The shock scratching of three Liberal candidates in the early days of the campaign trail is not likely to affect the Coalition’s chances of winning the election, political analysts say.
Three Liberal candidates in Victorian seats stood down on Friday after discovering they would probably not be eligible for parliament.
Kate Oski, the candidate for Lalor, and Vaishali Ghosh, the candidate for Wills, backed out over dual citizenship issues, while Helen Jackson, the candidate for Cooper, will be dumped because she is an employee of Australia Post.
Former Labor minister Melissa Parke has also withdrawn from the election campaign in the Western Australian seat of Curtin over fears her pro-Palestine views may become a distraction from the opposition’s campaign.
The seat of Curtin has been in Liberal hands, with a margin of 20.7 per cent, and has been held by Julie Bishop since 1998.
Despite the rapid loss of three Liberal candidates so early in the campaign, political commentators say it won’t affect the Coalition’s national campaign because the party had “no chance” of winning those seats.
Monash University senior politics lecturer Dr Ghazarian told The New Daily that Lalor, Wills and Cooper were widely known as safe Labor seats in Victoria.
“Because it has happened so early, and happened in seats where the Liberal Party had no chance of winning anyway, I’m not sure it’s going to have an overall impact on their national campaign,” Dr Ghazarian said.
University of Tasmania politics professor Kevin Bonham agreed with Dr Ghazarian, saying it would “not be a big deal to the Liberals’ chances in those seats”.
“It just creates an impression of a rushed process, of not having all of these issues sorted out earlier,” Professor Bonham said.
Even in a seat where you’re not competitive, you still don’t want to have headlines saying these Liberal candidates might not be eligible.”
Dr Ghazarian said the most interesting part about the candidate fallout was Ms Oski and Ms Ghosh stepping down over dual citizenship concerns following the High Court’s decision on section 44.
The High Court ruling means that any parliamentarian who is eligible for dual citizenship could be in breach of the Constitution, even if not a dual citizen.
This is the first election in which candidates are required by the Australian Electoral Commission to submit a qualification checklist relating to section 44 after the 45th parliament was plagued by disqualification issues over dual citizenships.
Ms Oski stepped down over concerns she might be able to claim Polish citizenship from her father, and Ms Ghosh quit over her Indian heritage.
“I presume (Ms Oski and Ms Ghosh) slipped through the party’s vetting system because they were both candidates for ultra safe Labor seats,” Dr Ghazarian said.
“Had they been marginal seats, then you’d expect the party to have scrutinised these cases more closely.”
Professor Bonham said the section 44 saga was “a mess”.
“It makes it harder for parties to be confident about selecting candidates from diverse ancestral backgrounds,” he said.
“It discriminates against more diverse candidates – that’s the unfortunate aspect of it.”