My federal election guide is at long last open for business – note the link on the sidebar below the Crikey Daily Mail ad. It could have done with another proof read, so apologies for any broken links, misplaced slabs of text or references to Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister that might remain. Entries will be progressively updated/corrected/tarted up in the weeks to come.

Miscellaneous recent happenings:

• Nominations have closed, and the ballot paper draw will be conducted tomorrow. The Australian Electoral Commission informs us there are 14,030,528 names on the electoral roll: click here for astoundingly detailed age and gender breakdowns by electorate.

• The Age reports the High Court will hear a constitutional challenge by GetUp! against the closure of the electoral rolls on the evening the writs are issued, as provided for by the Howard government’s 2005 electoral law changes.

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• ABC TV’s The Gruen Nation and The Chaser’s Yes We Canberra! cleaned up in the ratings on Wednesday, recording 1.6 million and 1.5 million viewers respectively. This brings to mind a growing field of study in the United States on the impact of “soft news” (usual suspects: Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert) as a bona fide campaign information source for those bored by or cynical of the established news media institutions.

• As in 2007, Google has put together an election site which will come into its own, at least for my purposes, when polling booth locations are added as promised “closer to election day”.

Horse race stuff:

• Andrew Probyn of The West Australian reports Labor internal polling has them at 50-50 in Hasluck and Swan, but trailing 53-47 in Canning. Labor are also said to be expecting a Greens preference split of about 65-35 compared with 76-24 in 2007. It is noted that a lower flow of Greens preferences is expected in Hasluck in particular as both the Greens and the Liberals have endorsed Aboriginal candidates.

• This is how Brisbane academic and blogger Mark Bahnisch sees his local turf:

Longman is looking good for the ALP, with 20 year old LNP candidate Wyatt Roy failing to swing voters. Petrie is showing more evidence of a swing towards the Coalition, though the LNP candidate Dean Teasdale is low profile and Labor holds it by a relatively solid margin compared to its two neighbours. (Teasdale initially expressed scepticism about the rail promise, only to have the Coalition leadership match the funding later in the afternoon.) Dickson is looking very bad for its incumbent MP Peter Dutton, with Labor’s Fiona McNamara able to capitalise on his failed attempt to defect to the safer seat of McPherson.

Electorate-level news nuggets:

Robertson (Labor 0.1%): Belinda Neal has opted not to run as an independent in her seat of Robertson, contrary to widespread earlier speculation. AAP refers to “reports Ms Neal was angling for a spot in the NSW parliament”, assuming there are any left for Labor after the voters are done with them.

Dawson (Labor 2.4%): Queensland’s Crime and Misconduct Commission has dismissed 17 allegations of misconduct relating to corporate credit card use against Labor’s candidate for Dawson, Whitsunday mayor Mike Brunker. The allegations have been the subject of newspaper advertising by the Liberal National Party candidate, George Christensen. Brunker reacted to the news by complaining of “a serial pest out there in the Whitsundays who instigated all this”.

There’s always one. In fact, there’s often several. Certainly this campaign’s had a few:

Chifley (Labor 20.7%): With less than a week left before the closure of nominations, the Liberals were forced to disendorse a candidate whose preselection marked an embarrassing failure for its candidate-vetting procedures. David Barker is a conservative Christian of marked eccentricity, and according to Imre Salusinszky of The Australian was “never grilled by a full preselection panel and was interviewed only by phone before being chosen”. Astoundingly given the party’s form with Husic, Barker wrote on his Facebook page: “We ran a big risk running a guy who holds these views against a Muslim candidate.” He was promptly replaced by grocery store owner Venus Priest.

Flinders (Liberal 8.2%): Initial Labor candidate Adrian Schonfelder was a casualty of the first week, after he said Tony Abbott’s conservative social positions were “influencing people to take their own lives”. Schonfelder apologised and soon after withdrew as candidate, saying a car accident on the Friday had left him “shocked and incapacitated”.

Parramatta (Labor 9.5%): Liberal candidate Charles Camenzuli has received unwelcome publicity in the past week after Channel Nine revealed he had been criticised by a Supreme Court judge. The court ordered Camenzuli to stop publishing criticisms of building industry rival Beechwood Homes on his website, which the judge deemed “motivated by personal spite”.

As a Crikey subscriber and someone who began working as a journalist in 1957, I am passionate about the importance of independent media like Crikey. I met a lot of Australians from many walks of life during my career and did my best to share their stories honestly and fairly with their fellow citizens.

And I never forgot how important it is to hold politicians to account. Crikey does that – something that is more important now than ever before in Australia.

North Stradbroke Island, QLD

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