Around the grounds

Week five, and what better way to kick it off than with a batch of new campaign updates for the House of Representatives guide.

Melbourne (Vic, Labor 19.9%): The electorate of senior Labor front-bencher Lindsay Tanner was the subject of an ACNielsen poll in yesterday’s Sunday Age, and it indicated a growing threat to him from the Greens. From a significant sample of 1,006, the results had Tanner on 49 per cent (47.6 per cent in 2001), the Greens’ Gemma Pinnell on 27 (15.8 in 2001) and Liberal Jerry Dimitroulis on 22 per cent (24.9 in 2001). This would mean that for the first time the Liberals would be eliminated before the Greens, who would then receive the overwhelming majority of Liberal preferences. Had Liberal rather than Greens preferences been distributed in the final round in 2001, Lindsay Tanner would have prevailed by roughly 5 per cent. ACNielsen’s two-candidate preferred result favouring Labor over the Greens by 63-37 can be dismissed, as the overwhelming majority of Liberal voters will follow a how-to-vote card that wasn’t available to them during the survey. Tanner could hardly lose with 49 per cent of the primary vote, but he would emerge with an uncomfortable margin and the Greens could feel justified in describing the seat as "marginal Labor/Green".

Eden-Monaro (NSW, Liberal 1.7%): The Eden woodchip mill has emerged as a bargaining chip in preference negotations between Labor and the Greens, who are keeping their options open on preference recommendations in 26 marginal seats pending the full release of environmental policies. Labor will need to factor in a possible lengthening of the odds against them in Eden-Monaro in weighing up the merits of such a deal. The Coalition was earlier seen to have put its pro-logging vote in jeopardy when it proposed to phase out old-growth logging in Tasmania, calculating that anti-logging sentiment in the cities was of greater concern.

Fairfax (Qld, Liberal 9.5%): Labor candidate Dr Ivan Molloy showed admirable loyalty in declining to distance himself from the politically (and indeed intellectually) stupid statement of his wife, state member for Noosa Cate Molloy, that she held Liberal sitting members "accountable" for the Bali and Jakarta bombings. Dr Molloy reacted with a column in The Australian that found less objectionable language to express broadly similar sentiments, but his wife’s statements seem more likely to linger in the public mind.

Solomon (NT, Liberal 0.1%): David Tollner was in the news yet again when it emerged that a neighbour had been attacked by his bull mastiff, curiously named Brussels Sprout, which reportedly resulted in the 27-year-old mother of three being hospitalised for two weeks. The Age reported on September 23 that Tollner’s lawyers wrote to the paper warning that they would be sued for damages if any "false allegations" concerning the incident led to the loss of his seat.

Gippsland (Vic, Nationals 2.6%): Peter McGauran was embarrassed last week when it emerged the Department of Environment had made a submission calling on the Victorian Government to deny access to the Alpine National Park high country by mountain cattlemen, who had been assured by McGauran as their local member that they had the Government’s support.

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.