There’s been only the routine Essential Research result to feed the BludgerTrack poll aggregate this week, which has the two-party preferred vote effectively unchanged, although a recent drop in the Greens primary vote seems to have worked its way out of the system. The Coalition gains one on the seat projection thanks to a nudge in its favour in the marginal seat-heavy state of Queensland. Essential Research has provided its monthly leadership ratings, and while the shifts since the previous Essential leadership results a month ago were large, they had already been priced in by the aggregates, so the only change worth mentioning is a further narrowing in Malcolm Turnbull’s preferred prime minister rating.
Before we proceed to preselection news: do take advantage of the discounted Crikey subscriptions offer you can read all about at the post above this one.
Now on with the action:
• The Tasmanian Liberal Party determined the order of its Senate ticket in the event of a double dissolution on Saturday, and it dropped a bombshell in relegating the only Tasmanian MP of ministerial rank, Richard Colbeck, from his number one position at the 2013 election to loseable number five. Colbeck is the only Tasmanian Liberal who is so much as suspected of having voted for Malcolm Turnbull in the September leadership challenge, and he subsequently won promotion to the junior ministry as Tourism and International Education Minister, which partly compensated Tasmania for Eric Abetz’s dumping from cabinet. The top two positions on the ticket are occupied by Abetz and the Senate President, Stephen Parry, who will also be one and two in the event of a half-Senate election, as they were in 2010. In third position is Jonathon Duniam, 32-year-old deputy chief-of-staff to Premier Will Hodgman and a former staffer to Abetz, to whom he is said to be close ideologically. Number four is David Bushby, who was behind Colbeck on the ticket at the 2013 election, and is best known for having miaowed at Labor’s Penny Wong during a committee hearing. Behind Colbeck in sixth place is Break O’Day councillor John Tucker, who completes an all-male ticket to match the Tasmanian Liberals’ all-male complement of three members of the House of Representatives.
• Queensland’s Liberal National Party conducted preselections on the weekend to choose successors to Warren Truss in Wide Bay and Ian MacFarlane in Groom. The first of these was won by Llew O’Brien, a police officer, ahead of Damien Massingham, chief executive of Tourism Noosa, and Tim Langmead, director of external relations at Fortescue Metals. O’Brien had been endorsed by Truss and reportedly won on the first round, despite a finding from 2014 that he had inappropriately accessed police information on two LNP preselection candidates (although no adverse finding was made). Massingham had backing from Attorney-General George Brandis, while Langmead boasted endorsement from a Western Australian contingent including Matthias Cormann and his boss, Andrew Forrest. Former state Opposition Leader Jeff Seeney initially declared his interest in the seat, but decided not to run.
• The Groom preselection was won by John McVeigh, who has held the state seat of Toowoomba South since 2012 and served as Agriculture Minister through the period of the Newman government. McVeigh is the son of Tom McVeigh, who held Groom and its predecessor electorate of Darling Downs for the Nationals from 1972 to 1988. McVeigh reportedly won the local party ballot by a margin of around 40 votes over David van Gend, a prominent social conservative and founder of the Australian Marriage Forum. McVeigh had been endorsed by Ian MacFarlane, while van Gend’s backers included former Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson, Senator Joanna Lindgren and former Senator Ron Boswell. The result will necessitate a state by-election in Toowoomba South, to be initiated when McVeigh resigns from state parliament, which he says he will do when the federal election is called.
• The South Coast Register reports Liberal MP Ann Sudmalis is under serious preselection pressure in her southern New South Wales seat of Gilmore, having put noses out of joint locally by publicising her opposition to the Baird government’s council amalgamation plans. But while Sudmalis still faces a local ballot to ratify her preselection, she has to this point had nobody nominate against her. The Sydney Morning Herald reports Sudmalis is likely to be safe due to the proximity of the election, and the fact that Gareth Ward and Andrew Constance, who respectively hold the state seats of Kiama and Bega, want her in place for another term so they can succeed her in 2019.
• Victorian state upper house MP and former Fremantle Dockers AFL coach Damian Drum has been preselected unopposed to represent the Nationals in Murray, where Liberal member Sharman Stone is retiring in a seat she won from the Nationals in 1996.
• Ahead of Saturday’s Mackellar preselection, Sarah Martin of The Australian reports Alex Hawke’s Centre Right faction is continuing to support Bronwyn Bishop, as there is “no alternative suitable candidate”. This is despite the urgings of Treasurer Scott Morrison, purportedly on behalf of “the leadership team”, despite the Prime Minister’s insistence that he staying above the fray. The view seems to be that a win for Bishop is “assured” if she can get backing from moderates on state executive, which apparently might happen for some reason, and that she will at least be competitive even if they don’t, thanks to her local numbers. However, the vote will be determined by a secret ballot, so a lot of inside sources could end up being surprised. Meanwhile, businessman Dick Smith, who threatens to run as an independent if Bishop wins, has run newspaper advertisements warning of a threat to the Mackellar way of life if preselectors fail to choose wisely. I’d be interested to know if media advertising to influence a preselection vote is an Australian first.
• Dennis Shanahan of The Australian reports that Hollie Hughes, who contentiously won top spot on the ticket in the New South Wales Liberal Party’s preselection for a half-Senate election, is likely to drop all the way to the all-but-unwinnable sixth place in the event of a double dissolution. This is because two of the higher positions are reserved for the Nationals, and the Liberal Senators who faced election in 2013 include two of cabinet rank, in Defence Minister Marise Payne and Cabinet Secretary Arthur Sinodinos.