Thursday, May 3, 2012

The unholy fight for Churchlands (part 1)

As Gary Adshead and Gareth Parker wrote in The West Australian newspaper on Tuesday and today, the Liberal pre-selection process for the much coveted seat of Churchlands has taken some interesting turns.

They were insightful articles but I thought I might be able to put just a bit more meat on the bone for QBF readers.

As we know from Messrs Adshead and Parker, the consequence of delaying the pre-selection so the Premier’s preferred candidate Kate Lamont could join the party and nominate caused two other changes in the line-up. The current Chief of Staff to Minister Peter Collier withdrew his nomination and long-time Party member and - not to put too finer point on it, female - Jane Timmermanis elected to join the contest.

The reference to gender isn’t subtle but sadly, it’s important. I really wish it wasn’t a factor, but as the Premier said on ABC radio yesterday, the WA Parliamentary Liberal Party desperately needs more women and that is why he asked the Party to “bend the rules” to facilitate the late nomination of Kate Lamont. The other reason is of course, whoever wins the Liberal pre-selection will have a much smoother ride if they come with the blessing of pro-women-in-Parliament and close friend of Premier Barnett, outgoing Minister Liz Constable.

Just as an aside, I’m all for equal rights. But my big point here is being elected to Parliament isn’t a right – it’s a privilege. Any attempt to artificially bias the gender balance is in my mind, a corruption of our democratic process. If there aren’t enough women who actually want to stand for so-called “safe” seats like Churchlands, I suggest bending rules and making promises to a celebrity non-member might go someway toward addressing the symptom but only adds to the underlying cause. A much more sustainable solution for the Premier, and one that I suggest would attract bipartisan support, would to be address the family-unfriendly nature of the big house on the hill, but that's fodder for another post on another day.

The saddest thing about what is happening in the pre-selection for Churchlands is that no one will ever be sure that the person who eventually secures the Party’s endorsement did so because they were the best person for the job or if their 'winning edge' was merely their lack of penis. Worse still, other solid potential candidates, such as Mr Bruce Butcher, will probably be asked to withdraw his nomination in the next few days and neither the Liberal Party nor Parliament will ever get a chance to benefit from his unique and valuable skillset.

Anyway, let's move on and just accept that gender is a prerequisite for Liberal pre-selection in Churchlands this time around. The big question - will it be the high-profile, new member and strong-willed businesswoman Kate Lamont or the very long-term, loyal party member and partner of the head of the liberal policy committee, Jane Timmermanis?

My guess is Kate Lamont, but the path the Party will take to eventually arrive at that decision will be bloody and open a number of old, very tender wounds.

Part two soon - gotta go to an antenatal class.


  1. QBF,
    The Churchlands preselection hasn't been delayed - it was extended - by a vote of the State Council of the Liberal Party (WA Division). I was there and I voted to extend the period.
    There is a field of multiple candidates who are individually well credentialed. There will still be a selection committee and their recommendation will have to be endorsed by State Council. The process will be followed as per the party constitution.
    People need to chill out and put this in perspective. This is being portrayed as some kind of battle royale - internally, by those who should know better, and externally, by those who don't know at all.
    No wound need be re-opened.

  2. Hi Anon,

    Thanks for staying cordial, but you haven't seen what's coming...

    See Part 2 for a more full explanation: