Update 4.25pm: Brendan Nelson has told Sky News’s PM Agenda: “It has become increasingly clear to me that Bradfield needs an energetic new advocate and representative sooner rather than later.” He would not elaborate on his own plans for the future.

At 2pm Brendan Nelson will confirm he has not just left Malcolm Turnbull with an unwanted by-election, he has also potentially left the NSW Liberal Party with a ding dong battle it probably doesn’t need.

King Arthur, the hope of the Liberal Party

The list of potential candidates for pre-selection for the safe seat of Bradfield that Nelson is about to vacate is long, and each of the blokes being touted as likely suspects seems to have a different support base behind him.

Here’s a rudimentary form guide for the Bradfield Stakes. I suggest any punters hedge their bets.

Arthur Sinodinos: John Howard’s former chief-of-staff is looked upon in the Liberal party as some sort of saving grace. Not only is his political nous unquestioned, his economic credentials and all round humanity are considered very highly by all those who know him. The Australian’s website has just run quotes from a Liberal insider saying: “If Arthur wants the seat, he’s got it. If he doesn’t run, then it’s an open race.” Other’s are saying, however, there’s no certainty of this. And Sinodinos has got a lot to give up if he chooses to serve the people of Bradfield, indcluding an incredibly high-paid job at the NAB and a lovely house in the Eastern Suburbs, which word is, his wife is not keen to vacate.

Simon Berger:
Berger is Nelson’s man. He’s been telling anyone who’ll listen he wants to walk in his bosses shoes. The 34-year-old has worked for the former Defence Minister since 2006 and has been diligently tending his patch. If Sinodinos enters the race, however, he’s likely to have his heart broken.

Tom Switzer: The loquacious former Opinion Editor of The Australian has long been touted as a potential candidate but finds himself facing an “anyone but Tom” camp, which is said to include Malcolm Turnbull.

Julian Leeser: The academic, intellectual head of the Liberal Party think tank, the Menzies Research Centre is said to be courting the backing of none other than the former PM John Howard. He’s one bright spark but the verdict on his political appeal is still out.

Tony Chappel: Finance wizz Chappel has had his name in the mix for Philip Ruddock’s seat of Berowra for ages but is believed to be running out of patience. He could take a crack at Bradfield instead.

John Hart: The CEO of the Restaurant and Caterers has been a big fundraiser for Joe Hockey and might be about to call in some favours.

Adrienne Ryan: The Oz has also named the former Ku-ring-gai mayor, but her name has come up in these discussions so many times it’s like there’s a default button on the keyboard.

Oh, this should be fun.

Most commented


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    • Chris says:

      02:03pm | 25/08/09

      And the pre-selectors of the seat? any say for them? the ‘local issues’ dare I mention them.. - nope - just ‘the safe seat of Bradfield’ routine again and candidates from all over town / nation (like Dr Nelson of Tasmania/SA/ALP).

      Former MP David Connelly’s situation all over again, who care’s what people INSIDE Bradfield think.

      (Disclaimer: Not a Bradfield elector - but was).

    • AJ says:

      02:58pm | 25/08/09

      Here’s a dangerous suggestion:  Have the Libs follow the example of the Tories in England and hold an open primary.  Because all this backroom factionalism is a big bucket of stupid that contributes nothing to democracy.

    • Shane From Melbourne says:

      04:46pm | 25/08/09

      Here’s another suggestion: that all politicians who quit their position mid term pay for the resulting by election. Why should the tax payer fork out more money to elect someone else to replace a politician who elected for their FULL term? Another possibility is that all politicians post a personal bond of say $10,000 that is forfeited if they don’t serve their FULL term.

    • David says:

      05:32pm | 25/08/09

      @Shane from Melbourne. That is a ridiculous claim. You can’t bind people like that. Byelections happen all the time for a wide range of reasons. If you force someone to stay in the seat when they don’t want to be there anymore, how productive do you think they are going to be and how is that to the benefit of their constituents.

      I would hazard a guess that you would likely form the view that a lazy, unproductive Member of Parliament should “get out of the way” and let someone else have the job if they are no longer interested.

      Do you think that when a Prime Minister calls an election early they should personally pay the difference in costs? Or should we actually charge the Governor General because ultimately, the GG has to approve?

      If we didn’t want the possibility of byelections, we wouldn’t have legislated to allow them.

      Brendan Nelson has been a loyal representative for the people of Bradfield for the past 13 and a half years. If he chooses to retire mid-term, then that is his right and frankly, I think a privilege he has earned. And this goes for any MP from all sides of politics.

    • Rich says:

      06:48pm | 25/08/09

      @Shane, So you’re suggesting that people should have to pay to quit their jobs?


    • Julie Coker-Godson says:

      08:06pm | 25/08/09

      Personally I don’t blame Dr Nelson for leaving early.  My feeling is that he has been treated badly by his Liberal fellows so why should he stay; I wouldn’t.

    • Shane From Melbourne says:

      08:17pm | 25/08/09

      @ David- what a load of crap. When you put yourself forward to be elected, you are saying that you will represent your electorate for a full term. What about the electorate, don’t they have any right to be represented by the person they elected for the full term? Politicians bleat on about their rights and privileges but say darn little about their responsibilities. One of them is to serve the full term.
      In the business world, it’s called a breach of contract.

    • iansand says:

      08:26pm | 25/08/09

      Better idea - give the seat to whomever came second in the last election.  That will concentrate their minds.

      The big question is whether Labor will run a candidate.  My bet is no.  The would be on a hiding to nothing.  Let the Greens poach votes from the Liberals.  Turdbull gets the opprobrium for a reduced vote, and the Greens don’t have a prayer of winning.

    • Bruce says:

      09:45pm | 25/08/09

      Agree David 5.32.. Whilst a byelection is not the ideal situation. This is the price and the freedom of our great political system. I believe many voters do not understand or care how good our system is.

    • Nik says:

      11:33am | 26/08/09

      Interesting.  No women in the running for the Lib’s safest seat.  How surpising!

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