• Sat. Oct 29th, 2022

Preselection vote leaves the long-serving powerbroker in hard-to-win third place at the next federal election

May 8, 2021

The influential Tasmanian conservative powerbroker Eric Abetz has been demoted to third place on the Liberal partys Tasmanian Senate ticket in a shock preselection vote.
It could signal the end of Abetzs almost three-decade Senate career, given that third place on the ticket is difficult to win.
Abetz lost votes to outer ministry Senate colleague Jonno Duniam in first place, and senator Wendy Askew in second.
It was widely speculated that Abetz and Duniam would take the top two positions at the next federal election, with Askew in third.
The Tasmanian electoral analyst Kevin Bonham said Abetzs Senate seat was not unwinnable at the next poll, but he was in a risky position.
Ever since he got into the Senate hes been top of the ticket, Bonham said. Theres never been any direct test of his popularity and now he has to actually fight for votes for the party as well as himself.
Bonham said the considerations that could have swayed the 67 rank-and-file members who cast votes in the preselection were that Abetz has long been a politically controversial figure, that he is close to retirement age and that it would not have looked good to demote a woman to third place.
Duniam, 38, entered the Senate in 2019. He is seen as an up-and-comer in the Liberal party and is technically more senior than Abetz because of the outer ministry position he currently holds as assistant minister for forestry, fisheries and industry development.
Bonham said Duniam was a conservative Liberal and had the appeal of youth and would not detract from the partys electoral appeal.
Askew was elected to the Senate in 2016 and was chair of the Senates community affairs legislation committee.