Flat White

Was Bennelong Kristina Keneally’s second choice?

26 November 2017

1:37 PM

26 November 2017

1:37 PM

Voters in Bennelong who need to front up to the polls once again may be surprised – and perhaps unimpressed – to learn that Kristina Keneally, Labor’s candidate for the seat may consider them second-best, after Canberra.

Keneally, former NSW State premier, was being considered by the powerful ACT Labor powerbrokers to contest Canberra’s proposed new third federal seat, but it appears she made her decision to run in Bennelong before they were ready to announce their candidate, according to The Canberra Times.

Keneally was planning a Canberra move to present a daily Sky News program from Parliament House (currently she is on leave from the Murdoch-owned media platform while she contests Bennelong). Those plans seem to have been temporarily shelved when she announced she would challenge John Alexander the incumbent.

The first proposals for names and boundaries for the new third federal electorate in the ACT will be announced tomorrow, Monday, with the final details of the redistribution published in July 2018. The new seat is expected to be hotly contested within Labor ranks, since, under Labor’s gender-equity rules, equal representation must be given to women, and the Right faction’s Gai Brodtmann and the unaligned Andrew Leigh currently hold the two existing seats.

Among possible ACT contenders are Bill Shorten’s economic adviser Thomas McMahon; Taimus Werner-Gibbings, factionally unaligned, who ran for the ACT’s Legislative Assembly in 2016 and now chief-of-staff to Senator Lisa Singh and Jacob Ingram, from the office of Chief Minister Andrew Barr, who, like Brodtmann, is from the right faction and works as a community liaison officer.

Jacob White, a staffer for Andrew Leigh and organiser of ACT’s marriage equality campaign may also be considering throwing his hat into the ring.

None currently have the established and polished profile of Keneally, but then, neither do they have the whiff of Eddie Obeid and Joe Tripodi that still wafts around Kristina. Keneally’s Sydney office has steadfastly refused to comment on any moves to Canberra.

Still, the voters in Bennelong may feel justified in feeling somewhat miffed.

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