The Poll Bludger is still in Summer Edition mode, so pardon me for being less than timely with the news that Roy Morgan attached a question on voting intention to its recent 715-sample phone survey on consumer confidence, which had Labor leading 57.5-42.5. Something like normal service will resume as of tomorrow night’s Newspoll. Other news:
Phillip Coorey of the Sydney Morning Herald reports that branches in the Sutherland Shire seat of Cook are being furiously stacked in what moderates say is an attempt to ward off a potential challenge by the far right to the sitting Liberal member, Scott Morrison. However, Right sources deny any such plan and instead argue the stacking is being conducted in pursuit of the moderates’ own designs against Morrison. Central to the ongoing dispute is Michael Towke, whose preselection win upon the retirement of Bruce Baird at the 2007 election was overturned by the party’s state executive following reports of branch-stacking activities and extravagant claims made in his CV. The seat instead went to the well-connected but factionally unaligned Morrison, who went on to suffer humiliation at the hands of the local Right-controlled branches which refused his membership application a few months after he entered parliament. Talk of ongoing Right designs on the seat received further impetus when Towke secured the position of Cook electoral council secretary. Coorey reports there are rumours afoot that the Right will seek to have state upper house MP Marie Ficarra depose Morrison, making her own position available to Towke although this was laughed off by a senior Right source.
Phillip Coorey of the Sydney Morning Herald reports the Labor national executive has given Kevin Rudd and the five-member national executive committee (Anthony Albanese, Mark Arbib, Mark Butler, Bill Shorten and Bill Ludwig) extensive powers over federal preselections. State branches will not be able to start preselection processes without the permission of the committee, which will further have the power to replace sitting members significantly including Belinda Neal, the troubled member for Robertson.
Andrew Landeryou at VexNews reports that Victorian Liberal leader Ted Baillieu, director Tony Nutt and president David Kemp have moved without reference to the party’s administration committee to truncate the preselection process for next year’s state election from eight weeks to four. Baillieu opponents say this is a move to shore up the position of his backers Andrew McIntosh (Kew), Helen Shardey (Caulfield) and Kim Wells (Scoresby). Landeryou also relates rumours about the possible departure of Liberal deputy leader Louise Asher, the member for Brighton.
Liberal Party members in the Victorian federal seat of Corangamite, which the party lost in 2007, will today vote for a candidate at the next election. The front-runners are said to be Sarah Henderson, former 7:30 Report host and daughter of the late former Geelong state MP Ann Henderson, and Rod Nockles, internet security expert and former Howard government adviser. Others who have been mentioned at various stages include Victorian Farmers Federation president Simon Ramsay, more recently mentioned in relation to Wannon; former Kennett government minister Ian Smith; Graham Harris, head of the Corangamite electorate council; Simon Price, unsuccessful Colac Otway Shire Council candidate and former electorate officer to Stewart McArthur; and Michael King, owner of Kings Australia funeral services. (UPDATE: Sarah Henderson wins. See Andrew Landeryou and his comments thread for much confusion over who backed whom.)
There was renewed talk this week that Victorian Planning Minister Justin Madden could be moving to the lower house. It was initially suggested he would take the seat of Keilor, expected to be forcibly vacated by controversial Right faction numbers man George Seitz. However, Madden has ruled this out, saying it would not be a good look for him to take the seat given the role of his staffer Hakki Suleyman in the Brimbank City Council controversies which are set to initiate Seitz’s departure. Madden said he did not want, but would not rule out, taking the retiring Judy Maddigan’s seat of Essendon. Prior to the 2006 election, it was planned that Madden would be accommodated in Bundoora due to the reduction in the size of the Legislative Council, but a rearrangement following Mary Delahunty’s departure from Northcote saw him stay put.
The New South Wales Nationals’ annual state conference has resolved to proceed with an exciting plan in which a candidate in a yet-to-be-determined state electorate will be chosen by an American-style open primary, in which all voters in the electorate will be able to participate.