James J reports Newspoll has ticked a point in the Coalition’s favour, so that they now lead 51-49 on two-party preferred. This is down to a two-point increase in their primary vote to 43%, with Labor steady on 36% and the Greens steady on 10%. There is yet again bad news for Tony Abbott on personal ratings: his approval is down three points to 27% and his disapproval is up five to 63%. This marks a new low for him on net approval, and has been matched since the inception of Newspoll (in late 1985) only by the polls which preceded the downfalls of Alexander Downer in January 1995 and John Hewson in April 1994, and several for Andrew Peacock in the lead-up to the 1990 election. Julia Gillard meanwhile is respectively up two to 37% and up one to 52%, and her lead as preferred prime minister has widened from 45-34 to 46-32.

Today’s Essential Research survey included its monthly personal rating questions, and these too found Abbott falling to new lows. Whereas the previous survey showed both leaders up in the immediate aftermath of Julia Gillard’s sexism and misogyny speech, the latest result has Abbott down four on approval to 33% and up four on disapproval to 58%. Gillard is steady on approval at 41% approval and down two on disapproval to 49%, and her lead as preferred prime minister is up from 43-36 to 45-32, her best result since February 2011.

Essential is also chiming better with Newspoll now on voting intention, with the Coalition’s lead now at 52-48 (down from 53-47 last week) from primary votes of 37% for Labor (steady), 45% for the Coalition (down one) and 9% for the Greens (steady). Also canvassed are options on how the government might rein in the budget, with reducing or means testing the baby bonus and increasing tax for those on high incomes respectively coming on top.

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Preselection news:

Ben McClellan of the Blacktown Advocate reports there are “at least” 10 candidates for the Liberal preselection in Greenway, of whom the highest profile is former Rose Tattoo singer Gary “Angry” Anderson. However, the presumed front-runner is the candidate from 2010, Jayme Diaz, whose work as a migration lawyer and family background in the locally numerous Filipino community is believed to stand him in good stead. Diaz is aligned with the David Clarke “hard Right”, but he apparently has an opponent in Tony Abbott, who no doubt has a strong recollection of Diaz’s failure to win the crucial seat last time. Also mentioned as starters have been Ben Jackson and Brett Murray, who are associated with federal Mitchell MP Alex Hawke’s “Centre Right” faction.

• The Tasmanian Liberals have preselected Brett Whiteley, who held in state parliament from 2002 until his defeat in 2010, as their federal candidate for marginal north-western seat of Braddon. The party originally chose local businessman Michael Burr, but he withdrew for health reasons. Whiteley did not contest the original preselection, saying at the time he was focused on returning to state politics.

Chris Johnson of the Canberra Times reports that Kate Hamilton, a former councillor in Leichhardt in inner Sydney, and local party member Stephen Darwin will join former GetUp! director Simon Sheikh in the contest for Greens preselection for the Senate in the Australian Capital Territory.

Phillip Coorey of the Sydney Morning Herald reports on the prospect of federal executive intervention if Noreen Hay, state Wollongong MP and member for the Right, uses her influence over the local numbers to back a preselection challenge against Stephen Jones, federal member for Throsby and member of the Left.

• Don Farrell has agreed to accept relegation to the second position on Labor’s South Australian Senate ticket in deference to Penny Wong, after his victory in the state conference ballot met a hostile response within the party and without.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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