I hope to write a more detailed post later, but I just wanted to jot down a few quick thoughts here, on reading the news of the OBA having ‘elected’ their Leader, Deputy Leader and Chair.
The three candidates ran unopposed for their respective positions.
No one challenged Mr Dunkley for Leader. No one challenged Mr Bob Richards for Deputy Leader. No one challenged Ms Woolridge for Chair.
These were elections in name only. In reality they were essentially coronations.
Without having a challenge for the positions, the candidates have not been forced to explain why they should hold those positions.
Far from Mr Dunkley’s statement that the OBA has ‘had time for serious introspection and honest, frank discussion’ there’s no evidence of that. The fact that there were no challengers, no alternative ideas, renders this serious introspection and discussion little more than a monologue.
These elections offered the OBA an opportunity to demonstrate the introspection and frank discussion their ‘new’ Leader claims.
There remain plenty of unanswered questions arising from the Jet Gate affair, and the report released by Mr Hollis shortly before his resignation.
These questions have not been addressed – and this ‘election’ provided an opportunity to do just that.
And just with safe seats breeding arrogance and complacency for their holders, with no challenges for these positions the newly crowned are prone to complacency and arrogance in their comfort of their elevation.
Having challengers in elections is not a sign of division within a party, rather it is a sign of a healthy democracy and provides the winner with legitimacy.
A Compromised Chair
Some time ago, in reaction to the acting Chair of Ms Susan Jackson, I pointed out that this acting Chair is compromised by her also being an MP, and as such effectively serving two masters – and as a result being compromised.
The role of Chair is supposed to be to represent the wider membership of the Party, and to help try and balance the competing interests of the wider membership and the parliamentary caucus.
The current situation is actually much worse than the compromised position of Ms Jackson as acting Chair.
As a Senator, Ms Woolridge serves at the pleasure of the Premier, her Party Leader.
Ms Woolridge is now at risk of being effectively fired as Senator should she, wearing her Chair hat, act in a way contrary to the interest of the Premier/Leader.
Ms Jackson could not be ‘fired’ as an MP by the Premier/Leader. She could instead be simply denied promotion to a Ministerial position.
I’d originally drafted a post, but never finished it, where I analysed the OBA’s current constitution and pointed out some necessary reforms, primarily to remove such risks of compromised positions like we see in their current Chair.
Mr Hollis was, I think we can mostly agree, a generally autonomous Chair. This was questionable under Ms Jackson, and is undeniable under Ms Woolridge as long as she remains a Senator.
Do the Shuffle?
With the formal elevation of Mr Dunkley to official (and not acting) Leader, and thus Premier, I expect a Cabinet shuffle, or, at the very least, a shake up to the Senate.
As noted above, in order to ensure the integrity of the OBA Chair, Ms Woolridge should be relieved of her Senate seat.
Additionally, with all due respect to Mr Brangman, I believe he is perhaps the most likely to be at risk of being dropped as a Senator. His recent appointment with Morgan’s Point has helped bring the OBA into disrepute, or, at the very least, provided yet another distraction for them that could easily have been avoided.
Mr Fahy too has been the source of much controversy, however I think his position is secure, at least as a Senator. Whether he changes ministries in a shuffle, I don’t know.
Mr Baron I think is secure too, despite his own recent controversy.
I’m not sure about Ms Swan. While she certainly has potential, she’s been almost a non-presence in the Senate and in politics in general, despite the odd PR bit. I give her kudos for trying to highlight some causes, such as the closure of the Centre Against Abuse’s safe house last week. I just don’t think she’s made the impact she could have to date, and this makes her vulnerable in any Senate switch-up.
At a minimum I think we’ll see at least one Senator changed. At a maximum I think we’d see three Senators changed.
Whether they’ll be replaced by the unsuccessful 2012 OBA candidates remains an open question – there’s a few there which I think the OBA would likely want to develop in preparation for the next election (I’m thinking Nick Kempe and Andrew Simmons in particular).