When the Poll Bludger gets around to adding his next batch of federal election guide updates, they might look a little something like this:
Wentworth (NSW, Liberal 7.9%): Fairfax and ACNielsen have provided us with a poll which has Malcolm Turnbull on 34 per cent, Labor’s David Patch on 27 per cent and Peter King on 25 per cent. The accompanying article notes that "after the distribution of preferences from Mr King and the Greens, the two-party preferred vote is 50-50", but this assumes Labor will finish ahead of King after the distribution of Greens preferences. A very good source of a very good source informs the Poll Bludger that "some of the harder-headed members of the Greens and the Democrats have realised the symbolism of
preferencing direct to King over Patch" – namely the prospect of defeat for Turnbull if Patch is eliminated first, since his preferences would flow overwhelmingly to King. However, it seems more likely that Greens voters will favour Labor over King regardless of what the how-to-vote card says, and that King will need to do rather better than this poll suggests if he is to be in serious contention. Otherwise the real contest will be between Turnbull and Patch, and Turnbull will indeed be in bigger trouble than he would have been had King agreed to go quietly. On this evidence, King’s excuse for refusing to direct preferences to Turnbull over Patch on the grounds that Patch has no chance of winning looks very flimsy indeed, and could end up damaging him in the eyes of local conservative voters who may already have been alienated by his courting of the Greens.
New England (NSW, Independent 19.9%): Independent MP Tony Windsor told a Tamworth radio station that he had been offered a diplomatic post as an inducement to abandon his seat. Windsor would not say who the offer came from, but his departure could only conceivably benefit the National Party who would most likely recover the seat if Windsor were to stand aside. The Prime Minister responded yesterday saying "if Mr Windsor has something to say, instead of slurring my party, instead of smearing the Coalition, which he’s doing, he should name who the person was. It is not fair to make a generalised smear clearly suggesting it’s our side of politics". Windsor has since spoken with the Australian Federal Police and has said he would name those responsible if made to do so at an inquiry. The situation is reminiscent of the events that led to the downfall of NSW Premier Nick Greiner in 1992, after he was found to have offered a lucrative public service position to a Liberal-turned-indepedent MP with a view to recovering his seat at the ensuring by-election.
Werriwa (NSW, Labor 8.5%): The Orange Grove shopping centre controversy that has bedevilled the Carr Government recently has spilled over into the federal arena, and specifically into Mark Latham?s own seat. Among those contesting Werriwa is Sam Bargshoon, a former ALP member who was among those burned by Carr?s decision to close Orange Grove in a move seen to have benefited a rival centre owned by generous Labor patrons Westfield. Speaking with the protection of parliamentary privilege at a New South Wales parliamentary inquiry, Bargshoon claimed to have conducted a branch-stacking operation under Latham?s direction a few weeks before he became party leader in December 2003.
McMillan (Vic, Notional Liberal 2.9%): The Liberal Party is calling for the resignation of Labor member Christian Zahra because he enrolled to vote in 1991 before becoming an Australian citizen, which is a criminal offence. It is not yet clear if the Liberals plan to make an official complaint. Zahra was the victim of a damaging electoral redistribution that made the seat he won by 2.5 per cent in 2001 notionally Liberal, with a margin of 2.9 per cent. Labor would have little chance of retaining the seat without Zahra?s personal vote.
Canning (WA, Liberal 0.4%): Speaking just before the Prime Minister launched his campaign at the Perth Christian Life Centre last Wednesday, Don Randall said that Australians "want to know that they have got a Christian at the head of the Australian government", as distinct from the agnostic Mark Latham. The Prime Minister failed to back him up, telling reporters that "although I come from a Christian tradition myself, I respect fully the secular nature of our society".
Solomon (NT, Liberal 0.1%): The aforementioned report also said Labor were "looking strong" in this knife-edge Darwin-based seat.