GhostWhoVotes reports that Newspoll’s long awaited October-December result of state voting intention in Western Australia shows Colin Barnett’s government on track for a landslide win at the election to be held on March 9. The Liberal-National lead on two-party preferred is 58-42, up a point on an already surprisingly robust lead for July-September, from primary votes of 43% for the Liberals (steady), 6% for the Nationals (up one), 30% for Labor (steady) and 12% for the Greens (steady). Colin Barnett’s personal ratings are essentially unchanged, his approval up a point to 49% and disapproval steady on 37%, while Mark McGowan is down four on approval to 44% and up three on disapproval to 26%. Barnett’s lead as preferred premier is up from 45-29 to 48-29. The sample for the poll was 869, with a margin of error of about 3.3%.

Lower house preselection news:

• The Liberal Party state council has confirmed, apparently with some reluctance, the preselection of sustainability consultant Matt Taylor in Christian Porter’s seat of Bateman. Gareth Parker of The West Australian reported the state council had earlier gone back and forth on the question of whether the preselection should be conducted according to the usual procedure, with a vote of delegates from eligible branches, or by a plebiscite of all members, which was on the table because the electorate had only one eligible branch. A plebiscite was initially favoured, which would reportedly have been bad news for Taylor, but there followed a change of mind and a ballot held by the one eligible branch. Taylor duly prevailed in the ballot over RAC executive Matt Brown by 10 votes to nine, with lawyer Jane Timmermanis and teacher Cam Tinley as also-rans. However, the state council initially refused to ratify the result and resolved to determine the matter directly, only to concur with the party branch in favouring Taylor out of the four candidates available.

• Labor has announced it will direct preference to the Liberals ahead of the Nationals in every seat (UPDATE: I speak too soon – Ben Wyatt has merely pushed for this to occur, with a definitive decision still pending; hat tip to Gareth Parker of The West), which could damage the Nationals in tight three-cornered contests which loom in Moore, Blackwood-Stirling and Kalgoorlie. Ben Wyatt apparently suggested it might also make the difference in Brendon Grylls’ audacious bid to move to Labor-held Pilbara, although he should hope to be wrong about that as it would involve Labor falling from first place to third.

• John Bowler, the former Labor minister who won Kalgoorlie as an independent in 2008, has announced he will retire at the next election. The seat will be contested for the Nationals by Mining & Pastoral MLC Wendy Duncan, for the Liberals by Melissa Price and for Labor by Terrence Winner.

What follows is a long-gestating review of upper house preselection action. Hopefully all the information is still up to date:

• Two of the three Nationals elected for the Agricultural upper house region in 2008, Max Trenorden and Phil Gardiner, have confirmed they will seek re-election as the first and second candidate on an independent ticket. Trenorden was the leader of the Nationals from 2001 until he was deposed by Grylls in 2006, holding the lower house seat of Avon until its abolition at the 2008 election. He parted company with the Nationals after failing to win re-endorsement earlier this year, prompting Gardiner to announce he would not contest the election out of solidarity. Trenorden originally contemplated a run for Central Wheatbelt, to be vacated due to Brendon Grylls’ bid for Pilbara and contested for the Nationals by the party’s third Agricultural region winner from 2008, Mia Davies. The Nationals’ Agricultural ticket will be headed by Martin Aldridge, a former chief-of-staff to Tony Crook.

• The Nationals have chosen state party director Jacqui Boydell as their lead candidate for Mining and Pastoral, replacing Wendy Duncan who will run for the lower house seat of Kalgoorlie. Second on the ticket is Dave Grills, a Kalgoorlie police officer and the state party’s deputy president. Incumbent Colin Holt remains undisturbed at the top of the ticket for South West, and will be joined on the ticket by Sam Harma, Young Nationals state president and candidate for Albany in 2008.

• Incumbent Linda Savage has been dumped from the party’s East Metropolitan ticket, which she reportedly blames on her status as one of caucus’s few factionally unaligned members. Labor will now field an all-new line-up of state party president Alanna Clohesy and Sam Rowe, business development manager at the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia and sister of Belmont candidate Cassie Rowe. Savage came to parliament in 2010, when she filled a vacancy created by the death of AMWU powerbroker Jock Ferguson. At the insistence of Alan Carpenter, she was contentiously given the number three on the ticket in 2008 at the expense of incumbent Batong Pham, who was in a wheelchair at the time recovering from a stroke. In the event, Labor was unable to win the third seat in what had traditionally been its strongest among the state’s six regions.

• The other East Metropolitan incumbent, former minister Ljiljanna Ravlich, will move to North Metropolitan, where a vacancy has been created with the impending retirement of Ed Dermer.

• Labor’s Mining and Pastoral ticket also receives an overhaul with the retirements of Jon Ford and Helen Bullock, who will be replaced by “former Labor staffer Stephen Dawson and Electrical Trades Union assistant secretary Jim Muri”. The West Australian earlier reported the state executive had knocked back the membership applications of former member Shelley Archer and her husband, former CFMEU state secretary Kevin Reynolds, scotching the former’s ambition to contest the preselection.

• In the one region where Labor holds only one seat, Agricultural, the party’s incumbent Matt Benson-Lidholm has been demoted to number two, making way for “Wheatbelt farmer and former Country Labor president Darren West”. Interestingly, Benson-Lidholm’s demotion is said to be a sign that Labor is confident of winning a second seat this time.

• The Liberals have demoted Jim Chown, who won a seat in Agricultural from number two in 2008, to the unlikely prospect of number three. Farm Weekly reports the demotion arose from a state council decision to negate the result of ballot of country division preselectors, which put Chown at the top of the ticket. Number one will now be newcomer Steve Martin, the party’s O’Connor division president, with the other incumbent Brian Ellis demoted from one to two. UPDATE: Evidently the situation has changed since that Farm Weekly report, which dated back to May. Liberal state director Ben Morton informs that the order of the ticket will be Jim Chown, Brian Ellis, Steven Martin.