Essential Research has consolidated six weeks’ worth of polling to produce results on state voting intention from the three biggest states, which it will hopefully begin doing on a regular basis. The results from New South Wales tell a familiar story, with the Coalition on 50 per cent and Labor on 29 per cent and the former leading on two-party preferred 58-42. Both parties are somewhat higher on the primary vote than in othe recent polling, with the Greens on a lower than usual 12 per cent.
I neglected to maintain updates on the voluminous preselection action in New South Wales during the federal election campaign and its aftermath, so brace yourselves as I come good on this oversight …
• Heath Aston of the Sun-Herald reports federal Werriwa MP and Left faction potentate Laurie Ferguson is pushing to have former Premier Nathan Rees unseated for preselection in his seat of Toongabbie to make way for Susai Benjamin, a migration officer and member of the locally prominent Indian community (quoth Aston: “Support from Indians has become so vital that Mr Rees has sought advice on how to speak Hindi”). However, rival Left powerbroker Anthony Albanese has weighed in in support of Rees, who won preselection at the 2007 election against the Fergusons’ wishes with the support of Morris Iemma and the party’s national executive. Aston notes Albanese “has long been at war with the Ferguson clan”, as demonstrated by the fact that he was that he was the only significant player to resist Ferguson protege Julia Gillard’s June 23-24 leadership putsch. There is “talk” the move against Rees has the support of Fairfield MP and Right faction player Joe Tripodi, although his supporters dismiss this as “spin designed to help protect the former premier from a rank-and-file vote”. The Ferguson camp is said to be pushing for a rank-and-file ballot, so is presumably confident about the local numbers. The Liberal candidate for the seat is Kirsty Lloyd, an “administrator of a not-for-profit organisation”. Nick Soon of the Blacktown Sun reports Lloyd won preselection ahead of Bankstown councillor Michael Tadros and Military Ceramics Corporation chief executive Gregory Willis.
• Speaking of Tripodi, The Daily Telegraph reported last month that the Fairfield MP was “expected to retire in coming weeks in a bid to head off his axing by head office”, which it could achieve by referring the matter to the national executive.
• The Liberals will choose a candidate tomorrow for Castle Hill, to be vacated at the election by retiring Liberal member Michael Ronaldson. The main candidates are Dominic Perrotet, a Liberal staffer, and Ashley Pittard, fund manager to Frank Lowy, with Bev Jordan of the Hills Shire Times rating Parramatta councillor Chiang Lim an also-ran. According to Sean Nicholls of the Sydney Morning Herald, the contest is “being read as a classic north-western Sydney battle for supremacy between the ‘hard right’ forces of the upper house MP David Clarke (backing Perrottet) and the ‘soft right’ troops of his former protege, the federal MP for Mitchell, Alex Hawke (backing Pittard)”. The latter camp is “terrified at the prospect of a Perrottet victory, which would mean a state MP working against Alex Hawke on his patch”, which is rumoured to have pushed it into a deal for moderate support in exchange for a promise to back moderate Matthew Kean in Hornsby. A recent withdrawal from the contest has been Peter Dimbrowsky, mayor of The Hills Shire.
• As related above, tomorrow’s Liberal preselection in Hornsby is expected to be won by moderate Matthew Kean, chartered accountant and Young Liberals vice-president, ahead of local mayor Nick Berman. Berman is backed by the David Clarke faction of the Right while another candidate, Hornsby councillor Steve Russell, is supported by its bitter rivals in the Alex Hawke faction. The seat is being vacated by the retirement of incumbent Judy Hopwood.
• Sean Nicholls of the Sydney Morning Herald reports the looming Liberal preselection for Cronulla, to be vacated with the retirement of Malcolm Kerr, is between “left-backed barrister Mark Speakman, SC, and Stephen Mutch, backed by the upper house MP Marie Ficarra of the hard right”. Fascinatingly, this sets up a rematch of a stoush for the federal seat of Cook which happened way back in 1998. Mutch was elected to Cook in 1996, having earlier been a member of the state upper house, but fell victim to an exercise of power by moderates backers of Speakman, who had been best man at Mutch’s wedding nine years earlier. The resulting dispute ended with the installation of another moderate faction identity, Bruce Baird, who had been a senior minister through the Greiner-Fahey NSW government from 1988 to 1995. John Howard pointedly failed to promote Baird at any point in his parliamentary career, and he emerged as a key backer of Peter Costello.
• Imre Salusinszky of The Australian reports Marie Andrews, the Labor member for Gosford, will announce her retirement “in coming days”. Andrews is 69, so it need not be inferred that this would amount to a recognition of inability to defend her 4.9 per cent margin. The same cannot perhaps be said of Grant McBride, who holds The Entrance on a margin of 4.7 per cent and is also said by Salusinszky to be headed for the exit lounge.
• Imre Salusinszky further reports that lawyer Michael Vassili has the “inside running” to succeed the retiring John Aquilina as Labor candidate for Riverstone, held on a margin of 10.1 per cent. The Liberal candidate for the seat is David Clarke ally Kevin Conolly – Bryn Kay of the Blacktown Advocate reports this has prompted “influential local identity” Anthony Belcastro to burn his party membership renewal card and indicate he will run as an independent.
• Further to the above, Riverstone is one of a number of seats which have been mentioned in relation to Transport Minister John Robertson’s hopes for a lower house berth from which to assume the (opposition) leadership post-election, others including Blacktown (held by Paul Gibson), Mount Druitt (Richard Amery) and Shellharbour (Lylea McMahon), whose incumbents have resisted suggestions from Sussex Street that they should make way for new talent. The Sun-Herald reported Labor sources saying Gibson was not expected to renominate, although his public position is that he plans to stay and will run as an independent if pushed.
• The ABC reports Uniting Church minister Gordon Bradbery is considering challenge Labor member Noreen Hay for preselection in Wollongong. The report says the party’s failure to nominate a date for the preselection is “fuelling rumours that head office may step in an appoint a candidate”. Alex Arnold of the Illawarra Mercury reports speculation the Left is seeking candidates to oppose both Hay and Lylea McMahon in Shellharbour, but “both are expected to win a rank-and-file ballot should they be challenged”.
• Ryan Park, deputy chief of the NSW Transport Department, has won Labor preselection to succeed retiring former minister David Campbell in the Illawarra seat of Keira.
• Shoalhaven deputy mayor Gareth Ward will run for the Liberals against Matt Brown in Kiama, having won preselection ahead of former Kiama councillor Ann Sudmalis and property developer Don Mason.
• Blue Mountains MP Phil Koperberg has not unexpectedly announced he will join the Labor exodus at the next election after a short and troubled parliamentary career. Krystyna Pollard of the Blue Mountains Gazette reports Liberal preselection nominees for the seat are believed to include Blue Mountains councillor Fiona Creed and dentist Roza Sage.
• Heather Aston of the Sydney Morning Herald reports Penrith councillor Prue Guillaume is “almost certain” to win Labor preselection for Mulgoa, to be vacated by the retirement of Diane Beamer. Kristina Keneally made the effort to credit Guillaume’s advocacy when ruling out the use of a waste facility near Penrith as a dumping ground for radioactive waste. Labor holds the seat by a margin of 10.9 per cent.
• The Daily Telegraph reports Ron Delezio, whose daughter Sophie suffered horrific injuries in two separate car accidents, has nominated for Liberal preselection in Kogarah. Also in the field are local mayor Nick Varvaris and councillor Mireille Hindi. Cherie Burton, whose obligatory item of political baggage is a recent charge with refusing a breath test, holds the seat for Labor on a margin of 17.5 per cent.
• The Liberals have endorsed an openly gay candidate, finance broker Adrian Bartels, to run against independent MP Clover Moore in Sydney.
• Local police inspector Bryan Doyle has been unanimously endorsed to run as Liberal candidate for Campbelltown, to be vacated at the election by Labor’s Graham West. Expected candidates for Labor preselection are local councillor Anoulack Chanthivong, tax business owner Masood Chowdhury and Emma Brindley, who “led the local campaign against WorkChoices in 2007”. Labor’s margin in the seat is 18.6 per cent.
• The Cessnock Advertiser reported in mid-September that local councillors James Hawkins, Bob Pynsent and Clayton Barr were being discussed in relation to Labor preselection for Cessnock, to be vacated by the retirement of sitting member Kerry Hickey. Another councillor, Neil Gorman, was to run for the Nationals. However, the paper now reports Pynsent has withdrawn as a Labor preselection a starter, and Gorman has withdrawn as Nationals candidate for “personal reasons”. Labor holds the seat with a margin of 12.4 per cent.
• The Liberals will hold a preselection on Sunday for Parramatta, which Labor’s Tanya Gadiel holds on a margin of 13.7 per cent. The Hills News reports the five candidates are The Hills Shire councillor Robyn Preston, solicitor Sid Hawach, University of Western Sydney associate dean Geoffrey Lee, youth motivational speaker Brett Murphy and NSW Housing Department project consultant Deb Murphy. Former Eels player Peter Wynn told Di Bartok of the Parramatta Advertiser he had been “unofficially” approached, but was “not the least bit interested”.
• Lawyer Gabrielle Upton won a late September Liberal preselection vote for Vaucluse, to be vacated at the election on the retirement of former party leader Peter Debnam. AAP reported Upton narrowly won the preselection vote from a field of seven candidates, which included “Woollahra mayor Andrew Petrie and his deputy Peter Cavanagh, former Malcolm Turnbull staffer Anthony Orkin, public relations consultant Mary Lou Jarvis and medical practitioner Greg Levenston”. According to Sean Nicholls of the Sydney Morning Herald, the result caused another hopeful, restaurateur Peter Doyle, to “storm out of the preselection”, while Petrie “quit the party in a fit of pique”.
• Matthew Ward of the Camden Macarthur Chronicle reports local mayor Chris Patterson has won Liberal preselection for Camden with 52 votes from a possible 70, ahead of “former Camden councillor Rob Elliott, Camden councillor Michael Cottrell, and property practice director/principal Dean Jones”. Geoff Corrigan holds the seat for Labor on a margin of 4.0 per cent.
• David Elliott, chief executive of the Civil Contractors Federation, won Liberal preselection in late September for Baulkham Hills, to be vacated at the election by Elliott’s “friend and mentor” Wayne Merton. Helen Gregory of the Hills News reports Elliott, whose backers included John Howard, won the mid-September preselection vote by 50 votes against 33 for Hills councillor Mike Thomas. Earlier in the day Tudehope unsuccessfully sought a Supreme Court injunction to prevent the vote from proceeding, disputing the legitimacy of the local Young Liberals meeting which chose its seven delegates to the preselection panel. He subsequently withdrew (although his name remained on the ballot, attracting three votes) and threw his support behind Thomas.
• The Newcastle Herald reports Tim Crakanthorp, a local councillor “leading Left figure in the Newcastle branch system”, is not ruling out a preselection challenge against Newcastle MP Jodi McKay, who was installed by head office at the 2007 election at the expense of incumbent Bryce Gaudry. The paper reported in September that McKay was “believed not to have the numbers in the party’s Left-dominated local branches”. McKay retains the backing of the Right, but this looks unlikely to avail her as Kristina Keneally has said all ministers will face rank-and-file preselections. Another Newcastle councillor, Sharon Claydon, has been mentioned as a possible starter. Lord mayor John Tate, who fell 1.1 per cent short in his bid at the 2007 election, will again run as an independent.
• The Liberals have endorsed veterinarian Andrew Cornwell to run in the Newcastle seat of Charlestown, held for Labor by Matthew Morris on a margin of 9.3 per cent.
• Vanessa Watson of the Canterbury-Bankstown Express reports Lakemba MP Robert Furolo had no trouble seeing off a preselection challenge from Roselands branch secretary Harry Gian, by 76 votes to 10. This is the preselection that Federal Immigration Minister Tony Burke was initially deemed ineligible to vote in on the grounds he had not attended the requisite number of branch meetings.
• The Liberals have endorsed Tony Issa, former Parramatta mayor and construction business director, to run in Granville, which David Borger holds for Labor on a margin of 11.1 per cent. Issa was given the nod at an October 21 ballot ahead of Holroyd councillor and financial company managing director Eddy Sarkis.
” Michelle Taverniti of the Macarthur Advertiser reports that Liberal preselection for the usually safe Labor seat of Macquarie Fields will be contested by “Casula real estate agent Sam Eskaros and St Andrews man Gordon Irsak, whose son runs Jam Studios on Queen Street”, and possibly also Liverpool councillor Ned Mannoun.
• The members for the neighbouring Labor marginals of Menai and Miranda, Alison Megarrity and Barry Collier, announced in late September they would not contest the election, respectively citing her husband’s ill health and a feeling he had “achieved all that I set out to achieve for my community”. I have not heard mention of a possible preselection successors, but whoever they are they will have little cause for optimism.