With the fortnightly cycles of Newspoll and Essential Research in sync for the time being, we would appear to be in another off week for federal polling (although ReachTEL are about due to come through, perhaps at the end of the week). However, there is a fair bit of preselection news to report, with Malcolm Turnbull having told the state party branches to get candidates in place sooner rather than later. That might appear to suggest he at least wishes to keep his options open for an early election, although betting markets rate that a long shot, with Ladbrokes offering $1.14 on an election next year and only $5 for this year.
• With the creation of a third seat in the Australian Capital Territory, the Canberra Times reports the member for Canberra, Gai Brodtmann, will contest the seat of Bean – new in theory, but in reality the seat that corresponds most closely with her existing seat – while Andrew Leigh will remain in Fenner. The ACT Chief Minister, Andrew Barr, said he contemplated running in the Canberra electorate “maybe for a moment”. The other name mentioned is Kel Watt, “a member of ACT Labor’s right faction and lobbyist for the Canberra Greyhound Racing”.
• The Courier-Mail reported a fortnight ago that Jane Prentice, Liberal National Party member for the Brisbane seat of Ryan, is likely to lose preselection to Julian Simmonds, a Brisbane councillor and former staffer to both Prentice and her predecessor, Michael Johnson. Despite Prentice being a moderate and a Turnbull supporter, the move against her has reportedly “outraged” Campbell Newman.
• Elections for administrative positions in the Victorian Liberal Party have seen Michael Kroger easily face down a challenge to his position as president, and conservative young turk Marcus Bastiaan much strengthened, including through his own election to a vice-president position. The Australian reports Bastiaan is “largely regarded as Mr Kroger’s numbers man”, but his use of his new influence to cancel an early Senate preselection process suggests the situation may be more complex than that. According to James Campbell of the Herald Sun, the preselections had been initiated at the behest of Kroger, consistent with Malcolm Turnbull’s aforementioned call for them to be handled expeditiously. The report further says Bastiaan’s determination to delay proceedings suggests a threat to James Patterson or Jane Hume, the two Senators who will face re-election at the next election. However, a report by Aaron Patrick of the Financial Review suggest the bigger threat from the conservative ascendancy is likely to be faced by factional moderates in the state parliament.
• The Toowoomba Chronicle reports John McVeigh, the Liberal National Party member for Groom, has easily seen off a preselection challenge by Isaac Moody, business manager of Gabbinbar Homestead. Moody accused McVeigh of having “betrayed” his constituents by voting yes in the same-sex marriage plebiscite (49.2% of those constituents did the same).
• The Clarence Valley Daily Examiner reports Labor’s preselection for the north coast New South Wales seat of Page will be contested by Isaac Smith, the mayor of Lismore, and Patrick Deegan, who works for a domestic violence support service. Page has been held for the Nationals since 2013 by Kevin Hogan, whose margin after the 2016 election was 2.3%. Smith is backed by Janelle Saffin, who held the seat for Labor from 2007 to 2013 and is now the preselected candidate for the state seat of Lismore.
• The Townsville Bulletin reports that Ewen Jones, who lost the seat of Herbert to Labor’s Cathy O’Toole in 2016 by 37 votes, has again nominated for Liberal National Party preselection in the Townsville-based seat of Herbert.
• The Courier-Mail reported a fortnight ago that George Christensen might face a preselection challenge for his north Queensland seat of Dawson from Jason Costigan, member for the state seat of Whitsunday, but Costigan announced a few days later that he had chosen not to proceed.