BludgerTrack quarterly, and other stories

Quarterly poll aggregate breakdowns, state polling from Essential Research, and extensive accounts of preselection friction emerging from the factional warfare engulfing the Liberal Party in New South Wales.

I have published a new seat of detailed state breakdowns from BludgerTrack, which points to next to no regional variation in the shift to the Coalition on Malcolm Turnbull’s watch, with the possible exception of it being particularly pronounced in Victoria.

Essential Research will resume its publication of weekly federal polling numbers next week – in the meantime, it has treated us to state voting intention results. These are aggregated from Essential’s polling from October through to December, with samples ranging from 797 in South Australia to 3205 in New South Wales, and follow on from a recent state polling onslaught from Newspoll, which you can read all about in the entries below this one. Essential’s results in New South Wales and Victoria aligned very closely with Newspoll, with the Coalition leading 56-44 in the former and Labor leading 53-47 in the latter. However, Labor was credited with a 54-46 lead in South Australia, compared with 51-49 in Newspoll, but was level with the Liberal National Party in Queensland, where Newspoll had Labor leading 52-48. The biggest disrepancy was from Western Australia, where Newspoll had Labor surging to a lead of 53-47, but Essential has the Liberal-National government with its nose in front, by 51-49. For more on the situation in Western Australia, I had a paywalled article in Crikey on Tuesday.

In preselection news, the finalisation of the redistribution process, together with the determination of an increasingly ascendant moderate faction to flex its muscles, is making life extremely interesting for the Liberal Party in New South Wales (as detailed in another of my paywalled articles in Crikey). As well as the threat posed to factional conservative Craig Kelly in Hughes, which was covered here last week, the following brush fires are breaking out, or threatening to:

• Most contentiously, moderates are talking up the prospect that Hume MP Angus Taylor will come under challenge from Russell Matheson, member for the neighbouring seat of Macarthur. The redistribution will transfer the Sydney fringe centre of Camden from Macarthur to Hume, and push Macarthur northwards into Labor-voting suburbs, cutting its margin from 11.3% to 3.3%. Camden is a power base of a local faction identified as the “southern cartel”, which includes Matheson and Wollondilly MP Jai Rowell. It had earlier been part of the Right, but recently shifted allegiance to the moderates, and its presence with Hume has weakened Taylor’s position, despite him having a considerably greater reputation as a rising talent than Matheson. There were suggestions that Taylor might react to such a challenge by joining the Nationals, but he rejected the notion yesterday. Even before talk of a challenge, Taylor had expressed his displeasure with the redistribution, which makes the electorate considerably less rural in character.

• Another member in the moderates’ sights is Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, a Senator and ideological warrior of the Right. Sarah Martin of The Australian reports that the moderates are “absolutely” confident they could see Fierravanti-Wells make way for Richard Shields, “a former deputy state director and head of government relations for the Insurance Council of Australia”.

• Should she choose not to retire, Bronwyn Bishop is set to face a challenge in Mackellar from Jason Falinski, a long-standing moderate operative who has worked for John Hewson and Malcolm Turnbull, and been state president of the Australian Republican Movement. However, Sarah Martin’s report in The Australian says state upper house MP Natasha McLaren-Jones might be another challenger, which is a bit hard to process given that her husband, Damien Jones, is Bishop’s chief-of-staff and has sometimes been mentioned as her favoured successor. Another potential candidate is said to be Jim Longley, who held the state seat of Pittwater from 1986 to 1996, and challenged Bishop for preselection unsuccessfully before the 2013 election.

• Also likely to face preselection challenges if they don’t retire are Philip Ruddock, in Berowra, and Senator Bill Heffernan. Sarah Martin reports that Heffernan is under pressure to make way for Hollie Hughes, the party’s country vice-president. Tony Abbott, on the other hand, is expected to recontest Warringah.

• Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis faces a challenge from Grant Schultz, son of former Hume MP Alby Schultz, but is “expected to survive”.

Meanwhile, south of the border:

Royce Millar of The Age reports on a big field of potential contestants for Liberal preselection in the south-eastern Melbourne seat of Dunkley, to be vacated at the election with the retirement of Bruce Billson. Included are Paul Peulich, mayor of Kingston and son of veteran state MP Inga Peulich; Donna Bauer, who held the marginal bayside seat of Carrum from 2010 to 2014; Peter Angelico, founder of Dandenong steel bending company Kazed; Nathan Hersey, a member of Billson’s staff; Theo Zographos, a Monash councillor; Matt Berry, a former staffer to troublesome state Frankston MP Geoff Shaw; and Chris Crewther, who ran for the Nationals-held seat of Mallee in 2013 and now runs a consultancy in Frankston.

• The Victorian Liberal Party is sorting out a replacement for Senator Michael Ronaldson, who is quitting politics after being demoted to the back bench by Malcolm Turnbull, along with the order of its Senate ticket. Richard Willingham of Fairfax reports that candidates for the vacancy include James Paterson, deputy director of the Institute of Public Affairs, and Sean Armistead, a manager at Crown Casino and the Liberals’ unsuccessful candidate for Frankston at the 2014 state election. It appears that whoever gets the gig would have to contest a half-Senate election from the dicey number three position, since support is building for Jane Hume, a senior policy adviser for Australian Super who won preselection for the position last year, to be promoted to the top spot. The second position on the ticket is reserved for the Nationals, whose member is Bridget McKenzie.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

1,772 comments on “BludgerTrack quarterly, and other stories”

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  1. Melissa Price:

    * Politician
    * Lawyer
    * Catholic

    ‘Prior to entering Parliament, Price was Vice President of Legal and Business Development for Crosslands Resources, an entity of Mitsubishi Developments which control the major Western Australian Jack Hills Iron Ore Mine and is currently a director for Cancer Council Western Australia.’

    Can’t see why she wouldn’t be advocating for Penalty Rates to be ‘streamlined’ in the Mining Industry as well eventually.

  2. Yesterday I had an example of data transfer between Telstra and Centrelink. I do not provide my smartphone number to anyone other than family, yet I suddenly received a personally addressed text from Centrelink advising me of some service or other.

    🙁 The net is closing.

  3. I heard that the numbers are already against Phillip Ruddock in Berowra. So he’s gawn. ‘Father of the House’ (another artificial construct by Abbott), or not!

  4. Turnbull’s decree that sitting members should not be challenged is tripe. Just ask Peter King.

    Why open up preselection if nobody is able to challenge?

  5. poroti @ 1655,

    ‘ True but with the Liberals perhaps there is a worry the replacements will be a bunch of Abbotts and Bernardis.’

    There is a BIG struggle here in NSW between Malcolm’s Moderates and Abbott’s Arch Conservatives. Which we will see play out in those pre-selections coming up soon. Trent Zimmerman being the faction boss of the Moderates and Alex Hawke the faction boss of the Conservatives. Watch this space! 😀

  6. ruawake @ 1658,

    ‘ Turnbull’s decree that sitting members should not be challenged is tripe. Just ask Peter King.’

    As Turnbull said, “Just fuck off and get out of my way!” 😀

  7. poroti:

    True. I don’t know what’s happening in NSW Liberals but from a distance it appears the moderates are on the rise.

  8. ru is right. Protection iof sitting members is an artifical construct that only applies if someone doesn’t have the votes to bludgeon onself in (like Turnbull himself).

    There’s also the self interest factor. Bishop, Ruddock and probably Heffernan all voted for Turnbull in the leadership spill. Malcolm doesn’t want to go leaking support of existing members if it can be avoided.

    Turnbull’s declararation is to appease these possible maldiscontents.

  9. Turnbull’s evil plan is to act conciliatory by pretending to support conservative sitting MP’s while leaving it to the party machine to replace them all with moderates?

    I love it 🙂

  10. To be accurate, the list of organisations seeking access to metadata was just that – organisations which currently, under the new legislation, are barred from access but would like to have it.

    The number of agencies/organisations which have access to your metadata are fewer now than they were before the legislation was passed.

  11. zoomster

    One of the orgs on that application list is the Dept of Human Services, which presumably means they don’t already have it. Perhaps they apply directly to Telstra for all phone purchases, the only way they’s have mine.

  12. I agree wholeheartedly with Michelle Grattan’s summation of the entirely unjustified & slanderous attacks by Morrison & Dutton on Save the Children. Turnbull does not have the stomach to cause them to apologise.

    Only an ALP government can be relied upon to hold them to account in a future Royal Commission, I will be aggreived if they do not.

  13. [True. I don’t know what’s happening in NSW Liberals but from a distance it appears the moderates are on the rise.]

    If this is correct, then the ALP will be even more vulnerable in a State where it is barely competitive at Federal and State level.

  14. Cat

    I think there IS talk around about a Liberal Split. There are rumours. I think these preselections may be ther catalyst. If the RWNJ lose then I expect a split. If they WIN then I think Malcolm’s hold on power is tenuous.

    It would actually make sense (politically for them, not for me)if the RWNJ and the Nationals (most of them) joined together to form a new party possibly dragging in FF and the remnant DLP. You would then basically have a European “Christian Democrat Party. Unifying policies I assume would be xenophobia, conservative social values, strongly nationalistic, low immigration, strongly pro US alliance, strong promotion of defence and law and order. Not quite sure what their economic agenda might be eg IR, health or education. Possible moderately interventionist, but perhaps funding churches and charities to provide services.

    Such a party would comfortably always get 12 Senators. I think they would also pick up the populist swag of votes and pick up seats in the outer suburban fringe and much of Western Sydney. They would presumanbly also get most of the current national seats (and regional LNP in Qld). I would expect them therefore to pick up say 25 – 30 LH seats.

    A smaller “Country” party might form coalescing around Katter types but absorbing all the country first types who like fishin’ and hundtin’ but are not so socially conservative and are also strongly protectionist and regionally focussed. They may expect to win 5-10 seats. Some existing Liberals in regional areas might join this group eg Entch,Sharman Stone. they would probably have 3-5 senators.

    The remnant Liberal Party would be socially progressive and more libertarian in outlook. They would have 50-60 MPs.

  15. lizzie

    yours is a bit of a mystery! Given how much urging I get from Centrelink to give them my mobile number, I doubt they have access to them through other means.

    A lot of forms I’ve had to fill out (and I’m in peak form filling out period, given my boys have moved out), most of which have asked not only for my mobile but for those of other family members, is it totally impossible that another family member might have disclosed it?

  16. …I would add that, if Telstra were disclosing phone numbers, that would be illegal (unless you agreed – most data mining is a result of agreements entered into without understanding the ramifications).

  17. zoomster

    No other family members likely. The only other possibility might be my super provider, whom I gave it to in desperation because they (she) messed up my email address. Or I’m beginning to wonder whether, in a mad fit of total honesty, I wrote it on a recent form.

  18. Shellbell @1669

    One of the major reasons the ALP in NSW got so bad was that it faced no effective opposition for an extended period, due to the Liberal parties experiment with a particularly nasty brand of conservatism.

    The Liberals moving towards the centre will help the ALP in the long term, partly becuase it will tend to reduce the influence of those ALP apparatchiks he can’t think past six o-clock this evening.

  19. dtt@1670,

    [ It would actually make sense (politically for them, not for me)if the RWNJ and the Nationals (most of them) joined together to form a new party possibly dragging in FF and the remnant DLP. You would then basically have a European “Christian Democrat Party. Unifying policies I assume would be xenophobia, conservative social values, strongly nationalistic, low immigration, strongly pro US alliance, strong promotion of defence and law and order. ]

    Actually the Western European Christian Democrat parties are far more centrist that any party which our collected RWNJs are likely to form. I think if such a party comes about, it will have a lot of the flavour of the old DLP.

  20. [“Er … why?”]

    The women running after the guy with no tops on – Branded Sexist

    The guy wearing the black African costume – Branded Racist

    Then we had the overweight guy in the restraunt scene… this would be taken as offending fat people.

    Etc, etc.

    The left of today are so precious that the colour of ones tie upsets them.

  21. D&M
    yes I agree. Calling in Christian Dem is a bit unfair on the CDPs. However it would NOT be a Conservative party. I see David Cameron as a typical Conservative, priviledged, support for rich mates, no rocking the boat, but essentially pragamatic and not ideological.

  22. lizzie

    [ Or I’m beginning to wonder whether, in a mad fit of total honesty, I wrote it on a recent form..]

    Absolutely the most likely. Despite what many would have you believe, we’re a long way from Big Brother. (If nothing else, it’s far too much bother).

  23. The Party of Abbott would be the DLP Redux. Though I am wondering whether Murdoch would allow them to be as tolerant of Unions as the old DLP were.

  24. I just assume everything of mine is data mined, especially twitter facebook and google. They will find out I am a politically-engaged,animal welfare supporting, bleeding heart whale saving tree hugging lefty feminist who likes food too much, a bit of alcohol, is an omnivore and am given to rage and occasional highly expressive language when confronted with the worst stupidity of rightwing politics.

    In other words. I am a typical progressive.

  25. Re DTT @1670: I think that the party that you describe would have more in common with the populist Far Right parties in Europe, e.g. Front Nationale (France), Freedom Party (Geert Wilders, Netherlands).

    Like some of those parties, it would get about 20% of the vote if a largish fraction of the Liberal Right defect to it. The ‘One Nation’ experience showed that such a party would get wide support, especially in the regions and outer suburbs. One Nation failed because of a combination of the incompetence/inexperience of its leadership and the Howard Liberals stealing most of its clothes.

  26. CTar1

    TBA’s comments on the ‘feminists’ and women of the 70s are so off the mark I couldn’t be bothered discussing it. I doubt he’s old enough to have been there. He seems to think we were all going at it like rabbits all the time.

  27. Re C@t @1682: The Party of Abbott would be the DLP Redux.

    I suppose that would be back to his political roots. Abbott was always a ferocious culture warrior who never seemed to care that much about economics.

    The character of the modern Liberal Party is Thatcherite, although Abbott wasn’t always so. In any case, his Thatchersim may be only skin deep, like his early acceptance of an ETS. Certainly his Parental Leave policy went against what the free marketeers want and he was apparently unenthusiastic about Workchoices.

    On the other hand, maybe Murdoch has turned him around.

  28. lizzie

    [He seems to think we were all going at it like rabbits all the time.]

    only the ‘good’ feminists, of course. You probably wouldn’t qualify!

    Sort of telling that he only admires feminism if it’s about lots of indiscriminate sex (which, of course, it never was).

  29. C

    [‘Father of the House’ (another artificial construct by Abbott),]

    It is traditional that the longest serving MP has been called the ‘Father of the House’. I am not sure when it started.

    Any century now we should be getting our first ‘Mother of the House’.

  30. [Makes one wonder what he did with his blue tie between consenting adults in private.]

    I think they made a movie about that recently Puff 🙁

  31. Boerwar @ 1696,

    ‘ Any century now we should be getting our first ‘Mother of the House’.’

    Oh god no! If it’s this century, like about now, it would be Bronhilde I think!

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