If the counting trend continues, Labor’s Kristy McBain will win the Eden-Monaro by-election by a mere handful of votes. Just hundreds, perhaps even just tens.
If so, McBain will cross the line courtesy of the bulk of Shooters and Fishers party preferences, something that is counterintuitive, but at least was expected. But she will also benefit from one in five preferences from the National party candidate, Trevor Hicks?
Why? Because the NSW Nationals leader and deputy premier, John Barilaro, endorsed McBain. He told Sky News that she was a ‘very, very good candidate’, local, well-liked and respected. So much did McBain appreciate his kind words that her campaign happily tweeted them the day before the by-election.
Add to that Barilaro’s admission he preferenced Labor’s Mike Kelly ahead of Liberal Fiona Kotvojs in 2019 and dodged questions about whether he would do it again on Saturday, combined with refusing to rule out his own tilt at Eden-Monaro in the next general election, all added up to a message of if you can’t vote 1 Labor at least vote 2.
In Barilaro’s world (in Latin, Barra Mundi), it seems that the only candidate who matters on Saturday was the one who wasn’t on the ballot, John Barilaro.
The Coalition meant nothing to him. Being part of a team meant nothing to him.. The community meant nothing to him. The prospect of crippling Labor leader Anthony Albanese’s leadership by taking an almost unprecedented seat from the Opposition meant nothing to him.
All that mattered, it appears, was giving Barilaro a clear run next time around.
In the wake of his treachery, Barilaro must not be rewarded. His federal ambitions must be ended forever. PM Scott Morrison can’t say much publicly, but behind the scenes, he must make it clear that Barilaro will never be welcome in the Coalition party room in Canberra, that if he did happen to get there he could expect no preferment or promotion, and that at any rate he would not get Liberal second preferences if he still dared to try, even if it guaranteed McBain’s re-election.
Fiona Kotvojs did a sterling job for the Liberals – and the Coalition – in Eden-Monaro. She may yet scrape over the line as the final votes are tallied. When the average by-election swing is nearly four per cent against the government of the day, Kotvojs achieved both primary and two-party preferred swings to her. Albanese virtually camped in the electorate for weeks yet only held it (as it appears) because of National preferences and Barilaro’s selfish vanity project.
The result is great for a government in full long-term crisis mode, especially given Eden-Monaro as bushfire ground zero has, even more than most federal seats, good reason to be fearful, frustrated and unhappy.
As far as Liberals and Coalitionist Nationals go, if McBain’s ALP win is confirmed, they should put a political curse on John Barilaro. May the fleas of a thousand camels’ armpits bite him. May his obituary be written in weasel’s piss. But most of all, may his vanity and selfish ambition never be rewarded.
Barilaro may not care about the criticism from his own side he so richly deserves. But the fact remains that Barra Mundi is toxic for the Coalition of which he notionally is a part.
Illustration: John Barilaro/Facebook.
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