SUPER SATURDAY: Why today's vote is a game changer

 

THE Super Saturday by-elections this weekend could be a turning point for leaders Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten.

Much of the pressure has been on the Opposition Leader, who faces historic humiliation and possibly a leadership challenge if Labor fails to win back its seats, but the poll could also have interesting ramifications for the Prime Minister.

Mr Turnbull has been on the backfoot ever since he won the last federal election by just one seat and has been haunted by polls that saw him surpass the "30 Newspolls" measure used as justification to oust former leader Tony Abbott.

So far all Mr Turnbull's best efforts to turn around the numbers have failed but if the coalition manages to snap up a seat in the by-elections this weekend, it could finally change the negative narrative that has stalked his prime ministership.

A win would see the coalition increase the number of seats it holds in parliament and some have speculated it could prompt Mr Turnbull go to an election sooner rather than later, although the PM has said he would not bring on a poll before next year.

If Mr Shorten manages to hang on as leader, which some believe is likely even if he does face a challenge, his authority is likely to be damaged and this would put Mr Turnbull in a good position at the next election.

Even if Labor does win back the hotly contested seats of Longman and Braddon, it could still be seen as an endorsement of the PM if the vote is close.

As Mr Turnbull told ABC radio on Friday: "In reality Labor should be way ahead in both seats."

By-elections have historically been used by voters to lodge a protest vote against the government of the day. The last time a government won an opposition-held seat in a by-election was 98 years ago when the Labor candidate Hugh Mahon was accused of treason after speaking at an anti-British rally.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (left) speaks to Australian Opposition Leader Bill Shorten. Picture: Lukas Coch/AAP
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (left) speaks to Australian Opposition Leader Bill Shorten. Picture: Lukas Coch/AAP

If Labor does lose one of its seats Mr Shorten's leadership would be under scrutiny and potential challenger Anthony Albanese appears to be waiting in the wings.

Mr Albanese said he would not challenge Mr Shorten if there was a by-election loss but has refused to say whether he would turn down the opportunity to lead if asked by colleagues.

"It's not happening," he told the Channel 9 on Friday.

"The party is not focused on internals."

However, Mr Albanese wouldn't reject suggestions he could lead Labor into the next election, only saying "what I will be is part of the Labor team".

Mr Turnbull has suggested the results of the five by-elections on Saturday will be a test of leadership. One thing is clear - the result could make or break one of them.

 

THE FIVE SEATS IN PLAY

Longman

• By-election triggered by May resignation of Labor's Susan Lamb over her dual British citizenship.

• Longman is just north of Brisbane, with major centres including Caboolture

• Held by Lamb with a 0.8 per cent margin.

• Lamb is standing again, but faces a tough challenge from Liberal National Party candidate Trevor "Big Trev" Ruthenberg.

• Ruthenberg's campaign was derailed over his misrepresentation of a military medal, for which he apologised.

• Preferences from One Nation's Matthew Stephen will be crucial.

• Expecting strong vote for minor parties and independents.

• Eleven candidates have nominated.

• Key issues: Health, penalty rates and jobs.

LNP candidate for Longman Trevor Ruthenberg (left), One Nation candidate Matthew Stephen and Labor candidate Susan Lamb. Picture: Mick Tsikas/AAP
LNP candidate for Longman Trevor Ruthenberg (left), One Nation candidate Matthew Stephen and Labor candidate Susan Lamb. Picture: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Braddon

• By-election triggered by resignation of Labor's Justine Keay over her dual British citizenship.

• Held by Keay with a 2.2 per cent margin.

• Braddon is situated in northwestern Tasmania, with major centres including Devonport and Burnie.

• Keay is behind in the polls and betting markets, with former Liberal MP Brett Whiteley on track for a narrow win.

• Eight candidates have nominated.

• Bill Shorten and Malcolm Turnbull have campaigned heavily in the seat.

• Key issues: Health, job creation and fishing.

Graphic showing YouGov polling results for the Braddon by-election, with one week to go. Brett Whiteley, Justine Keay, Craig Garland, Jarrod Edwards
Graphic showing YouGov polling results for the Braddon by-election, with one week to go. Brett Whiteley, Justine Keay, Craig Garland, Jarrod Edwards

Mayo

• By-election triggered by May resignation of Centre Alliance's Rebekha Sharkie over her dual British citizenship.

• Held by Sharkie with a five per cent margin.

• Mayo takes in the Adelaide Hills through to Kangaroo Island.

• Sharkie is expected to retain the seat, but faces a challenge from the Liberals' Georgina Downer, daughter of former federal minister Alexander Downer.

• If elected Downer will be the fourth generation of her family to serve in federal Parliament.

• Seven candidates have nominated, including Labor's Reg Coutts.

• GetUp has run a public campaign linking Downer to cuts to the ABC. The Liberals have countered saying voting for Sharkie is the same as voting for Labor.

• Key issues: Health, ABC funding and education.

Mayo candidates Rebekha Sharkie (right) and Georgina Downer at a Mayo by-election pre-polling booth. Picture: Kelly Barnes/AAP
Mayo candidates Rebekha Sharkie (right) and Georgina Downer at a Mayo by-election pre-polling booth. Picture: Kelly Barnes/AAP

Perth

• By-election triggered by May resignation of Labor's Tim Hammond who retired so that he could spend more time with his young family.

• Held by Hammond with a 3.3 per cent margin.

• Perth is based in the central part of the West Australian capital.

• Labor candidate Patrick Gorman, former Kevin Rudd staffer and WA Labor secretary, is expected to win.

• Fifteen candidates have nominated, but no Liberal candidate standing.

• Key issues: Education, transport, health, WA's GST share.

Labor's candidate for Perth Patrick Gorman (left) with Anthony Albanese. Picture: Tony McDonough/AAP
Labor's candidate for Perth Patrick Gorman (left) with Anthony Albanese. Picture: Tony McDonough/AAP

Fremantle

• By-election triggered by May resignation of Labor's Josh Wilson over his dual British citizenship.

• Held by Wilson with a 7.5 per cent margin.

• Fremantle is centred on the city, south of Perth.

• Wilson is expected to win, with no Liberal candidate contesting the by-election.

• Seven candidates nominated.

• Key issues: roads, health, WA's GST share.

Josh Wilson (right) with Bill Shorten. Picture: Rebecca Le May/AAP
Josh Wilson (right) with Bill Shorten. Picture: Rebecca Le May/AAP

- With AAP



Welcome grant makes smooth entrance

premium_icon Welcome grant makes smooth entrance

With an eye-catching showground it’s no wonder the little things get missed

Local cancer treatment returns ‘excellent’ results: report

premium_icon Local cancer treatment returns ‘excellent’ results: report

Local patients experiencing ‘excellent’ results, fewer side effects.

Everything you need to know about the new border pass

premium_icon Everything you need to know about the new border pass

Here is everything you need to know about entering Queensland