The latest Morgan face-to-face poll, conducted last week from a sample of 931, has failed to replicate the convulsion of Newspoll. Labor holds a two-party lead of 54-46, down from 54.5-45.5 last weekend and 56-44 a fortnight previous. Labor’s primary vote has remained stable through the period: from 43 per cent to 44 per cent to 43.5 per cent, while the Coalition have gone from 37.5 per cent to 40.5 per cent to 40 per cent. Like Newspoll, the result suggests the ETS issue has not benefited the Greens, who have gone from 12 per cent to 8 per cent to 9 per cent. However, there is no evidence of the starting rise in Newspoll’s “others” vote. While a heartening result for Labor in some respects, this is still their worst result in a Morgan two-party poll since November 2006.
It also follows yesterday’s Morgan phone poll of 555 respondents which had the parties locked on 50-50. The principal concern of the poll was to gauge opinion on the tax package: among other things, it found 43 per cent believing the package would make them better off against 25 per cent worse off, while 47 per cent thought it would be good for Australia against 34 per cent bad.
• Labor sources are feeding The West Australian details of serious concerns about the party’s federal prospects in Western Australia in the wake of the mining tax policy announcement. On Wednesday, The West’s Andrew Probyn cited talk of “disastrous” internal polling in the seat of Hasluck, held by Sharryn Jackson on a post-redistribution margin of 1.0 per cent, which could only have been conducted before the announcement was made. Today the paper goes so far as to report “party strategists” believe Stephen Smith and Gary Gray might be imperilled in Perth and Brand, respectively said to be home to “up to 15,000 mostly city-based mining sector workers” and “up to 20,000 fly-in fly-out mining workers” (which I have to say sounds a bit much). The Liberal-held marginal of Swan, which the redistribution has nudged over to the other side of the pendulum, is “expected to remain in the hands of hard-working Liberal Steve Irons”. It can presumably be inferred that Alannah MacTiernan is also unlikely to have much luck in Canning. The report further states the tax “may also see the Liberal Party hold a third Senate spot … at the expense of the Greens”. Confusingly, this appears to suggest the two scenarios on the table are three Labor/three Liberal and three Labor/two Liberal/one Greens, both rosier for Labor than the three Liberal/two Labor/one Greens result that has become the WA norm.
• The Illawarra Mercury has published a poll of voters in safe Labor Throsby and Cunningham. Thanks to DaveM in comments, we learn this has Labor’s primary vote at 49 per cent (down 10 per cent on 2007), the Liberals on 29 per cent (up 4 per cent), the Greens on 12 per cent (steady) and “others” on 11 per cent (up 7 per cent). The sample was a threadbare 304, which gives a margin of error of about 5.5 per cent. Respondents were also asked about the federal government health takeover, which had 72 per cent support; and priorities for the budget, with 30 per cent nominating income assistance for pensioners and the unemployed, 26 per cent avoiding debt, 22 per cent cutting taxes to stimulate the ecnomy, 11 per cent assisting business to stimulate the economy and 9 per cent increasing spending to stimulate the economy.
• Former South Sydney and state-of-origin rugby league player David Boyle has been installed as Labor candidate for Gilmore by the party’s national executive. Nicole Hasham of the Illawarra Mercury reports this went against the express wishes of the party’s Gilmore federal electorate council, which passed a unanimous motion calling for the non-local Boyle to withdraw – presumably out of pique that they were not being allowed a rank-and-file ballot. Two other candidates who hoped to contest such a ballot were Neil Reilly, who ran in 2007, and Glen Sims, a Culburra real estate agent.
• James Massola of the Canberra Times reports David Gazard, acting director of the ACT Liberals, is seeking preselection for Eden-Monaro. It also reported that ACT Liberals are concerned that in pursuing this ambition he is neglecting the job of finalising federal candidates on his own bailiwick. The preselection process for Canberra and Fraser is said to have been “brought to a halt last year by party strategists including president Winifred Rosser and Tio Faulkner, an adviser to ACT opposition leader Zed Seselja, amid concerns about the lack of a stand-out candidate”.
• Jennifer Bennett of the Wentworth Courier reports Woollahra mayor Andrew Petrie has entered the bewildering field for Liberal preselection in Vaucluse, and that Sydney councillor Shayne Mallard does not propose to contest as a second-best option now the return of Malcolm Turnbull has thwarted his hopes for Wentworth.
• Phillip Coorey of the Sydney Morning Herald reports the Turnbull comeback has Labor aspirants for Wentworth thinking again. One such is said to be Robin Margo, senior counsel and NSW Jewish Board of Deputies president, who was first touted a week ago. Labor’s preselection for the seat will be held on June 5.
• Labor’s Karen Overington has announced she will not seek another term in Ballarat West
at the Victorian state election in November, citing the death of her husband last October and health problems of her own. This could make life difficult for Labor in a seat it holds by a margin of 6.6 per cent. Kim Stephens of the Ballarat Courier reports the first preselection nominee to come forward is Sharon Knight, manager of Lifeline Ballarat and family counselling services at Uniting Care Ballarat, and a former electorate officer to federal Ballarat MP Catherine King. Andrew Eales of the Courier also reports Ballarat councillor Cheryl Bromfield would “consider” running. “Ballarat businessman” Craig Coltman has been endorsed as Liberal candidate.
• The Diamond Valley Leader reports the Victorian Liberals’ central committee has installed Andrew Hart as candidate for the state seat of Eltham. The preselection process was delayed after the presumed front-runner, Nillumbik mayor Bo Bendtsen, withdrew from both the race and his position on council earlier in the year. The Leader reports two other aspirants, Simon Marston and Maxwell Gratton, withdrew shortly before the rescheduled preselection date, in the former case because the party had told him that at 62 he was too old.
• Queensland’s opposition has suffered a serious setback with two members quitting from the Liberal National Party: Burnett MP Rob Messenger, best remembered for his pursuit of the Beattie government over the “Doctor Death” scandal at Bundaberg Hospital, and Beaudesert MP Aidan McLindon, who entered parliament at the age of 29 at the 2009 election and launched a quixotic challenge against Lawrence Springborg’s position as deputy leader in February. The pair’s publicly stated grievances, it has to be said seem rather vague. AAP reports both supported John-Paul Langbroek for the leadership, and that their loss might weaken his position. Langbroek however professes himself glad to see the back of them, complaining they were “more concerned with their personal agenda than that of our political party and the direction I and the leadership team are taking the party”.
• Another new addition to the ranks of Australia’s independent parliamentarians is Fremantle MP Adele Carles, whose decision to part company with the Greens on Thursday deprived the party of its only mainland lower house MP.
• ABC New England North West identifies three candidates who will seek preselection under the NSW Nationals open primary experiment for the state seat of Tamworth, held by independent Peter Draper. They include local mayor James Treloar, who ran unsuccessfully as an independent in 2001 when the seat was vacated by Tony Windsor’s entry to federal politics in New England; Russell Webb, a Tamworth councillor; and Mark Rodda, a departmental officer with the Land and Property Management Authority.
• DaveM in comments tells us the Illawarra Mercury reports plans by the Nationals to run a candidate in Throsby, for what reason I cannot imagine. The paper also reports “business consultant” Michelle Blicavs has been the Liberals’ only nominee for the state seat of Wollongong, held safely for Labor by high-profile Noreen Hay.
• Note the the looming by-election for the NSW state seat of Penrith, expected to be held in six weeks, is the subject of its own post.