Essential Research: 54-46 (late news)

Looks like we’re not getting a Morgan this week, just as Newspoll and Nielsen broke their normal patterns by failing to report on Monday and Tuesday. Results from both can presumably be expected in a few days. We did as always get Essential Research on Monday, which I’ve thus far been too busy/lazy to do anything with. It showed Labor’s two-party lead steady on 54-46, and also included results on the Prime Minister’s handling of relations with other nations (approve-disapprove split narrowing to 50-32 from 67-19 in April 2009), leader/party better to handle foreign relations (41-27 in favour of Rudd/Labor), relative importance of other nations to Australia (surprisingly strong sentiment for New Zealand, second behind the United States and ahead of China), and preferred priorities for the budget and expectations of whether it will be good or bad for the respondent personally (11 per cent good against 34 per cent bad). A Westpoll survey of 402 respondents in Western Australia found 56 per cent of respondents “believe the number of asylum seekers would decline if Australia reinstated the previous Howard government policy of turning back boats”, with 36 per cent believing otherwise. Thirty-five per cent said the adoption of such a policy by Tony Abbott would make them more likely to vote Liberal, “including 23 per cent of current ALP voters”.


• Linda Silmalis of the Sunday Telegraph reports the Liberals are expected to open the formal nomination process for Wentworth in the coming week, with preselection scheduled for the end of May. According to Crikey, “talk at the highest levels of the Liberal Party is that research consultant and businessman Christopher Joye is being courted to take a run”. Jennifer Bennett of Central News Magazine reports University of NSW pro-chancellor Gabrielle Upton has ruled herself out, apparently being set on the state seat of Vaucluse, and former Turnbull staffer Anthony Orkin has professed himself “surprised” to have been mentioned. Brenton Cherry of the Manly Daily reports Warringah councillor Jason Falinksi also won’t be running, having declared his support for Sydney councillor and factional moderate Shayne Mallard. Waverley councillor Yvonne Coburn has expressed interest, after earlier considering Vaucluse and Coogee. According to the Wentworth Courier, a Sydney newspaper has suggested Peter King might take another pop as an independent (though I can’t locate the report), having been banned from the Liberal Party for 10 years after attempting to hold his seat as an independent after Malcolm Turnbull deposed him for preselection in 2004. The paper also tells us that “despite denials (including on Q&A this week), rumours persist that either Mr or Mrs Turnbull might take a shot at Vaucluse”. Waverley mayor Sally Betts is also said to be considering a run.

• The ABC provides an up-to-date lists of contenders for Labor preselection in the two ACT House of Representatives seats, to be determined next Saturday. Still in the hunt in Canberra are Mary Wood, Gai Brodtmann and Brendan Long, along with apparent late starters Mike Kinniburgh and John O’Keefe (a criminal lawyer). It seems David Garner, former staffer to Simon Crean and Joe Ludwig, and Louise Crossman, former CFMEU official, have withdrawn. Still in the race for Fraser are Nick Martin, George Williams, Andrew Leigh, Christina Ryan, Jim Jones, Chris Bourke, Mike Hettinger and Michael Pilbrow (whom Bernard Keane of Crikey reports is being targeted by the Left over alleged anti-abortion views, which he denies holding). Philip Ironfield and Richard Niven seem to have fallen by the wayside. Chris Johnson of The Canberra Times reports factional chieftains have denied the rank-and-file a secret ballot so they can enforce a deal that will deliver Canberra to Mary Wood of the Centre Coalition with support of the Left, and Fraser to Nick Martin of the Left with the support of the Centre Coalition.

• Jonathan Jackson, Hobart accountant and son of former state Attorney-General Judy Jackson, has won Labor preselection to succeed Duncan Kerr in Denison, having secured the decisive support of the Left. Launceston hospital business manager Geoff Lyons has been confirmed as Jodie Campbell’s successor in Bass.

• Liberal nominations for South Australian Senate seats closed last week, for a field to be vacated by incumbents Nick Minchin and Alan Ferguson. Michael Owen of The Australian reports top spot is expected to go to incumbent Mary Jo Fisher, a member of the Right who has cross-factional backing, while second spot will be former Wakefield MP David Fawcett of the Minchin Right and state party president Sean Edwards, who is backed by Christopher Pyne’s moderates.

• The ABC reports Townsville auctioneer Ewen Jones has won Liberal National Party preselection for Herbert, to be vacated at the election by the retirement of Peter Lindsay.

Michael Owen of The Australian reports “young conservative” Sam Duluk and state Enfield candidate Luke Westley are the front-runners for Liberal preselection in Adelaide, where the Liberals fancy their chances after picking up a 15.4 per cent in the state seat at last month’s election.

• The Lithgow Mercury reports John Cobb, Nationals member for Calare, has survived a preselection challenge from Orange City councillor Sam Romano by 195 votes to 37.

• The Western Weekender reports Australian College of Physical Education business development manager Stuart Ayres has defeated Penrith councillor Ben Goldfinch for Liberal preselection in Penrith, while Penrith councillor Tanya Davies has defeated journalist Bernard Bratusa in Mulgoa.

• The ABC reports the Liberals have preselected Shoalhaven deputy mayor Gareth Ward as candidate for the Illawarra state seat of Kiama, defeating Ann Sudmalis and Donald Mason.

• Former Perth lord mayor Chas Hopkins has been preselected as Labor’s candidate for Cowan, one of two Perth seats the Liberals gained against the trend of the 2007 election. A factional arrangement that would have delivered the seat to Wanneroo mayor Jon Kelly fell through in January after a Corruption and Crime Commission report mentioned him unfavourably in connection to Brian Burke.

• The ABC reports the Victorian Nationals have preselected former journalist Tim Bull to run against independent incumbent Craig Ingram in the state seat of Gippsland East, ahead of Russell Smith.

Possum has written a fascinating post on class voting, an age-old fascination of scholars of electoral behaviour, in relation to the 2007 federal election. He finds that working in a manual occupation, which as recently as 1990 was found to have produced a 50-38 split between Labor and the Coalition, is now next to useless as a predictor of voting. However, the number of those identifying as “managers” accounts for 55 per cent of the variation in the Labor vote and 37 per cent of the Coalition vote. For the Greens, employment in arts and recreation services, information, media and telecommunications and education accounts for 51 per cent of the variation, regardless of the local availability of a good café latte.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

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