The Prime Minister has surprised nobody by confirming this morning that Australia has entered its first winter election campaign since 1987. The final remaining question – whether the date would be August 21 or 28 – has been resolved in favour of the former, meaning the issue of the writs and consequent closure of enrolments will occur on Monday, to Labor’s disadvantage (John Howard strikes from the grave). Psephos in comments identifies an auspicious historical precedent on this date for Labor. Appropriately, Antony Green’s election guide has opened for business this morning, and an impressive effort from Ben Raue at The Tally Room has been going for a while. My own effort will follow over the coming week.
Some recent happenings on the candidate selection front:
• Fairfax reports there have been talks between Tony Abbott and Mal Brough about the latter returning to politics, with Brough indicating he would be interested in his home electorate of Fisher on the Sunshine Coast. The seat is held by underachieving long-term member Peter Slipper, who denies having been tapped on the shoulder.
• Another Liberal National Party candidate has bitten the dust, this time in Kevin Rudd’s seat of Griffith. Emma Chalmers of The Courier-Mail reports a belief in the LNP camp that Rudd might quit after all led it to dump John Humphreys, an economist and one-time principal of the libertarian Liberal Democratic Party, so it could lock in a higher profile candidate with the potential to win the seat. The report goes so far as to nominate potential successors to Rudd: “Brisbane City Council Labor leader Shayne Sutton, lawyer Russell Thirgood and former state party treasurer Damian Power, who are all from Mr Rudd’s faction”.
• AAP reports Belinda Neal is refusing to say whether she will contest her seat of Robertson as an independent. Speculation has been boosted by the fact that she made the effort to advertise for a vacant media officer position on the weekend.
• The Liberals finally got around to choosing a candidate for the famously crucial western Sydney seat of Lindsay on Monday, with 33-year-old marketing manager Fiona Scott winning the preselection vote over 55-year-old school teacher Margaret Grand by 31 votes to seven. The Daily Telegraph reports Scott recommended herself to the party as she was “a safe candidate“ who “wouldn’t get in the way” of a backlash against the government on asylum seekers.
• The Liberals will today preselect candidates for other Sydney seats including winnable Greenway, which according to the Blacktown Sun looms as a contest between “Jayme Diaz, 34, and small business operator Venus Priest, 40”.
• Labor’s member for the highly endangered Queensland seat of Flynn, Chris Trevor, has confirmed he will contest the election after suggestions he was sufficiently alienated by Kevin Rudd’s demise to call it a day. Trevor took the opportunity of his announcement to condemn the “disgraceful” manner of Rudd’s treatment by “various factional bosses”.
• Dennis Shanahan of The Australian says Julia Gillard was prompted to challenge for the leadership by “polling in marginal seats in western Sydney and Queensland that showed she and the Liberal leader were ahead of the then prime minister in the key Labor-held seat of Lindsay in Sydney’s west and she was only six percentage points behind in Rudd’s home state of Queensland as preferred Labor leader”.