle on the planning of the Iraq War). Today, the seat is held on around 4% - not only a very surmountable precentage, but easily within the threshhold of the uniform swing required to bring Labor to power.

Can this seat be lost?

All Opposition parties will need to be very smart, and very mature about this. My greatest fear is that, as in the 2004 election, a number of candidates may run, splitting the vote. You would have to hope that, at this of all times, everyone would put aside their individual differences and work their hardest towards the best chance of the seat changing hands. The preference deals alone should be fascinating.

And, should it start to look that Howard is truly threatened - would he finally find that 'his party no longer needs him'?

What a fascinating year we have ahead of us, kids. What a fascinating year!

I'll leave you with the following snippet from an episode of Lateline just before the last Federal election (surely, it will be oft-quoted by this time tomorrow), between McKew and spin doctors Geoff Walsh and Lynton Crosby - former directors of the ALP and the Liberal Party respectively:
MAXINE McKEW: Just a quick final point, Lynton, I gather the PM hasn't given any commitment to the voters of Bennelong in his own seat.

He hasn't given any commitment that he will stay as their member whether the Government wins or loses, shouldn't he?

LYNTON CROSBY: Well, he will do what's right for the people of Bennelong.

He's done what's right for the people of Australia for the last eight years by keeping the economy strong and the pressure off interest rates.

MAXINE McKEW: Shouldn't they know on October 9 if they're electing a member for the full term?

LYNTON CROSBY: They'll know that if they elect John Howard they will get a member who will continue to effectively represent them.

MAXINE McKEW: For how long?

LYNTON CROSBY: For as long a he's able and willing to do the job and as long as they elect him to do the job.

MAXINE McKEW: Geoff Walsh?

GEOFF WALSH: Well look, Max, in this uncertain election which is going to be so tight, perhaps there is one thing that is certain and that is regardless of the result, we'll probably see a by-election in Bennelong.

If Mark Latham wins the election, you can bet that John Howard will want to get out of the parliament quick smart, and if the Liberal Government is returned, he'll be out as soon as Peter Costello can arrange it.

In all of the uncertainty there's one thing we can probably bank on.

MAXINE McKEW: Well we'll see about that.
We will indeed.


At 8:48 pm, Anonymous larrylaffer said...

If true, its about time one of the 'star candidates' was given a marginal to run in and win. Its no good having a team full of stars if your in opposition because you can never win the marginals because all the stars are in safe seats.

At 10:55 pm, Blogger Minotaur said...

I totally agree. Particularly at a state level, the ALP's been consolidating in safe seats but not actually winning new ones.

In order to address that, it's particularly smart to bring in candidates like McKew, who have had long, successful careers and would undoubtedly be pleased if they won, but not devastated if they lost.

The next question: Where to for Wentworth, which has also lost some of its margin in the distribution, and where another high profile scalp could be up for the grabbing?

At 11:02 pm, Anonymous Guy said...

Damn straight! This is a great opportunity to push the PM on the defensive in his own backyard..

At 8:28 am, Anonymous milltown pete said...

McKew, like Garrett, is an intelligent and credible candidate for ANY seat, and is to be applauded for "doing it the hard way".
However, I just hope this is not the first hit in a series of high profile drop-ins as I think the voters would see through that ruse very quickly.
People know that being a face on television, (or blowing a whistle at a Rugby League match) does not necessarily provide the background for discharging the public duty that is demanded of our representatives.

At 6:10 pm, Anonymous larrylaffer said...

I do not think they expect her to win the seat seriously. This is about softening the ground for when Howard goes as it will be then that Maxine becomes an MP. Whilst I think it is a good move, and certainly better than putting her into Fowler, I do not see as being a bold one off attempt at jilting the little shit from his seat. This is about a two-three year plan.

At 10:06 pm, Anonymous rooster said...

Interesting observation re: a move to Mitchell. That'd essentially be replacing one lame duck with another!

I've not heard a peep from Cadman since I moved to the area a few years ago. Except when those rumours about a possible leadership challenge surfaced back in '04.

At 5:07 pm, Blogger Anne said...

This is so delicious. Finally that little rat is stuck b/w the rock and the hard place. If he sticks it out he faces the humiliation of being the 2nd PM to lose his seat.The only other option is to retiregracefully and let some otehr sucker face the squad. Or not - Howard may well win. But what a risk he has to take, what a difficult choice he has to make. He must remeber always - one day a cock, the next day a feather duster.

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