The BludgerTrack poll aggregate, updated with this week’s results from Newspoll and Essential Research, remains unimpressed with much of the recent opinion poll commentary, maintaining a slow trend back to the Coalition that appears to go back to December. The movement since last week on two-party preferred is negligible, with a weak result for the Coalition cancelling out a somewhat stronger one from Essential Research, converting into a one-seat gain for the Coalition on the seat projection. Newspoll provides new numbers for the leadership ratings trends, which are all but unchanged. Full details on the link below.
• The Guardian reports uComms/ReachTEL polls for GetUp! conducted on Thursday found independent Zali Steggall leading Tony Abbott 57-43 in Warringah, while Labor’s Ali France led Peter Dutton 52-48 in Dickson. The poll also found majority support for the medical evacuations bill in both electorates.
• Following Julie Bishop’s retirement announcement, Andrew Burrell of The Australian reports Bishop’s hope of anointing her own successor in Curtin is likely to be scotched by her opponents, most notably Mathias Cormann. Bishop has reportedly been pushing for Erin Watson-Lynn, 33-year-old director of Asialink Diplomacy at the University of Melbourne. However, a highly fancied rival has emerged this week in Celia Hammond, who resigned on Monday as vice-chancellor at Notre Dame University. Hammond’s social conservatism is noted in a further report in The Australian today, relating a speech from 2013 in which she “railed against sex before marriage and contraception, while arguing against ‘militant feminism’”.
• A Liberal preselection vote on Saturday to choose Michael Keenan’s successor in the Perth northern suburbs seat of Stirling was won by Vince Connelly, risk management adviser at Woodside and former army officer. This was despite the wish of local party heavyweights Mathias Cormann and Peter Collier, along with Keenan himself, for the seat to go to a woman – specifically Joanne Quinn, legal counsel at Edith Cowan University. Quinn was in fact knocked out in the early rounds, together with Georgina Fraser, business development manager with a subsidiary of Kleenheat Gas, and Taryn Houghton, manager with a mental health support not-for-profit. Connelly prevailed in the final round over Michelle Sutherland, high school teacher, Bayswater councillor and wife of former state MP Michael Sutherland. His win out of an otherwise all-female field of five excited much commentary about the Liberal Party’s deficiencies in preselecting women, including my own analysis in Crikey on Monday.
• Sighs of relief could be heard from the Liberal hierarchy the following day when the preselection to replace Kelly O’Dwyer in Higgins was won by Katie Allen, paediatrician and unsuccessful candidate for Prahran at the state election in November. Allen prevailed in the final round with 158 votes to 116 for a male rival, Greg Hannan, former state party vice-president and factional moderate who ran against Michael Kroger for the presidency. Excluded after the penultimate round was Zoe McKenzie, “a non-executive director of the NBN board and former chief of staff to Abbott/Turnbull government trade minister Andrew Robb”.