The latest fortnightly Newspoll offers the government a mixed bag: its best result on two-party preferred since May, with the Coalition lead cut to 54-46 from 57-43 last time, but a 10-point net decline in support for the carbon tax since late July. The two-party shift is entirely down to a four point drop in the Coalition primary vote to 45 per cent, with Labor remaining stuck on 29 per cent. The Greens have leapt three points to 15 per cent, their best result since March. Julia Gillard is up on both approval (three pionts to 31 per cent) and disapproval (one point to 61 per cent), while Tony Abbott is down two on approval to 34 per cent and up two on disapproval to 55 per cent. Abbott’s lead as preferred prime minister is down from 40-35 to 39-36. Support for the carbon tax is down four points to 32 per cent, with opposition up six to 59 per cent.
• The federal redistribution for South Australia has been finalised, with no changes made to the draft proposals from August. The biggest changes are the transfer of about 10,000 areas in an area around Aberfoyle Park from Mayo to Boothby, and a redrawing of the northern end of Port Adelaide, which has gained 8000 voters around Burton from Wakefield and lost a projected 7200 voters in an area of rapid growth around Salisbury Park to Makin. None of the changes is too remarkable in terms of likely outcomes at the next election – Antony Green has as always calculated notional margins on the new boundaries.
• Antony also reviews the finalised state redistribution for Western Australia, where the main change on the draft is the reversal of a plan to move Mandurah from the South West upper house region to South Metropolitan.
• There’s also the finalised redistribution for the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly, which on this occasion has proved a slightly less dull subject than usual.
• The Sun-Herald reports a “fractious meeting of the 17-member Liberal state executive” has narrowly endorsed a plan to hold preselection primaries in federal seats yet to be determined. According to Niki Savva on the ABC’s Insiders program, it is “only a decision that’s been made in principle and they might try it in one or two seats to see how it goes, and that’s something that will be negotiated between the NSW and the federal divisions”. The Sun-Herald report also says nominations for most Liberal-held seats will be open tomorrow (Monday) and settled by next month.
• With respect to the state’s Labor-held seats, the federal Liberal Party is fast-tracking preselections for eight key seats: Dobell, Robertson, Lindsay, Greenway, Reid, Banks, Parramatta and Eden-Monaro. The Sunday Telegraph reports “local builder Matthew Lusted” is the front-runner in Dobell, and that Tony Abbott has approached unsuccessful 2010 candidate David Gazard to try again in Eden-Monaro. The Telegraph has elsewhere reported that Ross Cameron, who held Parramatta from 1996 until his defeat until 2004, is contemplating a return to politics depending on the state of his business affairs. However, he is not interested in recovering his old seat, instead having his sights on Dobell, Robertson, Kingsford-Smith or the Senate. Cameron is encouraging Rachel Merton, daughter of former state Baulkham Hills MP Wayne Merton, to contest Parramatta. Di Bartok of the Parramatta Advertiser reports that the candidate from 2010, engineer Charles Camenzuli, is also interested in running, as are “Martin Zaiter, Brett Murray and George Goivos”.
• Michelle Harris of the Newcastle Herald reports Jaimie Abbott, a former media adviser to Paterson MP Bob Baldwin and RAAF reservist who has served in Afghanistan, has emerged as the front-runner for Liberal preselection in Newcastle.
• The NSW Nationals have changed their constitution to allow local party members to determine what kind of preselection they want, including the option of “community preselections” along the lines of US-style open primaries. A trial in the seat of Tamworth before the 2011 election attracted over 4000 voters and produced a winning candidate in Kevin Anderson.
• LNP campaign director James McGrath has confirmed his interest in succeeding Alex Somlyay as member for the federal Sunshine Coast seat of Fairfax. McGrath has recently been embroiled in controversy over his role in paying former Labor candidate Robert Hough to compile dirt files on party figures. In 2008 McGrath was sacked from a job as adviser to London lord mayor Boris Johnson after making an allegedly racist comment about the city’s black community.
• The Burnie Advocate reports Glynn Williams, “Poppy Growers Tasmania president, legal practitioner and Hospice Care Association North West president”, has nominated for Liberal preselection in Braddon. It is presumed he will face opposition from Brett Whiteley, who lost his seat at last year’s state election. The Advocate reported on September 17 that an internal Liberal poll of 220 respondents conducted from August 22-25 had the Liberals leading 60-40 on two-party preferred.
• Market research company ReachTel has recently published two results from automated phone polls, the first targeting 850 respondents in Labor’s most marginal Queensland electorate of Moreton and published on October 12. The poll put incumbent Graham Perrett 54-46 behind on two-party preferred, from primary votes of 35 per cent for Labor, 48 per cent for the LNP and 9 per cent for the Greens. The poll also asked respondents about the carbon tax, finding 39 per cent support and 54 per cent opposition.
• The second ReachTel poll, published on October 19, was a national survey of 2428 which canvased three attitudinal questions. On the future of the present government, three options were offered: 50 per cent went for an immediate election, 36.5 per cent thought the Gillard government should serve out its term, and 14 per cent believed that Kevin Rudd should take over as Prime Minister. A question on same-sex marriage produced a very much more negative response than previous such inquiries from Essential Research and Westpoll: 43 per cent were in favour and 47 per cent were opposed. The Transport Workers Union’s industrial action against Qantas had 36 per cent support and 44 per cent opposition. Results on all three questions showed strong distinctions according to voting intention.