Two polls from Morgan, which as ever moves in mysterious ways. Without question the headline finding is the face-to-face poll of 1832 respondents conducted over the previous two weekends, showing a healthy spike in Labor’s two-party lead to 60.5-39.5 from 57.5-42.5 at the previous such poll. The 574-sample phone poll was probably conducted to get more bang from their buck out of some other survey they were conducting for some other reason. It shows Labor’s lead at a more modest 57-43. Furthermore:
Northern Territory MP Alison Anderson, on whose whim (along with fellow independent Gerry Wood) hangs the future of Paul Henderson’s floundering government, has advised that Tuesday will be nothing less than the biggest day in Territory history, which should alarm survivors of Cyclone Tracy and the 1942 air raids. Tuesday was to be the day Anderson would make known her attitude to the government’s future, but it’s presumably been brought forward a day now that Speaker Jane Aagaard has agreed to a request from Anderson, Wood and the CLP for parliament to resume on Monday. Notice will then be given of a no-confidence motion on Friday, which if successful and given the pitch of Anderson’s rhetoric, any other outcome would be an enormous anti-climax will result in either a new election or an immediate transfer of power to the Terry Mills-led CLP. The procedure for such a motion was established late last year in legislation establishing fixed four-year terms, which like similar legislation in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia provides for an escape clause in the event of no-confidence or blocked supply. As Antony Green explains, it thus marks a test case for the aforementioned states, which have never experienced such a situation in the fixed term era. If the motion passes, the parliament will have eight days to back an alternative government, after which the Administrator will have the authority to issue writs for an election which the Chief Minister will be obliged to advise. The government’s ongoing crisis reached its current pitch on Tuesday when Anderson quit the ALP not as she foreshadowed due to dissatisfaction with the government’s handling of an indigenous housing program, but because she blamed Henderson for an allegedly racist article about her and other indigenous MPs in Saturday’s edition of the Northern Territory News. The same day saw Arafura MP Marion Scrymgour return to the Labor fold after two months of independence, leaving the numbers at Labor 12, CLP 11, independents two. While Anderson’s tone of certainty might be taken as a clue, Wood’s precise attitude remains unclear: although of presumably conservative sympathies, he has expressed concern at the CLP’s readiness to govern, and was quoted this week saying an election was certainly an option. Anderson tells The Australian her gauge of the public mood is that there is a push for an election so that they can teach Hendo a lesson.
Talk of John Della Bosca challenging Nathan Rees for the New South Wales premiership has focused attention on the theoretical prospect of a leader sitting in the upper house. While dismissive of the rumours, Imre Salusinszky of The Australian muses that Della Bosca could serve a symbolic first 100 days in the Legislative Council and hope to have gained sufficient traction by that point to make the switch feasible. He also notes that in the current environment, no lower house seat is so safe for Labor that Della Bosca could be guaranteed to win a by-election even if a sitting member agreed to make way. The Sydney Morning Herald reports party operatives hope Della Bosca can assume Bankstown from Tony Stewart by forging a deal in which Stewart receives an apology for his sacking over an incident involving a staff member last year, for which he is suing the government. Another Herald report mentions Riverstone, where John Aquilina has said he will not contest the next election. Della Bosca’s home patch, Gosford, is deemed unsuitable in part due to the lingering local unpopularity of his wife Belinda Neal following the Iguana’s episode, but also because it is too marginal and sitting member Marie Andrews would be unwilling to make way in any case. The Herald reports that a move to Bankstown could pave the way for a graceful exit from politics for Ms Neal, who is unlikely to retain preselection in her Gosford-based federal seat of Robertson. It will be recalled that when Barrie Unsworth was parachuted into Rockdale at a 1986 by-election to assume the premiership upon Neville Wran’s retirement, he suffered a 17 per cent dive in the primary vote and came within 54 votes of defeat. In May, Malcolm Mackerras wrote an article in The Australian decrying what he saw as the outdated convention that places leaders in the lower house, complaining that New South Wales has Nathan Rees as Premier when John Della Bosca should be premier, and suggesting the federal Liberals should replace Julie Bishop as its federal deputy leader with Senator Nick Minchin and explicitly not ask Minchin to transfer to the House of Representatives.
Christian Kerr of The Australian notes the British Conservatives have turned a PR disaster into a triumph by conducting an American-style open primary to choose the successor to one of many MPs disgraced in the country’s expenses scandal. Having done so, the party has given everyone in the constituency a stake in the success of their candidate. The New South Wales Nationals have decided to hold such a vote in one yet-to-be-chosen seat for the next state election.
Antony Green comments on the potential availability of various double dissolution triggers, and on the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme bill in particular, where the Coalition appears to be playing a good hand with its apparent plan to oppose it at the second reading.
Danna Vale, Liberal member for the southern Sydney seat of Hughes, has announced she will quit at the next election. The margin in Hughes was cut from 8.6 per cent to 2.2 per cent at the 2007 election, and by Antony Green’s reckoning the redistribution proposal unveiled yesterday will further reduce it to 1.1 per cent less than a sitting member’s personal vote is generally reckoned to be worth. No word yet on who might be up for the tough task of keeping the seat in the Liberal fold.
The Victorian Parliament’s Electoral Matters Committee has published a report recommending that consideration be given to adopting the weighted inclusive Gregory method for surplus transfers in upper house elections, as opposed to the (non-weighted) inclusive Gregory method currently employed both in Victoria and for the Senate. Under weighted inclusive Gregory, which was introduced in Western Australia at the last election, the system achieves mathematical perfection of a sort with every individual vote cut up and distributed among the final quotas at equal value. The inclusive Gregory method saves time, but it means individual votes which are used in surplus transfers more than once in the count are inflated in value on the second and subsequent occasions. Usually only small handfuls of votes are involved, but like anything these could be decisive in the event of a close result.
The abolition of Laurie Ferguson’s Sydney seat of Reid threatens an interesting Labor preselection for one of the seats which have moved into its turf: Parramatta, Blaxland and McMahon, as Lowe has been renamed. Antony Green has composed what promises to be a headline-grabbing post noting that the New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australian redistributions (only proposals in the first two cases) have between them given Labor a notional boost of five seats. Those wishing to discuss these matters are asked to do so on the New South Wales redistribution thread.