A Question of Loyalty


The Federal Member for Franklin, Harry Quick has a history of being slightly unusual in his political behaviour. He protested against the Iraq War in 2003 and once got in trouble for taking an apple into Parliament to protest against imported New Zealand apples.

Now he’s making headlines again this time for publicly supporting the Liberal Party candidate for his own seat of Franklin.

Quick was first elected to Franklin in 1993, taking over the once-safe Liberal seat from Bruce Goodluck, who had held it for 17 years, and quickly making it a safe Labor seat.

In the last Federal election, while other Labor members suffered in the polls in northern Tasmania, Quick’s support went up, making it seem as though the seat of Franklin was a strong seat for Labor and one to be relied upon in this year’s poll.

Quick decided not to contest this year’s Federal election, blaming the ALP’s left-right factional disputes and a lack of a strong Labor leadership.

In his place, the ALP preselected Kevin Harkins, a former secretary of the Electrical Trades Union. But any thoughts of Harkins quietly taking over Quick’s seat and continuing the Labor stronghold of Franklin have been ruined with Quick’s public criticism of Harkins and his apparent support of just about any other candidate in his place.

It’s not the first time Quick has shown support for non-ALP candidates. During the 2005 Tasmanian State election he caused a stir by endorsing the Greens’ candidate for Franklin, Nick McKim.

Quick says it is a simple question of loyalty and that his lies with the people of Franklin, not his fellow Party members of the ALP.

The Franklin electorate came to media and political attention last month when Prime Minister John Howard was asked if he knew the name of the Liberal candidate. The PM had to admit on live radio that he couldn’t remember Vanessa Goodwin’s name.

Just as the hype around Franklin was dying down, Harry Quick went to a bingo game with Goodwin and Federal Workplace Relations Minister Joe Hockey.

Quick denies he is actively supporting Goodwin. Instead he says he is just actively not supporting Harkins: ‘I want the best person to replace me, not someone who figures they can ride on my hard work.’

Quick says he told Labor leader Kevin Rudd that Harkins was not a good candidate for Franklin. According to Quick, preselecting Harkins is ‘not even just scraping the bottom of the barrel. This is removing stuff from underneath a barrel when the barrel’s been sitting around in disreputable circumstances for years and years.’

Harkins is a controversial choice: he currently faces court over an alleged illegal strike action back in 2005 when he was the secretary of the Electrical Trades Union and he has been a vocal critic of the Federal Government’s Industrial Relations laws. The Federal Coalition has called for Labor to drop Harkins as a candidate, but Rudd has stood by him saying that because the matter is a civil matter and not a criminal charge, Harkins will continue to have the support of the Labor Party.

Rudd has also ignored calls to expel Quick from the Party for his lack of loyalty, instead saying he would have a chat with him and that ‘Harry’s just Harry.’

We’ll have to wait and see whether Harry Quick’s apparent show of support for Vanessa Goodwin will affect the way the people of Franklin vote, but it seems certain that Quick intends to leave politics in the same manner he has conducted it: loudly and doing things his own way.

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