The lack of a Roy Morgan federal poll result has reduced me to flogging the Rebecca Black dead horse in search of headline. There is this, I suppose:
• A very modest Roy Morgan phone poll of 324 respondents, with a margin of error approaching 5.5%, contradicts the January-March Newspoll result in finding the WA Liberals with a landslide 62.5-37.5 lead on two-party preferred, from primary votes of 53.5% for the Liberals, 3.5% for the Nationals, 29.5% for Labor and 6% for the Greens. Colin Barnett’s approval and disapproval ratings of 54% and 33.5% compare with Newspoll’s 51% and 33%, while Mark McGowan’s 36.5% and 18.5% compare with 43% and 17%. A bigger difference is recorded on preferred premier: 54-26.5 in Barnett’s favour, compared with 43-30.
• The Australian reported this week that Queensland election exit polling conducted for a private client by Liberal pollsters Crosby Textor gave Kevin Rudd ratings of 38% approval and 35% disapproval, Julia Gillard 20% approval and 60% disapproval, and Tony Abbott 30% approval and 41% disapproval.
Preselection activity remains at a high pitch:
• Clive Palmer’s prospects in his headline-grabbing pitch for LNP preselection in Wayne Swan’s seat of Lilley are not being rated highly. Andrew Fraser of The Australian reports that 2010 candidate Rod McGarvie, “a former soldier who now works with disabled people”, is “well entrenched among the party’s branches”. There is provision in the party constitution for a centralised preselection to overrule local branches, but Tony Abbott’s pointed call for a “grassroots” candidate who would “do the hard yards, knocking on doors, going to shopping centres and talking to local newspapers” suggests it is unlikely to be invoked.
• The Greens have confirmed winemaker and University of Tasmania economist Peter Whish-Wilson will fill the Senate vacancy created by the retirement of Bob Brown.
• The WA Parliament has officially confirmed Dean Smith to fill the casual vacancy created by the death of Liberal Senator Judith Adams. Debbie Guest of The Australian reports Smith was “a policy adviser to premier Richard Court and a senior adviser to Mr Howard during the 1998 election campaign”, as well as being the state party’s Treasurer and a principal of lobbying firm Smith & Duda Consulting.
• The South Australian Liberals have chosen their Senate ticket, with incumbents Cory Bernardi and Simon Birmingham confirmed in the top two positions. In third place is Anne Ruston, entrepreneur behind Ruston’s Roses, a Riverland wholesale flower-growing concern and tourism attraction. Whereas Coalition number three candidates in other states are looking well placed on present indications, the contest in South Australia will be complicated by Nick Xenophon’s bid for re-election.
• The Age further reports that John Pesutto, a lawyer and Victorian government adviser said by John Ferguson of The Australian to be key figure in the Baillieu faction (and who ran unsuccessfully for preselection in Kooyong before the 2010 election), is considered likely to get the nod in Deakin. It was earlier suggested that Phil Barresi, who held the seat from 1996 until his defeat in 2007 and failed to win it back in 2010, might be interested in a comeback, and also that local councillor Tim Smith was interested.
• Also continuing to unfold is the Liberal preselection for Corangamite, which pits the narrowly unsuccessful candidate from 2010, former state 7:30 Report host Sarah Henderson, against Rod Nockles, an internet security expert and one-time adviser to the Howard government. Nockles has been boosted by the public support of Senator Arthur Sinodinos, while a VexNews contributor claims Higgins MP Kelly O’Dwyer and Senator Scott Ryan have also weighed in in his favour.
• Zoe Edwards of the ABC reports the Tasmanian Liberal Party will preselect its Senate ticket in three weeks’ time. There is said to be a push to have David Bushby, best known for miaowing at Penny Wong during a committee hearing, demoted from the number two position to make way for a woman, although “insiders” expect him to hold on. According to the report, “Hobart Alderman Sue Hickey and the Launceston Chamber of Commerce’s Kristen Finnigan are among a swag of high-profile women considering contesting”.
• Speaking to the Glen Innes Examiner, Richard Torbay, independent member for the NSW state seat of Northern Tablelands, continued to drop hints that he might be interested in running for the Nationals against Tony Windsor in New England. Torbay says he has been approached by the Nationals, the Liberals and Katter’s Australian Party, and “if he was to accept any offer it would probably be with the Nationals”. He also speaks of his “disappointment about the trashing of the independent brand” and the defeat of independent MPs in recent state elections, which I take to mean that he blames the latter on Windsor and Rob Oakeshott. There remains the possibility that Barnaby Joyce might want the seat if Maranoa falls through for him, and National Farmers Federation president Jock Laurie has “refused to rule out a run at pre-selection”.
• Norm Kelly, a former Democrats MLC in the Western Australian parliament and now politics teacher at the Australian National University, offers a 191-page review of Australian electoral law and administration and prospects for its reform, freely available online.
• Australian Policy Online has published what might be the most thorough account ever offered of a federal preselection: that held by Labor for the Canberra seat of Fraser before the 2010 federal election, written by local party member Terry Giesecke. The preselection ultimately delivered a surprise win to academic economist Andrew Leigh.
• Australian Policy Online has a general account of the 2010 federal election from Sophia Fernandes and Brenton Holmes.
Finally, except when I can’t be bothered, I will henceforth be profiling a federal electorate every Friday in anticipation of the next federal election, whenever that might be. Today we look at Brand, held for Labor by Special Minister of State Gary Gray on a margin of 3.3%.
Brand covers the coastal strip in southern Perth taking in the heavy industrial zone around Kwinana, the outer metropolitan centre of Rockingham, and suburbs further south as far as the outskirts of Mandurah. Labor has held the seat since it was created with the expansion of parliament in 1984, being strong in Rockingham and especially around Kwinana. However, the Liberals have sources of strength in the coastal suburbs south of Port Kennedy, and inland of Rockingham at Baldivis. Troublingly for Labor, both are areas of rapid development: between the 2001 and 2010 elections, the number of votes cast at the Baldivis booth increased from 1323 to 4338, while the Secret Harbour booth grew from 1150 to 3182. The image below shows the two-party booth results, with the font size ranging from 12-point where the number of votes was between 250 and 500 to 26-point for over 3000.
Wendy Fatin held Brand for Labor from its inception until 1996, when it served as an escape hatch for Kim Beazley after one close scrape too many in Swan. Beazley’s troubles did not end there, as his debut in Brand saw him hold on by just 387 votes, with Labor spending the week after its election defeat unsure if he would be available to assume the leadership. When Pauline Hanson reached her zenith in the lead-up to the 1998 election, some had the idea that the seat could fall to One Nation on account of its unusually articulate candidate, Lee Dawson. Dawson polled 11.9% and directed his preferences to the Liberals, but couldn’t prevent Beazley from riding an 11.1% swing to his first comfortable win since 1987.
Beazley bowed out at the 2007 election after losing the leadership to Kevin Rudd, and was succeeded as Labor candidate by Gary Gray, the party’s national secretary at the 1996 and 1998 elections and later an executive with mining giant Woodside. A figure in the Right faction, Gray was immediately promoted to parliamentary secretary and then to the outer ministry after the 2010 election as Special Minister of State and Minister for the Public Service and Integrity. His electoral performances have been broadly in line with the overall state results: in 2007 he picked up a 1.0% swing, despite the loss of Kim Beazley’s personal vote, and the swing against him in 2010 was 2.3%. Gray will again be opposed at the next election by the Liberal candidate from 2010, Donna Gordin, a Rockingham real estate agent.