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Friday, 19 October 2018
“Big Bird helped me find my purpose.”
After 49 years playing the anthropomorphic, oversized canary, Carroll Spinney is leaving his nest on Sesame Street. His replacement, Matt Vogel, was destined for the role – his surname means ‘bird’ in German. Matt, sadly, does not mean ‘big’ in German.
WENTWORTH BY-ELECTION ON RAZOR’S EDGE
In a year that’s had more by-elections than any other since our parliament became a thing in 1901, this weekend the good burghers of Wentworth in Sydney’s eastern suburbs will line up to vote in one of the most hotly contested so far. A federation seat, Wentworth has never been held by Labor and has been held by the Liberals almost continuously since their formation in 1944. But that could change on Saturday.
It’s not that bad. If you like big personalities, this is the by-election for you. Think of it as a political drama set on Bondi Beach – but one where mercifully everyone keeps their clothes on. Here’s the plot:
• A popular local politician, who also happens to be the Prime Minister, (Malcolm Turnbull) is cut down by his colleagues. A millionaire, he retreats to his home in New York while his son (Alex Turnbull), an investment manager based in Singapore, lashes out.
• Enter a field of candidates harbouring ambitions of greatness. The reigning party (the Libs) settle on the son of an Indian migrant/diplomat (Dave Sharma) instead of a female candidate that some thought they needed.
• The other major party (Labor) pick the president of a local surf lifesaving club (Tim Murray) to run. While the locals haven’t voted his party’s way much in the past, he could be influential to the outcome.
• And then we have the independent candidate (Kerryn Phelps) who has a high profile and is threatening to upset the order of things.
• Cue a frantic campaign packed with policy surprises, personal smears, and the government’s one-seat majority in the parliament at stake. Add to that an electorate that is still waiting for a clear answer as to why the bloke they voted in last time is no longer there… and you’ve got yourself a gripping Saturday night’s entertainment.
WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN?
Dunno. There are 16 candidates so there are lots of unpredictable ways the preferences can flow. What we do know is Turnbull won Wentworth with a primary vote of 62% at the last election. Sharma’s primary vote is polling at almost half of that on 33% (although take that with a grain of salt…). On those numbers, it means there’s close to 30% of the electorate that said they voted for the Libs last time but won’t put them first this time. It also means the result is likely to be tight with the potential for an upset. As you know, we like to select a drink to serve with our elections, and it’s time for a Pimms. Because we reckon Wentworth, which takes in some of Sydney’s most affluent areas, would approve.
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