We may not get a new federal poll this week, with the fortnightly Newspoll and Essential Research having reported last week, and the monthly Ipsos doing so the week before. However, two further Liberal resignations (with widespread suggestions Craig Laundy will shortly follow in Reid) are keeping the preselection news treadmill rolling:
• Christopher Pyne’s departure announcements opens a vacancy in the eastern Adelaide seat of Sturt, which he has held since 1993, when he was 25. However, the loss of his personal vote may damage the Liberals’ chances of defending the seat’s 5.4% post-redistribution margin, with Phillip Coorey of the Financial Review reporting a “senior South Australian Liberal” saying the party was in “big trouble” in the seat. Luke Griffiths of The Australian cites “multiple Liberal sources” as saying the preselection is “almost certain” to go to James Stevens, the chief-of-staff to Premier Steven Marshall, who is aligned with Pyne’s moderate faction and has his personal support. However, Pyne’s own former chief-of-staff, Adam Howard, is “considered an outside chance”, and there “might be a push by branch members to preselect a female candidate”.
• The Gold Coast seat of Moncrieff will be vacated by the retirement of Steve Ciobo, who came to the seat in 2001 at the age of 27. The aforesaid report in The Australian identifies four potential nominees: Karly Abbott, a staffer to Ciobo and the reputed front-runner; John-Paul Langbroek, who holds the state seat of Surfers Paradise and served as Opposition Leader from 2009 to 2011; Tim Rawlings, former chief-of-staff to Tracy Davis, then a minister in Campbell Newman’s government; and Bibe Roadley, managing director of a training company.
• The West Australian reports five nominees for preselection in Curtin: Celia Hammond, until recently the vice-chancellor of Notre Dame University, whom media reports suggest is the front-runner; Erin Watson-Lynn, director of Asialink Diplomacy at the University of Melbourne, who is said to have backing from Julie Bishop; Anna Dartnell, an executive for resources company Aurizon; Karen Caddy, Stirling councillor and management consultant for BusinX Consulting; and the sole male candidate, Andres Timmermanis, Cambridge councillor and manager for IT firm Scantek Solutions, who has been mentioned in relation to a number of western suburbs preselections over the years.
• The Saturday Paper reports a uComms poll conducted for UnionsACT on January 23 suggested ACT Liberal Senator Zed Seselja was in danger of losing his seat to an independent or the Greens. The polling is said to show Liberal support at 22.4%, down from 33.2% at the 2016 election and 24.2% in a poll conducted in October; Labor on 33.1%, down from 37.9% in 2016 and 39.3% in the October; the Greens on 19.9%, up from 16.1% in 2016 and 17.0% in October; and independent/other on 17.7%, up from 12.7% in 2016 and 13.9% in October. This leaves 6.9% undecided in the January poll, and 5.6% in the October poll. Seselja is also credited with an approval rating of just 29%, compared with 59% disapproval. Anthony Pesec, “local businessman, former investment banker and renewable energy developer”, announced last week he would run as an independent. Were Seselja to lose, it would be the first time in either of the two territories that the two Senate seats did not split between the two major parties.