Not exactly hot off the presses with this one, but Friday’s poll from Roy Morgan (who seem to have returned to their weekly polling habits of old) has Labor’s two-party lead at 59.5-40.5 compared with 60-40 the previous week. The primary vote movements are bigger than you would expect from this: Labor is down 2.5 per cent to 49 per cent, and the Coalition is up 1 per cent to 36.5 per cent. The slack is taken up by independent/others, up from 3.5 per cent to 6 per cent. Perhaps South Australians are telling survey takers they’ll vote for Nick Xenophon. Elsewhere:
Speculation continues to mount that former WA Health Minister and Attorney-General Jim McGinty (left) will shortly be calling it a day, initiating a by-election in Fremantle to coincide with the state’s May 16 daylight saving referendum. On ABC television news, Peter Kennedy reported that rumoured preselection contender Peter Tagliaferri (right) met with McGinty and ALP state secretary Simon Mead to discuss the possible vacancy. However, Alan Carpenter is offering point-blank denials to speculation he might also vacate his seat of Willagee, which puts the prospect of a dangerous preselection stoush between Tagliaferri and LHMWU state secretary Dave Kelly back on the agenda. Steve Grant of the Fremantle Herald reports:
Alan Carpenter says he will remain in state parliament till the next election. He ruled out the possibility of a by-election for his safe Labor seat of Willagee … He shrugged off speculation that he and Fremantle MP Jim McGinty were contemplating mid-term retirement to make way for new Labor blood, you might not believe me, but often I’m the last person to hear about these things. It seems Jandakot Liberal MP Joe Francis could be more tuned in to Labor machinations than the former premier, becoming the third person to tell the Herald that LHMWU secretary Dave Kelly was being groomed to take over a Labor seat.
What’s more, Robert Taylor of The West Australian has mused on the possibility of star Gallop/Carpenter government minister Alannah MacTiernan moving to federal politics by taking on Don Randall in Canning, where redistribution has shaved the Liberal margin from 5.6 per cent to 4.3 per cent.
Staying in WA, the Liberal Party is having an interesting time dealing with jockeying ahead of preselection for the safe southern suburbs seat of Tangney. Sitting member Dennis Jensen (left) lost the preselection vote ahead of the last election to Matt Brown, former chief-of-staff to Defence Minister Robert Hill, but the result was overturned by prime ministerial fiat. As Robert Taylor puts it, this time there’s no John Howard and Dr Jensen looks decidedly shaky. Against this backdrop, local Liberal branches have been inundated with membership applications from Muslim men, who are believed certainly by the Brown camp to be enthusiasts for the incumbent. A compromise reached at the state executive saw admission granted to half the applicants, who can apparently thank Julie Bishop for arguing that many of her east coast colleagues with big Muslim populations in their electorates were nervous about the outcome. Taylor says a Brown supporter told him the new members were associated with strident anti-Israel statements from the Australian National Imams Council.
With independent MP Rory McEwen to call it a day, the Liberals would be pencilling in his seat of Mount Gambier as a soft target at next year’s state election. However, the Border Watch reports Liberal candidate Steve Perryman, the mayor of Mount Gambier, might face an independent challenge from Don Pegler, the mayor of Grant District Council, who has perhaps been inspired by Geoff Brock’s boilover in Frome. Grant covers the electorate’s extensive rural areas outside of the City of Mount Gambier, although the latter accounts for three times as many voters.
Andrew Leigh and Mark McLeish have published a paper at Australian Policy Online which asks a most timely question: Are State Elections Affected by the National Economy? Using data from 191 state elections, they find a positive correlation between low unemployment and success for the incumbent, with each additional percentage point of unemployment (or each percentage point increase over the cycle) reducing the incumbent’s re-election probability by 3-5 percentage points. Furthermore, what matters most is not the performance of the state economy relative to the national economy, but the state economy itself. That being so, it seems voters systematically commit attribution errors giving state leaders too much blame when their economy is in recession, and too much credit when it is booming.
The Parliamentary Library has published a note on the redistribution of WA’s federal electorates.