Transcript - ABC AM (Election Readiness)




SUBJECT: Election readiness.

KIM LANDERS: Well of course all of this political instability is fuelling speculation about whether or not there's going to be a snap election. But are the parties ready for one? Labor says it is, and it's chosen most of its candidates. But in Western Australia in particular, the Liberal Party is yet to preselect a single candidate for an ALP-held seat. And some in the party say they just don't have the money or the manpower to fight the Labor machine. Eliza Borrello reports.

ELIZA BORRELLO: It's mid-afternoon and Perth butcher Zane Hendry is getting ready for the after-work rush. He lives and works in the electorate of Stirling, a seat held by Cabinet Minister Michael Keenan, who is a close friend of Petter Dutton's and backed him in Tuesday's leadership spill. [To Hendry] What do you make of what's going on in Canberra at the moment?

ZANE HENDRY: It's turned into a bit of a popularity contest, I think. I don't really agree with a whole lot of change too often.

BORRELLO: Next door, another Stirling voter, Dot, is getting a haircut.

DOT: It sort of upsets me, when it was all going terrifically smoothly, particularly after this Joyce episode, I thought, "great, it's going to be smoothing out now." And Malcolm Turnbull, I feel sad, but I feel he's getting what was done to him — what he did to Tony Abbott. It's probably like a payback thing, so I'm not feeling sorry for him as much as I'd like to.

BORRELLO: If Peter Dutton did become Prime Minister, some in the WA Liberal Party believe it would be easier to raise money from its conservative base. Nick Greiner, the party's federal president, dismisses the suggestion, but concedes the party could do with more cash.

NICK GREINER: I think another person you know would call it fake news. It is true that the Western Australian Liberal Party has been through a hard time in the year or so after they lost state government. Of course they have been. But, as I say, the federal fundraising as recently as ten days ago was really tremendously successful.

BORRELLO: Does the Liberal Party struggle to get people to man booths these days?

GREINER: We do not have the benefit of union members. We don't have the benefit of hundreds of GetUp-type people. 

BORRELLO: In WA, the Liberals are yet to preselect a single candidate for a Labor-held seat. Nick Greiner again.

GREINER: The party is presently in the process of talking to their local branches. We will have them in the next month or two.

BORRELLO: In contrast, the ALP's president-elect, Wayne Swan, says most preselections have been done. 

WAYNE SWAN, MEMBER FOR LILLEY: There are a couple of outstanding electorates, but by and large, we've preselected right across the country.

BORRELLO: But he's playing down his party's financial readiness.

SWAN: No, we're not flush with funds. We don't have access to the great piles of cash that pour into the Liberal Party. 

BORRELLO: Nick Greiner, the president of the Liberal Party, says that Labor has the benefit of union officials out campaigning for you, GetUp, which they say is just a front for Labor and the Greens – is that a fair criticism?

SWAN: No. We are a party that has got a very significant membership right around the country. Yes we do have the assistance of trade unions, and many of those are members of the Labor Party. But we understand that it's only people power that can combat the power of big money.

BORRELLO: What about GetUp, though? The AEC's investigating exactly that – whether GetUp's activities have benefited Labor and/or the Greens.

SWAN: I certainly don't accept that in any way we are involved in joint operations with GetUp. They do what they must do in the interests of their members, and we do what we must do in the interests of the people of Australia. 

BORRELLO: Peter Dutton's backers argue that he'd improve the Coalition's electoral fortunes in his home state of Queensland. If he does become leader, Wayne Swan's promising him a very local fight. 

LANDERS: Eliza Borrello reporting.



Authorised by Noah Carroll, ALP, Canberra