Australian Capital Territory general election, 2008


Australian Capital Territory general election, 2008

The 2008 election for the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly will be held on October 18, 2008. [ [http://www.elections.act.gov.au/electime.html] ] Election dates are set in statute to occur once every four years; the government has no ability to set the election date.

Overview

The incumbent centre-left Australian Labor Party, currently led by Chief Minister Jon Stanhope, will attempt to win re-election for a third term after coming to power in 2001. They will be challenged by the opposition centre-right Liberal Party of Australia, led by Zed Seselja, who assumed the Liberal leadership in December 2007. A third party, the ACT Greens, holds one seat in the Assembly, held by retiring MLA Deb Foskey.

The election will see all 17 members of the Assembly face re-election, with members being elected by the Hare-Clark system of proportional representation. The Assembly is divided into three electorates: five-member Brindabella (including Tuggeranong and parts of the Woden Valley) and Ginninderra (including Belconnen and suburbs) and seven-member Molonglo (including North Canberra, South Canberra, Gungahlin, and the remainder of the Woden Valley).

Following the 2004 election outcome, Labor held 9 seats, becoming the first majority government in the territory's history. The opposition Liberal Party held 7 seats, with the Greens holding a further one. The Liberal numbers in the Assembly dropped to six in December 2007 when former Shadow Treasurer Richard Mulcahy was expelled from the party and began sitting as an independent. The opposition would thus need to win a further three seats, on top of regaining Mulcahy's seat, to hold government in its own right. Should the Greens win a seat from Labor, they would probably obtain the balance of power in the Assembly, which they previously held from 1996 to 1998.

The Liberal campaign suffered early problems in February 2008 when a number of prominent Liberal Party and business figures, including popular former Chief Minister Kate Carnell and high-profile businessman and former party finance director Jim Murphy, relaunched the 250 Club, previously a Liberal fundraising group, as the independent Canberra Business Club. The new organisation pledged to support minor party and independent pro-business candidates in the election, citing their disillusion with both major parties and the need for a third political force in the Assembly. At the same time, their best prospect for winning Mulcahy's seat of Molonglo withdrew. [Alexander, Cathy. "Business gives up on ACT Liberals". "Canberra Times", January 27, 2008.]

Polling

Conducted by Patterson Market Research, and published in The Canberra Times, polling released on October 4 suggests the Green vote has doubled to tripled since the last election, at the expense of Labor, with the Liberal vote relatively unchanged. Commentators are predicting the Greens will hold the balance of power and decide who forms government. The Greens have stated they are willing to court both major parties. [ [http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/local/news/general/stanhope-will-need-greens-to-hold-power/1325254.aspx Stanhope will need Greens to hold power: Canberra Times 4/10/2008] ] [ [http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/local/news/general/poll-results-no-comfort-to-labor-or-liberals/1325259.aspx Poll results no comfort to Labor or Liberals: Canberra Times 4/10/2008] ] [ [http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/local/news/political/stanhope-slumps/1325512.aspx Stanhope Slump: Canberra Times 5/10/2008] ] [ [http://blogs.crikey.com.au/pollbludger/2008/10/04/patterson-labor-7-liberal-6-greens-4-in-act/ Patterson - Labor 7, Liberal 6, Greens 4 in ACT: Poll Bludger 4/10/2008] ]

Retiring members

* Wayne Berry (Labor, Ginninderra) Alexander, Cathy. "Labor Member to quit politics". "Canberra Times", January 24, 2008.]
* Deb Foskey (Green, Molonglo) Rudra, Natasha. "Foskey moving to greener pastures". "Canberra Times", May 31, 2008.]
* Karin MacDonald (Labor, Brindabella)
* Bill Stefaniak (Liberal, Ginninderra) [ [http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/08/26/2346611.htm "Stefaniak quits politics."] "Australian Broadcasting Corporation", August 26, 2008.]

Candidates

Labor Party

Labor has preselected candidates for all three seats in the election.

:Ginninderra: incumbent MLAs Jon Stanhope and Mary Porter, indigenous dentist Chris Bourke, small business consultant Paschal Leahy, party staffer Adina Cirson [ [http://www.adinacirson.com.au Adina Cirson's Campaign Website] ] and training consultant Dave Peebles [ [http://www.davepeebles.com.au Dave Peebles' Campaign Website] ] :Brindabella: incumbent MLAs John Hargreaves and Mick Gentleman, former ACT Democrats president Wayne Sievers, former party staffer Rebecca Cody, nurse Joy Burch and community worker Tracy Mackey:Molonglo: incumbent MLAs Simon Corbell, Katy Gallagher and Andrew Barr, IT expert David Mathews, union official Louise Crossman, Eleanor Bates and former United States Airforce rocket scientist and environmentalist Mike Hettinger

The Labor preselection announcement was most notable for the surprise nomination of whistleblower, former police officer, and ACT Australian Democrats party president Wayne Sievers, who nearly won a seat in the Senate for the Democrats at the 2001 federal election. This makes Sievers the early favourite to succeed retiring Labor MLA Karin MacDonald. [Alexander, Cathy. "Labor to reveal ACT poll hopefuls". "Canberra Times", March 4, 2008.]

On 15 July 2008 it was announced that two Labor candidates had dropped out of the ACT election race. Pascal Leahy withdrew from the Ginninderra vote and Rebecca Cody would now not stand for the Brindabella electorate. ALP ACT campaign director Matthew Cossey says they have pulled out for family and personal reasons. He says the positions will not be filled. Cody's departure is expected to firm Sievers as the favourite to succeed MacDonald.

Liberal Party

The Liberal Party has preselected candidates for all three electorates in the election. All six sitting Liberal MLAs are recontesting their seats.

:Ginninderra: incumbent MLA Vicki Dunne, Andrea Tokaji, public servant Matthew Watts and former Senate candidate Jacqui Myers:Brindabella: incumbent MLAs Brendan Smyth and Steve Pratt, David Morgan, soccer identity Steve Doszpot and Audrey Ray.:Molonglo: incumbent MLAs Zed Seselja and Jacqui Burke, former party president Gary Kent, former party staffer Giulia Jones, soldier Jeremy Hanson, community worker Belinda Barnier, and Clinton White, media adviser to Stefaniak. [ [http://www.canberraliberals.org.au/default.cfm?action=news_detail&ID=8007 "Liberal Team"] . "Canberra Liberals", 21 April 2008.] "Some of the poll players.". "Canberra Times", 22 March 2008.] [Rudra, Natasha. "Liberals cast wide net as 18 nominate for pre-selection.". "Canberra Times", 4 April 2008.]

The party had earlier faced some difficulties with candidate selection. Troy Williams, the party's candidate for Fraser at the 2007 federal election, had intended to contest a seat in Molonglo, and had been reported as a potential strong challenger to ex-Liberal independent Richard Mulcahy. He withdrew on 28 February 2007, citing "personal and business reasons". The "Canberra Times", however, reported that Williams' withdrawal had been due to a falling out with the territory's Liberal Party director. [Alexander, Cathy. "Feuding Liberals lose star candidate ". "Canberra Times", 29 February 2008.]

ACT Greens

The sole Greens MLA in the Assembly, one-term representative Deb Foskey, is retiring at the election.

The party has announced their lead candidates for the three electorates:

* Ginninderra: Meredith Hunter, community worker and 2007 candidate for the federal seat of Fraser
* Molonglo: Shane Rattenbury, former Greenpeace official
* Brindabella: Amanda Bresnan, mental health policy worker and 2007 candidate for the federal seat of Canberra [ [http://www.act.greens.org.au/1176 "Media Release: Canberra's future is Green"] . "ACT Greens", June 4, 2008.]

Independents and minor parties

Ex-Liberal independent MLA and former Shadow Treasurer Richard Mulcahy will be recontesting his seat. He has raised the prospect of creating a new minor party in the wake of electoral changes passed by the Stanhope government in May 2008 which decreased the prominence of independent candidates on the ballot paper. [Alexander, Cathy. "Mulcahy draws the line on Libs". "Canberra Times", February 1, 2008.] ["In brief". "Canberra Times", May 24, 2008.]

Frank Pangallo, the outgoing seventeen-year mayor of Queanbeyan, has announced his candidacy as an independent in Molonglo, and will be relocating to Narrabundah. Pangallo, well known as a maverick critic of the Stanhope government unattached to either major party, has been tipped to be in serious contention for the seventh and final seat there. [Hull, Crispin. "A matter of preferences for Pangallo and how it all counts". "Canberra Times", May 24, 2008.] [Rudra, Natasha. "Pangallo makes play for ACT seat of Molonglo". "Canberra Times", May 22, 2008.]

A new minor party, the Community Alliance Party, has applied for registration. Led by Ric Hingee, an advocate for the victims of the 2003 Canberra bushfires, the party is campaigning around focusing government issues of basic services and infrastructure, suggesting that the ACT should be run more like a local council than a state government. This has included staunch opposition to the territory government's 2006-2008 round of school closures and development concerns, such as the proposed power station at Hume. While Hingee has been critical of the ACT government's support for gay civil unions and the Human Rights Act 2004 and is fiercely opposed to Chief Minister Stanhope, it has been reported that he would consider supporting the government in the event of a hung parliament if Katy Gallagher were Labor leader. The party has announced four candidates: Norvan Vogt (Molonglo), who unsuccessfully ran for the federal senate (for the Australian Democrats) in the 2007 federal election, Save Our Schools spokesperson Jane Tullis and prison officer Mike Crowther (Ginninderra) and IT worker James Sizer (Brindabella). [ [http://cap.org.au/candidates/ "Community Alliance Party: Candidates"] "Community Alliance Party". Accessed June 4, 2008.] [Uhlmann, Mark. "New 'back-to-basics' community party rules out supporting Stanhope ." "Canberra Times", April 29, 2008.] [Doherty, Megan. "Govt to flatten closed schools." "Canberra Times", May 5, 2008.] [Doherty, Megan. "In the Assembly." "Canberra Times", May 13, 2008.] ["Power station is a win-win for the Liberals ." "Canberra Times", May 17, 2008.] ["In brief." "Canberra Times", May 17, 2008.]

The Australian Motorist Party, led by Geoff Develin, has applied for registration for the election. The party is reportedly planning on running two candidates in each seat.

Damian Heffernan, a local independent film-maker, is running as an independent candidate for Ginninderra. [Doherty, Megan. "Roo fans' cull-inary thumbs-up". "Canberra Times", May 24, 2008.] [ [http://www.damianheffernan.com.au Candidates website] ]

Adam Verwey is an independent candidate who would like to ban poker machines in the ACT. [http://www.adam08.com/nopokies.html]

The Australian Democrats, who held one seat in the Assembly from 2001 to 2004, have had their ACT division delisted by Elections ACT and thus will be contesting the election in the ungrouped column. Their candidates are Darren Churchill and Marilyn Kay Dennis (Ginninderra) and Greg Tannahill (Molonglo). [ [http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/07/25/2314905.htm] "Democrats candidates unveiled" ABC News (July 25 2008)]

The Canberra Business Club has announced their intention to support "pro-business candidates"; it is unclear whether they will endorse their own candidates, or support other candidates who have nominated. ["Zed marks his spot; take me as your leader.". "Canberra Times", April 26, 2008.] [Alexander, Cathy. "Speculation Carnell Jr could run for office". "Canberra Times", January 28, 2008.]

References


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