The latest fortnightly Roy Morgan face-to-face poll (three days old now, but what the hell), conducted over the previous two weekends, has Labor’s lead increasing still further, from 61-39 to 62-38. Labor’s primary vote is up a point to 51.5 per cent the Coalition’s is down one to 32.5 per cent.
The Liberal preselection vote in Peter Costello’s seat of Higgins went according to script, with his former staffer Kelly O’Dwyer defeating Andrew Abercrombie at the final vote by 222 votes to 112. Reports over the past few days suggest O’Dwyer might be off to Canberra sooner than expected. The Prime Minister appears to be wooing Peter Costello with job offers (executive director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London being the main tip, according to Phillip Coorey in the Sydney Morning Herald) so as to afflict the Liberals with another troublesome by-election. Costello did not rule out going out early when he made his surprise retirement announcement in June. Glenn Milne reports such a departure might come soon enough for a by-election to be held on the same day as that for Bradfield.
Alan Tudge, a former staffer to Brendan Nelson and Alexander Downer, has won the Liberal preselection to succeed Chris Pearce in the eastern Melbourne seat of Aston. Andrew Landeryou of VexNews reports Tudge won the final ballot from Neil Angus, having seen off Nick McGowan, Terry Barnes, Deanne Ryall, James Matheson, Sue McMillan, Mike Kapos, Darren Pearce, Ken Aldred and Michael Flynn at earlier counts.
Julia Irwin has announced she will retire from her safe Labor western Sydney seat of Fowler at the next election, taking the opportunity to launch a spray about the failings of her party’s power structures (her own success in cornering a safe seat for 11 unproductive years being an evident case in point). Irwin believes the Labor margin in the seat has been built up by her own personal qualities and hard work, owing little or nothing to its classic low-income, high-immigration Labor profile. Appropriately enough, Phillip Coorey of the Sydney Morning Herald reports her departure threatens to create a factional fight between the Left, which backs Liverpool mayor Wendy Waller, and the Right, which is pushing the unsuccessful 2004 candidate for Greenway, Ed Husic. Laurie Ferguson, left homeless by the redistribution’s abolition of his inner west electorate of Reid, is said to have little support from his own Left faction, and his career is most likely over.
Phillip Coorey further reports that factional disputes in Fowler over control of local branches are echoed in the south coast seat of Throsby, whose disappointing member Jennie George is contemplating whether to run again.
Will David Hawker’s departure from Wannon open an entry for the Nationals? The electorate’s history suggests otherwise, but Alex Sinnott of the Warrnambool Standard reports the party is considering running a candidate for the first time since 1984.
Phillip Coorey of the Sydney Morning Herald reports a decision by the New South Wales Liberal Party to bring forward federal preselections (so they are conducted on recently published draft redistribution boundaries) is likely to secure the positions of Bronwyn Bishop in Mackellar and Philip Ruddock in Berowra. In further exciting news on the Liberal renewal front, Imre Salusinszky of The Australian reports Alby Schultz and Pat Farmer will again seek preselection in their respective seats of Hume and Macarthur. Farmer launched a spray at his constituents on the night of the 2007 federal election for failing to give him the margin he felt he deserved, and has since moved to the expensive north shore suburb of Mosman. Macarthur has been made a notionally marginal Labor seat under the draft redistribution.
Imre Salusinszky also reports that police sergeant Darren Jameson is favoured to win Liberal preselection in Belinda Neal’s seat of Robertson, notwithstanding that former Liberal member Jim Lloyd is considering a comeback.
The Liberal National Party’s feeble legal challenge to Queensland Labor’s win in Chatsworth at the March state election died its inevitable death when the Queensland Supreme Court brought down its ruling on Thursday. A smaller than average 14 errors were identified into the count, the effect of which when rectified was to increase Labor’s margin from 74 votes to 85. There were a grand total of two cases of double voting, both involving confused elderly citizens. Antony Green offers some commentary on the judgement, which stands as a heartening confirmation of the integrity of Australia’s electoral processes.
With New South Wales state Labor member Phil Koperberg indicating he is bitterly disappointed with politics and might not go the distance, Antony Green weighs in with an overview of his electorate of Blue Mountains. It notes that Kerry Bartlett, who lost the corresponding federal seat of Macquarie to Koperberg’s predecessor Bob Debus in 2007, has been mentioned as a potential Liberal candidate.
Alex Sinnott of the Warrnambool Standard reports that Liberal preselection candidates for the Victorian state upper house region of Western Victoria include incumbent David Koch, former police sergeant, anti-corruption campaigner and Wannon aspirant Simon Illingworth, former Victorian Farmers Federation president Simon Ramsay, Colac businessman Richard Riordan and Daylesford real estate agent Paul Johnson. Another incumbent, John Vogels, is retiring. The coalition agreement gives the Liberals the top two positions on a joint ticket, with the Nationals taking the third.
Anna Caldwell of the Courier-Mail reports a private members’ bill sponsored by independent Nicklin MP Peter Wellington to introduce fixed three-year terms has been voted down by both government and opposition. The former wants the matter determined by referendum Deputy Premier Paul Lucas further says a four-year term would be more appropriate as it would enable necessary planning and implementation time for governments, which (given the state of play south of the border) makes one doubt the government’s seriousness about seeing reform.