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Mediocre showing for Joy Burch in ACT Labor preselection

Joy Burch won only eight first preference votes in Labor preselections, a mediocre showing interpreted by some in the party as a message to the trouble-prone Education Minister.

It also emerged yesterday that party deputy leader Simon Corbell has resigned from the left faction in the aftermath of a preselection debacle that resulted in his decision to resign from politics.

In Ms Burch's Tuggeranong seat, newcomer Karl Maftoum won the right-wing vote by a big margin, with 22 first-preference votes. Mr Maftoum, a public servant and former candidate, found himself offside with the party earlier year when he was conducting unauthorised polling through his polling company Greasy Poll.

Planning Minister Mick Gentleman also won a solid vote, with the left's support behind him as their No. 1 candidate.

Ms Burch was elected in third spot and Angie Drake in fourth. While some said it was a message to Ms Burch that not everyone is happy with her performance, others suggested it was simply about getting as many right candidates through as possible, with Ms Burch more likely to get preferences from other factions than Mr Maftoum. There were three women in the Tuggeranong race and party affirmative action rules guarantee two of them a place. 

About 600 Labor Party members have voted over the past week to choose 25 candidates for the 2016 election – five candidates in each of five electorates. Votes were counted on Saturday night, although will not be declared officially and announced till after Monday night.


In the Woden-Weston seat of Murrumbidgee, the most closely contested of the seats, high-profile newcomer Brianna Heseltine, the face of Mr Fluffy families, missed a spot on Labor's ticket, according to party insiders.

The right's Chris Steel, who works for Early Childhood Australia, won most votes, with Mark Kulasingham, a former right-wing, now unaligned, candidate with left-wing support, coming in second spot.

Also making the cut were Rebecca Cody (left), Jennifer Newman (right) and economist and former political staffer for right federal heavyweights Brendan Long (right).

The strong right-wing vote in the seat is a telling result for Mr Corbell, who was dumped to third place on the left's ticket, prompting his decision not to stand. The fact that the left only succeeded in having one of its two candidates elected might suggest the membership was not happy about the machinations of the left faction and the dumping of Mr Corbell. It also suggests that if Mr Corbell had stayed in the race, he wouldn't have made it without party intervention to change the left ticket.

In Chief Minister Andrew Barr's central seat, Kurrajong, Mr Barr was elected first with nearly 70 votes, according to party sources. Close behind was the left's Joshua Ceramidas.

In Gungahlin, the right's Jayson Hinder, chairman of the Bendigo Community Bank, and Michael Pettersson​, former Young Labor president, won most votes. Public servant and Indian community leader Deepak Raj Gupta scraped in, beating Thomas McMahon by the thinnest of margins. Mr Hinder might well enter the ACT Parliament before the next election if Mary Porter resigns early on a countback of votes from the last election.

In the Belconnen seat of Ginninderra, the left's Yvette Berry was elected first, followed by public servant and former political staffer Kim Fischer (unaligned), Belconnen Community Council chairwoman  Tara Cheyne (right), and United Church minister Gordon Ramsay (unaligned). Labor backbencher Chris Bourke took the final spot on the ticket.

Overall, the right polled strongest, winning 10 of the 25 spots. The right had 14 candidates. The left had 10 candidates and won eight spots. The unaligned group had 11 candidates and won seven spots on Labor's ticket. The chief message from those results is probably that belonging to a faction pays off.

Labor's candidates for 2016 and the contenders who missed out:

KURRAJONG (central): Successful: Andrew Barr (R), Joshua Ceramidas (L), Rachel Stephen-Smith (L). Leah Dwyer (L), Richard Niven (U). Unsuccessful: Vanessa Attridge (R).

BRINDABELLA (Tuggeranong): Successful: Karl Maftoum (R), Mick Gentleman (L), Joy Burch (R), Angie Drake (L), Taimus Werner-Gibbings (U). Unsuccessful: Tracey Pulli (R).

GINNINDERRA (Belconnen): Successful: Yvette Berry (L), Kim Fischer (U), Tara Cheyne (R), Gordon Ramsay (U). Chris Bourke (U).  Unsuccessful: Sue Ducker (L).

MURRUMBIDGEE (Woden-Weston): Successful: Chris Steel (R). Mark Kulasingham (U), Rebecca Cody (L), Jennifer Newman (R), Brendan Long (R). Unsuccessful: Bernard Philbrick (R), John Sherborne (U), Jo Chivers (L), Brianna Heseltine (U).

YERRABI (Gungahlin): Successful: Jayson Hinder (R), Michael Pettersson (R), Deepak Raj Gupta (U), Meegan Fitzharris (R), Suzanne Orr (L). Unsuccessful: Richard Fox (R), Thomas McMahon (U), David Wedgwood (U).