Seven days before the axe falls, to the extent that the commencement of pre-polling at the start of this week hasn’t lowered it already. Local level intelligence from around the place:

• The Illawarra Mercury has published two more IRIS Research polls of local electorates, which I presume had samples of 400 and margins of error approaching 5 per cent. In Wollongong, Labor’s Noreen Hay is found to be headed for defeat at the hands of independent Gordon Bradbery, who leads her 54-46. In Keira however it’s 50-50, which compares with a 52-48 Liberal lead in the previous poll conducted early last month.

• Informed local observer Oakeshott Country relates in comments that a new publication by the name of The Port Paper has published a poll of 373 respondents in Port Macquarie conducted by Strategic Marketing. This found independent incumbent Peter Besseling on 34 per cent, Nationals candidate Leslie Williams on 40 per cent and Labor on 14 per cent, which panned out to 50-50 after preferences (although skepticism has been expressed about the methodology used here). Oakeshott Country notes the Nationals are putting a lot of effort into the seat with an emphasis on negative advertising, which is presumably not a sign of over-confidence.

Imre Salusinszky of The Australian on the Nationals’ hopes:

The rural and regional-based party is looking to add six seats to its kitty next Saturday. Three presently belong to Labor: Bathurst, in the state’s central west, held by popular retiring MP Gerard Martin; Monaro, on the far south coast, held by Emergency Services Minister Steve Whan; and Cessnock, held by another popular retiring MP, Kerry Hickey. Those would be sweet victories, but not nearly as sweet as defeating three popular rural independents whom the Nationals regard as interlopers: Dawn Fardell in the western seat of Dubbo; Peter Draper in the northern seat of Tamworth; and Peter Besseling in the north coast seat of Port Macquarie. Independent MPs will not feel the full force of the anti-Labor swing. What they might feel instead is their conservative constituents’ wrath at the actions of federal independent MPs Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor, whose seats of Lyne and New England overlap the state seats of Tamworth and Port Macquarie. Stoner plans to leverage Oakeshott’s and Windsor’s support for the minority Gillard government for every vote it’s worth.

Imre Salusinszky of The Australian further reports that Labor strategists are “cautiously confident” that Monaro MP Steve Whan can defend his 6.3 per cent margin, which would be an enormous achievement under the circumstances.

Sean Nicholls of the Sydney Morning Herald reports a heavy duty campaigning effort has Labor increasingly confident that John Robertson can defend the 22.4 per cent margin in Blacktown.

• Stephen Bromhead, the Nationals candidate to replace the retiring John Turner in their safe seat of Myall Lakes, is in a stable condition in John Hunter Hospital after a car accident.

• Centrebet has issued a breathless press release saying its betting points to a result of Coalition 69, Labor 17, independents five and Greens two.

• Latest additions to the election guide have focused in inner and southern Sydney: Vaucluse, Cronulla, Coogee, Maroubra, Heffron, Drummoyne, Strathfield, Canterbury, Rockdale, Kogarah, Oatley, Parramatta, Sydney and Marrickville.

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