By-election talk is just hot air

By BELINDA SCOTT

ELECTION analyst Antony Green said yesterday he was not expecting to see a by-election for the State seat of Coffs Harbour.

He said the State Government would not move to expel Andrew Fraser over his altercation with Joe Tripodi on Tuesday night, because the resulting by-election would be fought on the issue of the Pacific Highway, which would mean the NSW government would have put pressure on itself over the issue.

Mr Green, who provides election analysis for ABC television and radio, said it was 88 years since a politician had been expelled from the NSW lower house and only four politicians had been expelled from the Legislative Assembly in the history of the NSW Parliament.

He does not expect Andrew Fraser to become the fifth.

He said while it was true that in three of those four historic cases the politicians in question had been re-elected, he did not have access to the by-election figures so he did not know whether the expelled politicians had increased their majorities.

The most recent case of expulsion was in 1917 and Mr Green said the other three had all taken place before NSW even had strong political parties.

"It has become even more uncommon since party politics solidified, because MPs who have performed in such a way that they have brought the House into disrepute are usually pressed to resign by their own party," he said.

Mr Green quoted the example of former Labor Corrective Services Minister Rex Jackson, who was forced to resign following corruption charges. Mr Jackson stood at a by-election but lost.

"Expulsion has occurred, but a long time ago. It is very much a process of last resort," he said.

Mr Green said he did not think Mr Fraser would be pushed out by his own party, either.

He said he did not notice many calls coming for Mr Fraser to step down, even from his own side of politics, and he did not think the pressure would build in the coming days.,

"It is not in anyone's interest to call a by-election," Mr Green said.

"I suspect in two to three weeks most people will have forgotten the matter."



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