There were two polls this week, one a little better for the Coalition than usual (52-48 from ReachTEL), one a little worse (54-46 from Essential Research). These add up to not much change on the BludgerTrack poll aggregate, albeit that the Coalition are up one on the seat aggregates for Victoria and Western Australia. No new numbers this week for the leadership ratings.
Latest developments on the ever-changing face of the Senate:
• South Australian Senator Lucy Gichuhi has subtly improved the government’s position in the Senate by joining the Liberal Party. Gichuhi was the second candidate on the Family First ticket at the 2016 election, which unexpectedly earned her a place in the Senate in April last year in place of Bob Day. The High Court had ruled that Day had been ineligible to run at the election by virtue of a pecuniary interest in an agreement with the Commonwealth, and that the votes should be recounted as if Day were absent from the ballot paper. However, this coincided with Family First’s absorption within Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives start-up, which Gichuhi was not willing to join. She has since sat as an independent, albeit one that has usually voted with the government. Her move to the Liberals neatly brings the South Australian Senate contingent into line with the party configuration that emerged from the election, a situation that was disturbed when Cory Bernardi quit the Liberal Party.
• Kristina Keneally will take Sam Dastyari’s place in the Senate after winning the decisive endorsement of the NSW Right without opposition, seeing off suggestions that she might face a challenge from Transport Workers Union state secretary Tony Sheldon or United Voice official Tara Moriarty. A report in the Sydney Morning Herald suggests Sheldon might have been able to take the position if he had pressed the issue, with the support of the Australian Workers Union, Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association and Transport Workers Union, but favoured seeking a position at the next election as it would give him a full six-year term.
• Barrie Cassidy makes a case for a federal election being held later this year.
• The Australian reports that Michael Danby’s potential successors in Melbourne Ports include Josh Burns, a senior adviser to Daniel Andrews, and Mary Delahunty, a Glen Eira councillor and former mayor (not the former state MP). However, it is not yet clear that Danby will retire, or be forced out if he chooses to stay, with a Labor source quoted in an earlier report from The Australian saying Danby had 80% support in local branches. Linfox executive Ari Suss and Labor historian Nick Dyrenfurth, who were mentioned earlier, have apparently ruled themselves out.
• Lyle Shelton, who gained a high profile as managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby during the same-sex marriage referendum, has resigned his position ahead of a run for federal parliament, which will apparently be with the Australian Conservatives in Queensland — presumably as its lead Senate candidate.
• According to Sheradyn Holderhead of The Advertiser, Robert Simms, who held a Senate seat from September 2015 to July 2016, would “likely have the numbers” to take top spot on the Greens’ South Australian Senate ticket if he challenged Sarah Hanson-Young.
• The ABC reports a small sample YouGov Galaxy poll of 350 respondents suggested Nick Xenophon Team member Rebekha Sharkie would retain her seat of Mayo at a by-election if disqualified on grounds of dual British citizenship. The poll had Sharkie with a 59-41 two-party lead over the Liberals, from primary votes of 37% for Sharkie, 33% for the Liberals and 18% for Labor.
• Fairfax reports a ReachTEL poll of 3312 respondents for the Stop Adani Alliance found 65.1% opposed to Adani’s coal mine proposal in Queensland, up from 51.9% in March 2017. It also found 73.5% support for ending the expansion of coal mining and accelerating solar power construction and storage.