Dick Smith Plans To Challenge Bronwyn Bishop

22/01/2016 11:15 AM AEDT | Updated 28/09/2016 9:56 PM AEST
Fairfax Media

Colourful businessman Dick Smith has threatened to run against veteran MP Bronwyn Bishop for her seat of Mackellar, unless the Liberal Party sidelines her and runs a younger candidate.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported Smith was entertaining the possibility of contesting the seat in Sydney's north at the next election if the controversial former speaker did not call curtains on her own political career.

Bishop, who was spectacularly unseated from the speakership over a scandal involving her use of government-funded helicopters, has re-nominated for the seat and will likely be endorsed in the pre-selection process.

Unfortunately, the Herald beat us to the obvious joke about helicopter-riding Bishop and renowned pilot Smith: "They are both noted aviation enthusiasts," reporter Heath Aston quipped on Thursday.

On Friday morning's TODAY program, Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Chris Pyne said he was "sure" Bishop would be re-elected even if Smith decided to run.

"There are popular people everywhere, if Dick Smith wants to run for Parliament he can take his chances," he said.

"I'm sure Bronwyn Bishop will be returned by the electors if she chooses to run, because she is a very effective local member and has worked very hard."

Pyne famously heaped extreme praise on Bishop after her demotion from the speaker's chair.

Pyne was on a panel with Labor's shadow treasurer Chris Bowen, who alluded to other recent rumblings that older, veteran Liberal MPs could be ushered out the door before the next election.

"Well [Smith] is entitled to run. The main question is will Bronwyn Bishop be a Liberal Party candidate?" Bowen said.

"We see all sorts of trouble with Liberal Party preselections. We see Bronwyn Bishop, Philip Ruddock, Angus Taylor, Craig Kelly, John Alexander, all being challenged from what we read, in a factional warfare from the moderates, the centre right, extreme right, the left right out, all of these factions warring over seats in New South Wales."

Speaking to the SMH, Smith said he was confident of his chances, should he decide to run.

"They told me they spent money on polling and 'you would romp it in'," Smith told the SMH.

"I have been asked to stand and I am thinking about it. I would only do it as an independent," he said.


Bronwyn Bishop in parliament

The Herald reported Smith and Bishop were "childhood friends" -- growing up on the same street, attending the same school -- and that Smith would consult with her before officially throwing his hat in the ring.

"The first person I would ring if I do decide to stand is Bronwyn, I still consider her a friend," he said.

It is not the first time Smith has threatened to run against a Liberal party mainstay, after last year declaring he would run against Tony Abbott in his Warringah seat because of his concerns over regional airports. Smith said he was again planning to run due to aviation concerns.

"If it's the only way I can get these [aviation] reforms, I will do it," he said.

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