Morgan seems to be back to reporting weekly face-to-face polling, at least for the time being: the latest survey of 1014 respondents has Labor down 1.5 per cent to 45 per cent and the Coalition down 2 per cent to 36.5 per cent, changing the two-party vote from 56-44 to 56.5-43.5. The Greens are up a point to 9 per cent, Family First two to 3 per cent.
Previously believed bound for marginal Macarthur, Labor MP Chris Hayes has now been offered safe Fowler to compensate for Reid MP Laurie Ferguson’s accommodation in his existing seat of Werriwa. This is despite the fact that Ferguson wanted Fowler while Hayes preferred to remain in Werriwa, which was impossible because Fowler’s Right-controlled branches did not want Ferguson on their turf. The arrangement is a win for Julia Gillard and the soft Left over Anthony Albanese and the hard Left, which wanted Werriwa to go to Damien Ogden of the Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union. However, the drama may not be over yet: also out in the cold is Ed Husic of the Communications Electrial and Plumbing Union, whom the Right still wishes to accommodate. Phillip Coorey of the Sydney Morning Herald reports talk he might replace Roger Price in Chifley. Macarthur presumably available again to its candidate from 2007, Nick Bleasdale.
Jennie George has announced she will retire at the next election, opening up a preselection contest in her seat of Throsby. A factional deal in place since 1997 has given Throsby to the hard Left and Fowler to the Right; Alex Arnold of the Illawarra Mercury reports the Left has everything in place to deliver the seat to Stephen Jones of the Community and Public Sector Union. The Mercury’s Brett Cox reports no love lost between factions over the issue, with the Left accusing the Right of a behind the scenes campaign to oust Ms George and discredit Mr Jones’ links to the region. Local Australian Workers Union branch secretary Andy Gillespie has labelled the Right dissidents hypocrites, as they had acquiesced in the imposition Lylea McMahon in the state seat of Shellharbour.
The Liberal preselection for Bennelong looms as a contest between former tennis star John Alexander and Mark Chan, a 25-year-old manager for GE Capital whose Chinese background is being sold as an asset in the seat. Imre Salusinszky of The Australian reports the party has brought the preselection process forward so it can capitalise on Alexander’s exposure over summer as a tennis commentator. This would seem to suggest he is considered the front-runner.
Saffron Howden of the Northern Star reports Pottsville pharmacist Tania Murdock is the likely Nationals candidate for Richmond. Tweed councillor Joan van Lieshout is considered a likely Liberal candidate.
After a state and federal political career stretching back to 1965, Tasmanian Liberal MP Michael Hodgman has announced he will not contest the March state election due to ill health. Despite being 71 and suffering emphysema, Hodgman had remained on the six-person Liberal line-up for Denison when it was finalised last month. The party will now have to find a replacement candidate, and enter the election without a sitting member in the division. Among those who missed out at preselection was Hobart alderman and regular independent candidate Marti Zucco.