With another two weeks to go before the break in the festive season polling drought:
• The closest thing we’ve had to a new poll over the break has been a ReachTEL survey of Tony Abbott’s electorate of Warringah, conducted for the Australia Institute. The automated phone poll of 743 respondents was conducted on December 17, and found support for the Liberals at 62.1% (up from 60.9% at the September 2013 election), the Greens at 16.1% (up from 15.5%) and Labor at 14.6% (down from 19.3%). The poll also found 50.9% believed Tony Abbott should retire from politics, with no time frame specified, while 35.4% preferring that he remain. When asked if his departure would make them more likely to vote Liberal, 36.7% said it would, compared with 17.5% who opted for less likely. A hike in the goods and services tax from 10% and 15% recorded 39.4% support and 46.5% opposition, whereas support for “gradually transitioning to 100 per cent renewable energy by the year 2030” was at 77.2%, with 16.7% opposed.
• James Robertson at Fairfax reports that the factional warfare engulfing the New South Wales Liberal Party is posing a threat to Craig Kelly, Liberal member for the seat of Hughes in Sydney’s outer south. Kelly would appear to have been undermined by a redistribution proposal that excises the Liverpool end of the electorate, reportedly home to two branches loyal to him and the arch-conservative tendency he represents, and adds a moderate-controlled branch at the Sutherland end of the seat. The most likely challenger is said to be Kent Johns, an influential moderate who sits on Sutherland Shire Council, followed by Liverpool mayor Ned Mannoun. Further complicating matters is a membership recruitment drive that conservatives have been conducting among the Macedonian community, which led the party’s moderate-dominated state executive to freeze membership at the Liverpool branch.
• Sarah Martin of The Australian reports on “heightened speculation” that dumped minister Jamie Briggs may be set to vacate his seat of Mayo at the election. The report says that Right faction MPs were meeting to discuss a possible successor, amid fears his ongoing presence could exacerbate the threat posed in the seat by the Nick Xenophon Team. The NXT has fortuitously preselected a disaffected former staffer to Briggs, Rebekha Sharkie.
• Daniel Wills of The Advertiser reports that six candidates will seek Liberal preselection for the seat of Adelaide, held for Labor by Kate Ellis, at a ballot of 500 party members to be held on February 6. Houssam Abiad, deputy Lord Mayor of Adelaide, had been attracting the most attention, but the report says the “front-runners” are David Colovic, a partner with HWL Ebsworth Lawyers, and Beth Loveday, a dentist. The report identifies the other contenders as Shaun Osborn, a policeman, Kent Aughey, a commercial consultant, and Emma Flowerdew, a small businesswoman.
• Matthew Dixon of the Ballarat Courier reports two candidates have nominated for Liberal preselection in Ballarat, held for Labor by Catherine King: Nick Shady, a farmer and mental health advocate, and Sarah Wade, a lawyer. The report also says the Nationals are planning to field candidates in all Labor-held Victorian regional seats, which is to say Ballarat, Bendigo and McEwen.
UPDATE: Channel Seven in Adelaide has results of a ReachTEL poll from Jamie Briggs’ electorate of Mayo, with better results than he might have feared: a Liberal primary vote of 43.9%, compared with 53.8% at the 2013 election, with Labor on 17.2% and the Nick Xenophon Team on 15.4%. This probably includes an unallocated undecided result of around 8%, suggesting all concerned would in fact be a few points higher – with Briggs close enough to 50% to get him home, even if the NXT got ahead of Labor. A two-party Liberal-versus-Labor result shows Briggs leading 59-41, compared with 62.5-37.5 at the election.