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Humphries more popular for Senate seat

Gary Humphries is slightly ahead of Zed Seselja in a survey of Canberra voters commissioned by ACT property developers.

The two candidates will face Liberal Party preselectors on Saturday for the right to contest the federal election as the party's lead Senate candidate.

It's obviously been one of the uglier preselections that I've been involved with. 

The phone poll of 800 people was conducted by Taverner Research last week and released to Fairfax Media on Wednesday evening.

While the developers would not be named, they made it clear they favoured having an ACT senator in the front ranks of a Coalition government to protect Canberra and their business interests.

They envisage a big impact on ACT property values if Tony Abbott wins the election and proceeds to cut the bureaucracy and programs.

''The survey was commissioned by a small group of Canberra businessmen who have a deep interest in the economic welfare of the ACT and who are concerned about what might happen in the event of a change of federal government,'' one of the proponents said.

''These businessmen share the view that Senator Humphries, if he is going to be in the ministry, is going to be in a much stronger position to protect the business interests of the ACT than will Mr Seselja who is really going to be a very small fish in a large pond and who doesn't necessarily at this stage have the support of his future fellow colleagues.''

The developer, who said he was not a Liberal Party member, believed Mr Seselja was the frontrunner.

Market researcher Philip Mitchell-Taverner said the survey respondents were asked about their intentions for the Senate vote if the top Liberal candidate was Senator Humphries or Mr Seselja.

''Gary Humphries is preferred to Zed Seselja overall as the Liberal Senate candidate, 46 per cent versus 33 per cent,'' he said.

''Overall, the survey shows that the Liberals should gain a stronger share of the Senate vote with Gary Humphries as their candidate, 38 per cent, than with Zed Seselja, 36 per cent, especially among Liberal voters, 93 per cent against 88 per cent.

''Further, Gary Humphries would win more first or second-preference votes, 43 per cent, than Zed Seselja, 39.''

Asked about the incumbent's performance, 47 per cent of respondents said Senator Humphries was doing a good or excellent job and 9 per cent believed he was doing a poor or very poor job.

Among Liberal voters, 59 per cent rated his performance as excellent or good, and 2 per cent thought he was doing a poor or very poor job.

Mr Mitchell-Taverner said the results also indicated a swing to the Liberals in the ACT this year, in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, of 3 to 5 per cent.

Senator Humphries was forced to defend himself about internal party criticism of his performance as long as three years ago when he was approached by a delegation of party members in 2009 that included Mr Seselja.

Senator Humphries told Fairfax Media he believed he had been ambushed with the details of the delegation being leaked to the media close to the ballot.

It comes just days after Mr Abbott warned against ''ambushes'' in preselection battles and threw his strong support behind Senator Humphries.

Senator Humphries said that after the delegation came to see him, he was promoted to the Coalition front bench as an opposition parliamentary secretary.

"The arguments about me not being sufficiently liberal - an extraordinary claim for someone who has represented the party for 20 years - was obviously debunked by the fact that the federal Liberal leader put me on his frontbench,'' he said.

 

17 comments

  • I wonder is there not some other solution to this bickering, which makes a mockery of the Liberals' claims of being a united party. As with a lot of voters, I refrain from simply following party lines when voting in the Senate, and prefer to number all the boxes myself. So, there's nothing to stop whoever comes in second in the pre-selection from getting out and campaigning hard prior to the election in order to win voters over. There's no law that says being second on the ballot prevents you from being successful.

    I noticed also that Gary Humphries has been boasting that he has the support of Abbott, Hockey and Pyne. Given who will control the purse strings in an Abbott government, I worry about that endorsement, in terms of protection for the ACT. At least Zed Seselja has the local MLAs in his corner, which seems much more comforting to me.

    Commenter
    Ngunnawally
    Location
    Canberra
    Date and time
    February 20, 2013, 10:09AM
    • No disrespect to the local MLA's, but whoever gets into the Senate will need to have the Coalition leadership team listen to them, and they have told the Canberra Liberals membership that they believe Gary Humphries will do a better job. If Zed gets there he risks being sent to the naughty corner for "ambushing" a fellow liberal (to use Tony Abbott's words). To be of any use to the people of Canberra, the Liberal Senator for the ACT needs to be listened to by Abbott, Bishop, Abetz, Brandis, Pyne and others.

      Commenter
      Not so comforted
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      February 21, 2013, 7:16AM
  • It's no secret Gary that you haven't done much for Canberra in your time as a Senator. In fact I'm hard pressed to think what you have done. If you would like to tell the Canberra community what exactly you have done, and no waffly crap please, then let us know. I suspect you are on the way out as the general view of those I talk to, and I'm just your average everyday liberal voter, is that your time is up. Enjoy your taxpayer pension.

    Commenter
    Ian
    Location
    ACT
    Date and time
    February 20, 2013, 10:51AM
    • Exactly what do you expect of your elected representatives, Ian? Cure cancer? Abolish world poverty? Mow your lawn?

      It seems patently evident that both Zed and Gary are pawns in a larger game. Whoever controls the numbers, which appears to be the very same factional oligarchs overseeing the pre-selection process (simultaneously using their position to promote Zed to the membership base, democratic indeed!), has done a deal to kick Zed upstairs to create room for their men/man - whoever they may be...

      Surely no-one seriously believes the Liberals in ACT are controlled by a 29 year old who has none of the experience or profile of long term members and former ministers? Let's also remember that by losing Zed in Tuggeranong the Liberals face the possibility of losing their 8th seat at the next election. There has to be personal motives behind the willingness of the factional bosses to throw away their additional spot down South as well as invite the loss of their Senate seat to the Greens.

      Maybe Smyth or one of the newbies will grow to prefer the air in the North and willingly trade places with Hanson, Coe or whoever else jumps on the leadership merry-go-round before 2016? Or maybe, just maybe, one of these latitudinal legislators of the Southern Liberalism is already all too prescient of such political realities and is merely biding their time...

      Best of luck to you Brendan Nelson...correction, Jeremy Hanson....

      Commenter
      Disraeli
      Location
      ACT
      Date and time
      February 20, 2013, 12:51PM
    • I'd like Ian to name a Federal politian (from either side of the House), Senate or Reps, who has actually achieved something significant for Canberra. Our unique position (of having such a larege number of workers employed by the Federal Government) means that we will never be properly respresented. Zed has been an average local performer, and if preselected and voted in, will still be that same average performer just on a bigger stage with a wider audience. What we need here is a strong independent candidate with no affiliation to any established party, who will be gutsy enough to fight for the best interests of Canberrans.

      Commenter
      Bronte
      Location
      Belconnen
      Date and time
      February 20, 2013, 1:05PM
  • Certainly Gary Humphries does not appear to have done much for Canberra during his time in the Senate, but given Zed's arrogance, massive ego and overweening ambition, is he likely to do any more? He's already ditched the voters of Brindabella and those who worked so hard on his 2012 election campaign and is more likely to focus on furthering his own political ambitions than actively representing the ACT.

    Commenter
    Canberran
    Location
    Chapman
    Date and time
    February 20, 2013, 11:54AM
    • Canberran - that would certainly be a part on my concern. Zed and his young turks do not instil confidence in their ethical standards or in representing other than their own self interests

      Commenter
      Irene
      Date and time
      February 20, 2013, 12:14PM
    • +1. Zed has been an (almost) all-conquering big fish in the small pond of ACT politics. I suspect he is likely to flounder in the Federal ocean!

      Commenter
      Still Awake
      Date and time
      February 20, 2013, 12:25PM
    • Canberran,
      How has Zed deserted the people of Brindabella? If he makes it into the senate, are you suggesting that he cant do as much, if not more for the people of Canberra? And are you suggesting that our three electorates in this territory are "real electorates"? By saying this, you are inferring that the Likes of Katy and Andrew Barr are going to do more for the people of Molongolo than the rest of Canberra. Maybe the people of Molongolo will get better health services that have staff that dont cook the books? Haha what a joke.

      Commenter
      madzac05
      Date and time
      February 20, 2013, 12:55PM
    • @Still Awake, I almost feel sorry for Zed. He has been constantly hounded by the more aggressive and ambitious members of his party, particularly those who claim to be his supporters.

      Zed did a great job of reunifying the party after the expulsion of Mulcahy, as have his key men such as Tio "Mr Bean" Falkner who was the brains behind their campaign strategy and is almost universally well-regarded by the party faithful.

      However, this uneasy truce has rested on the capability of these men to secure government for the Liberals last year. An impossible task even for skilled operators of the likes of Falkner and Zed.

      The gains made by Zed and Falkner at the election last year should have been sufficient to ensure Zed another term as unchallenged leader. Unfortunately evening winning a record number of seats was not sufficient to satiate the ambitious and the envious. In what can only been seen as a turn for the worse, it appears to have been taken as an opportunity for the factions to reassert their power and begin positioning their men to re-take the leadership and organisation control.

      Now Zed is the facing the prospect of duking it out with Gary Humphries for a senate spot that now likely to be taken by the Greens due to the splitting of the Liberal vote. Zed has proved his worth to his party, he deserves far better than the scraps the factions are offering him.

      Commenter
      Disraeli
      Location
      ACT
      Date and time
      February 20, 2013, 1:52PM

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