Mr Whiteley performed credibly but voters veered from the major parties, says Professor Richard Herr. (ABC News: Ellen Coulter)
Tasmanian Liberal Party members have called for fresh faces and more women when the party preselects candidates for the next federal election after veteran Brett Whiteley failed to reclaim the north-west electorate of Braddon in Saturday’s by-election.
Mr Whiteley, who was ousted as Braddon MP by Labor’s Justine Keay in 2016 has not ruled out seeking preselection for the next federal contest.
Sue Hickey, Liberal speaker in the Tasmanian Parliament, said the major parties need to reconsider how they pre-select candidates.
“People are a little tired of recycled candidates, they want something new, a new offering, and I think this was an opportunity that might have been missed,” she said.
Ms Hickey also wanted to see more women pre-selected at the federal level by the Liberal Party.
Sally Chandler, a Liberal Senate candidate at the 2013 election, said there had not been a Tasmanian Liberal woman in the House of Representatives since Dame Enid Lyons, who retired in 1951.
“The onus is upon me, just as much as it’s on any member of the Liberal Party to put forward female candidates for preselection for the House of Representatives and also preselection for the Senate,” she said.
“Every member has a responsibility just as the state officials have a responsibility — it’s up to all of us.”
Tasmanian Liberal Party president Geoff Page said on Facebook the party executive would take stock of the result and conceded many voters were unhappy with the major parties.
But in a statement to the ABC, he defended Mr Whiteley’s performance.
“The final two party-preferred result was by far the best for the Government of all three by-elections contested nationwide and saw virtually no swing against the Government, compared to an average swing of around five per cent over the past 100 years for similar by-elections.”
‘Garland could win a state seat’, says electoral analyst
If Craig Garaland stood at the state election he would come close to winning a seat, says Professor Herr. (ABC News: Matt Roberts)
University of Tasmania electoral analyst Dr Kevin Bonham said the seemingly safe choice of Brett Whiteley had backfired on the Liberal party in the by-election.
“Voters are looking for something other than safe choices. They want something interesting. They don’t want to have the same things thrown to them over and over,” he said.
Dr Bonham said although Mr Whiteley had an existing supporter base, he was not popular enough among the general public.
“I saw comments saying that the political volunteers on booths were saying vote for Malcolm Turnbull,” he said.
“Now, if you’re not telling people to vote for the local candidate you’ve got a problem.”
Professor Richard Herr, also with the University of Tasmania, said Mr Whiteley performed credibly but the strong vote for Independent candidate Craig Garland showed many voters were unenthusiastic about the major parties and their candidates.
“This has been going on in Australia for nearly a generation now,” he said.
“The vote for minor parties increasing, particularly in the Senate, but across the board and this was another person who stood up and said, ‘I’m not like the rest, vote for me’ and did very well,”
Professor Herr said Mr Garland might be encouraged to contest the next state election.
“If he stood at the state election he would be … very close to winning a seat,” he said.