It’s been as quiet a week as they come so far as federal polling is concerned, with only the reliable weekly Essential Research to keep us amused. Newspoll and Roy Morgan were both in an off week in their fortnightly cycles, and neither Galaxy nor ReachTEL stepped forward to fill the gap, presumably because their clients at News Corporation and the Seven Network blew their budget on double-up polls during the Liberal leadership excitement in early February. Since the Essential Research result landed well on trend, the BludgerTrack poll aggregate has recorded only the most negligible of changes on voting intention, with the marginal exception of a 0.3% lift for the Greens. Labor also makes a gain on the seat projection, having tipped over the line for a seventh seat in Western Australia (do keep in mind though that the electoral furniture there will shortly be rearranged by the redistribution to accommodate the state’s newly acquired entitlement to sixteenth seat).
If an absence of polling is a problem for you, you can at least enjoy yesterday’s semi-regular state voting intention results from Roy Morgan, based on SMS polling of samples ranging from 432 in Tasmania to 1287 in New South Wales. These have Labor leading 56-44 in Victoria, 50.5-49.5 in Western Australia, 53-47 in South Australia and 55.5-44.5 in Tasmania (not that two-party preferred means anything under Hare-Clark). However, the recently defeated Liberal National Party is credited with an improbable 51-49 lead in Queensland. New South Wales is not included in the mix as the result was published a day before the rest, which you can read all about on my latest state election thread.
In other news, federal preselection action is beginning to warm up, spurred in part by the possibility that Liberal leadership turmoil might cause the election to be held well ahead of schedule. Troy Bramston of The Australian reports that Labor has ordered its state and territory branches to urgently preselect parliamentary candidates by the end of June, with exemptions for New South Wales and Western Australia owing to their looming redistributions (the latter process is presently at the stage of receiving public suggestions, which may be submitted by April 10). Some notable happenings on that count:
Labor has conducted local ballots for preselections in the three Victorian seats it lost to the Liberals in 2013. Darren Cheeseman appears to have failed in his bid for another crack at Corangamite, where the ballot was won by Libby Coker, a Surf Coast councillor and former mayor who ran in Polwarth at the November state election. Also in the field was Tony White, an economic development manager at Colac Otway Shire and former adviser to various ministers and premiers in Bracks-Brumby ogvernment. In La Trobe, former Casey councillor Simon Curtis outpaced the rather higher profile Damien Kingsbury, the director of La Trobe University’s Centre for Citizenship, Development and Human Rights. The vote in Deakin was won by Tony Clarke, of whom I can’t tell you much. It now remains for the state party’s public office selection committee to determine its 50% share of the vote total, but the talk seems to be that Coker in particular is home and hosed.
Joe Ludwig, who has held a Queensland Senate seat for Labor since 1999, has announced he will not seek another term at the next election. He is set to be succeeded by Anthony Chisholm, the party’s state secretary from 2008 until 2014, when the Left’s unprecedented success in scoring majority control at the party’s state conference caused the position to pass to Evan Moorhead. Chisholm was given the short-term and now-expired role as director of the state election campaign, and also has Left faction support to fill Ludwig’s position, which remains in the hands of the AWU/Labor Forum faction. A potential rival contender was Chisholm’s predecessor as state secretary, Cameron Milner, but AWU support consolidated behind Chisholm in part because he had the backing of Wayne Swan, which reportedly led to a falling out between Swan and Milner. For more on both Swan and Milner, see further below.
There is also a widely held expectation that Ludwig will shortly be joined in the departure lounge by the Left faction’s Jan McLucas, the other Queensland Labor Senator due to face the voters at the next half-Senate election. The favourite to replace her is Murray Watt, a Bligh government minister who lost his seat of Everton in the 2012 landslide, and more recently a lawyer with Maurice Blackburn. However, Michael McKenna of The Australian reports this could raise affirmative action issues, with Townsville mayor Jenny Hill mooted as an alternative contender if so. Another aspirant mentioned in McKenna’s report is Michael Ravbar, state secretary of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union.
Michael McKenna of The Australian reports that Wayne Swan and Bernie Ripoll are being stalked as targets of possible preselection challenges. In Swan’s inner northern Brisbane seat of Lilley, the aforementioned Cameron Milner is said to be considering a challenge to the former Treasurer. On the western side of town in Oxley, Brisbane City Council opposition leader Milton Dick is preparing to roll Mr Ripoll, and has cross-factional support to do so.
The Australian reports Sophie Mirabella is keen to run again in Indi, which she famously lost in 2013 to independent Cathy McGowan. However, the report says the party is deeply pessimistic about the chance of regaining the seat, and the contest is complicated by the Nationals being able to contest it.