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The Longman By-Election

Longman is a federal electorate in Brisbane’s north held since the 2016 election by Susan Lamb for Labor. Lamb was born in Mackay, Queensland of a British father and Queensland born mother. Her own legal advice confirmed that she obtained British citizenship by descent at birth. So, she applied to renounce her British citizenship before nominations for the 2016 election closed, but she did not enclose sufficient evidence of her British citizenship so her application to the UK Home Office to renounce British citizenship was rejected.

In a scenario reminiscent of the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party she was told that before she could renounce British citizenship she first had to prove that she was a British citizen, which she couldn’t largely because she had never held a British passport or visited Britain. After the election, she provided some additional documents, but her application was still rejected as she couldn’t provide her parents’ Marriage Certificate – her mother was born in Queensland (in 1948), her father was born in Edinburgh in the UK (in 1945) so the need to prove that they were in fact married became a critical factor in establishing citizenship by descent : her father had passed and she had not had any contact with her mother since she was a child when her mother had left the marriage. She believed, in the circumstances, that she had taken all ‘reasonable steps’ to renounce a citizenship that she never really considered she had.

But constant haranguing from the government, in particular Christopher Pyne, forced her resignation and the by-election, now part of the Super Saturday by-elections to be held on 28 July; she will again stand for the Labor party. Pyne was jubilant when she resigned and considers his role in her demise to have been the highlight of his political career and for once he could be right.

So, what makes a by-election in this Brisbane seat so important? Well this seat together with Mayo (SA), Braddon (Tas), Fremantle (WA) and Perth (WA) were all held by Labor except Mayo which was Centre-Alliance and if they swing to the LNP it could be a trigger for Turnbull to go to an early federal election based on the rather spurious notion that the electorate are recognising the superior economic skills and popularity of this coalition government (and an endorsement of Turnbull’s tax cuts to all and sundry).

Normally the incumbent government would argue that a by-election is all about local issues and the local candidate but just the other day Turnbull whilst visiting Longman said this:

“The … contest is between me and Bill Shorten as the prime minister and the opposition leader.”

Now, did he say that because he wanted to distance himself from the coalition candidate or was he capitalising on his so-called personal charisma with the electorate and Shorten’s lack of popularity?

Trevor John Ruthenberg is the coalition, LNP candidate having previously been part of the Queensland state government led by Campbell Newman. When Newman was sent packing by the people of Queensland in 2015, Ruthenberg lost his state seat of Kallungar (again, in Brisbane’s north) to Labor. Newman’s government were about as popular as a dose of herpes and Ruthenberg, some consider, is tainted by that association.

Ruthenberg had been in the Royal Australian Air Force and completed a trade as an airframe fitter. Prior to being elected, he was an Executive Officer to the Lutheran Church of Australia in Queensland. He had already worried Liberal party bosses when he allowed himself to be drawn into a debate on climate change and had refused to clarify whether he believes climate change is happening, after saying that he had a different “understanding of the science” when confronted about the link between burning coal and global warming. His position, of course, is in line with Liberal party policy and the dictates of the IPA but coalition policy is not to discuss the issue: he should have taken his lead from Georgina Downer who is contesting Mayo in South Australia for the Liberal party and who just pulls up the doona whenever climate change is mentioned.

Big Trev as he is evidently known had also caused a ripple when the Courier Mail reported that he had not won an Australian Service Medal as he had claimed on a website but rather an Australian Defence Medal, which is awarded to people who have completed at least four years of service. The Australian Service Medal to those in the know is an entirely different decoration to recognise prescribed service in peacekeeping and non-warlike operations, in such places as Timor-Leste, Solomon Islands, Bougainville etc. Whilst Ruthenberg has apologised for his ‘oversight’ some consider that any former service person would have had a clear understanding of the difference between the two decorations.

So, Longman is going to be interesting and for Turnbull pivotal. How the preference deal between One Nation and the Liberals and the robocall endorsement of Mark Latham for Pauline Hanson and her candidate will work out remains to be seen. In typical One Nation style their candidate, Matthew Stephen, comes with baggage and has had his Queensland Building and Construction Commission wall and floor tiling licence suspended seven times for not paying his fees or his creditors. His most recent suspension was for February and March this year, while Pauline Hanson’s party were in the process of vetting his suitability to run at the election.

Watch this space and see how the good folk in Longman formulate their vote.


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  1. New England Cocky

    Now how many of the now rarely celebrated opinion polls has Muddles lost on the trot??? Was it 36 or 40??

    I think Prissy Pine will enjoy retirement after this next 2018 Federal election.

    Oh dear Big Kev … forgetting what your hard earned military awards represent … sounds a little like the “diggers who never went to Vietnam” scenario.

    I think Muddles will discover that in Brisbane the election is between the fascist Liarbral Party led by Dutton, RAbbott and Morriscum and the thinking Australians who dislike present LNP policies favouring foreign owned multinational corporations at the expense of the Australian people.

    Bring on the 2018 Federal election and let us dispatch this misgovernment to the WPB of Australian political history!!!!!

  2. helvityni

    Right-wingers don’t lie: Big Kevin made an honest mistake, Trump was nervous about meeting Putin and misspoke in Helsinki.

    We all know that ONLY Labor politicians lie…

  3. my say

    I really hope the voters where the by elections are held remember the pain and suffering they are suffering with cuts to pensions,hospital,schools, medicare,penalty rates and so much more ,would not have happened without the help of Pauline Hanson,she is a liberal ,and like Turnbull is no friend of the battlers
    The Liberals shouldn’t be rewarded for hate, lies and scare tactics which they use to win an election,They wont release the findings of Religious freedom review until after the by elections ,i wonder why

  4. Glenn Barry

    Interesting that Trembles has built this up as a pseudo referendum on leadership between himself and Shorten.

    I don’t want to get too excited before time and burden myself with disappointment if it doesn’t come to pass – BUT this is all a bit reminiscent of ‘and the high court so shall hold’ when it comes to the boastful, hubris driven statements of Trembles.

    Longman and Braddon going to Labor won’t bode well for Trembles, if that is what eventuates

  5. John O'Callaghan

    Local ABC radio was broadcasting from the Longman electorate this afternoon and almost 80% was pro LNP.
    Almost every question was aimed at LNP voters and sympathisers, it was blatant PR for the Libs by the ABC and their “born again” right wing host ans Liberal apologist Steve Austin!

  6. paul walter

    Georgie is too far gone to be considered a fit subject for rehabilitation. Close to the very bosom of the Establishment, she has been imbued from birth with the outlook, attitudes and beliefs of a clique far out of touch with and possessed of, something approaching indifference extending to animus, as to wider humanity.

    We need people of a less constricted outlook to represent us at the centre of national affairs.

  7. MöbiusEcko

    I notice this morning that the anti-Labor and kill Bill rhetoric has appreciably ramped up across all media, with the ABC leading the way.

  8. corvus boreus

    It seems that the concerted media clamour for Labor to replace ‘unpopular Shorten’ grows increasingly strident the more his polling prospects improve.
    Ps, The ABC is not leading the way”, it is more that a few Murdoch/IPA Trojans are directing them to join the Greek chorus.

  9. wam

    It is likely this story will not be found in the media but every labor voter must know it and for the next 8 days share it over and over verbally and on the social media.

    Shorten in bed with disastry is the lastest post on my facebook.
    Should labor let these attacks ride without a counter attack or hint at a change trumble will call and win.

    The party should have the ‘sub’ attack ready for the pyne nut because there is a grave risk in losing 2 or 3 of the by elections.

  10. Wun Farlung

    I am just listening to turnbullshit spruiking in Tasmania, Bill Shorten’s Union paymasters blah-blah, the latest line is ‘only the liberal candidate can deliver’ I hope that the thinking voter picks that up and treats the liberal candidate accordingly

  11. Jaquix

    Turns out Big Trev has also fudged the info on his educational qualifications. Deliberately vague and misleading, readers wwould assume he had better educational and work-related qualifications than he really had. Dishonest runs deep. Seems Big Trev is actually as Dishonest as he is Big , Another Turnbull lie dispelled.

  12. Keith Davenport

    “Labor is increasingly confident of hanging on to the Queensland marginal seat of Longman, depriving Malcolm Turnbull of a by-election victory that could undermine Bill Shorten’s leadership.”

    If, as Turnbull claims, this is a contest between him and Shorten, get set for a meltdown akin to his “acceptance speech” on election night.

  13. Alpo

    ReachTEL is telling us that the initial advantage for the LNP (when the by-elections were called) has pretty much dissipated into thin air in Longman. Whereas in Mayo, Georgina Downer is a …. no hoper! She has next to no chance of winning the seat. In Braddon the Libs seem to be ahead according to the only ReachTEL poll available… but who knows.
    Of course, in WA the Libs are not even in the race…. pussies!

  14. Terence Mills

    Oh Dear, it just gets worse for Pauline who, as we know, never screens candidates :

    From the Guardian :

    The One Nation candidate in the Longman federal byelection, Matthew Stephen, has tried to avoid a $13,000 court-ordered damages bill against his tiling company by selling the company on paper to an Irish novice labourer, two years after the man had left Australia.

    A Guardian Australia investigation into Stephen’s business dealings has found incorrect information in documents he certified and filed with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission in 2016.
    ‘Party is doomed’: common theme in gripes of former One Nation members
    Read more

    Stephen claims he is no longer responsible for the payment of a $13,769.99 debt, imposed by the Northern Territory local court as damages for a substandard tiling job in 2014, because he sold his company in August 2016 and the new owner agreed to take on the remaining liability.

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