Roy Morgan has published results from its last two weekends of face-to-face surveying, with one period before the High Court ruling on the Malaysia solution and the other after. The poll actually shows a slight improvement for Labor on the poll covering the two weeks previous: their primary vote is steady on 32.5 per cent, but the Coalition is down three to 46.5 per cent and the Greens up 1.5 per cent to 12.5 per cent. On the respondent-allocated preferences two-party preferred measure, this translates into a shift from 58.5-41.5 to 58-42; allocating preferences as per the result of the previous election, the shift is from 55.5-44.5 to 54.5-45.5. This is the biggest disparity yet recorded by Morgan between the two preference allocation methods, with Labor receiving just 45 per cent of minor party and independent preferences compared with 65.8 per cent at the election.
I have been informed that an unpublished survey of 400 respondents in Western Australia, conducted six weeks ago by Patterson Market Research (which conducts, among other things, Westpoll for The West Australian), had federal voting intention at 57 per cent for the Coalition, 27 per cent for Labor and 9 per cent for the Greens, suggesting a two-party result of about 63-37. This points to a swing of about 6.5 per cent: Labor’s margins in the three Western Australian seats they still hold are 3.3 per cent in Brand, 5.7 per cent in Fremantle and 5.9 per cent in Perth. The margin of error on the poll is a bit under 5 per cent.
Arthur Sinodinos, former chief-of-staff to John Howard, looks set to fill the NSW Liberal Senate vacancy created by the resignation of Helen Coonan after confirming his intention to nominate.
In the Sunshine Coast seat of Fisher, Mal Brough’s election as Liberal National Party divisional branch chairman ahead of the preferred candidate of sitting member Peter Slipper is universally being interpreted as a portent of looming preselection defeat of the latter by the former. Slipper had said his position as an LNP member of parliament would become untenable if his candidate was defeated, but after the event claimed he had never threatened to resign.
Jessica Wright of the Sydney Morning Herald reports that as well as Brough, Tony Abbott has approached former Lindsay MP Jackie Kelly and Parramatta MP Ross Cameron with a view to returning to parliament at the next election. Also on Abbott’s wish list is Tom Switzer, editor of The Spectator Australia and former opinion page editor for The Australian. Kelly at least has been unequivocal in denying any interest in a comeback, while Switzer appears to be holding out for a seat in Sydney after being discussed as a possible contender in Craig Thomson’s central coast seat of Dobell. It has further been reported that Gary Hardgrave and De-Anne Kelly, who lost their Queensland seats of Moreton and Dawson in 2007, have also come in for attention.
Labor’s Bendigo MP Steve Gibbons has announced he will bow out at the next election. Gibbons won the seat from the Liberals on the retirement of Bruce Reid in 1998 and consolidated thereafter, winning last year by a margin of 9.5 per cent. There was speculation that Senator David Feeney might seek refuge in the seat, having been unable to advance up the batting order from his highly loseable third position on the party ticket. However, Andrew Crook of Crikey described such reports as erroneous, and quoted Gibbons saying he wouldn’t support David Feeney or anyone else administrative people from Melbourne impose on us. Also mentioned by The Australian was Ben Hubbard, local native and chief-of-staff to the Prime Minister.
Christian Kerr of The Australian suggests WA Liberal Senator Matthias Cormann has his eyes on preselection for the lower house seats of Pearce and Moore, to be vacated at the election by the retirements of Judi Moylan and Mal Washer. This threatens to be factionally problematic, as Cormann is of the Right whereas Moylan and Washer are noted moderates. Kerr’s report also foreshadows yet another preselection challenge to Tangney MP Dennis Jensen, who has twice required intervention from higher up to save him from preselection defeat at the local branch level.
Alex Sinnott of the Warrnambool Standard reviews Liberal preselection jockeying for Corangamite, where Sarah Henderson is hoping for another crack after narrowly failing to unseat Labor’s Darren Cheeseman last year. She may face competition in the shape of Rod Nockles, an internet security expert who also sought preselection last time. Robert Hardie, an adviser to Senator Michael Ronaldson, was identified as a potential starter but declined to comment.
Victorian Liberal Senators Helen Kroger and Scott Ryan are shaping up for a preselection contest for the second position on the party’s ticket at the next election, to be determined early next year. Kroger was elected from number two and Ryan from number three in 2007, but Ryan has since attained a more senior parliamentary position and is thus by party convention entitled to the higher place.