Nominations closed for candidates for the federal elections on Thursday, and the Australian Electoral Commission announced them on Friday afternoon. Only five candidates in my electorate of Grayndler - that's a surprise. Not so surprising is the 78 candidates for the 12 senate vacancies in New South Wales, making up thirty different groups. That's right - the NSW senate ballot paper on October 9 will be thirty columns wide.
The sitting member since 1996 is Labor's Anthony Albanese, one of the prime movers in the left-wing of the NSW branch of the party, and shadow spokesman for Employment Services and Training in the last parliament. I wrote a few weeks back about perhaps Albanese's most illustrious parliamentary moment, when he was ejected from the chamber for calling John Howard a "dope" during the major debate about the Iraq war in March 2003.
There's much more to Albanese than that, of course. Without doubt he is straight out of the tradition of hard-nosed head-kicking party men in NSW Labor, but without having met him personally I would say he is one of the better people in the current federal opposition. A problem he will have to overcome, if he hasn't already, is that, to put it bluntly, he hates Mark Latham's guts.
Albanese's website - www.albanesemp.org - is, I must say, one of the wankiest and over-designed web sites of any federal member. Be warned, the home page is a Flash animation with musical backing.
The inner-Sydney electorates have always been a strong Labor heartland, but these days it's basically a two-party region - ALP and The Greens. In March of this year The Greens won more council seats than any other group in the Marrickville local government election, and the largest primary vote in Leichhardt Council, both of which substantially fall within the Grayndler boundaries. The Greens have Philip Myers as their candidate. A motion picture sound recordist by profession, Myers could well be the only candidate in this election with an IMDb record not related to politics.
The Australian Democrats have almost self-destructed over the past few years, ever since Cheryl Kernot was poached by Gareth Evans.. er, the Labor Party. Their status as Australia's main alternative to Liberal and Labor seems to have been yielded to The Greens. Jen Harrison is the Democrats' candidate for Grayndler.
The fifth, and perhaps least relevant political party in the electorate, is the Liberal Party. Little Johnny Howard's Ruling Party has only minimal support in the inner west of Sydney. If only the rest of the country was as sensible. Stephanie Kokkolis is the cannon fodder, I mean, Liberal candidate for Grayndler this time around. The Liberals' web site tells me that she has been a member of the party since 2003 and that her current occupation is "Business Partner, Site for Sore Eyes Optometrists". The natural career path for someone with a TAFE certificate in financial planning. Watch your back, Peter Costello!
After fielding a 20 year-old kid in the 2001 election, One Nation are not contesting Grayndler this time around. What can one say about their website, except that, like the party itself, the design is living in the past. And, as it says on the NSW candidates' page, "Further information will be available shortley."
I'll remain up-front about my voting intentions at this election and discuss their background in more depth shortley. In short, I intend at this stage to vote for Anthony Albanese in the lower house and for The Greens ticket, led by John Kaye, in the Senate. I'll analyse the NSW senate race once I've had the chance to find out who the hell the likes of "Lower Excise Fuel and Beer Party", "liberals for forests", and "The Great Australians" are.