Federal election minus six months (probably)

Tales of preselection action from Hughes, Indi, Cowper, Bennelong, Chisholm, Longman and New England.

Roughly six months out from a likely federal election, a gathering storm of preselection action. (Note also the thread below this one on the Victorian election campaign).

Phillip Coorey of the Australian Financial Review reports Scott Morrison has sought to save Craig Kelly from a preselection defeat in Hughes, but that moderate backers of challenger Kent Johns are not to be deterred. According to a source identified as one of his conservative allies, Kelly “has been remiss in looking after his branches and would be lucky to have 25 per cent of the vote”. Quoth a moderate: “As far as the moderates are concerned, Malcolm Turnbull saved Concetta Fierravanti-Wells and Angus Taylor and Kelly last time, and look what they did to him.” Among the quandaries this raises are that Kelly may react to his defeat by moving to the cross-benches, further weakening the already shaky position of the government.

• There have been a few suggestions that Barnaby Joyce may fall foul of a new candidate-vetting process the Nationals have introduced, ostensibly to prevent further Section 44 mishaps. Figures in the party appear to have been putting it about that Joyce might face trouble due to the fear that even after the events of the past year, there remain “skeletons in the closet”. However, inquiries by Richard Ferguson of The Australian suggest that “a few members on the NSW Nationals’ 84-people-strong central council do plan to refuse to endorse Mr Joyce but they are in the minority”.

David Johnston of the Border Mail reports nominees for a Liberal preselection vote for Indi, to be held on December 8, include Steve Martin, project manager for the Mars Petcare Wodonga plant expansion and Seeley International’s relocation from Albury to Wodonga, and Stephen Brooks, a local businessman. Another potential nominee is Greg Mirabella, husband of former member Sophie Mirabella. The seat’s independent member, Cathy McGowan, has not yet committed to seeking another term. The report also raises the possibility that Senator Bridget McKenzie, who is preparing to move her electorate office to Wodonga, might run for the Nationals.

Christian Knight of the Nambucca Guardian reports the Nationals have preselected Patrick Conaghan, a local solicitor who was formerly a police officer and North Sydney councillor, to succeed the retiring Luke Hartsuyker in Cowper. The other candidates were Chris Genders, a newsagent; Jamie Harrison, former Port Macquarie-Hastings councillor and owner of an electrical business; and Judy Plunkett, a Port Macquarie pharmacist. Conaghan appears to have won over half the vote in the first round.

• Labor has recruited Brian Owler, neurosurgeon and former Australian Medical Association president, as its candidate for Bennelong. The party had initially preselected Lyndal Howison, communications manager at the Whitlam Institute and the party’s candidate in 2016, but she agreed to step aside for Owler.

• Gladys Liu, director of Blue Ribbon Consultancy, has been preselected as the Liberal candidate to succeed Julia Banks in Chisholm, having emerged “the clear winner in the field of eight candidates”, according to Liberal sources cited by Benjamin Preiss of The Age. Other candidates included Theo Zographos, a Monash councillor, and Litsa Pillios, an accountant. James Campbell of the Herald Sun reports Liu had backing from party president Michael Kroger and conservative powerbroker Michael Sukkar.

David Alexander of the Pine Rivers Press reports the Liberal National Party has preselected local small businessman Terry Young as its candidate for Longman. The party recorded a portentously weak showing in the seat at the Super Saturday by-election on July 28, for which Young was an unsuccessful preselection candidate.

Victorian election minus eight days

Liberal candidate hassles, upper house preference shenanigans and (a bit) more.

News and observations:

• In a campaign in which far too much news space has been spent on so-what indiscretions by who-cares candidates in no-chance seats (more on this by ousted Greens candidate Joanna Nilson in The Guardian), the Liberals have suffered a genuinely consequential setbaack with their disendorsement of their candidate for Yan Yean, an outer northern Melbourne seat held by Labor on a margin of 3.7%. Meralyn Klein had appeared in a video by the far right Australian Liberty Alliance in which she complained of an incident involving two youths who were “of a culture that didn’t accept white Australian women”, which was used to promote the party’s call for a “ban” on Muslims. When Klein sought to distance herself from the party, one of its candidates, Avi Yemini, said the party had “numerous meetings with her”, and was hoping she would defect to it once elected. The deadline for nominations having passed, Klein remains on the ballot paper as the Liberal candidate.

• I had a piece in Crikey yesterday on Labor’s curious reluctance to reform group voting tickets for the Legislative Council. The definitive guide to the preference deals and their potential electoral consequences is provided by Kevin Bonham; Antony Green’s ever-reliable election calculators are available here; and Nick Casmirri offers revealing colour-coded summaries of Labor and Greens tickets across the eight regions.

• Liberal state president Michael Kroger was in unusually bullish form in assessing the situation for Patrick Durkin of the Financial Review. On Kroger’s telling, the confluence of Bourke Street and James Gargasoulas had voters primed for the Liberal law-and-order campaign just as they began flocking to the pre-poll booths in unprecedented numbers (see below). Kroger went so far as to say that Daniel Andrews would be “lucky to win his own seat” of Mulgrave, which he holds on a margin of 4.5%.

• The Victorian Electoral Commission relates that 238,559 votes have been cast in the first three days of pre-poll voting, compared with 119,640 at the same point in 2014.

YouGov Galaxy: Labor leads 54-46 in Richmond, 56-44 in Geelong

Good news for Labor in seats where they face challenges from the Greens and a high-profile independent.

The Herald Sun has two more YouGov Galaxy robopolls of individual electorates for the Victorian state election, with samples of 500 to 550. There’s good news for Labor from Richmond, where it had been thought Labor had been damaged by the Liberals’ decision not to field a candidate. The poll suggests Labor member Richard Wynne should be able to survive regardless, recording a 49% to 42% lead over Greens candidate Kathleen Maltzahn (33.3% to 31.5% in 2014, when the Liberals polled 20.7%), and a 54-46 lead on two-party preferred.

There is also a poll for the Geelong electorate, where the Herald Sun seems inordinately keen on the independent candidacy of Darryn Lyons, who was mayor of Geelong at the time of the council’s sacking in April 2016. The poll has Lyons on an actually quite modest 15%, ahead of the Greens on 11% but well behind the Liberals on 28%. Labor incumbent Christine Couzens is on 40%, and leads the Liberal candidate 56-44 after preferences.

Like the Mordialloc and Frankston polls published on Monday, these ones were conducted on Saturday and Sunday.

BludgerTrack: 54.7-45.3 to Labor

After a dire result from Newspoll, the BludgerTrack poll aggregate is hardly better for the Coalition than it was immediately after the leadership coup.

The BludgerTrack poll aggregate has been updated with this week’s Newspoll and the YouGov Galaxy poll from Queensland, the effect of which is to add another half a point to Labor’s two-party preferred vote for a gain of only one seat, that being in Western Australia. The Queensland poll, which was a relatively good result for the Coalition, negated the effect of Newspoll in that state. Newspoll’s leadership ratings resulted in little change in the trend readings – no doubt it would have been a different story if I had a net satisfaction series for Scott Morrison, who did particularly badly in Newspoll, but there is still too little data for that to be feasible.

YouGov Galaxy: 52-48 to Labor in Mordialloc, 51-49 in Frankston

Two Victorian election seat polls suggest a repeat of cliffhanger results from 2014.

The Herald Sun has two YouGov Galaxy seat polls for the Victorian election, these being robopolls conducted from sample of around 550 on Saturday and Sunday. Both target bellwether seats in the “sandbelt”, and both land bang on their 2014 election results. Labor leads 52-48 in Mordialloc (52.1-47.9 in 2014), from primary votes of Labor 41% (38.7%), Liberal 42% (43.8%), Greens 7% (7.9%). In Frankston, Labor clings to a 51-49 lead in a seat where they won 50.5-49.5 in 2014, but there is substantial movement on the primary vote, owing to a weaker independent presence this time. Labor is on 42%, up from 35.0%; the Liberals are on 43%, up from 35.8%, while the Greens are on 6%, down from 8.0%.

Also out today were the Legislative Council group ticket votes, on which I have a separate thread

Victorian election: upper house preference tickets

Group voting tickets have been unveiled in Victoria, one of the two jurisdictions that persists with them.

The group voting tickets for the Victorian election are available for viewing here. There is as always a lot to parse here, and Antony Green’s calculators will be needed to make better sense of it all. A few immediate take-outs:

• Glenn Druery’s fingerprints are everywhere to be seen, with tightly interlocking preferences from a vast array of micro-parties who leave the ballot papers looking more like those for the Senate than what prevailed pre-2014. Even Fiona Patten’s Reason Party appears to have reached accommodations with a number of micro-parties, despite her police complaint against Druery.

• The Greens have not done at all well: the Druery network parties have them last or near to last, as usual; Labor has them behind a number of left and, in places, not-so-left concerns (Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party, Shooters Fishers and Farmers and the Liberal Democrats); Animal Justice favours left-wing micro-parties over them.

• The Coalition has tended to give priority to the more competitive of the right-of-centre micro parties, and has Labor ahead of (in this order) the Greens, Victorian Socialists and the Australian Liberty Alliance.