Hanging on in WA. The latest Westpoll in The West Australian surveyed five marginal electorates and concluded that the Liberal Party is capable of achieving an unlikely victory in the state election while its new leader Colin Barnett is closing the gap on Premier Alan Carpenter. Westpoll had the Liberals leading in four seats and in a dead heat with Labor in the fifth. But the election is still too close to call, the newspaper says, with Labor maintaining a 0.4 percentage point lead over the Liberals on a two-party-preferred basis, according to the overall state voting intention. In The Australian, the first Newspoll since the election was called was also published on Saturday. It too showed the newly installed Colin Barnett has slashed the huge lead Premier Alan Carpenter enjoyed as preferred premier over his previous opponent, the disgraced Troy Buswell. Overall Newspoll had the two party vote at 51% for Labor. On those figures, said the Oz, Labor would lose at least four seats, almost half of its majority. The Crikey Election Indicator continues to show Labor as the clear favourite – rated a 74% chance of winning to the Liberal Party’s 26%.

New Zealand Labour on the way out? Two opinion polls released in the last week show that the government of Helen Clark is in grave danger of defeat at the forthcoming election. The Morgan poll gave the Opposition Nationals as 14 point lead while the Fairfax-Nielsen poll had the lead as 19 points. Under the Nielsen poll, none of the minor parties reached the 5 per cent threshold needed to be represented in the new Parliament without winning an electorate seat. Morgan had the Greens and NZ First at above the 5% figure. The Crikey election Indicator puts the Nationals as a 74% probability of becoming the government with Labour at 26%.

The political zombies. That Bob Hope was a prescient man can be seen from this little clip on YouTube where I am sure he was talking about the Australian Democrats.

Another Costello tea leaf. I have looked at the tea leaves in the bottom of my cup and seen that Phil Gaetjens, the highly competent and extremely loyal chief of staff to Peter Costello for a decade or more, has taken a job in Singapore. My reading is that his boss will not change his mind about the Liberal leadership and that the contest when it comes will see Malcolm Turnbull emerge as the Leader of the Opposition.

Perfect time for an independent. Yet another opinion poll showing that the Liberal-National coalition has not made up any ground on Labor federally suggests that the time is right for an independent to do well at the Mayo and Lyne by elections. Labor is not contesting either seat yet there is sure to be some resentment at the resignation of the members people elected only nine months ago.

Peter Fray

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