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Election Nominations: Three MPs Who Blundered Their Way Out Of Parliament

Nominations for the 2016 federal election close at noon today.

On such a day, I always give a thought to some famous examples of sitting MPs who forgot to nominate in time and ended up out of parliament.

It is all but impossible for a federal candidate for a political party to fail to nominate these days. Group nominations can be submitted by the parties on behalf of individual candidates two days before the final close of nominations.

2002 – Dr. Robert Dean

DeanDean, then 50, was the Liberal shadow treasurer in Victoria. He had been the Liberal member for Berwick since 1992, Following a redistribution, he nominated in the seat of Gembrook and claimed an enrolment address in Berwick, a property he had previously rented.

The Victorian Electoral Commission ruled he was ineligible to stand because he had been struck off the roll when the Commission established he was not living at the Berwick address.

Dean, in fact, lived in Hawthorn, some considerable distance from Gembrook.

Fortunately for the Liberals, they were able to nominate another candidate for Gembrook, but he was defeated by the ALP’s Tammy Lobato, who held the seat for two terms.


1973 – Harry Jago

JagoJago, then 60, had been the Liberal member for Gordon in the NSW Legislative Assembly since 1962. At the time of the 1973 election, he was the Minister for Health in the Askin government.

Jago apparently had his nomination papers signed and ready to submit on the day they closed. He went to a function in the morning and managed to forget about the midday deadline until it was too late.

It seems the problem arose following a Cabinet decision to move the closing of nominations deadline from Friday to Thursday. In his book, The Liberals, Ian Hancock says Jago was at lunch when he was told by the ALP’s Syd Einfeld that nominations had closed: “The Minister for Health turned red and hurriedly left the luncheon. Nothing could be done, but a new phrase had entered the political lexicon – ‘Doing a Jago’.”

The ensuing election saw the Liberal Party urge its supporters to vote for the Democratic Labor Party candidate, Kevin Harrold, who went on to serve one term as the only DLP member of the NSW Parliament. Harrold died in 2012, aged 83.

Jago never returned to politics. He died in 1997, aged 84.


Sydney Morning Herald, Friday, October 26, 1973


1928 – Robert Cook

CookCook was the Country Party member for Indi. He first won the seat in 1919, winning re-election in 1922 and 1925. In 1925, he polled 56.7% in a two-horse race with the Labor Party.

According to Chris Bowen, in his book, The Money Men, Cook “was under the misapprehension that the nominations closed at 8pm on the final day, whereas in fact they closed at noon”.

It was a remarkable blunder. Nominations have always closed at noon, as they do today. It is somewhat extraordinary that a three-term MP would get this mixed up.

As a result, the ALP candidate, Paul Jones,* won Indi unopposed. Cook’s blunder had momentous consequences a year later when the Bruce government was defeated by just one vote in the House, following a rebellion on industrial relations legislation led by W.M. Hughes. At the ensuing election on October 12, 1929, the ALP under James Scullin had a landslide victory.

Jones was re-elected to Indi in 1929, defeating Cook and winning 49.4% of the primary vote and 51.4% after preferences. Cook died the following year, aged 63.

* A note on Paul Jones and Parker Moloney

In his book, Bowen errs in describing Jones as “the first (and so far only) Labor member for Indi”. In fact, Jones was the second Labor member for Indi.

JonesParker Moloney had served two terms as the Labor member for Indi, winning the seat in 1910, losing it in 1913, regaining it in 1914, but losing it again in 1917. Moloney then returned to the House in 1919 as the member for Hume, in NSW. He and Jones served alongside each other in the parliaments elected in 1928 and 1929. Moloney was the Minister for Markets and Transport in the Scullin government.

Both Jones and Moloney were defeated in the anti-Labor landslide of 1931. Jones went on to serve 20 years as a Labor member of the Victorian Legislative Council, whilst Moloney unsuccessfully ran for the Senate and became president of the Victorian ALP in 1939. Both men left the ALP and went to the DLP, following the 1955 split. Moloney died in 1961, aged 81. Jones died in 1972, just three weeks after the election of the Whitlam government. He was 94.

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Malcolm Farnsworth
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