After a fairly lengthy period where the phone pollsters marched in lock-step, GhostWhoVotes reports that Newspoll has broken away from the pack with a 52-48 lead for Labor. More to follow.

UPDATE: The Australian reports Julia Gillard’s lead as preferred prime minister is up from 49-34 to 54-31, but that “only 23 per cent of voters believe the government should go ahead with the NBN without meeting the Coalition demands for a full costing of the venture”.

UPDATE 2: Full tables here, as usual courtesy of GhostWhoVotes. Labor is up two points on the primary vote to 36 per cent, the Coalition down four to 39 per cent and the Greens up one to 14 per cent. Julia Gillard’s approval rating is up five to 46 per cent and her disapproval down four to 37 per cent, while Tony Abbott is down two on approval to 42 per cent and up three on disapproval to 45 per cent. Given the lack of corroboration elsewhere, the collective move in Labor’s favour should be treated with due caution (although their figures were probably a bit undercooked in the previous poll). On the National Broadband Network, 42 per cent support the Coalition’s demand for a cost-benefit analysis with the aforementioned 23 per cent opposed, while 19 per cent express wholesale opposition to the project “in its current form”.

Other matters:

• Peter Wellington, who has enjoyed enormous electoral success since winning the Sunshine Coast hinterland seat of Nicklin at the 1998 state election, says he will run in the corresponding federal seat of Fairfax if the Coalition’s “spoiler” tactics succeed in bringing on an early election. Fairfax has been held since 1990 by Alex Somlyay, a former Liberal and current Liberal National who has said he will not seek another term. Kate Dennehy of Fairfax reports speculation that James McGrath, a “former federal Liberal Party deputy director who reportedly had a falling out with its director”, might be interested in the LNP preselection.

Phillip Coorey of the Sydney Morning Herald has more on JWS Research focus group findings which were reported on in the context of the Victorian election by the Sunday Herald-Sun, this time in relation to federal politics. Labor is said to be suffering a perception that having dumped one leader they could very easily dump another, and that its minority government position has made it “too afraid to make a decision at the risk of offending someone”. While Gillard is “liked”, voters “do not think she is shaping up well as a leader”. However, Tony Abbott has problems of his own, with women finding him “a bit of a bully boy”.

Joe Spagnolo of the Sunday Times reports speculation Alannah MacTiernan will run for lord mayor of Perth next year, after failing in her recent bid to move from state to federal politics. The story goes that MacTiernan is keen to again run federally for Canning, but “a three-year wait for another federal election was proving too much”. The report also says Labor was hoping the present lord mayor, Lisa Scaffidi, might make way for by running for the party at the next state election, but the ABC reports she “angrily rejected” suggestions she might do so.

• Tasmania’s Legislative Council last week voted against a motion supporting an increase in the chamber’s numbers from 15 to 19. This follows an agreement between the Labor, Liberal and Greens leaders last month that the Legislative Assembly should revert to the 35-member seven-seat region model which prevailed until 1998, when Labor and the Liberals combined to support a 25-member five-seat model in the expectation that it would neuter the Greens. The ongoing rise in the latter’s electoral support gave lie to that, and the state returned to minority government with the election of one Greens member in each region at the election held in March – with the added sting of the major parties being deprived of the range of parliamentary talent that they would have enjoyed in the old days. However, Premier David Bartlett told Tim Cox on ABC Radio that it would be up to the Council to decide if it wanted to follow suit in reverting to its pre-1998 numbers. The motion was opposed by the chamber’s three Labor members, who were no doubt mindful that the proposed increase in lower house numbers was a hard enough sell as it was – although the solitary Liberal, Vanessa Goodwin, joined with four independents in support.

• Also in Tasmania, state Treasurer Michael Aird has announced he will be quitting his upper house seat of Derwent, to which he was re-elected for a six-year term at the periodical election in May 2009. This means an election for the seat will be held concurrently with the annual periodical upper house elections on the first Saturday in May, which next year will cover the seats of Launceston (previously known as Paterson), Murchison and Rumney, respectively held by independent Don Wing, independent Ruth Forrest and Labor’s Lin Thorp. The ABC reports talk Labor preselection might be contested by David Llewellyn, who lost his seat in Lyons to party rival Rebecca White. More surprisingly, Damien Brown of The Mercury reports former Premier Paul Lennon might fancy a tilt at the seat. The Liberals have confirmed they will field a candidate for the seat, which has traditionally been safe for Labor.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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