The BludgerTrack poll aggregate moves half a point in favour of the Coalition this week, which is presumably to do with those long lost 50-50 results fading out of the system, because there was no real movement from either Essential Research and Roy Morgan this week. With this they chalk up another two on the seat projection one in Queensland, and one in Western Australia and surpass their currently parliamentary tally of 90 seats. Nothing new this week on leadership ratings.
A beefy selection of preselection news this week:
With its preselections to be determined next weekend, Labor’s struggling Western Australian operation is undergoing an imbroglio encompassing two of its three sitting members, and its yet-to-be-determined candidate for the state’s most marginal Liberal seat. Gary Gray, who has held the seat of Brand since 2007, has been refusing to sign a pledge that binds nominating candidates to the state platform and state conference as well as their national equivalents, and commits them to obey the directions of the state secretary in campaigning for their prospective office. As far as I can tell, fealty to the state platform is a not unusual feature of pledges required by Labor’s state branches, but it is generally phrased it in a way that places a higher premium on caucus solidarity. However, obedience of the state secretary appears to be peculiar to the Western Australian branch. The pledge is not new, but Gray objected to signing it on this occasion because the state platform opposes uranium mining and coal seam gas development, and struck out the offending sections on submitting his form. Consequently, the state party administration ruled the applications inadmissible. Complicating the matter is that Perth MP Alannah MacTiernan likewise made amendments to the pledge on her nomination form. Gray is taking his stand in the face of a united front of Left unions who want him to make way in Brand for Adam Woodage, described by Andrew Probyn of The West Australian as a 28-year-old fly-in, fly out electrician on the Gorgon project. However, the party’s national executive, including its most powerful representative of the Left, Anthony Albanese, is having none of it. As well as ordering the state branch to accept the nominations, invoking legal advice that the state pledge is inconsistent with national party rules, it has made clear it will intervene on Gray’s behalf if the matter is pursued any further.
The Left unions in Western Australia have also irritated the party’s national heavyweights in pushing for Gosnells councillor Pierre Yang to take the nomination for the newly created seat of Burt in Perth’s south-west. This would involve the defeat of Labor’s Right-backed candidate for September’s Canning by-election, Matt Keogh, and the wastage of a lot of effort the party put into promoting him to voters in Armadale, which stands to be transferred from Canning to the new seat. Andrew Probyn of The West Australian reports there are expectations within the party that the national executive will also intervene here if Keogh is not selected.
Phillip Coorey of the Financial Review reports that the New South Wales draft redistribution has resulted in two Labor heavyweights eyeing off neighbouring seats. One is Anthony Albanese, who is said to be looking at moving south from Grayndler to Barton. Barton was gained for the Liberals at the 2013 election by Nick Varvaris, but the new boundaries turn a 0.3% Liberal margin into a notional Labor margin of 7.5% by detaching Liberal-voting Sans Souci and adding southern Marrickville from Grayndler. Albanese’s exit would present a golden opportunity to the Greens, who now dominate the area at state level but have never looked like overcoming Albanese’s personal vote federally. Heath Aston of Fairfax reports Jim Casey, state secretary of the Fire Brigade Employees Union, is seeking Greens preselection for the seat. Bruce Knobloch, said to be aligned with Senator Lee Rhiannon and her hard Left tendency, reportedly had designs on the Grayndler preselection but will now seek to run in Sydney, which would pit him against Tanya Plibersek.
At the other end of town, Chris Bowen is reportedly looking at moving on from his western Sydney seat of McMahon, where the loss of the Labor stronghold of Fairfield has cut his margin from 5.4% to 2.1%. Fairfield is set to be transferred to Fowler, which is held for Labor by the rather lower-profile figure of Chris Hayes. However, Hayes is reportedly reluctant to make way for Bowen.
The Liberals in South Australia have preselected Nicolle Flint, a former columnist for The Advertiser, to succeed Andrew Southcott as their candidate for Boothby when he retires at the next election. Sheradyn Holderhead of The Advertiser reports Flint has worked as an adviser to state and federal Liberal leaders as well as the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. There were six nominees for the preselection, of whom Flint’s most fancied rival was Carolyn Habib, a youth worker and former Marion councillor who ran unsuccessfully in the marginal seat of Elder at last year’s state election.