Poll positioning

Fraught preselections aplenty as the major parties get their houses in order ahead of a looming federal election.

Kicking off a federal election year with an overdue accumulation of preselection news, going back to late November:

• Liberal Party conservative Craig Kelly was last month saved from factional moderate Kent Johns’ preselection challenge in his southern Sydney seat of Hughes, which was widely reported as having decisive support in local party branches. This followed the state executive’s acquiescence to Scott Morrison’s demand that it rubber-stamp preselections for all sitting members of the House of Representatives, also confirming the positions of Jason Falinski in Mackellar, John Alexander in Bennelong and Lucy Wicks in Robertson. Kelly had threatened a week earlier to move to the cross bench if dumped, presumably with a view to contesting the seat as an independent. Malcolm Turnbull stirred the pot by calling on the executive to defy Morrison, noting there had been “such a long debate in the New South Wales Liberal Party about the importance of grass roots membership involvement”. This referred to preselection reforms that had given Johns the edge over Kelly, which had been championed by conservatives and resisted by moderates. Turnbull’s critics noted he raised no concerns when the executive of the Victorian branch guaranteed sitting members’ preselections shortly before he was dumped as Prime Minister.

• The intervention that saved Craig Kelly applied only to lower house members, and was thus of no use to another beleaguered conservative, Senator Jim Molan, who had been relegated a week earlier to the unwinnable fourth position on the Coalition’s ticket. Hollie Hughes and Andrew Bragg were chosen for the top two positions, with the third reserved to the Nationals (who have chosen Perin Davey, owner of a communications consultancy, to succeed retiring incumbent John “Wacka” Williams). Despite anger at the outcome from conservatives in the party and the media, Scott Morrison declined to intervene. Morrison told 2GB that conservatives themselves were to blame for Molan’s defeat in the preselection ballot, as there was “a whole bunch of people in the very conservative part of our party who didn’t show up”.

• Labor’s national executive has chosen Diane Beamer, a former state government minister who held the seats of Badgerys Creek and Mulgoa from 1995 to 2011, to replace Emma Husar in Lindsay. The move scotched Husar’s effort to recant her earlier decision to vacate the seat, after she became embroiled in accusations of bullying and sexual harassment in August. Husar is now suing Buzzfeed over its reporting of the allegations, and is reportedly considering running as an independent. The Liberals have preselected Melissa McIntosh, communications manager for the not-for-profit Wentworth Community Housing.

• The misadventures of Nationals MP Andrew Broad have created an opening in his seat of Mallee, which has been in National/Country Party hands since its creation in 1949, although the Liberals have been competitive when past vacancies have given them the opportunity to contest it. The present status on suggestions the seat will be contested for the Liberals by Peta Credlin, who was raised locally in Wycheproof, is that she is “being encouraged”. There appears to be a view in the Nationals that the position should go to a woman, with Rachel Baxendale of The Australian identifying three potential nominees – Anne Mansell, chief executive of Dried Fruits Australia; Caroline Welsh, chair of the Birchip Cropping Group; and Tanya Chapman, former chair of Citrus Australia – in addition to confirmed starter Anne Warner, a social worker.

• Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie yesterday scotched suggestions that she might run in Mallee. The view is that she is positioning herself to succeeding Cathy McGowan in Indi if she decides not to recontest, having recently relocated her electorate office from Bendigo to one of Indi’s main population centres, Wodonga. The Liberals last month preselected Steven Martin, a Wodonga-based engineer.

• Grant Schultz, Milton real estate agent and son of former Hume MP Alby Schultz, has been preselected as Liberal candidate for Gilmore on New South Wales’ south coast, which the party holds on a delicate margin of 0.7%. The seat is to be vacated by Ann Sudmalis, whose preselection Schultz was preparing to challenge when she announced her retirement in September. It was reported in the South Coast Register that Joanna Gash, who held the seat from 1996 to 2013 and is now the mayor of Shoalhaven (UPDATE: Turns out Gash ceased to be so as of the 2016 election, and is now merely a councillor), declared herself “pissed off” at the local party’s endorsement of Schultz, which passed by forty votes to nine.

• Hawkesbury councillor Sarah Richards has been preselected as the Liberal candidate in Macquarie, where Labor’s Susan Templeman unseated Liberal member Louise Markus in 2016.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

3,175 comments on “Poll positioning”

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  1. Rick Wilsons latest regarding new senator Mitt Romneys explosive comments on Trump and the damage he has done

    Mitt Romney Is the Most Dangerous Man in Trump’s City of Lackeys

    What Romney did was utterly simple: He said out loud what a vast majority of Republican officials will only say in private.

    Romney’s editorial is in many ways a bookend to his 2016 speech condemning Trump. In a speech at the Hinckley Institute in Utah, Romney tore the bark off Trump, calling for Republicans to hold to some shred of their principles and reject Trump. That call to arms went sadly unheeded, and every prediction he made concerning Trump’s disastrous reign of misrule is playing out.

    Romney has a chance to make something of his position in the U.S. Senate that no one save the late John McCain would. Yes, we’ve seen a handful of truth-tellers in the Senate, but they rarely hit so keenly as today’s Romney nuke strike.

    He has a chance to be a voice for the facts, for principles, and for personal integrity. The coward caucus won’t get the headlines, the media attention, and the political capital that flows from calling on Republicans to live up to their principles and for providing a living contrast to Trump’s egregious, juvenile behavior. Romney just might.


  2. USA Today op-ed lays out damning evidence that Trump attempted Russia collusion in plain sight

    President Donald Trump committed a campaign violation and attempted Russia collusion in plan sight, according to a pair of legal experts.

    The president’s longtime attorney, Michael Cohen, implicated Trump in a conspiracy when he pleaded guilty violate campaign finance law, but ethics watchdogs Fred Wertheimer and Norm Eisen published an op-ed in USA Today pointing to an even more obvious crime.



    Trump illegally asked Russia to help him win in 2016. He shouldn’t get away with it.


  3. Trump will cut a deal to leave office ‘before the end of 2019’: former Bush aide

    President Donald Trump will not be removed from office via an impeachment conviction, but he will make a deal to exit his presidency “before the end of 2019,” says a former advisor to President George W. Bush. Alan J. Steinberg in an NJ.com op-ed says Trump will craft a deal to protect himself, his children, and the Trump Organization.

    Trump will “use his presidency as a bargaining chip with federal and state authorities in 2019, agreeing to leave office in exchange for the relevant authorities not pursuing criminal charges against him, his children or the Trump Organization.”


  4. Mueller’s report is on the way — and Donald Trump’s 2019 problems are just starting

    We are starting off the new year with a government shutdown and a president who mercilessly attacks Democrats and U.S. allies while issuing mash notes to authoritarian tyrants like Kim Jong-un — and would-be tyrants like Brazil’s new far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro. One imagines that President Trump was happy to spend his holiday alone in the residence, tucked up in bed chattering to his friends on his unsecured iPhone, ordering up cheeseburgers at all hours, watching Fox and tweeting. He seems to have enjoyed his White House staycation a great deal.

    Starting tomorrow it’s a whole new ballgame, however. For the first time since he assumed office, Trump will faced with a powerful foe: a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives. Right out of the gate, they’re at loggerheads over the budget.


  5. Draft-dodger Trump says he ‘would have been a good general’ while trashing James Mattis in Cabinet meeting rant

    President Donald Trump ended former Defense Secretary James Mattis’ tenure as defense secretary right before the New Year, seemingly in retaliation for a letter Mattis published criticizing President Trump’s global policy.

    At a cabinet meeting Wednesday, the President lashed out at Mattis.

    “What’s he done for me? How had he done in Afghanistan? Not too good,” Trump said.

    “As you know, president Obama fired him, and essentially so did I,” he added. In fact, general Mattis tendered his resignation after Trump announced the hasty withdrawal of troops from Syria. The President has since said he would slow the troop withdrawal.

    “I think I would have been a good general, but who knows?” the President added.


  6. Thanks BK and phoenixRed, and best wishes to Mrs BK for her procedure.

    Mitt Romney’s column is here:

    I can understand why Republicans support his stance, but disappointed they are only “secretly whispering approval” rather than shouting it from the rooftops. I still hope Romney takes one for the country and runs in 2020 as an independent conservative against Trump.

  7. Fess

    I gather you are back home from visiting Sydney.

    I just read the latest article dissing Sydney re the new years eve fiasco with public transport and things generally.
    Has the city really deteriorated this badly?

  8. Whatever happened to the doctrine of Ministerial Responsibility?


    On Wednesday Dutton released a further statement distancing himself from the citizenship cancellation.

    “Mr Prakash’s case was brought to my attention after careful consideration by the Citizenship Loss Board that Mr Prakash’s Australian citizenship had ceased by virtue of his actions in fighting for Islamic State from May 2016,” Dutton said.

    “Neither the Citizenship Loss Board nor I make decisions on whether an individual ceases to be an Australian citizen, as the provisions operate automatically by virtue of a person’s conduct.”

    The automaticity is his creation, and he IS the minister.

  9. BK

    It’s forecast to be a stinking 42 degrees here tomorrow, so starting the day early for the Pollbludger summary should work in well. After that I’ll be useless 🙂

  10. Dawn patrol from other thread

    BK says:
    Thursday, January 3, 2019 at 6:50 am
    Good morning Dawn Patrollers.
    I will not be in a position to pull the patrol together tomorrow morning as Ms BK and I will have to depart at 0630 for her to present herself to hospital for a day surgery procedure.

    In this challenging essay John Hewson posits that reform of our Federation, its structure, funding and operation, is now both a necessary and sufficient requirement for our nation to define itself and its future.
    Shane Wright says that the Australian property market is facing the moment of truth. He asks how much further can house prices fall and what the economic fallout from the wealth destruction that comes with a house price correction will be.
    David Wroe tells us that Dutton insists the revocation of terrorist Neil Prakash’s Australian citizenship is legally sound because he is also a Fijian national but has refused to detail the supporting advice from the government’s lawyers.
    The Opal Tower issue is coming to a boil as the extent of the problems becomes known.
    Kim Carr has accused the NSW government of being indolent over Opal Tower/
    Gladys seems to be getting boxed in over pill testing.
    Former AFP commissioner Mick Palmer gets his head around the pill testing conundrum and concludes that the NSW government should have the courage to run a trial and go from there. He uses the experience of safe injecting rooms to support his argument.
    Bridget McKenzie has chickened out of Mallee.
    Travellers who booked flights through Australian budget airfare company Bestjet have been left thousands of dollars out of pocket after the business collapsed just days before Christmas. Nice.
    Stephen Bartholomeusz explains how Labor and Telstra’s NBN ambitions might merge.
    ASIC’s new leadership team is vowing to be much tougher and take greater risks in court as part of an overhauled, litigate first strategy, newly appointed regulator Sean Hughes warns.
    And ASIC has managed to convince the country’s leading credit card issuers to implement changes that should help consumers with credit card debt.
    Anna Patty reports that workplace experts say Labor party proposals to criminalise wage theft in Victoria and NSW may be unconstitutional.
    The Australian Bureau of Statistics has ruled out privatising or outsourcing the next national census as the agency faces real funding cuts and a 16 per cent cut in ongoing staff numbers over the past two years.
    Adam Creighton says that the government is probably secretly delighted that house prices are falling.
    I’ve never been a fan of Mitt Romney but he’s certainly got this right.
    This neurological surgeon says that If you feel like you’re constantly playing catch-up with no time to achieve personal or professional fulfillment, it’s possible to turn it all around by changing one thing about your day: your morning routine.
    The Australian reports that Barnaby Joyce and Vikki Campion charged taxpayers more than $6000 to travel to a pro-live sheep export forum in Western Australia, where organisers were split over whether the former deputy prime minister should attend.
    Georgie Wolf explains a consent roadmap for sexual encounters. Makes sense.
    The CFMEU’s John Setka has been charged after a Boxing Day argument at his home. The government will make hay over this. Shorten needs to get in quickly.
    Now Clive Palmer has run into copyright law.
    Jess Irvine extols the benefits of the Great Aussie Road Trip. A nice contribution.
    Gideon Haigh examines test cricket’s selection policy.
    Today’s nomination for “Arseholes of the Week” goes to the airheaded parents who will not vaccinate their children.
    Although this guy stakes a claim . . .

    Cartoon Corner

    Mark David’s back with a little beauty.

    Cathy Wilcox and Twitter.

    Matt Golding has three for us today.

    Zanetti picks another shock jock issue.

    Glen Le Lievre with a new pill testing booth.

    And he drains the swamp.

    Alan Moir rolls out Old Father Time.

    From the US.

    Jon Kudelka on parliamentary representation by women.

  11. Robert CostaVerified account@costareports
    4h4 hours ago
    “It begins,” former WH chief strategist Steve Bannon wrote in an email to The Post, referring to the effort to block Trump from the 2020 nomination.

    Meanwhile, Spencer Zwick is fielding calls from donors urging Romney to run, per 2 ppl familiar…


  12. Vic:

    The best I can say about Sydney infrastructure is that its upgrades have been half-assed. They have light rail, but what bits of it that have been constructed are half-assed: small fleet that doesn’t run often enough to meet demand. The other bits still being constructed are a dog’s breakfast of legal action from the contractor, affected retailers put out, and the public fed up with the mess in the CBD.

    Other parts are great. The train from the airport to the city is wonderful, no need for taxis unless you have heaps of luggage. We found it quite easy to get around on public transport, but we were staying in the city. I pity those who have to commute into the city for work, esp if they are coming from the outer suburbs.

  13. I am now in two minds re pill testing. I was all for it.
    I have since discussed this matter with young people who attend these types of events.
    Was very surprised to hear their views. They are more switched on about these things than I could ever be.

    Essentially they say that the onus on the tester to tell a person whether a pill is deemed safe, is too much of a risk in terms of legal liability. It won’t work.
    No one can determine how the user will react to any pill that even if deemed safe, can cause a nasty reaction.

    The bottom line is that the message ought to be that pills created by cartels usually mix in poisonous substances and rubbish fillers and they ought to be deemed as a risk no matter what.

  14. Lizzie

    Dont know about your part of the world, but where I am, it is still very green. Admittedly even nature strips around the place have long grass as many people are away.
    Usually at this time of year, the grass is yellow and dried out.

    Keep your eyes peeled and any sign of trouble, call immediately.
    Victoria now has more water bombing aircraft placed around the state

  15. Fess

    Thanks for feedback.

    My family members are actually working with a couple of people who have come down from Sydney.
    Basically saying that it is getting hard to get around. Even though we think it is getting that way here in Melbourne.
    Mainly due to the huge influx of people moving here.

  16. Lizzie, I think there is a responsibility by land owners to keep their places fire safe. Perhaps a phone call to the local CFA or council raising your concerns may see them takes some action.

  17. lizzie

    I’m getting very nervous. The neighbour to the north has an unkempt paddock of rough grass.

    The fire danger rating here today isnt as bad as the temperature might suggest. The first hot days of the year are a reminder for slackers (like me) to get their act together – clean up around the house, pumps at the ready, clean gutters, gutter bags ready, cut the grasses etc. So perhaps a friendly suggestion to your neighbour is in order? The fire danger will only get worse as the season progresses.

  18. Victoria

    I check the Vic emergency web site constantly on high temp days. And the wind direction.
    I’m just a nervous nelly. 🙂

  19. Thanks BK, and Victoria for copying BK’s link to this thread.

    David Wroe in the SMH, points out Dutton is refusing to release his “legal advice” clearing his department to strip Prakash of Australian Citizenship, which may be wise since it’s clearly flawed.

    Murdoch’s OZ defends Dutton, but then they would, wouldn’t they?

  20. WE still haven’t been told who the structural engineers are.

    Yes. I am interested. I know several local(ish) companies have been farming out their engineering design and reports to their overseas branches. Sometimes to NZ or South Africa but maybe further afield. These are likely to be checked locally but such double handling over distance always worries me.

  21. A friend of mine’s son is one of the Director Generals of NSW Transport.

    Apparently he confronted Gladys a few weeks ago after being asked to personally take on the management of the fiasco that is Sydney Light Rail Mk II.

    He stated that he was sick and tired of his department taking the fall for her incompetence, laziness and inability to listen to actual experts, i.e. technocrats rather than bureaucrats.

    Gave her an ultimatum. Listen to us or I and my team walk.

    And we go media.

    He blasted her for her stupidity over the issues with Sydney’s rail network and the fact that she failed to take into account the issues he put on the table.

    I understand she came back with an ‘offer’ but was refused on the basis that once again she did not listen to the main issues, i.e. the driverless train / metro / toy train project is a waste of time and should be scrapped, Sydney ferries should be brought back under government control and that all PPP should cease forthwith.

  22. Thank you all. The neighbour doesn’t live on the property and it’s a mess. He’s not amenable to ‘friendly suggestions’, according to others. Years ago, a farmer used to come in every December and cut hay there. As I live on my own and I’m disabled with rheumatism, my ‘fire plan’ is to take my dogs and leave.

  23. Lizzie, for what it is worth, I would suggest that if a fire is heading your way, leave early. Make sure you have your insurance up-to-date and and pack your car with personal stuff and leave for somewhere out of the way.

    I only say this because I was caught in the Ash Wednesday fires and lost all our possessions except what we were wearing. We had packed the car, but were told to stay put until a fire station siren alerted us to assemble at a refuge. The siren never sounded and rest is history. We had plenty of time to get out before the fire arrived and I still regret not taking the time to clear out.

  24. Melbourne has been very lucky. Bolte, Kennett, Brumby and and now Andrews took or are taking transport seriously. You look at Sydney; roads start nowhere and end nowhere.

    And we have also been lucky in that protests have worked. When Bolte tried to do the trams in, Melbourne made it clear they wanted to keep them; the system did not have to be rebuilt. Same with county trains, get rid of them or invest. We were lucky, invest was chosen.

  25. PeeBee

    I wouldn’t trust the local CFA as far as I could throw them.

    Certainly here they have a bad reputation… the local ‘captain’ is a bully and terrorises the young volunteers.

    Obviously CFA ‘management’ have learned nothing from the CFA debacle at Eaglehawk in recent years.

    We need merge the CFA and the lazy MFB into a VFS – Victorian Fire Service – with country and urban divisions just like VicPol. All new recruits spent time in regional Victoria before electing or nominating to come back to urban / city work as is the case with the Police.

    Get rid of the stupid demarcation issues with CFA / MFB boundaries as was so evident on Black Saturday 2009.

    If the Firefighters Union want to play tough then so be it … the Andrews government should be able to rightly smash them down.

  26. lizzie, you might be surprised how a very polite suggestion can sink in. Especially in any format where a record is kept.

    I dont have your restrictions but my fire plan is the same for any Catastrophic fire danger day or Extreme day if the winds are predicted to be high and the nearby bush is dry. I prepare the day before, pack the bags and the car. in the morning I review the conditions then if bad I check the exits routes for traffic and head to the city.

    How far is the long grass from your house?

  27. CNNVerified account@CNN
    9m9 minutes ago
    LIVE: Sen.-elect Mitt Romney talks to CNN about the scathing op-ed he wrote about President Trump. Watch on CNNGo: https://cnn.it/2F3wuWj

    The Lead CNNVerified account@TheLeadCNN
    7m7 minutes ago
    “The departure of Sec. Mattis & the decision to pull out of Syria & the abrupt way it was done was a precipitating event for my finally going on this record,” GOP Sen.-elect @MittRomney tells @jaketapper explaining why he wrote a scathing op-ed of Trump. http://cnn.it/2F4APsi

  28. Sorry I can’t do the cartoons tomorrow morning because I am still on my phone.

    It will be one month before we get the internet by the time we get it back. 🙁

  29. victoria:

    Akubra has reminded me that Sydney has way too much private sector involvement in its public infrastructure.

    Basically it’s a nice place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there.

  30. Fess

    It will be interesting to see how Trump handles the US citizen former marine, who apparently was visiting Russia for wedding, and now taken into custody by them on charges of espionage.

  31. phoenixRED

    It is certainly hotting up! I think it is much more likely Trump ‘retires’ than gets impeached and convicted in the Senate.

    If Pence survives it would be interesting to see if Romney then challenges him for the Republican nomination.

    As I said on NYE, this will be a very big year for your updates – thanks for keeping them coming.

    BK – all the best for Mrs BK today. At least it will be nice and cool in hospital!

  32. Akubra says:
    Thursday, January 3, 2019 at 8:24 am
    I understand she came back with an ‘offer’ but was refused on the basis that once again she did not listen to the main issues, i.e. the driverless train / metro / toy train project is a waste of time and should be scrapped, Sydney ferries should be brought back under government control and that all PPP should cease forthwith.

    Gladys going to go to the election defending her current position on all three.

  33. The Lead CNNVerified account@TheLeadCNN
    7m7 minutes ago
    Sen.-elect @MittRomney says he’s not running for president in 2020. He also says he hasn’t made a decision on whether to endorse President Trump’s re-election: “I want to see what the alternatives are.” http://cnn.it/2F4APsi

  34. Bill Browder knows how the Ruskies play

    Bill Browder
    Bill Browder
    My most up to date take on the Paul Whelan hostage situation in Russia
    Quote Tweet
    CNN Newsroom
    “Paul Whelan I believe was taken as a leverage for Vladimir Putin in response to the Maria Butina prosecution in Washington,” says Russia critic @Billbrowder.

    Putin “was in a very weak position. He needed to change that… So he looked for a hostage.” (link: https://cnn.it/2Vn7cbj) cnn.it/2Vn7cbj

  35. PeeBee

    I’m so sorry that happened to you. A friend was burnt out in 2008 (? – the Marysville year) and the family is only just recovering emotionally, even though they have a new house and furniture.

    Simon K

    I’m no good at distances – possibly 40 m. It’s about 4 ha of dried grass. Last year he made an effort and beat down about 10 m beside my fence with a backhoe – not a mower – possibly because the Shire had sent him a notice. Out here there are so many acreage properties that I don’t think the Shire has time to check them all.

  36. lizzie

    Talk to the shire. They’re meant to ensure that landowners do basic fire safety work, such as cutting long grass. If the owner refuses, the shire has the power to do the work themselves and then whack the costs onto the property owner’s rate bill.

  37. …and if you have sent a complaint to Shire, they MUST act on it (or become liable themselves). If you’re not happy with any works undertaken, then you have the right to ask a shire officer to come and take a look.

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