Turning Points

I’m fortunate to have been preselected as the ALP candidate for the federal seat of Fraser (AAP report here). I haven’t been discussing the preselection much on this blog, but it’s been the main thing occupying my attention over the past three months, as I’ve spent my nights and weekends speaking with the 240 Labor Party members who eventually voted yesterday. Thanks to a great campaign team, I’m slowly making the evolution from the academic style of hard facts and sharp differences to the political style of storytelling and common ground, but it’s been one heck of a learning experience.

The other candidates – Christina Ryan, Jim Jones, Michael Pilbrow, Mike Hettinger, Chris Bourke, Nick Martin and George Williams – are people for whom I have great respect. I was friends with most of them before the campaign began, and my admiration for them has only grown over past months.

I’m hoping to keep blogging, but have to think about the right way to evolve the blog (or whether to draw a line by starting a new blog in my capacity as an ALP candidate). So please forgive me while I try to sort that out.

In the meantime, I’m about to head to the US for what might be my last academic conference – the NBER economics of education meetings in Cambridge MA. I’ll be overseas from 26 April to 5 May. I haven’t seen Gweneth and my two little boys for nearly a month, and am missing them like crazy. Skype helps, but since the boys are aged 10 months and 3 years respectively, they don’t exactly want to talk to a computer screen for long.

For my wife Gweneth, this is going to be a particularly unusual experience. She passed her citizenship test last month, and becomes a dual Australian/US citizen on 4 June. So she’ll cast her first Australian ballot for her husband (if I’m lucky, that is..).

(a similar post was posted at Core Economics)

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29 Responses to Turning Points

  1. Lloyd Conrade says:

    Congratulations on your preselection, Andrew.

    Lloyd Conrade
    Riverton Branch, ALP

  2. David says:

    Congratulations Andrew. Best wishes and hope you can influence public policy in line with the sensible ideas I’ve read in your blog over the last few years. Maybe we’ll really have some evidence-based policy?

  3. Kevin Cox says:

    Well done Andrew. You can now concentrate on the 80,000 or is it 90,000 electors of Fraser. And you thought handling 240 members was time consuming.

    It is an interesting point that 240 voters in Fraser effectively determine who will represent us.

    As a person enrolled in the seat of Fraser I am pleased that you will be one of the candidates and I look forward to some stimulating discussion between candidates and the public. I think your blog(s) are important and how you organise them quite critical in your ability to represent us well and gather our opinions on which political compromise is acceptable:)

    Good luck and I am sure you are going to enjoy the experience.

  4. Jennifer says:

    Congratulations. I don’t comment much here, but I enjoy everything you write, and I hope you manage to make your voice heard to influence policy along the lines of your blog.

  5. Pingback: Andrew Norton » Blog Archive » Academics in politics

  6. Mark says:

    Hi Andrew
    I am a lurker here and while I’m happy for you that you have achieved a goal that was important to you, I am selfish enough to be sad for what it will probably mean for this blog.
    I hope it turns out the way you want it to.

  7. Joseph says:

    Well done. Its great to see that meritocracy is still alive in the ALP.

  8. slowey says:

    I would like to echo “David’s” thoughts. It’s great to think that a public policy expert such as yourself is now guaranteed election to the Reps in the safe seat of Fraser. Here’s hoping your views have some sway within the party room. – another David

  9. Matthew says:

    Congratulations, I’ve been a long term lurker, and it’s great to see someone with genuine ideas as a (possible) future mp.

  10. econjeff says:

    As long as you are happy in this, I wish you very well, but it is hard to imagine that the real world of politics, which is largely about telling falsehoods while giving the impression of sincerity, could be anything but torture for someone used to the rough-and-tumble truth-seeking in economics.

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  12. Pingback: Congrats to Andrew Leigh – preselected ALP candidate for Fraser « Sachi’s hyperbolic space

  13. Congratulations Andrew. A fantastic thing. Helps me think the world might struggle it’s way to being just a little bit better.

  14. Dan says:

    A long time lurker on your blog… it is wonderful to see someone like yourself winning preselection rather than an ex-staffer or unionist… Congrats!

    While candidacy and potential success will bring its own constraints, here is hoping your sharing of ideas and issues continues in some online form.

  15. Asha Titus says:

    Congratulations Andrew! It is good to see someone with a background in public policy analysis actually getting to influence its direction. On a side note, I guess if I had been offered that research assistant position last year, I would be out of work by now 🙂 All the best – I do hope you wont abandon the blog!

  16. Mitch says:

    I love your work on the value of renting over home ownership. Hopefully you’ll now be able to influence the government along these lines and that much of your other work

  17. Gavin Findlay says:

    Congratulations Andrew, and in my electorate what’s more!

  18. David says:

    Congratulations! Andrew on you preselection. You will do a fine job. But I can not resist pointing out that betting markets would have gotten your preselection totally wrong if there had been any.


  19. Matt says:

    Congratulations Andrew! It’s good to see someone with your level of interest and expertise in economics and public policy to be preselected.

  20. Peter Fyfe says:

    Congratulations Andrew!

    I never thought I’d wish I was still living in Canberra… but it would be so nice to be able to vote for someone I respect and admire.

    All the very best on the hustings,


  21. Maureen says:

    And here’s another happy Fraser dweller pleased by your pre-selection. And Gai’s too.

    Lovely to see the party hacks losing out. About time we had some real talent in the big white play house on the hill.

  22. Guy says:

    Congrats Andrew! Looking forward to seeing the Federal ALP benefit from your contribution.

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  24. Karina says:

    As the American ex-wife of one of your ANU colleagues, I’d like to say a special congratulations (on behalf of American wives!) and pass along a warning about swimming with the sharks, in the words of your colleague (who shall remain anonymous): “He’s super: a little green, doesn’t always see angles, has the right instincts, but not always backbone. But young, and learning. If the sharks don’t eat him before he’s fully grown, he’ll be great in this role.”

  25. Very impressive, indeed. Go for it!

  26. ChrisPer says:

    “I’m slowly making the evolution from the academic style of hard facts and sharp differences to the political style of storytelling and common ground”
    Congratulations on your preselection. From what I can see, the party system is very like the unreconstructed union movement – all power is kept in the inner circle. You move one step closer to a seat at the high table – but also closer to the cannibal pot that they feed from there.

  27. Clinton McMurray says:

    Congratulations Andrew. It’s great to see someone with so much expertise in social science willing to throw their hat into the ring. Best wishes

  28. PJD says:

    It must be great to have the acclaim of your peers and to achieve selection for the ballot.
    My best regards for the following tussle.

    Meanwhile might I ask the following –
    You would be taking the emerging policies of the ALP if you prevail and if the ALP remains with a majority – and since I’m beside myself with worry about a topic that might seem trivial to others – please tell me –
    My Lady Wife smokes tobacco. As it happens Mr Rudd just the other day knocked the price of a deal of tobacco up to what the price of a deal of giggleweed was back in the late 1990s.

    Now as it happens I’m not as mobile as I used to be and therefore am on a pension.
    It scares me rigid that she will be rolled in the street – assaulted for the tobacco contents of her handbag – that I’ll not be able to protect her adequately even if I’m with her – and, believe me, cannot find the way or means to dissuade her from one of the very few luxuries of our pathetic lives in this overweening nanny state.
    That puts one issue bluntly and will do for the moment.

    Please provide your comment as to what I’m expected to do.

    I am sufficiently statutorily disempowered now to the extent that I cannot tie my wife down to either prevent her from going to buy tobacco or keep her detained until the yearning for the stuff is past.
    I cannot carry a weapon to defend her though I have experienced enough threats in the street these days myself.

    I’d put it to you that the ALP majority parliament has failed to think this paltry matter through – or simply do not care enough about we imperfect mortals who have been mug enough to vote for your party for about the last four decades.

    The concern about mugging is surely at the forefront of my mind.
    But for God’s sake what IS the go when a pinch of baccy costs the same now as a gram of hashish?

    Are your lot trying to drive us all absolutely spare?

  29. PJD says:

    Sorry, my last – “giggleweed was back in the late 1990s.” – should have read – late 1960s.

    But I remain convinced that you laborites have lost the plot almost as much as the Abbott.

    And since I’m back to correct that –
    I do expect a reasoned reply and want an equally reasoned scenario provided about how exactly new outbreaks of street crime will be nullified.
    Repeat – nullified.

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