This week’s reading of the BludgerTrack poll aggregate again records a fairly solid shift in favour of the Coalition, although it’s only yielded them one extra seat on the seat projection that being in New South Wales, where the Coalition is now being credited with one more seat than it won in 2013. The aggregate is back to being determined through a trend calculation, using only the polling from the Turnbull era (note that this isn’t the case on the charts shown on the sidebar, which suggest a much higher result at present for the Coalition). However, the bias adjustments for Essential Research and Roy Morgan are still being determined in a very crude fashion. This is particularly an issue for the latter, given its idiosyncratic Turnbull era results. Both pollsters have been determined simply on the basis of the flurry of polling that emerged the week after the leadership change, the benchmark being provided by Newspoll, Galaxy and ReachTEL, which remain subject to the same bias adjustments used in the Abbott era. The adjustment to the Labor primary vote for Morgan is particularly pronounced (over +5%), which also means it’s getting a very low weighting in the trend determination. These bias adjustments will be recalculated as new results from the other pollsters become available to benchmark them against.
Also worth noting:
Heath Aston of the Sydney Morning Herald reports it is all but certain that Joe Hockey will be succeeded as the Liberal candidate for North Sydney by Trent Zimmerman, factional moderate and the party’s New South Wales state president. Hockey’s support for Zimmerman is said to have sealed the deal, although it is also reported that he had earlier approached the state Treasurer, Gladys Berejiklian. Other mooted candidates are Tim James, chief executive of Medicines Australia, and John Hart, chief executive of Restaurant and Catering Australia. James is a member for the Right, and is also mentioned as a potential candidate to succeed Tony Abbott in Warringah, or Jillian Skinner in the state seat of North Shore.
The issue of Senate electoral reform could be heading towards a compromise more conducive to minor parties than the proposal of straightforward optional preferential voting above and below the line, as was proposed last year by the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters. Key to the argument is whether group voting tickets should be abolished, a path favoured by Nick Xenophon but fiercely opposed by the micro-party Senators, the most active being David Leyonhjelm. Xenophon has approached the government with a proposal that would require above-the-line voters to number at least three boxes, and below-the-line voters to number at least 12, resulting in a greater flow of preferences to smaller players. Antony Green also argues that the resulting increase in the number of live votes in the final stages of the count would reduce the chances of the final seat being decided in a random fashion. Leyonhjelm has sought a middle path by proposing the retention of group voting tickets and one number above-the-line voting, while relieving the burden on below-the-line voters by requiring that they number a minimum of six boxes very much the same as applies for the Victorian upper house, except that the minimum number of boxes there is five. At the November 2014 state election, 94% of voters went above-the-line in the upper house, helping to elect two members of Shooters & Fishers and one each from the Sex Party, the DLP and Vote 1 Local Jobs.