Our man in Bennelong scores the campaign and finds a crowd of winners

[clear] By Jack Sumner September 6, 2013 Eastwood’s Rowe Street Plaza is always busy, lively and a pleasant place to shop or just sit and chill. As a band played, the Bennelong candidates’ support teams were out in force last weekend to win votes with a leaflet, a smile and a balloon. Regardless of who prevails in tomorrow’s election, I am ready to declare my choice of winners and losers in the campaign for John Howard’s old seat in Sydney’s northern suburbs. For me the only loser is John Booth, owner and publisher of local newspaper The Weekly Times, for his partisan support of the Liberal Party and disparagement of […]

Bennelong candidates forum: @preciouspress reports

By Jack Sumner 31 August 2013 Seven of the eight candidates were on stage for a public forum organised by the Northern District Times this week. Missing was DLP candidate Lachlan McCaffrey, who plays rugby for Eastwood and was training in preparation for Shute Shield finals this weekend. His father Simon, the DLP Senate candidate, came of the bench to replace him. Each spoke for four minutes followed by 80 minutes of questions from the floor. The impressions and opinions given below are based on listening twice to each candidate’s introductory presentation and their responses to questions. Lindsay Peters (Greens) strongly advocated his party’s policies on refugees, action on climate change, […]

No Fibs Bennelong reporter @preciouspress counters Paul Sheehan race attack on @jasonyatsenli

By Jack Sumner 29 August 2013 In the Sydney Morning Herald today Paul Sheehan wrote “Labor pulls out race card in bid to win over Chinese“. His flimsy justification for this serious allegation is: “During the 2007 campaign, Labor shamelessly played the race card in Bennelong against Howard, emphasising Rudd’s fluency in Mandarin, his links to China and his Chinese son-­in-­law.” He goes on to allege, “Six years later, Rudd is playing the race card in Bennelong with bare-­knuckled determination.” Sheehan’s sources for this shameless piece appear to be Chinese members of the Liberal Party and his very own right wing prejudice best illustrated by this translation of sections of Labor’s […]

The Greens’ face in Bennelong: @preciouspress interview

By Jack Sumner 15 August 2013 On August 13, Greens candidate Lindsay Peters handed out leaflets at Epping Station before putting in a full day’s work at the software company he co-founded in 1996. In his lounge room that evening, he spoke to me about his commitment to the Greens and the Bennelong campaign. Lindsay said his upbringing and Catholic education had given him a keen sense of social justice and a love of nature. But it was the “shocking behaviour” of John Howard, then prime minister and the member for Bennelong, and the spineless acquiescence of Kim Beazley over the Tampa affair, that tipped him from being a default Labor voter […]

Alexander talks up 24-hour spy cameras in low-crime Bennelong

By Jack Sumner 5 August 2013 The July 10 edition of the local Weekly Times featured Cameras to zoom in on racism, in which federal MP John Alexander proposed that the federal government pay for CCTV cameras on shop awnings in Rowe Street, Eastwood, in the heart of his Bennelong electorate in Sydney’s northern suburbs. Why? “A few months ago a Sydney man, Mr Kim and his Korean aunt were racially abused on a bus” and “—while the crime rate in Eastwood is one of Sydney’s lowest, some crimes involving Korean speakers are not always reported”. On July 31 Mr Alexander’s regular Weekly Times contribution was Tackling local crime. He confirmed […]

Bennelong MP falters on Abbott’s switcheroo as teachers demand more on education policy

By Jack Sumner August 4, 2013 Tony Abbott’s change of heart on Labor’s Gonski reforms for school funding came a tad late for John Alexander, the Liberal MP for John Howard’s old seat of Bennelong in Sydney’s northern suburbs. The former tennis great fronted a “meet-the-candidates” forum organised by the Ryde-Macquarie branch of the NSW Teachers Federation a day before the opposition leader and shadow education minister Christopher Pyne said they’d match Labor’s funding commitment. “We will adopt exactly the same funding envelope as Labor over the forward estimates,” Abbott and Pyne announced. The previous evening, Alexander had lined up with Jason Yat-sen Li (Labor), Dr Lindsay Peters (Greens) and […]

The drama of Bennelong: You couldn’t make it up

By Jack Sumner 28 July 2013 The worldwide popularity of political dramas Borgen, House of Cards and West Wing relies upon discerning audiences relating to their storylines. The plot outlined below would severely test the credulousness of any viewers. A prime minister, dumped by his party after he ended its 11 years in opposition, is reinstated three years later and immediately turns certain electoral defeat into an outside chance of retaining government. A successful Australian businessman living in China with his family for eight years gets a phone call from the PM asking him, in Mandarin, to return to contest a seat held comfortably by the opposition. Within a day, […]

The battle joined in Bennelong: @preciouspress reports

  By Jack Sumner (@preciouspress) 21 July 2013 My July 1 report Will there be a Battle for Bennelong  asked whether the Rudd redux might cause Sam Dastyari and NSW Labor to re-categorise Bennelong as a winnable seat, allocate funds accordingly and insert a candidate with the wherewithal to win. On July 19 the answer came with Jason Yat-sen Li‘s selection as the Labor candidate. Mr Li’s impressive credentials will hearten Labor supporters and should give cause for some concern to the John Alexander campaign team, but his high profile alone will not be enough to win the seat from the well resourced and well known member who holds it. Maxine […]

Bennelong gets complicated: @preciouspress reports

By Jack Sumner 15 July 2013 I am told that since his selection as Labor candidate for Bennelong, Jeff Salvestro-Martin has worked hard on the development of campaign plans. Whatever they are, even his most ardent supporters and certainly the ALP powerbrokers in Sussex Street hadn’t believed they would be successful. Then on 27 June Rudd entered the fray and an almost certain Liberal ‘retain’ became a possible Labor ‘win’. But was a win in Bennelong possible with a low profile candidate who had no real campaign experience? Most Labor supporters thought not and hoped, but didn’t seriously believe, that the endorsed candidate would be replaced. On 12 June, Heath Aston reported Labor […]

Bennelong: Preliminary skirmishing

By Jack Sumner July 8 2013 Murat owns Café Centro, which sits in the middle of Eastwood Plaza at the heart of the Bennelong electorate. As he made my long black this morning, I asked whether he’d seen much political activity in and around his shop. His reply – “no nothing yet”- indicated to me that the 2013 battle for Bennelong has not yet been seriously joined. There has, however, been some preliminary skirmishing. Confirmation that the sitting member is listening was dropped in our letterbox earlier in the week with pictures of John Alexander being told: Our power bills have gone through the roof. With all these new taxes, […]