The BludgerTrack poll aggregate has, almost, moved half a point in Labor’s favour for the third week in a row, the exact two-party movement on this occasion being 0.4%. This was the result of two new polls this week, one from ReachTEL and the other the regular weekly Essential Research result. Newspoll was silent this week because, social media conspiracy theorising aside, it’s the practice of The Australian to have its polls coincide with the resumption of parliament, which means next week rather than this week. Whereas last week’s movement caused four seats to tip Labor’s way on the projection, this time there is but the one, that being in Victoria.
Nothing new this week on leadership ratings, but a fair bit to report on preselection:
The future of the plum Liberal seat of Mackellar on Sydney’s northern beaches is a hot topic following Bronwyn Bishop’s resignation as Speaker. The West Australian reports that Bishop is “under internal pressure to quit parliament immediately”, but the 72-year-old Bishop says she’s set on another term. However, the crude fact that her pension will erode the longer she is on a back-bench salary makes this a doubtful proposition. It had long been thought that her successor might be her chief-of-staff, Damien Jones, who is a member of the party’s state executive, husband of state upper house MP Natasha Maclaren-Jones and, according to James Robertson of the Sydney Morning Herald, Bishop’s local numbers man. However, The Australian (paywalled) reports that Jones is seen as damaged goods, since it was he who booked Bishop’s infamous $5227 helicopter flight to Geelong a view expressed by Tom Switzer, a former opinion page editor of The Australian and past preselection aspirant who is ruling himself out on this occasion. Others who have been speculatively named without ruling themselves out include Julian Leeser, a former Menzies Research Centre head currently working in government relations at the Australian Catholic University; Walter Villatora, chairman of the party’s Warringah federal electoral council and a campaigner for democratising preselection reforms favoured by the religious Right faction; John Ruddick, an ally of Villatora’s in the reform push; Greg Burton, a barrister; and Jim Longley, state member for Pittwater from 1986 to 1996 and a minister in John Fahey’s government from 1992 to 1995, who is now chief executive of the ageing, disability and home care division of the NSW Department of Family and Community Services. Longley challenged Bishop for preselection ahead of the last election.
The West Australian reports that possible Liberal preselection candidates for the Canning by-election include Mandurah mayor Marina Vergone, Murdoch University law lecturer Lorraine Finlay and party figure Nathan Gudgeon. Another mentioned in the local press is Steve Marshall, a 57-year-old former earthworks businessman who says he will run as an independent if he doesn’t win, which doesn’t sound like a winning pitch to these ears. The West Australian also reports that Labor’s preselection candidates will include Matt Keogh, a commercial lawyer, president of the Law Society of WA, and member of the Right faction.
Nationals veteran Bruce Scott has confirmed the long-held expectation that he will retire at the next election, making available his sprawling and safely conservative Queensland seat of Maranoa. Scott has been in the news of late due to his role as deputy Speaker Phillip Coorey of the Financial Review reports that he hoped to replace Bishop, but the Liberals will not have the job go to a National. According to Penelope Arthur of Queensland Country Life, potential preselection contenders in Maranoa include David Littleproud, a Toowoomba bank manager; Robert Loughnan, mayor of Maranoa; and Cameron O’Neil, a Maranoa councillor. Cameron Atfield of Fairfax reports that state Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg has ruled himself out, despite being subject of pressure from some quarters of the Liberal National Party to run for a federal seat. Labor’s preselected candidate is Dave Kerrigan, a rural health worker.
The ABC reports that Steve Georganas will face opposition from long-time Labor member Delia Brennan in his bid for Labor preselection in the Adelaide seat of Hindmarsh, which he lost to Liberal candidate Matt Williams after nine years as member in 2013. However, The Australian reports that Georganas is widely expected to win easily. Mark Ward, a school teacher and candidate for the state by-election for Davenport in January, has won preselection to run against Liberal incumbent and Speakership aspirant Andrew Southcott in Boothby. Labor’s preselection process for Christopher Pyne’s seat of Sturt is ongoing.
My paywalled Crikey contributions over the past fortnight or so concern Labor’s position on boat turnbacks and the contrast presented with the Labour Party in Britain, which appears poised to choose hard left ideologue Jeremy Corbyn as its new leader; the Tasmanian Greens preselection process that will shortly see former federal party leader Christine Milne succeeded by former state party leader Nick McKim; a Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters inquiry that appears to have been established due to Coalition concerns about emergency services union activists campaigning for Labor while wearing work-related apparel; the state of play in Western Australian state politics as the parties grapple with the implications of a just-announced redistribution; and, in yesterday’s edition, the coming prime ministership of Nick Xenophon.