The latest Newspoll shows Labor’s lead at 52-48, equal lowest since the election of the Rudd government. It is the first time the government has trailed on the primary vote, by 40 per cent (steady on the previous poll) to 41 per cent (up three points) – the previous 52-48 result from October 30-November 1 having had the parties on 41 per cent each. The Greens are steady on 12 per cent, with “others” down from 10 per cent to 7 per cent. Kevin Rudd has suffered no damage on preferred prime minister, leading 58 per cent to 26 per cent (both up one). More to follow.

Other news:

Essential Research has Labor’s two-party lead at 56-44 for the third week running. It also finds that while the majority of Labor and Coalition voters are firm if not fruity, 24 per cent of Greens voters (double the rate for the majors) “might consider another party and leader closer to an election”. Seventy per cent say politicians “should not be giving advice on moral issues”. Fifty-seven per cent support the Shopping Centre Council’s call for a ban on politicians campaigning in shopping centres. Respondents want a republic but not a new flag, nor (what the hell is wrong with people?) a new national anthem.

• Political party financial disclosure returns, such as they are, have been published. Labor and the Coalition parties were evenly matched on receipts, Labor receiving $42.9 million for 2008-09 against $38.4 million for the Liberals and $5.2 million for the Nationals – sharply down on last year due to the absence in the period of so much as a by-election. The Australian counts $4.65 million in donations to Labor from unions (the opposition makes it $11 million), the Coalition parties received $800,000 from Clive Palmer, and the Westfield Corporation evenly divided $230,000 between the two. Stephen Mayne in Crikey points to the disparity between the Queensland and WA branches of the ALP in a period when both had state elections: $14.3 million in receipts and $15.8 million in expenses for the victorious party in Queensland, against $4 million and $4.5 million for the defeated party in WA. Labor is $7 million in debt, the Liberals $4.2 million.

Tim Dick of the Sydney Morning Herald reviews the recall election issue. All of the American examples cited refer to individual offices – a very different matter from dissolving an assembly, which the Coalition proposes to look at once in government. However, the article also notes the Canadian province of British Columbia has allowed members to recall their local MPs since 1995. Only one attempt managed to procure the required 40 per cent of voters’ signatures, and the MP in question obviated the need for a recall election (as distinct from a by-election) by resigning. In the current environment in New South Wales, that would obviously inspire efforts to knock off enough Labor MPs to cost the government its majority.

Toni Bell of the Manning River Times reports John Turner, Nationals member for the NSW state seat of Myall Lakes, has announced his 23-year parliamentary career will end at next year’s election. Turner lost the party’s deputy leadership in 2003 and was dumped as Shadow Mineral Resources and Lands Minister in December 2008. The electorate, which covers the north coast north of Newcastle and south of Port Macquarie, will presumably become of interest to the Liberals.