Dim by-election: Voters head to former minister Stuart Robert’s safe Gold Coast seat

Dim by-election: Voters head to former minister Stuart Robert's safe Gold Coast seat

The LNP are preparing to defend their seat of power for the second time in over a year as voters in the Fadden electorate head to the polls.

The by-election for the seat of Fadden on Queensland’s northern Gold Coast began after former Coalition minister Stuart Roberts formally resigned from federal parliament in May.

Mr Robert said his 16 years in politics, having been elected to Parliament in 2007, had ‘not been smooth sailing’.

The by-election for the northern Gold Coast seat of Fadden in Queensland began after former Coalition minister Stuart Roberts formally quit federal parliament in May.

‘It is the highest honor to serve my community and country. But now it’s time to focus on my family,’ Mr Robert said when announcing his retirement.

‘My family has stood by me throughout this time, through thick and thin. Now is the time for a husband, a father and a son in my family to stand by them.’

Gold Coast City Councilor Cameron Caldwell is contesting the seat of Fadden as the LNP candidate. Image: Provided

Gold Coast City Councilor Cameron Caldwell was preselected to represent the LNP to contest Fadden in June.

Mr Caldwell, who is listed 12th out of 13 candidates on the AEC ballot paper, is running against Labour’s Letitia Del Fabro, Greens candidate Scott Turner and Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party’s Sandy Roach.

Letitia Del Fabro is standing as the ALP candidate in the safe coalition seat of Fadden on the Gold Coast

Australian Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers urged voters to go to the polls on Saturday, with a lower-than-expected turnout so far.

‘By-elections traditionally have fewer turnouts than full federal elections but it’s just as important to have your say,’ Mr Rogers said.

“Based on the same period in the 2022 federal election, the number of primary votes we are seeing is down about 27 per cent.”

‘Typically, if someone casts their vote early in one election, they will do so in the next election – and we don’t see that here, which makes us concerned about low turnout.’

At the time of the 2021 census, 194,617 people called the Faden electorate home, with 47,679 reported to be under 19 on census night.

Two years after census night in August 2021, 131,340 eligible voters were listed at the end of the electoral roll for the Fadden by-election on 19 June.

The legal voting age in Australia is 18.

Mr. Rogers said registered voters must complete their ballots before 6 p.m. Saturday.

He said, ‘Voting in by-elections is compulsory, as in federal elections or referendums.’

‘Failure to vote can result in fines and means you have no say in who represents you in federal parliament.’

About 16,000 people cast their ballots at an early polling station earlier Monday, while 24,000 postal vote applications were submitted.

Full list of candidates for Faden by-election (in order of ballot):

Letitia Del Fabro – Australian Labor Party Scott Turner – The Greenscriss Simpson – Australian Democrats Sandy Roach – Pauline Hanson’s One NationMarney Larry Davies – Aboriginal Peoples – Aboriginal Party of Australia Suzette Luiken – Legal Cannabis Australia Quentin Bye – Sustainable Corporate Party – Sustainable Corporate Party – Sustainable Cannabis Australia Jones – Independent Stuart Brooker – Independent John Pukallas – Australian Citizens Party Cameron Caldwell – LNP James Taylor – Australian Federation Party

The LNP is tipped to retain a secure hold on the seat, with a 10.63 per cent gap in the two-party count at the last election.

Saturday’s by-election will be the second time this year the Liberals have fought to defend their seat, following Labour’s historic victory in the seat of Aston in March.

Labor’s victory with Mary Doyle marked the first time in a century that a sitting government had claimed a seat from the opposition in a by-election.

Cost of living looms large on voters’ minds

Aussies across the country continue to struggle with rising living pressures.

The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics Monthly Household Expenditure Index report, released on July 11, showed overall household spending rose 3.3 per cent in May, compared to the same period last year.

Liberal frontbencher Angus Taylor told reporters in May that every by-election had been ‘difficult’ but said Albanese’s government would be tested on Saturday as voters decide how it is handling the economy.

This comes as Fadden residents reported a median weekly household income of $1,680 during the 2021 Census.

The ABS reported in February that the most recent average weekly typical earnings for full-time adults in November 2022 was $1,808.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese poses with Labor candidate for Faden, Letitia del Fabro

By-elections begin after MPs resign

Mr Robert held a number of ministerial portfolios under successive Coalition governments, including Employment and Skills, Veterans Affairs and the NDIS.

The former minister has come under fire in the past 12 months after facing public hearings of a royal commission into robodate.

Speaking to the inquiry, Mr Robert admitted he had knowingly misrepresented the Centrelink scheme despite personal misgivings about the illegal debt recovery programme, claiming he had ‘no choice’ but to defend government policy.

Mr Roberts told the inquest in March that he took ‘absolute responsibility’ for the illegal scheme at the time, admitting he had made false statements about RoboDet in the past, including correct calculated debts in more than 99 per cent of cases.

Mr Robert was forced to resign from the Cabinet in February 2016 over a ‘personal’ trip to China, where he met with a major liberal donor and members of the Chinese government.

Mr Robert held a number of ministerial portfolios under successive Coalition governments, including Employment and Skills, Veterans Affairs and the NDIS. The former minister has come under fire in the past 12 months after appearing before a public hearing of a royal commission into robodate.

A year later, he was investigated by the Crime and Corruption Commission after it was revealed that three candidates in the 2016 Gold Coast City Council election had been bankrolled with $70,000 in funds from the Fadden Forum, which was linked to the LNP branch’s fundraising arm.

Mr Robert told the hearing in 2017 that he did not control the branch’s funds.

Faden’s 29 polling stations will remain open until 6pm on Saturday.

More to come.


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