News National No date set for byelections, but they’re off and running in the Super Saturday stakes

No date set for byelections, but they’re off and running in the Super Saturday stakes

Promoting Labor's health policies will see Bill Shorten visiting plenty of clinics and hospitals, as he did on Friday in Sydney. Photo: AAP/Lucas Coch
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Early election fever has gripped both major parties ahead of a string of byelections to be held across the country as soon as July.

Wednesday’s High Court ruling against Labor senator Katy Gallagher triggered a ‘Super Saturday’ of byelections after four MPs resigned in response hours later.

“The Turnbull Government is building a stronger economy,” Treasurer Scott Morrison said in Melbourne, spruiking the Coalition’s post-budget message.

“A stronger economy is what guarantees everything else.”

Labor MPs Justine Keay, Susan Lamb and Josh Wilson as well as crossbench MP Rebekha Sharkie will all re-contest their seats in the upcoming byelections.

The citizenship status of the four MPs shared similar doubts to those of Ms Gallagher when they nominated to run for parliament.

West Australian Labor MP Tim Hammond resigned for family reasons, with WA Labor State secretary Patrick Gorman likely to run instead.

Despite Labor holding only a slim margin of 3.3 per cent in Perth, the Liberals ruled out running any candidates in either of the two WA by-elections.

“We will not be distracted by Bill Shorten’s duplicity and dishonesty that has resulted in a number of by-elections being required across the country around 12 months from the next Federal Election, by contesting the Fremantle and Perth by-election,” the Liberals WA Twitter account tweeted on Saturday.

Instead, they would direct their resources solely to the state by-election of Darling Range prompted by the resignation of former MP Barry Urban.

The Greens will run climate change policy expert and campaigner Caroline Perks in Perth.

Meanwhile, the Liberals announced their candidate to contest the north-west Tasmanian seat of Braddon would be former MP Brett Whiteley.

Mr Whiteley previously held the seat from 2013 to 2016 before being unseated by Labor’s Justine Keay.

“Braddon has been let down by the Labor member who hasn’t been part of the government, and hasn’t delivered anything tangible for the region,” Mr Whiteley said in a Tasmanian Liberals Facebook post.

But The Nationals want their share of the action, too.

Government minister and Nationals MP Darren Chester told the ABC “three-cornered contests” in Labor seats were not unusual.

“I would like to see the Nationals have a crack at the seat of Braddon,” he said.

“I’m of the view that The Nationals need to contest new territory to win new seats.”

Rebekha Sharkie is facing a heavyweight challenger Georgina Downer.   AAP

He said the Coalition would be “defying history” by doing what no government has for over a century, to win a seat from the opposition during a by-election.

Centre Alliance MP – formerly Nick Xenophon Team – Rebekha Sharkie is seen as most at risk in her Adelaide seat of Mayo.

Georgina Downer, daughter of one-time Liberal leader Alexander Downer, has nominated to run for the Liberals in the seat.

“As someone who grew up and spent the first two decades of her life in Mayo, was married in Mayo, and whose family have lived in the Adelaide Hills for over a century, I am coming home,” she tweeted.

In Susan Lamb’s former seat of Longman, a ReachTEL poll of 1277 people commissioned by The Australia Institute highlighted of One Nation’s potential influence and impact on the result.

The first poll since the High Court’s Wednesday decision, it found the Liberals lead Labor 53 to 47 per cent in two-party preferred terms in the seat.

Executive Director of the Australia Institute, Ben Oquist said strong One Nation results in the poll show they could be the “difference maker” in the by-election.

“Their position on the two key tax issues of company tax cuts for big business and flat tax for high income earners will be a major factor in the campaign,” Mr Oquist said.

-AAP