The only new poll this week was the regular result from Essential Research, but it was enough to contribute to another sizeable cut in the Coalition two-party lead for the fifth week in a row. Sharp-eyed observers will note that the state seat tallies now account for redistribution changes, which have added a seat in Western Australia and removed one in New South Wales. These changes have seen the abolition of a Labor-held seat in the Hunter region of New South Wales, and the creation of the notionally Liberal seat of Burt in Perth. However, the overall effect is favourable to Labor since three seats in New South Wales – Barton, Paterson and Dobell – have become notionally Labor on the new boundaries, with respective margins of 5.2%, 1.3% and 0.4%. The swing currently being in Labor’s favour, the model rates them a certainty in Barton and better than evens in Paterson and Dobell, and more likely than not to win to win Burt.
The upshot of all this is that BludgerTrack has the Coalition down three seats this week in New South Wales and steady everywhere else, whereas Labor is credited with two gains in New South Wales and one in Western Australia. Note that the national and state-level figures on the chart showing seat change since 2013 will no longer align, since the baseline for the national result is as per the election (Coalition 90, Labor 55), whereas those for the state numbers are post-redistribution (Coalition 27, Labor 20 in New South Wales; Coalition 13, Labor 3 in Western Australia). The post-redistribution margins are as determined by myself, following very similar methodology to Antony Green. A full accounting of the calculations can be found here for New South Wales, and here for Western Australia.
• A ReachTEL poll of 712 respondents in New England, “obtained by Guardian Australia” (who commissioned it is not clear), suggests Barnaby Joyce would have a very serious fight on his hands if former member Tony Windsor sought to run again as an independent, which he is neithe ruling in or out. The numbers cited are 39.5% for Joyce, 32.2% for Windsor, 11.2% for Labor and 4.6% for the Greens, with 5.1% undecided.
• The mass exodus of Labor’s Western Australian federal MPs continued this week, with Senator Joe Bullock announcing his decision to retire in protest over the party’s support for same-sex marriage. Bill Shorten promptly announced that Bullock’s vacancy would be filled by Pat Dodson, a leader of the Yawuru people from Broome and former chair of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation. This scotched the ambitions of Louise Pratt, who was famously relegated to second position on the Labor ticket behind Bullock, then defeated at the April 2014 Senate election re-run following a collapse in Labor support. Many attributed this outcome to derogatory comments Bullock made about Pratt while speaking at a Christian function, which became public the day before the election.
• Labor has another indigenous parliamentarian lined up in the form of Linda Burney, who has held the seat of Canterbury in the New South Wales state parliament in 2003, and served as Deputy Opposition Leader since the defeat of 2011. Burney is running for preselection in Barton, which encompasses about half of her current electorate. The seat is currently held for the Liberals by Nick Varvaris, but Labor has been heavily favoured in the redistribution, which adds inner city territory around Marrickville and removes Liberal-voting Sans Souci. Burney has resigned as member for Canterbury to contest the preselection, which will result in a by-election.
• Mal Brough’s announcement that he will not seek another term has opened a Liberal National Party vacancy in his Sunshine Coast seat of Fisher. The party’s state executive had been withholding endorsement of Brough’s preselection pending the outcome of an Australian Federal Police investigation into his role in the leaking the diary of Peter Slipper, the then Speaker and his predecessor as member for Fisher. It was promptly suggested that Jarrod Bleijie, the controversial Newman government Attorney-General and member for the local electorate of Kawana, might be interested in the seat, but he has since ruled himself out. Amy Remeikis of Fairfax reports the seat might be of interest to James McGrath, who ran against Brough for the preselection in 2013 and has since found a place in the Senate.