James J reports Newspoll has the Coalition lead steady at 56-44, from primary votes of 28% for Labor (down three), 46% for the Coalition (down two) and 11% for the Greens (steady), with “others” for some reason hiking five points to 15%, which GhostWhoVotes tells us is the highest since February 2006. Julia Gillard is up two on approval to 29% and one on disapproval to 62%, while Tony Abbott is down two to 30% and up four to 61% – apparently his worst net result ever. Even so, his lead as preferred prime minister has opened from 39-36 to 40-36.

Also out today:

• The weekly Essential Research has Labor recover the point it lost last week to trail 56-44, from primary votes of 33% for Labor (up two), 49% for the Coalition (steady) and 10% for the Greens (steady). Further questions find 53% thinking it “likely” an Abbott government would introduce industrial relations laws similar to WorkChoices against 22% unlikely, and 37% thinking “Australian workers” would be worse off under Abbott against 32% better off. There is also a rather complex question on amendments to surveillance and intelligence-gathering laws.

Morgan face-to-face, conducted over the previous two weekends, has two-party preferred steady at 54-46 on previous-election preferences and down from 57.5-42.5 to 57-43 on respondent-allocated. On the primary vote, Labor is up 2% to 31.5% and the Greens down 2.5% to 12%, with the Coalition steady on 43%.

Preselection news:

Newcastle (NSW, Labor 12.5%): Labor’s member since 2001, Sharon Grierson, has announced she will not contest the next election. The Newcastle Herald reports the front-runner to succeed Grierson as Labor candidate is “her long-serving staffer and Newcastle councillor Sharon Claydon”. The Liberals have preselected Jaimie Abbott, principal of media training company Gold Star Media who has worked in the past as a public affairs officer with the RAAF, media adviser to Paterson PM Bob Baldwin, and television and radio journalist.

Petrie (Qld, Labor 2.5%): Sandgate Pest Control managing director Luke Howarth has won LNP preselection from a field of ten candidates, emerging a surprise winner over the John Howard-endorsed John Connolly, former Wallabies coach and unsuccessful state candidate for Nicklin.

Rankin (Qld, Labor 5.4%): Jamie Walker of The Australian reports David Lin, Taiwanese-born founder of the Sushi Station restaurant chain, will take on Craig Emerson after winning LNP preselection from a field of six candidates.

Melbourne Ports (Vic, Labor 7.9%): NineMSN reports that the Liberals have again preselected their candidate from 2010, Kevin Ekendahl, a manager at non-profit social enterprises organisation Try Australia.

Throsby (NSW, Labor 12.1%): Bevan Shields of the Illawarra Mercury reports that Mark Hay, military prosecutor and son of state Wollongong MP Noreen Hay, has announced he will not as rumoured be launching a preselection challenge against Stephen Jones in Throsby, as he is about to take a posting with the Royal Australian Navy.