Five polls conducted since Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership putsch early last week have sung from the same song sheet by recording results of either 50-50 (ReachTEL and Essential Research) or 51-49 in favour of the Coalition (Newspoll and Galaxy), with the exception of a stray result from Morgan, which had it at 53.5-46.5 when using the equivalent two-party measures that assumes preferences flow as they did at the previous election. This results in a dramatic shift in the BludgerTrack poll aggregate, which has the Coalition in the lead for the first time since the very early days of the Abbott government. The BludgerTrack voting intention results shown in the tables on the sidebar are simply a weighted average of the five results after bias adjustment, rather than the usual trend calculation. There has not been a great deal of state-level variability in the Coalition surge, except to the extent that Queensland and South Australia have shifted a bit under 2% more than New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia. On the seat projection, the Coalition is up nine seats in Queensland, seven in New South Wales, four apiece in Victoria and Western Australia, and two apiece in South Australia and Tasmania.
On leadership ratings, the only results on personal approval have came from Newspoll, which credited Malcolm Turnbull with a strong but not spectacular net rating of plus 18% only slightly higher than where Tony Abbott was during his post-election honeymoon. However, Galaxy and Essential Research joined with Newspoll in publishing preferred prime minister results, which respectively recorded Turnbull’s lead over Bill Shorten at 31%, 36% and 34%. The change in atmosphere has had no discernible effect on Shorten’s personal ratings, which remain as they were a fortnight ago.
Postal votes continue to trickle in, but the swing in Saturday’s Canning by-election appears to have settled at 6.5%, leaving victorious Liberal candidate Andrew Hastie with a winning margin of 5.3%. There was an intruging regional pattern to the swing, which was approaching 10% in the low-income suburbs around Armadale at Perth’s south-eastern fringe, but little more than 3% in the coastal retirement of Mandurah. For more of my thoughts on the matter, here is a paywalled article from Crikey on Monday, and a podcast discussion with Natalie Mast at The Conversation. See also Seat of the Week immediately below this post.
The West Australian reports that Bill Shorten is lobbying to have Matt Keogh, Labor’s unsuccessful Canning by-election candidate, preselected for the new seat of Burt, which will encompass Armadale and similarly Labor-friendly territory to the north. However, it is also reported that the powerful Left faction United Voice union is keen to have the position go to Gosnells councillor Pierre Yang.
Mark Coultan of The Australian reports that Trent Zimmerman, factional moderate and acting president of the New South Wales branch of the Liberal Party, is the early front-runner to replace Joe Hockey in North Sydney, which he is generally expected to vacate to take on the position of ambassador to Washington. Major Liberal preselections very likely loom in Tony Abbott’s seat of Warringah, Bronwyn Bishop’s seat of Mackellar and Phillip Ruddock’s seat of Berowra, but these will have to wait until the redistribution is finalised.
Daniel Wills of The Advertiser lists six nominees for the Liberal preselection in Boothby, to be vacated at the election with the retirement of Andrew Southcott: Carolyn Habib, a youth worker and former Marion councillor who ran unsuccessfully in the marginal seat of Elder at the March 2014 state election; and Nicole Flint, a columnist for The Advertiser; Josh Teague, a lawyer and the son of former Senator Baden Teague; Nick Greer, a Mitcham councillor; Shaun Osborn, a policeman; and Ryan Post, a staffer to Andrew Southcott.
The Advertiser report also relates that Liberal nominees for the seat of Adelaide, which is held for Labor by Kate Ellis, will include Houssam Abiad, the Lebanese-born deputy lord mayor of Adelaide (CORRECTION: Abiad was born in Australia, of Lebanese-born parents). Abiad’s run for preselection in the seat in 2010 had backing from both Christopher Pyne, a fellow factional moderate, and Alexander Downer, from the rival Right faction, but may have fallen foul of publicity given to anti-Israel comments he had made two years earlier.
The Greens have a new Senator for South Australia in Robert Simms, a former Adelaide councillor and former adviser to Scott Ludlam and Sarah Hanson-Young. Simms replaces Penny Wright, who was elected to the Senate at the 2010 election, and announced her intention to stand down due to an illness in the family in July. Josh Taylor of Crikey has been reporting on ructions in the party over the transfer of the tertiary, technical, and further education portfolio to Simms from Lee Rhiannon, which has incurred displeasure from the party’s New South Wales branch (paywalled articles here and here).
Last week’s leadership change has returned the moribund issue of Senate electoral reform to the agenda, after the newly appointed Special Minister of State, Mal Brough, said he wished to see reform enacted in time for the election. The Guardian reports the outgoing minister, Michael Ronaldson, had told Liberal MPs that legislation he had drafted was being held up in Tony Abbott’s office, and that Liberal Democratic Party Senator David Leyonhjelm had been more or less told by senior ministers that the government had lost its enthusiasm for the project. Labor appears to be split, with Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters members Alan Griffin and Gary Gray standing by the recommendations of the committee’s report into the matter last year, but The Australian reporting that senior party figures believe reform would result in a less progressive parliament.