The first Roy Morgan face-to-face poll of Tony Abbott’s Liberal leadership covers the last two weekends of polling, and it fails to replicate the encouraging results for Abbott in Morgan’s two earlier small-sample phone polls. Labor’s primary vote is up two points on Malcolm Turnbull’s last poll to 49 per cent, while the Coalition is up 0.5 per cent to 35.5 per cent. The Greens are down 1.5 per cent to 8 per cent. Labor’s lead on two-party preferred is up from 58.5-41.5 to 59-41.
Festive preselection action:
Former Davis Cup tennis player John Alexander has won the Liberal preselection for Bennelong, having earlier tried and failed in Bradfield. Despite predictions of a close contest, the Sydney Morning Herald reported the Left-backed Alexander had an easy first round win over local business executive Mark Chan, scoring 67 votes in the ballot of 120 preselectors. As the Herald tells it, the right split and the hard right deserted Mr Chan, although VexNews notes the seat is not a centre of factional operations for either camp. The also-rans were businessman Steve Foley and financial services director Melanie Matthewson.
Wanneroo mayor Jon Kelly has withdrawn his nomination for Labor preselection in the Perth northern suburbs federal seat of Cowan, after earlier being considered certain to get the gig. This comes in the wake of a Corruption and Crime Commission finding that Kelly had put himself at risk of misconduct through his relationship with Brian Burke. Burke presumably knew what he was doing when he subsequently endorsed Kelly, going on to say he had sought my help on many occasions and I’ve always been available to assist him. The West Australian reported the withdrawal was the product of a mutual decision reached after a week of talks with Labor officials, which included federal campaign committee chairman and Brand MP Gary Gray. Potential replacements named by The West are Dianne Guise and Judy Hughes, who respectively lost their local seats of Wanneroo and Kingsley at the state election last September. The ABC reports a decision is expected in mid-January.
The NSW Liberals have selected incumbents Concetta Fierravanti-Wells and Bill Heffernan to head their Senate ticket, reversing the order from 2004. The Coalition agreement reserves the third position for the Nationals I am not aware of any suggestion their candidate will be anyone other than incumbent Fiona Nash. Imre Salusinszky of The Australian reports Heffernan needed the backing of Tony Abbott to ward off challenges from David Miles, a public relations executive with Pfizer, and George Bilic, a Blacktown councillor.
Phillip Coorey of the Sydney Morning Herald notes Left figurehead Anthony Albanese’s chutzpah in calling for the Macquarie preselection to be determined by rank-and-file party ballot, after the role he played in imposing numerous candidates elsewhere as a member of the party’s national executive. Albanese reportedly believes Left candidate Susan Templeman would win a local ballot, although the earlier mail was that the Right’s Adam Searle had the numbers and it was the Left who wanted national executive intervention.
Final Liberal two-party margin from the Bradfield by-election: 14.8 per cent. From Higgins: 10.2 per cent. Respective turnouts were 81.51 per cent and 79.00 per cent, compared with 80.12 per cent at the Mayo by-election, 87.41 per cent in Lyne and 89.68 per cent in Gippsland. Question: if the results have been declared, why hasn’t the AEC published preference distributions?
VexNews reports Saturday’s Liberal preselection for the Victorian state seat of Ripon was a clear win for the unsuccessful candidate from 2006, Vic Dunn, who my records tell me is the local inspector at Maryborough. Dunn reportedly scored 53 votes against 26 for Institute of Public Affairs agriculture policy expert and preselection perennial Louise Staley and four for local winery owner John van Beveren. Joe Helper holds the seat for Labor on a maergin of 4.3 per cent.
The Berwick Star reports that Lorraine Wreford, the newly elected mayor of Casey, refused to confirm or deny reports she lodged a nomination for Liberal preselection in the state seat of Mordialloc last Friday. Janice Munt holds the seat for Labor on a margin of 3.5 per cent.
The Country Voice SA website reports that one of its regular contributors, former SA Nationals president Wilbur Klein, will be the party’s candidate for Flinders at the March state election. The seats was held by the party prior to 1993, when it was won by its now-retiring Liberal member Liz Penfold.
On Tuesday, The West Australian provided further data from the 400-sample Westpoll survey discussed a few posts ago, this time on attitudes to an emissions trading scheme. Forty per cent wanted it adopted immediately, down from 46 per cent two months ago. However, there was also a fall in the number wanting the government to wait until other countries committed to targets, from 47 per cent to 43 per cent. The remainder favoured other options to cut emissions or did not know.
Paul Murray of The West Australian offers some interesting electoral history on the occasion of the passing of former Liberal-turned-independent state MP Ian Thompson:
Shortly after the State election in February 1977, allegations began to emerge from both sides of politics about dirty deeds in the seat of Kimberley. Liberal sitting member Alan Ridge beat Labor’s Ernie Bridge on preferences by just 93 votes. The Liberals were the first to strike, claiming Labor was manipulating Aboriginal voters, but the move backfired badly. A subsequent Court of Disputed Returns case turned up scathing evidence of a deliberate Liberal campaign to deny Aboriginals the vote using underhand tactics and the election result was declared void on November 7.
Returning officers in the Kimberley for years had allowed illiterate Aboriginals to use party how-to-vote cards as an indication of their voting intention. What became apparent later was that Labor had put hundreds of Aboriginal voters on the roll and generally mobilised the indigenous community. The Liberals flew a team of young lawyers up from Perth to act as scrutineers at polling booths, with a plan to stop illiterate voters. The Court government pressured the chief electoral officer to instruct returning officers in the Kimberley to challenge illiterate voters and not accept their how-to-vote cards.
The court case turned up a letter of thanks from Mr Ridge to a Liberal Party member, who stood as an independent, saying a third name on the ballot paper created some confusion among the illiterate voters and there is no doubt in my mind that it played a major part in having me re-elected. Mr Ridge’s letter said that unless the Electoral Act was changed to make it more difficult for illiterate Aboriginals to cast their votes, the Liberals would not be able to win the seat.
Two days after the court ordered a new election, premier Sir Charles introduced in the Legislative Assembly a Bill to do just that. How-to-vote cards could not be used, nor could an instruction of a vote for just one candidate. Labor went ballistic, saying no illiterate voter would meet the test.
What transpired over nine hours was one of the most bitter debates ever seen in the WA Parliament and the galvanising of a new breed of Labor head kickers Mr Burke, Mal Bryce, Bob Pearce and Arthur Tonkin, who came to power six years later. On November 10, it became apparent that the government was in trouble when one of the four National Country Party members not in the coalition Cabinet, Hendy Cowan, said he opposed the Bill because it disenfranchised all illiterate voters. When it came to the vote, the four NCP members crossed the floor and the maverick Liberal member for Subiaco, Dr Tom Dadour, abstained. The numbers split 25-25.
From the Speaker’s chair, Ian Thompson calmly noted that the law said when a Court of Disputed Returns ordered a by-election it had to be held under the same conditions as the original poll. If the Government wanted to amend the Electoral Act, it should do so after the by-election.
Therefore I give my casting vote with the Noes and the Bill is defeated, he said. Hansard unusually recorded applause.