The former ABC journalist and presenter, Maxine McKew, is to contest the Prime Minister’s seat of Bennelong for the ALP in this year’s election.
McKew retired from broadcasting last year and became an adviser on strategy to the Opposition Leader, Kevin Rudd, last month. Her partner is the former ALP National Secretary, Bob Hogg.
McKew’s candidacy will attract media interest and focus attention on the Sydney North Shore electorate which has been held by John Howard since 1974.
The ALP requires a swing of 4% to win Bennelong. Redistributions and demographic factors have made the seat more marginal in recent years. Some commentators believe the seat will swing to Labor when Howard departs.
McKew’s candidacy could produce a number of outcomes:
- McKew wins Bennelong and the coalition loses the election. Howard would become only the second prime minister to lose an election and his seat since Stanley Melbourne Bruce in 1929. McKew would become an instant Labor legend.
- McKew wins Bennelong and the coalition wins the election. This would be an unprecedented result. No prime minister has ever been defeated in this manner. Peter Costello would probably be chosen as Liberal leader and become prime minister.
- McKew loses Bennelong and the ALP wins the election. McKew would be well-placed to contest a by-election for Bennelong if the defeated Howard decided to retire from Parliament. Alternatively, she could expect a senior position on Rudd’s staff.
- McKew loses Bennelong and the ALP loses the election. McKew might continue on Rudd’s staff as a more experienced political operative. She would be seen as a future candidate now blooded in battle and might go hunting for a safe seat. If the ALP lost the election by a significant margin, she would be quickly forgotten as another failed celebrity candidate.
This is the text of Maxine McKew’s statement announcing her ALP candidacy for Bennelong.
Today I’m announcing my intention to nominate for preselection as Federal Labor’s candidate in the seat of Bennelong.
If Kevin Rudd is to lead Federal Labor to victory at the next election he has to make a net gain of 16 seats.
One of the seats within that swing pendulum is Bennelong. It has been held by Mr Howard since 1974, however, after the 2004 election and subsequent redistribution the seat requires a swing of more than 4 per cent to become Labor.
I’m nominating for the seat of Bennelong because I want to make whatever contribution I can to help bring about a change of government.
I sense that Australians are hungry for a different kind of political leadership.
It’s a style of leadership that understands Australia’s future challenges require long-term solutions, not short term political fixes. It’s a style of leadership that is focused on the future, not the past. It’s a style of leadership Kevin Rudd offers.
I believe that Kevin has the intelligence and passion that will help forge strong and positive solutions around challenges such as climate change and how we develop a first-rate education system for the 21st century.
My decision is supported by my partner Bob Hogg.
As I am seeking to represent the electorate of Bennelong I will attempt to do so in every sense. We are planning to sell our home and buy in the area.*
This is the text of a statement from the Leader of the Opposition, Kevin Rudd.
I am delighted to support Maxine McKew’s decision to nominate for the seat of Bennelong in the upcoming federal election.
I commend Ms McKew on her determination and courage to contest a seat held by the nation’s most formidable politician.
This will be a difficult election for Federal Labor.
History is against us. Rarely has a political party ever won 16 seats to claim government. It is almost an Everest-like challenge. That’s why I am taking nothing for granted. That’s why I am supporting first-class nominees and candidates like Ms McKew.
I intend to give Federal Labor the best possible chance of winning the next election by assembling the best possible team.
I expect Ms McKew to join other outstanding Federal Labor candidates including Gary Gray (Brand), Peter Tinley (Stirling) and Damian Hale (Solomon).
The fact is this year’s federal election is the most important in a generation. It represents a fork in the road.
Australians will face a choice. It is a choice between Federal Labor which is determined to embrace the challenges confronting Australia’s long-term future and the Coalition which is stuck in the past.
Federal Labor has begun the long road to earn the respect and trust of the Australian people in the lead up the 2007 federal election. I welcome Ms McKew’s decision to participate in this journey.*
This is the biography of Maxine McKew, taken from the ALP’s website.
Maxine McKew is a special adviser on strategy to the Federal Labor leader Kevin Rudd
Before making the switch to politics, Maxine spent thirty years as a broadcast and print journalist.
She began her career as a cadet on This Day Tonight at the ABC’s Brisbane office.
She is a Walkley and Logie award winner and through coverage of national and international events, earned a reputation as one of the country’s most authoritative interviewers.
For many years she was seen regularly on the ABC TV’s flagship current affairs programmes, the 7.30 Report and Lateline.
In 2003 she was awarded a Centenary Medal for services to broadcasting.
Between 1999 and 2004 she was also a regular writer for the Bulletin magazine.
Lunch with Maxine McKew produced countless candid conversations with Australia’s policy makers and resulted in her inclusion in the Australian Financial Review’s Power List for 2003.
In her time in journalism Maxine has also interviewed a host of international figures including Tony Blair, Madelyn Albright, Colin Powell, Richard Armitage, Shimon Peres, Benjamin Netanyahu, Fidel Ramos, and Sir Julius Chan.
Maxine has covered state and national politics, business reporting and a period as foreign correspondent that took her to postings in Washington DC and to New York.
As a result of her time in North America, she maintains a strong interest in U.S. politics and is a regular participant in the privately funded annual Australia/U.S. Leadership Dialogue, which brings together a trans-Pacific top tier of policy makers and business figures for a Chatham House style symposium.
Maxine has always been a strong advocate of opportunities for women, both in her own industry and in the wider workforce.
Her voluntary activities include the chairmanship of the Advisory Council to the National Breast Cancer Centre, and membership of the University of Sydney’s Research Institute for Asia Pacific.
She is also Patron of Osteoporosis Australia and is a member of the Sydney Symphony Council.
Maxine was born in Brisbane in 1953 and attended All Hallows’ School and studied at the University of Queensland.