Phoney war dispatches: final edition

In order to mark the end of the financial year, the handover of sovereignty in Iraq and the arrival of the period in which the Prime Minister may call a half-Senate election, the Poll Bludger proudly presents the Final Edition of Phoney War Dispatches. His massive House of Representatives election guide WILL be up by the end of the week and with that labour of love out of the way, PWD will be rendered redundant by near-daily blogging.

• Those of you who followed the Poll Bludger’s advice from last week to "mark an extra red circle around the date for the next Newspoll a fortnight hence" may remove it, as the survey did in fact come out last Friday. Aggregating polling from April to June to produce state-by-state figures, the results suggest an improving Coalition performance in New South Wales (Coalition 42 per cent, Labor 40 per cent – in the first quarter it was the other way round) and, in particular, in South Australia (where they trailed 42 to 43 last time, but now lead 45 to 38). Labor however has improved its showing in Victoria, lifting two points to 45 per cent with the Coalition steady on 40 per cent, and in Western Australia, up three points to 41 per cent with the Coalition down one to 44 per cent.

• Tasmania suffers a cavalier dismissal at the hands of Newspoll, but the Hobart Mercury stepped into the breach today publishing an EMRS poll individually covering the five Tasmanian electorates. The results suggest that Labor’s stranglehold in Tasmania is secure. In the most marginal, the Launceston-based seat of Bass, Labor’s Michelle O’Byrne led Liberal challenger Michael Ferguson 49 to 41 per cent, compared with 42.8 and 41.4 per cent at the 2001 election. The poll coincides with a visit to Bass by the Prime Minister, who was notably unenthusiastic about Ferguson during the preselection campaign. The survey had the Liberals on 37 per cent in Braddon and Lyons (compared with 39.2 and 35.8 per cent in 2001) and 31 per cent in Franklin and Denison (37.6 and 31.6 per cent).

• Continuing with Tasmania, Brian Harradine announced on Monday that after 29 years as an independent Senator he would not be contesting the next election. Labor and the Liberals claim they are both hopeful of winning his seat, but by the Poll Bludger’s reckoning Greens candidate Christine Milne, who led the party in the state parliament from 1993 to 1998, would be doing very badly to lose. Indeed some party optimists suggest they could win two Tasmanian Senate seats instead of one.

• A rare Saturday sitting of parliament to push through deck-clearing legislation prompted a further outbreak of head-scratching over the election date. Crikey reported that "Sky News is pushing August 14 with the election to be called straight after a Cabinet meeting scheduled for two weeks’ time", a possibility which has been nowhere else countenanced to the best of the Poll Bludger’s knowledge.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.