2017 Bennelong by-election

A by-election for the Australian House of Representatives seat of Bennelong was held on 16 December 2017.

2017 Bennelong by-election

16 December 2017 (2017-12-16)

The Division of Bennelong (NSW) in the House of Representatives
Registered106,534
Turnout85.96% 5.70
  First party Second party
 
Candidate John Alexander Kristina Keneally
Party Liberal Labor
Percentage 45.04% 35.75%
Swing 5.37 7.27
TPP 54.88% 45.12%
TPP swing 4.84 4.84


MP before election

John Alexander
Liberal

Elected MP

John Alexander
Liberal

Previous incumbent and Liberal candidate John Alexander won the by-election despite a 4.8 percentage point two-party swing to Labor candidate Kristina Keneally which made the seat marginal.[1][2][3][4]

Background

Amid the 2017–18 Australian parliamentary eligibility crisis, the trigger for the by-election was the resignation of Liberal incumbent John Alexander effective 11 November 2017. Following the increased media attention on the citizenship status of parliamentarians, Alexander asked British authorities for evidence of his British-born father renouncing British citizenship. They were unable to find any, leaving Alexander unable to demonstrate he was not a British citizen by descent, meaning he would be ineligible under Section 44 of the Constitution to sit in the Parliament of Australia.[5] Alexander subsequently renounced his British citizenship, in order to nominate for election again.[5]

Speaker of the House of Representatives Tony Smith issued the writ for the election on 13 November 2017, the same day that Alexander submitted his resignation.[6]

Key dates

  • Saturday 11 November 2017 – Speaker acceptance of resignation
  • Monday 13 November 2017 – Issue of writ
  • Monday 20 November 2017 – Close of electoral rolls (8pm)
  • Thursday 23 November 2017 – Close of nominations (12 noon)
  • Friday 24 November 2017 – Declaration of nominations (12 noon)
  • Tuesday 28 November 2017 – Start of early voting
  • Saturday 16 December 2017 – Polling day (8am to 6pm)
  • Friday 29 December 2017 – Last day for receipt of postal votes
  • Sunday 21 February 2018 – Last day for return of writs

As at least 33 days must elapse between the issue of a writ and the date of a by-election, the earliest Saturday that the by-election could take place was on 16 December.

Candidates

12 candidates in ballot paper order[7]
Party Candidate Background
  Liberty Alliance Tony Robinson Orthopaedic surgeon[8]
  #Sustainable Wesley Folitarik Urban planner[9]
  Science James Jansson Entrepreneur[10]
  Liberal John Alexander Bennelong MP 2010−2017 and former professional tennis player[11][12]
  Labor Kristina Keneally Journalist, NSW state MP for Heffron 2003−2012 and 42nd Premier of New South Wales 2009−2011[13][14]
  People’s James Platter Former teacher, writer and former Army Reservist[15]
  Greens Justin Alick Overseas aid and sustainable development advocate[16]
  Affordable Housing Anthony Ziebell Software engineer[7] and tenancy advocate[17]
  Non-Custodial Parents Anthony Fels Former member of the Western Australian Legislative Council[7]
  Conservatives Joram Richa Manager[7] and conservative activist[18]
  Christian Democrats Gui Dong Cao Pastor[7]
  Progressives Chris Golding Former policy officer in the NSW Department of Primary Industries[19]

Events

Following the win by Barnaby Joyce in a similarly Section 44 triggered by-election in the Division of New England on 2 December 2017, the Liberal-National coalition maintained its one-seat majority in the Australian House of Representatives.[20] However, a loss in Bennelong would have left the government reliant on crossbench support. Given this unusual opportunity for an Opposition to destabilise the government's position in parliament outside of a general election, the Labor Party chose former New South Wales Premier Kristina Keneally as a high-profile candidate.[21]

In the months prior to the by-election, the 2017 Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey was conducted asking the question, "Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?". Bennelong was among 12 of 47 federal electoral divisions in New South Wales and among 17 of 150 seats nationally to record a majority No response; with Yes on 49.8 percent and No on 50.2 percent, compared to the New South Wales result of Yes on 57.8 percent and No on 42.2 percent, and the national result of Yes on 61.6 percent and No on 38.4 percent. Parliament passed legislation to legalise same-sex marriage on 8 December 2017.[22][23][24]

On 12 December 2017, Labor Senator Sam Dastyari announced his intention to resign from the Australian Senate, after weeks of controversy over his links and interactions with Chinese donors.[25] Commentary deriving from Dastyari's statement was mixed, with some commentators signalling it might damage the Labor brand with voters right before they headed to the polls while others pointed to the large Chinese-Australian community in the electorate who might have got an impression that the government was pushing a "China-phobic narrative", given the pressure placed on Dastyari to resign in the weeks prior.[26]

On 14 December 2017, it was revealed that Liberal candidate John Alexander had failed the requirement to declare rental income to the parliamentary register of members' interests from his $1440-a-day 100-acre $4.8-million property in the New South Wales Southern Highlands which he had purchased in June 2017.[27][28][29]

Results

2017 Bennelong by-election[4]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal John Alexander 37,898 45.04 −5.37
Labor Kristina Keneally 30,085 35.75 +7.27
Greens Justin Alick 5,688 6.76 −2.37
Conservatives Joram Richa 3,609 4.29 +4.29
Christian Democrats Gui Dong Cao 2,626 3.12 −3.28
Science James Jansson 1,041 1.24 +1.24
Sustainable Australia Wesley Folitarik 995 1.18 +1.18
Affordable Housing Anthony Ziebell 742 0.88 +0.88
Liberty Alliance Tony Robinson 719 0.85 +0.85
Progressives Chris Golding 426 0.51 +0.51
People's Party James Platter 186 0.22 +0.22
Non-Custodial Parents Anthony Fels 132 0.16 +0.16
Total formal votes 84,145 91.88 −3.03
Informal votes 7,436 8.12 +3.03
Turnout 91,581 85.96 −5.74
Two-party-preferred result
Liberal John Alexander 46,179 54.88 −4.84
Labor Kristina Keneally 37,966 45.12 +4.84
Liberal hold Swing −4.84

Previous incumbent and Liberal candidate John Alexander won the by-election despite a 4.8 percentage point two-party swing to Labor candidate Kristina Keneally which made the seat marginal.[1][2][3] The Liberal primary vote was the lowest on record in Bennelong's 68-year history, including the 2007 Bennelong outcome which was the only election in which the Liberals failed to win Bennelong.[30][31]

Polling

Bennelong by-election polling
Date Firm Sample Primary vote Two-party vote
LIB ALP GRN OTH LIB ALP
2017 by-election 45.0% 35.8% 6.8% 12.4% 54.9% 45.1%
13–14 Dec 2017 Galaxy [32] 524 40% 38% 8% 14% 51% 49%
12 Dec 2017 ReachTEL [33] 819 41.3% 36.3% 7.5% 14.9% 53% 47%
9–10 Dec 2017 Newspoll [34] 529 39% 39% 9% 13% 50% 50%
16 Nov 2017 ReachTEL [35] 864 41.6% 34.5% 5.9% 18.0% 53% 47%
15 Nov 2017 Galaxy [35] 579 42% 39% 50% 50%
2016 election 50.4% 28.5% 9.1% 12.0% 59.7% 40.3%

See also

References

  1. Tobin, Mark; Carter, Lucy (17 December 2017). "Bennelong by-election: Liberal John Alexander wins, Labor buoyed by swing". ABC News. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  2. Green, Antony. "2017 Bennelong by-election". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  3. "Political party name abbreviations & codes, demographic ratings and seat status". Australian Electoral Commission. 18 January 2016. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  4. "Bennelong By-election". AEC Tally Room. Australian Electoral Commission. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  5. Robertson, James (17 November 2017). "John Alexander confirms eligibility to stand in byelection on advice from UK Home Office". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  6. "Service Plan: Bennelong By-election 2017" (PDF). Australian Electoral Commission. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  7. "2017 Bennelong by-election candidate details". Australian Electoral Commission. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  8. "Tasmania". Australian Liberty Alliance. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  9. "Bennelong by-election 2017". Sustainable Australia. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  10. Jannson, James (23 November 2017). "Bennelong By-Election Candidate, Science Party Leader James Jansson" (Press release). Science Party. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  11. "Liberal backbencher John Alexander to resign after raising citizenship concerns". ABC News (Australia). 11 November 2017. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  12. Raue, Ben (13 November 2017). "Bennelong won't be an easy win for Labor – the government's counting on it". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
  13. Knaus, Christopher; Murphy, Katharine (14 November 2017). "Kristina Keneally will run against John Alexander in Bennelong byelection - politics live". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  14. Gartrell, Adam (14 November 2017). "Former NSW premier Kristina Keneally to stand for Labor in Bennelong byelection". The Age. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  15. "Candidates for Federal Election". Australian People's Party. Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  16. Karp, Paul (21 November 2017). "Bennelong byelection: Greens focus on house prices in bid to unseat Alexander". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 November 2017.
  17. "Affordable Housing Party goes head to head for the seat of Bennelong". domain.com.au. 16 November 2017. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  18. "Subscribe - dailytelegraph". www.dailytelegraph.com.au. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  19. "Chris Golding for Bennelong - About". Retrieved 21 November 2017.
  20. "Barnaby Joyce wins New England by-election in a landslide". The Australian. 3 December 2017. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  21. "Kristina Keneally: Former NSW premier to go up against John Alexander in Bennelong by-election". abc.net.au. 15 November 2017. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  22. "Results for New South Wales". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 15 November 2017. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  23. "Full results of Australia's vote for same-sex marriage, electorate by electorate – interactive". The Guardian. 15 November 2017. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  24. Wade, Matt (15 November 2017). "Same-sex marriage postal survey: how Sydney electorates voted". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  25. "Sam Dastyari quits as Labor senator over China connections". The Guardian. 12 December 2017. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  26. "Sam Dastyari resignation fuels fight for Bennelong, signals crackdown on China influence". Sydney Morning Herald. 12 December 2017. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  27. Massola, James (14 December 2017). "John Alexander has not declared rental income from his $1400 per day country estate". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
  28. Hutchens, Christopher; Murphy, Katharine (14 December 2017). "John Alexander on back foot in Bennelong over rental income declaration". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
  29. "Register of Members' Interests – 45th Parliament: Former Members of the 45th Parliament". Parliament of Australia". Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  30. Electoral results for the Division of Bennelong referenced with results sourced from Psephologist Dr Adam Carr's Australian electoral archive – lowest Liberal primary vote in Bennelong history was 45.5 percent in 2007 amid 13 candidates.
  31. Leaders’ reactions to Bennelong show why politicians so unpopular: Herald Sun 18 December 2017
  32. Bowe, William (15 December 2017). "Galaxy: 51-49 to Liberal in Bennelong". The Poll Bludger. Retrieved 15 December 2017.
  33. Bowe, William (14 December 2017). "ReachTEL: 53-47 to Liberal in Bennelong". The Poll Bludger. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
  34. Bowe, William (12 December 2017). "ReachTEL: 53-47 to Liberal". The Poll Bludger. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
  35. Bowe, William (17 November 2017). "Galaxy: 50-50 in Bennelong; ReachTEL: 53-47 to Liberal". The Poll Bludger. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
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