The latest on voter identification law and other electoral legislation, plus reams of federal preselection news.
This week should see the fortnightly federal voting intention poll from Roy Morgan, the regular fortnightly Essential Research poll which is scheduled to feature neither voting intention numbers nor leadership ratings, and possibly the more-or-less monthly Resolve Strategic poll from the Age/Herald. Until then:
• Tom McIlroy of the Financial Review reports the Centre Alliance will push for an inquiry into the government’s voter identification bill when it comes before the Senate, to which it will presumably progress swiftly after coming before the House of Representatives today. Three further electoral bills come before the House on Tuesday: to reduce the thresholds beyond which those who spend money on their own election campaigning are required to lodge annual disclosures; to provide for measures deemed desirable under emergency conditions such as pandemics, including greater flexibility with postal and pre-poll voting; and to require security assessments and such like for the computer systems and software used to conduct the Senate count. Two notable bits of detail include bringing forward the deadline for receipt of postal vote applications from the Wednesday before the election to the Tuesday, and requiring the Australian Electoral Commission to publish the Senate vote data files within seven days of the return of the writs, having presumably been allowed to play it by ear in the past.
• A preselection vote on Saturday to determine the successor to Victorian Liberal Senator Scott Ryan, both in respect to the vacancy arising from his imminent retirement and the third position on the Coalition ticket at the election, was won by Greg Mirabella, Wangaratta farmer and husband of Sophie Mirabella. James Campbell of the Herald Sun reports Mirabella won the final round by 165 votes to 141 over Simon Frost, staffer to Josh Frydenberg and former state party director. Incumbent Sarah Henderson comfortably won the ballot for the top position, with the second reserved for Bridget Mackenzie of the Nationals. Other unsuccessful candidates were Emanuele Cicchiello, former Knox mayor and deputy principal at Lighthouse Christian College, and Ranjana Srivastava, an oncologist who also contested the preselection for Casey.
• A dispute within the New South Wales Liberal Party affecting preselections for Warringah, Hughes, Gilmore, Eden-Monaro, Dobell and Parramatta reached a new pitch at a meeting of its state executive on Friday night, which resolved to close nominations on December 3 with plebiscites likely to follow in February. However, James Massola of the Sydney Morning Herald reports the issue could be settled next week by a deal between Scott Morrison and Dominic Perrottet, potentially through the federal executive choosing candidates with plebiscites. Broadly speaking, the dispute pits centre right powerbroker Alex Hawke against the combined forces of the moderates and the hard right, with the former wanting candidates to be promptly installed by the state council and the latter wanting party plebiscites at the cost of delaying the process until February. One aspect of this is that Scott Morrison, who is close to Hawke, is backing state MPs (specifically Holsworthy MP Melanie Gibbons run in Hughes and Parramatta MP Geoff Lee’s for the federal seat of the same name) for preselection in federal seats while Dominic Perrottet, from the hard right, would sooner avoid the resulting state by-elections.
• Dominic Perrottet’s concerns apparently do not extend to the done deal of Bega MP Andrew Constance contesting preselection for Gilmore. However, Constance’s field of competition has now expanded to include Jemma Tribe, a charity operator and former Shoalhaven councillor, and Stephen Hayes, a former RAAF officer and staffer to Christopher Pyne. They join Shoalhaven Heads lawyer Paul Ell, who by all accounts has strong support in local branches, while Constance is favoured by Alex Hawke and the centre right.
• Sharon Bird, who has held the Illawarra seat of Cunningham for Labor since 2004, has announced she will retire at the election. With the seat seemingly the preserve of the Right faction, candidates to succeed her reportedly include Misha Zelinsky, Fulbright scholar and assistant national secretary of the Right faction Australian Workers Union, who aborted a planned challenge to Bird’s preselection before the 2016 election; Alison Byrnes, an adviser to Bird; and Tania Brown, Wollongong councillor and an administrator at the University of Wollongong.
• Labor’s candidate for north coast New South Wales seat of Page, which was held by Labor through the Rudd-Gillard period but now has a Nationals margin of 9.4%, is Patrick Deegan, who works for a domestic violence support service and also ran in 2019.