The news from Hughes (and Boothby and Dickson)

Craig Kelly quits the Liberals, Nicolle Flint to quit politics, and unsuccessful Labor candidate Ali France lines up for another crack at Peter Dutton.

The week’s federal election preselection developments:

• Facing the apparent certainty of preselection defeat, Craig Kelly announced his resignation from the Liberal Party at a party room meeting Wednesday. Kelly says he will sit as an “independent Liberal” and then run in his Sydney seat of Hughes again at the election, which I believe leaves open the possibility that that may be as the candidate of another party. He appeared to rule out running for the Nationals, as some in the party hoped he might, saying he was “not sure whether a pair of RM Williams and a big Akubra and a Driza-Bone will necessarily work in Sutherland”.

• It had generally been assumed the Liberal preselection in Hughes would prove third time lucky for Kent Johns, Sutherland Shire councillor and factional moderate, from whom Kelly had to be saved by prime ministerial intervention before the 2016 and 2019 elections. However, The Australian reported on Tuesday that moderates were cooking up a deal with conservatives in which Hughes would go to Dallas McInerney, chief executive of Catholic Schools NSW, in exchange for a free hand in the preselections for Warringah and Gilmore. Reports that the Hughes preselection might be contested by police commissioner Mick Fuller were dismissed as a “furphy” by a source quoted in the St George Shire Standard. Those who may run were said in the report to include Carmelo Pesce, a cafe owner and former Sutherland Shire mayor; Ned Mannoun, a former Liverpool mayor; Bree Till, a veterans service adviser whose husband was killed on service in Afghanistan in 2009; and Naji Najjar, a former Bankstown councillor and staffer to Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells.

• Nicolle Flint, two-term Liberal member for the marginal Adelaide seat of Boothby, announced on Friday she would not contest the next election. Flint said she had soured on politics after personal attacks against her during the 2019 election campaign, which the Liberals have cited in support of proposed electoral law changes that would clip the wings of the GetUp! organisation, and the recent rape allegation by former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins.

• Labor has announced that Ali France, a motivational speaker and former television producer who lost a leg in a car accident in 2011, will again be the party’s candidate in Peter Dutton’s northern Brisbane seat of Dickson. Dutton won the seat by 4.6% in 2019 after a favourable swing of 2.9%, a fairly typical result for Brisbane.

Western Australian election minus two weeks

As pre-poll voting centres open to brisk business, Zak Kirkup waves the white flag.

Notable developments of the past week:

• Zak Kirkup conceded on Thursday that the Liberals would not win the election, and indeed that he held a “fear that we could be decimated”. Liberal campaign material implicitly acknowledges the certainty of the defeat by promising to “hold Labor to account by keeping the important checks and balances”. State political observers with long memories may recall Geoff Gallop doing much the same on the eve of the 1996 election, which was not reckoned at the time to have done Labor any favours.

• With the opening of pre-poll voting on Wednesday, The West Australian conducted a straw poll of 335 voters at centres in Scarborough, Mandurah, Hillarys and Riverton. While this exercise is obviously highly unscientific, it’s surely worth noting that 70% said they were voting Labor. There were 94,379 pre-poll votes cast between Wednesday and Friday, with The West Australian reporting an expectation (it does not say whose) that 60 to 70 per cent of all votes will be postals or pre-polls.

• Antony Green’s Legislative Council election calculators are now in business. Kevin Bonham observes that they show a particularly strong potential for a preference snowball to deliver a seat to Bass Tadros of the flaky Health Australia Party in Agricultural region.

Newspoll: 50-50

Newspoll finds Scott Morrison’s commanding personal ratings improving still further, without doing anything to improve a seemingly precarious position on voting intention.

As brought to you by The Australian, Newspoll maintains its sedentary ways in its latest poll, which repeats the previous result three weeks ago in recording a dead head on two-party preferred. Labor is up a point on the primary vote to 37%, while the Coalition on 42%, the Greens on 10% and One Nation on 3% are all unchanged. Despite a seemingly difficult week for Scott Morrison, he gains one on approval to 64% and drops one on disapproval to 32% and widens his lead as preferred prime minister from 57-29 to 61-26, as Anthony Albanese drops three on approval to 38% and rises two on disapproval to 45%. The poll was conducted Wednesday to Saturday from a sample of 1504.

There was also a poll on Friday from Roy Morgan, which sometimes publishes its regular federal voting intention polling and sometimes doesn’t. In this case Labor was credited with a bare lead of 50.5-49.5, from primary votes of Coalition 40%, Labor 34.5%, the Greens 13% and One Nation 3.5%. The poll was conducted over the previous two weekends online and by phone from a sample of 2824.

Between Newspoll, Roy Morgan and Essential Research, there are now three pollsters who rate the situation as steady of with Labor fractionally ahead. This is reflected in the BludgerTrack poll aggregate, now updated with the above results on both the voting intention and leadership rating trends, which has Labor edging ahead to a 50.2-49.8 lead.

Newspoll: 68-32 to Labor in Western Australia

The most authoritative poll yet to emerge from the Western Australian campaign suggests Labor could be headed for the biggest election win in the country’s history.

A Newspoll in today’s Australian is remarkable in two ways: for being only the second media-commissioned poll of statewide voting intention in Western Australia to appear anywhere since the 2017 election, and for what may be the most lopsided result of any opinion poll this site has ever reported on.

Labor is credited with nothing less than a lead of 68-32 on two-party party preferred, a swing of 13.5% on their already commanding win in 2017, from primary votes of Labor 59% (!), compared with 42.2% in 2017; Liberal 23%, down from 31.2%; the Nationals 2%, down from 5.4%; the Greens 8%, down from 8.9%; and One Nation 3%, down from 4.9% (presumably the question was only posed in the 40 seats where the party is fielding candidates).

Mark McGowan’s personal ratings are in line with other pollsters at 88% approval and 10% disapproval, but Zak Kirkup’s ratings would be particularly disappointing to the Liberals, at 29% approval and 41% disapproval, with McGowan leading 83-10 on preferred premier. The poll was conducted from last Friday to Thursday from a sample of 1034.

Elsewhere:

• The Liberals may perhaps take solace in the finding of the finding of new-pseph-website-on-the-block Armarium Interreta that state polling has historically skewed to incumbents, although there is some evidence the effect has moderated over time. Then again, the site’s election forecast model rates the most probable seat outcome as 50 for Labor, five for Liberal and four for the Nationals. A new post explains how the model has reacted to the apparent peculiarity of the Newspoll result, namely by boosting Labor’s expected two-party vote from around 60% to 63% and widening the range of uncertainty.

• I’ve been provided with breakdowns from the Online Research Unit poll that was covered in the previous post. These suggest age effects will be relatively subdued at this election: applying crude preference estimates to the primary vote results, I get Labor’s two-party leads gently sloping down from 62-38 among the 17-24 cohort to 56-44 among the 65-plus. By comparison, Newspoll’s most recent federal breakdowns had Labor leading 61-39 among the 18-34 cohort and trailing 62-38 among the 65-plus.

• Peter Law of The West Australian (no link that I can find) relates a prediction by Glenn Druery that Labor will fall just short of a Legislative Council majority with 17 out of 36 seats, with the Greens almost certain to hold the balance of power if they fail. The Nationals are campaigning on the likelihood that a left-dominated Legislative Council will reduces or eliminate the chamber’s rural malapportionment: the Greens are open in their advocacy for one-vote one-value, but Labor is fudging the issue by saying the question is “not on our agenda”.

• On the subject of Glenn Druery, his network’s preference arrangements are as usual specifically to the advantage of particular parties in designated regions: the Liberal Democrats in South Metropolitan (where Aaron Stonehouse is trying to win re-election for the party); the Daylight Savings Party in Mining and Pastoral (notwithstanding that daylight saving is a largely metropolitan enthusiasm); Liberals for Climate in North Metropolitan; the Western Australian Party in East Metropolitan; the Health Australia Party in Agricultural; and Sustainable Australia in South West.

Essential Research leadership ratings

Yet more strong leadership ratings for Scott Morrison, although most give greater credit for COVID-19 management to their state and territory leaders.

The fortnightly Essential Research poll includes the pollster’s more-or-less monthly reading of the leadership ratings, which record a four point increase in Scott Morrison’s approval rating to 65% and a two point drop in disapproval to 28%. Anthony Albanese is respectively down two to 40% and steady on 33%. Morrison’s lead as preferred prime minister increases slightly, from 51-25 to 52-24.

Also featured are the pollster’s regular questions on federal and state government handling of COVID-19, with the added twist of a question asking who respondents felt had performed better out of the Prime Minister and their Premier or Chief Minister. This found 52% favouring their state or territory leader compared with 30% for Scott Morrison. The poll nonetheless gives the federal government its strongest result for handling of the pandemic in at least six months, with 69% rating it good (up two on a fortnight ago) and 12% as poor (down two).

The state government results are little changed for the three states with passable sample sizes: the New South Wales government’s good rating is up a point to 72%; Victoria’s is down two to 59% (the state’s lockdown was announced on the third day of the six-day polling period); and Queensland’s is down two to 76%. Western Australia’s is at 88%, the highest reading in at least six months, after the conclusion of that state’s lockdown, which is up eight on the previous poll, conducted shortly before the lockdown began. However, here the sample size is below 200 and the margin of error as high as 10%. The same applies to South Australia’s 79%, down one on last time.

The poll also has questions about Craig Kelly’s recent behaviour, although I wonder about a question wording that says Kelly has been “sharing Covid-19 misinformation”, the consistently negative tone of the propositions being put to the respondents, and the lack of clear response options along the lines of “who’s Craig Kelly?”. The results find 41% agreeing that Morrison has showed poor leadership, without offering clarity on how many disagreed and how many had no opinion, and 56% agreeing Kelly was “more interested in sharing Covid-19 misinformation and building his media profile than representing his constituency”.

The full report features still further questions on COVID-19 and one on a 2050 net zero carbon emissions target. The poll was conducted Wednesday to Monday from a sample of 1109.

Western Australian election minus three-and-a-half weeks

A rare whiff of voting intention polling from Western Australia, plus a deep dive into the group voting tickets for the upper house.

UPDATE: The West Australian now reports on a further poll, this one conducted by uComms for the Conservation Council of Western Australia, giving Labor a 61-39 lead on two-party preferred statewide poll. The primary votes are Labor 46.8%, Liberal 27.5% and Nationals 5.1%, Greens 8.3% and One Nation 6.9%, after inclusion of a forced response follow-up for the 5.3% who were initially undecided. There was also apparently a separate poll targeting the northern suburbs marginals of Joondalup, Hillarys and Scarborough, which showed “Labor’s primary vote at 46.1 per cent and the Liberals at 31.9 per cent, followed by The Greens (8.8 per cent) and One Nation (3.8 per cent)”.

The West Australian has details of a poll conducted by something called the Online Research Unit for an unspecified political party, encompassing all of the state except for the Agricultural and Mining and Pastoral upper house regions, which is to say all but the nine most far-flung of the state’s 59 seats. Labor is credited with 49% of the primary vote, up 6.8% on the 2017 election, with the Liberals down 7.2% to 24%, The Greens little changed on 9%, the Nationals down from 5.4% to 3% and One Nation down from 5.4% to 3%. The poll was conducted from a sample of 1546 “in the week before the five-day lockdown”.

Numbers are also provided for upper house voting intention, though respondents do not traditionally do a good job of answering this question accurately: Labor 45%, Liberal 25%, Greens 11% and One Nation 2%, the latter comparing with 8.2% in 2017. On the subject of the upper house, yesterday saw the publication of group voting tickets, which are neatly laid out by Antony Green on the ABC site. We await his calculators to help us determine where the chips are most likely to land, but I offer impressionistic summaries of each party’s approach over the fold.

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