An above-trend result for the Coalition from Ipsos this week has halted the long run of momentum to Labor in the BludgerTrack poll aggregate – although it hasn’t reversed it, partly thanks to a stonger result for Labor from Essential Research. Technically there has been movement in Labor’s favour for the seventh week in a row, but the movement on this occasion was inside 0.05%. Perhaps not surprisingly, this has not resulted in any change on the seat projection. The Ipsos poll also provided leadership ratings which, as BludgerTrack interprets them, were perfectly in line with an overall trend that shows Malcolm Turnbull in freefall, and Bill Shorten improving modestly.
• The latest federal MP to announce their retirement is Teresa Gambaro, who held the seat of Petrie for the Liberals through the Howard years, then made a comeback in the seat of Brisbane in 2010. Gambaro said she wished to spend more time with her family, but unnamed party sources complained to the media that Gambaro was engaging in a “dummy spit” over her failure to win promotion in recent reshuffles, and that the late hour of her announcement meant she was “all but handing it to Labor”. There was a short-lived flurry of speculation that the preselection might be contested by former Premier Campbell Newman, after his biographer, former Cairns state MP Gavin King, told ABC Radio he was “weighing it up”. However, Newman promptly knocked the idea on the head, and Cameron Adfield of Fairfax reports the preselection is likely to go to National Retail Association chief executive Trevor Evans, who was talked out of pursuing a challenge against Gambaro last year by then Prime Minister Tony Abbott. It is also expected that Robert Cavallucci, who won the state seat of Brisbane Central in 2012 and lost it again in 2015, will nominate.
• Labor’s candidate to succeed Melissa Parke in Fremantle is Chris Brown, whose CV as listed in The Australian includes 29 years as a wharfie, ten months as an organiser for the Maritime Union of Australia, and ownership of small businesses in Fremantle. Brown’s victory was owed to factional arrangements that secured him overwhelming support in the 75% of the vote determined at head office, including all but unanimous support from the union delegates who account for half the overall vote. This easily negated his 155-110 defeat in the local party ballot at the hands of Josh Wilson, the chief-of-staff to Melissa Parke and deputy mayor of Fremantle. A full account of the results is provided by Gareth Parker of The West Australian.
• Joe Kelly of The Australian reports that New South Wales Liberal Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells faces a threat to her preselection from Jim Molan, a former senior army officer who was heavily involved in the government’s efforts against unauthorised boat arrivals. Fierravanti-Wells is said to have lost support among the Right for telling journalist Niki Savva she had confronted then Prime Minister Tony Abbott over perceptions he was having an affair with his chief-of-staff, Peta Credlin. It was earlier reported that factional moderates were organising a challenge by Richard Shields, a former ministerial adviser and manager with the Insurance Council of Australia, but the threat appeared to subside when Fierravanti-Wells was appointed to the ministry.
• The Liberal preselection for Bronwyn Bishop’s seat of Mackellar has been set for April 16.