With normality resuming somewhat in politics, many within the major parties will be shifting their attention to the upcoming by-election in the former bellwether NSW seat of Eden-Monaro, due to be held on 4 July 2020.
The seat was made vacant due to the retirement of popular local member, the Hon Dr Mike Kelly AM. Despite his popularity within the electorate, the former Labor member only managed to retain the seat by less than one percent at the 2019 Federal Election, with Dr Kelly ran very close by his Liberal opponent.
The Morrison Government’s strong performance on containing COVID-19 may play in their favour, with the Prime Minister very popular at this time. However, history is not on their side, with a seat not changing hands at a by-election in over a 100 years.
With the field fast filling, Nexus is here to provide you with an overview of the candidates for Eden-Monaro and who will likely be victorious come the night of 4 July 2020.
MS KRISTY MCBAIN – AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY
Ms McBain was first elected to Bega Valley Council in 2012 as a 29-year-old. She was the sixth of nine councillors elected in 2012 and third elected in 2015, all candidates contesting election as independents. Ms McBain was elected Mayor after the 2016 election in a 6-3 vote by her fellow councillors.
Ms McBain came to greater prominence through her role in co-ordinating local response to the south-east bushfires in early 2020. She has resigned as Mayor after being selected as the Labor candidate for Eden-Monaro. McBain had been a member of Young Labor in her youth but only recently re-joined the Labor Party.
DR FIONA KOTVOJS – LIBERAL PARTY
Dr Fiona Kotvojs started her working career as a high school teacher before she moved on to operate two businesses, one of which specialised in designing, managing, and evaluating Australian foreign aid programs in Asia-Pacific nations.
Dr Kotvojs has also been a Director of Oxfam Australia, served in the local bush fire brigade and been a member of the Australian Army Reserve. Kotvojs was the Liberal candidate for this seat at the 2019 Federal election.
MS CATHY GRIFF – AUSTRALIAN GREENS
Ms Griff has lived in Tanja for over 30 years and has served as a Bega Valley councillor since 2016. She has had a career that has featured research, policy, and advocacy, mainly for the Australia film industry.
Ms Griff has a Diploma of Education, Masters of Arts and has recently been wrestling with a doctorate. She has worked for the Australian Council of Social Services, as a teacher, a journalist and with Australian Volunteers International in Bougainville.
MR MATTHEW STADMILLER – SHOOTERS, FISHERS AND FARMERS
Mr Stadtmiller is no stranger to politics at a local and state level, previously serving as Deputy Mayor of Harden in 2017 when his council was merged with Young and Booroowa to form Hilltops Council. He was elected to the new council at the local government elections in September 2017.
Mr Stadtmiller has stood for NSW Parliament previously, polling 23.3% as the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers candidate at the October 2017 Cootamundra by-election, and 15.7% also in the NSW Seat of Cootamundra at the 2019 NSW State Election.
The early speculation regarding the potential candidacy of NSW Deputy Premier, the Hon John Barilaro MP has delayed the preselection of the Nationals Candidate, with a candidate still yet to be confirmed.
Reports this week have surfaced that four potential candidates are seeing preselection for the seat of Eden-Monaro. Reports say that Queanbeyan Councillor, Mr Trevor Hicks, local grazier, Mr Michael Green, and small businesswomen Ms Fleur Flanery and Ms Mareeta Grundy are the four members seeking preselection, which will make Eden-Monaro a three-cornered contest.
The preselection will be confirmed over the weekend, with the preselected candidate being only the 12th Nationals candidate to run in Eden-Monaro in its history.
Other candidates from the minor parties and Independents include:
• Liberal Democrats: Mr Dean McCrae
• Christian Democratic Party: Ms Narelle Storey
• Science Party: Mr James Jansson
• Sustainable Australia Party: Ms Joy Angel
• Independent: Mr Andrew Thaler
• The New Liberals: Ms Karen Porter
• Australia One Party: Mr Riccardo Bosi
With the electorate of Eden-Monaro devastated by the bushfires at the beginning of 2020, Liberal and Nationals candidates may be viewed negatively. However, since the bushfires, the Prime Minister’s handling of COVID-19 has attracted praise worldwide and is unlikely to go unnoticed in the electorate.
For Labor, retention of the seat will likely hinge on whether Dr Kelly’s personal popularity will transfer to Bega local, Ms Kristy McBain. In addition, the performance of the Greens will be key, with preferences from the Greens candidate at the 2019 Federal Election playing a key role in any Labor victory in Eden-Monaro.
Nexus Team Prediction: We are split on this but predict a low key close run race with Labor narrowly retaining the seat after a recount.
IR REFORMS IN MOTION FOLLOWING PRIME MINISTER’S PRESS CLUB ADDRESS
Following our coverage of the Prime Minister’s Press Club address, Mr Morrison and the Minister for Industrial Relations, the Hon Christian Porter MP have been out in the electorate selling the Government’s new ‘JobMaker’ plan, made up of broad skills industry reforms and a reset of industrial relations policy.
Overall, the reception to the Prime Minister’s plan has been positive, with key business groups and the Unions meeting in the five IR working groups this week.
This is despite concerns raised by the Labor Party with Deputy Opposition Leader, the Hon Richard Marles MP saying ‘the idea that a Liberal government is about to engage in industrial relations reform will send a chill down the spine of every Australian worker.’
Key question – is this an indication of things to come under Prime Minister Scott Morrison?
IR FOCUS APART OF A BROADER ECONOMIC APPROACH
Although the commencement of the consultations indicates the start of Mr Morrison’s reform agenda, we believe that the IR reforms only make up part of the Government’s broader agenda – ensuring Australia’s sovereignty and resiliency in the event of another pandemic or disaster.
While Mr Morrison was quick to reassure that Australia would not retreat from the international trade stage, the priorities of the Government clearly show a renewed approach to ensure that Australia has the necessary skills and industrial capability to onshore key parts of the supply chain.
In addition, the ongoing tensions between Australia and China may further necessitate this approach, with many key parts of major supply chains for Australian goods located within China.
For business and industry, it is worth noting that this ‘Australia-first’ approach to supply chains and manufacturing may be replicated on a larger scale across the economy. There will likely be a continued preference for Australian-focused reforms across the economy and stakeholders looking to engage with Government should be ready to showcase how any proposed reforms provide economic benefits for the economy as well as deliver for Australia.