Laurie Oakes, Cheryl Kernot And The Unreported Story

For some years now, Australian media outlets have refused to report widespread rumours concerning the private life of Cheryl Kernot.

KernotThis claim is made by Laurie Oakes in an article in today’s edition of The Bulletin.

Oakes refers to the publication this week of Kernot’s book, Speaking For Myself Again, a title the veteran Canberra journalist says should be Making Excuses For Myself Again. [Read more...]

Kernot Embarrassment A Dilemma For Beazley

Cheryl Kernot, Political Dud?As the farcical Cheryl Kernot soap opera gathers momentum, Opposition Leader Kim Beazley has an interesting problem to solve in the coming days: protect and defend the defector from the Australian Democrats, or cut her loose and risk the loss of her Queensland electorate of Dickson?

Kernot defected from the leadership of the Democrats in 1997. She was narrowly elected as the Labor member for Dickson in the October 1998 Federal election. Her election night whining about not being given a safer seat was an early sign of problems to come.

In 1999 Kernot asked to be shifted from her shadow portfolio responsibility for Regional Affairs. She swapped jobs with Martin Ferguson and became the shadow minister for Employment. In late 1999 she took sick leave, was hospitalised and gave a couple of interviews in which she took aim at the ALP’s attitude towards her.

Last weekend Kernot was spotted attending a cinema on the Gold Coast, outside her electorate. She was disguised wearing a red wig. Curiously, the film was “Being John Malkovich”.

Kernot failed to return to work yesterday. Media reports over recent days have served up a number of stories about her personal behaviour in recent times and when she was Democrats leader.

With Federal Parliament resuming on February 15, the Opposition must be dreading the potentially disastrous focusing of attention on their defective defector. Thus far, Kim Beazley has defended her, despite his own reservations about her role in ensuring Democrat preferences were directed against him in his seat of Brand in 1996. In the coming days Beazley will have to decide whether enough is enough and if she should be removed from the shadow ministry. Given Kernot’s volatility, a resignation precipitating a risky by-election in Dickson must be considered a possibility.

The episode will confirm the belief of many people on all sides of politics that you can never rely on a political “rat”.

Cheryl Kernot’s Political Future In Doubt

Cheryl KernotThe future of the ALP’s “star” recruit, former Democrats leader Cheryl Kernot, is in doubt following her hospitalisation this week. Kernot is suffering from exhaustion.

Kernot defected from the Australian Democrats in 1997 and was narrowly elected to the Queensland electorate of Dickson in the 1998 Federal election. She ruffled some ALP feathers on election night when she criticised the ALP for not preselecting her for a safe seat.

Kernot sought and was granted an exchange of shadow portfolios with Martin Ferguson several weeks ago. She claimed she was unable to service her marginal electorate and also be the shadow minister for Transport and Regional Development. She was shifted to Education and Training.

In an interview this week, Kernot criticised her electorate office staff for not appreciating the extent of her illness. She also spoke of the difficulty of retaining Dickson, an electorate she was “trying so hard to be Liberal.”

Whilst the ALP has invested a lot in Kernot, their patience must surely be wearing thin.

Kernot Heading For Victory in Dickson

A recount of votes in the Queensland electorate of Dickson yesterday put Labor’s Cheryl Kernot over 100 votes ahead. One packet of votes from the original count was found to have been given incorrectly to the Liberal candidate.

Barring discovery of further mistakes in the count, it now appears certain that Kernot will take the seat. Assuming the ALP takes the Tasmanian seat of Bass and the Liberals win Kalgoorlie, the state of the parties in the new House of Representatives will be:

Liberal 64
National 16
ALP 67
Ind 1
Total 148

Following the provision of a Speaker, the government will then have an absolute majority of 11 votes.

Howard Shuffles Ministry; Labor Caucus Meets Next Week

John HowardPrime Minister John Howard will announce his second term ministry on Sunday.

Yesterday, the Australian Electoral Commission advised the government that it could now declare that at least 75 seats have been won by the government and Howard accordingly declared the caretaker period of government over.

Coalition members will meet in Canberra this week ahead of Howard’s weekend announcement. The ALP Caucus will meet next week to elect its shadow ministry.

There is at least one vacancy in the ministry, given the retirement of the Defence Minister, Ian McLachlan. Some newspaper reports suggest that Peter Reith may be moved to this portfolio, whilst others predict a promotion for Senator Nick Minchin. [Read more...]

Kernot Quits Democrats To Join Labor

Senator Cheryl Kernot today defected from the Australian Democrats to join the ALP.

Kernot resigned as leader of the Democrats, as a member of the party, and from the Senate.

She said she stood ready to contest a Liberal-held marginal seat for the ALP.

Transcript of Cheryl Kernot’s resignation press conference.

Cheryl KernotI have called this press conference today to inform you of my decision to resign as Leader of the Australian Democrats, and as a member of both the party and the Senate.

I fully appreciate this decision will come as a shock to members of a party I have served for 17 years. But it is a decision which, in the past 18 months, has grown unavoidable for two reasons. One, my personal and growing sense of outrage at the damage being done to Australia by the Howard Government. And two, my concern that from my position in the Senate I had a limited capacity to minimise that damage.

The change of Government in 1996 and the actions of the Howard administration since, especially the first Costello Budget, have been a defining episode for me. I have reached the conclusion that, for me, the imperative at the next Federal election lies not in battling to extract a share of the third party vote to keep balance of power in the Senate. [Read more...]

Kernot: The Leadership Test – Australia In The Next 20 Years

This is the text of Senator Cheryl Kernot’s Address to the Australian Democrats National Conference.

The Leadership Test: Australia In The Next 20 Years

Cheryl KernotThis 20th anniversary conference represents a remarkable achievement in Australians politics. It represents the survival, growth, determination and commitment of the Australian Democrats.

While this conference celebrates that achievement and looks back on our record over the past 20 years, I want to look forward. I want to look forward to where Australia is heading over the next 20 years. I want to raise questions about what sort of leadership is required to see Australia through those 20 years and I want to ask whether our major parties have the courage and the vision to build a fair, equitable and successful Australia in the face of the massive changes brought about by the new era of globalisation.

A few weeks back – in his self-congratulatory summing up of his first nine months in office – John Howard said he was glad to see Australia was ‘still an egalitarian society’. The questions he didn’t address were: for how long is it going to stay that way and what is a Howard Government going to do to maintain and enhance that egalitarianism? [Read more...]