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The electoral fortunes of MPs who left major parties and contested the next election as Independents


In early April this year, sitting member Dr Dennis Jensen failed to win Liberal Party preselection for his Western Australian seat of Tangney. A month later, he announced that he would contest the seat in the 2016 election as an Independent. In support of his chances of winning the seat, Dr Jensen cited the examples of West Australians Paul Filing and Allan Rocher who both did so after losing preselection and standing as Independents at the 1996 federal election.

Over the last 50 years there have been 17 MPs from major parties who contested their seats as Independents after leaving their parties. Only five of these (Sam Benson, Graeme Campbell, Allan Rocher, Paul Filing and Bob Katter) successfully regained their seats as Independents at the election following their departure from their parties. Three (Campbell, Rocher and Filing) then lost their seats at their second election as Independents. Benson retired before his second election as an Independent, and Katter went on to win three more elections as an Independent and then a fifth election (2013) as the leader of Katter’s Australian Party.

The table below lists the electoral outcomes for members of the House of Representatives who left major parties and then stood as Independents:

  • After having failed to win preselection for their party; or

  • After having been disendorsed by their party; or

  • After having been expelled from their party; or

  • After having resigned from their party.  

MP

Electorate

State

Date of election(s) as party candidate

Party/IND

Electoral Outcome as an Independent

Bate, Jeff

Macarthur

Vic

10.12.49

LIB; lost preselection and became IND from Oct 1972

Def 2.12.72

Benson, Sam

Batman

Vic

1.9.62

ALP; expelled and became IND from Aug 1966

Won 26.11.66

Buchanan, Alexander

McMillan

Vic

10.12.55

LIB; lost preselection and became IND from Nov 1972

Def 2.12.72

Campbell, Graeme

Kalgoorlie

WA

18.10.80

ALP; disendorsed and became IND from Nov 1995

Won 2.3.96

Def 3.10.98

Filing, Paul

Moore

WA

24.3.90

LIB; lost preselection and became IND from Jun 1995

Won 2.3.96

Def 3.10.98

Johnson, Michael

Ryan

Qld

10.11.01

LIB; expelled and became IND from May 2010

Def 21.8.10

Katter, Bob

Kennedy

Qld

13.3.93

7.9.13

NPA; resigned and became IND from Jul 2001; KAP from Sep 2011

Won 10.11.01

Won 9.10.04

Won 24.11.07

Won 21.8.10

King, Peter

Wentworth

NSW

10.11.01

LIB; lost preselection and became IND from Sep 2004

Def 9.10.04

O’Connor, Gavan

Corio

Vic

13.3.93

ALP; lost preselection and became IND from Oct 2007

Def 24.11.07

Rocher, Allan

Curtin

WA

21.2.81

LIB; lost preselection and became IND from Aug 1995

Won 2.3.96

Def 3.10.98

Slipper, Peter

Fisher

Qld

1.12.84

13.3.93

NPA (Def 11.7.87)

LIB; resigned and become IND from Nov 2011

Def 7.9.13

Smith, Anthony

Dickson

Qld

2.3.96

LIB; lost preselection and became IND from May 1998

Def 3.10.98

St John, Edward

Warringah

NSW

26.11.66

LIB; resigned and became IND from Apr 1969

Def 25.10.69

Theophanous, Andrew

Burke

Calwell

Vic

Vic

18.10.80

1.12.84

ALP; resigned and became IND from Apr 2000

Def 10.11.01

Thomson, Craig

Dobell

NSW

24.11.07

ALP; resigned and became IND from Apr 2012

Def 7.9.13

Wright, Keith

Capricornia

Qld

1.12.84

ALP; disendorsed and became IND from Feb 1993

Def 13.3.93

Zammit, Paul

Lowe

NSW

2.3.96

LIB; resigned and became IND from Feb 1998

Def 3.10.98

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