First up, I should note that elections will be held for two seats in Tasmania’s state upper house today (UPDATE: Make that three), as part of the 15-seat chamber’s cycle of annual periodical elections. Read Kevin Bonham’s rolling posts on the subject, for the electorate of Montgomery here and Pembroke here (UPDATE: and Nelson here), and you’ll be a lot better informed about it than I am. Nonetheless, I will make a probably half-hearted effort to live blog the results from 6pm this evening. Second up, a good word for the latest episode of the Seat du Jour series, which today covers the famous outer Sydney seat of Lindsay.
Now to business. The misadventures of sundry candidates are making it a constant challenge for me to keep my federal election guide up to date. The tally of candidates who will remain on the ballot paper despite having “withdrawn” to head off embarrassment for their parties now sits at six – although there is nothing to stop any candidate on the ballot paper winning election and taking their seat. Indeed, the two Senate candidates could theoretically win on recounts if the lead candidates end up being disqualified under some or other provision of Section 44 (or, in the case of One Nation candidate Malcolm Roberts in Queensland, re-disqualified). In turn:
• The second candidate on Labor’s Northern Territory Senate ticket, Wayne Kurnorth, was found to have shared anti-Semitic videos on Facebook in 2015, one of which featured popular British conspiracy theorist David Icke’s thesis that the world is run by shape-shifting Jewish lizards. Shorten overreached in distancing himself from Kurnorth, asserting he had never met him, a claim belied by a photo of the two that shortly emerged.
• Another “zombie” Senate candidate is Steve Dickson, who is placed second on One Nation’s ticket in Queensland. Dickson held the state seat of Buderim for One Nation for most of 2017, having previously been a Liberal National Party member since 2012. His troubles arose earlier this week when footage emerged of him offering poetic musings on the art of love while in a strip club, specifically relating to the deficiencies in that field of “Asian chicks”. This revelation for some reason reduced Pauline Hanson to tears during one of her daily appearances on commercial network television on Wednesday.
• Labor’s candidate for Melbourne, Luke Creasey, withdrew yesterday, two days after a report appeared in The Australian regarding his social media activity in 2012, at which time he was a 22-year-old university student. The most publicisied of Creasey’s infractions was to click “like” on what those who know their way around social media would recognise as a “psycho girlfriend meme”, in this case involving a joke about false rape allegations. He at first offered only an apology for what he acknowledged was “stupid, immature” behaviour, but a divide reportedly opened within the party between Creasey’s own Left faction, which wanted him to tough it out, and some on the Right, who insisted he be dumped. Importantly, The Australian reports the latter included Noah Carroll and Sam Rae, respectively the party’s national and state secretaries.
• Isaacs candidate Jeremy Hearn was one of two Liberals to announce his withdrawal on Wednesday, after it emerged he had written a number of comments on Facebook to the effect that the Muslim community wished to overthrow the Australian government and institute sharia law.
• Also pulling the plug on Wednesday was the Liberal candidate for Wills, Peter Killin, who wrote on a Christian conservative forum in 2016 that its readers should have participated in the Liberal preselection in Goldstein, as their doing so would have ensured the defeat of a “homosexual MP”, Tim Wilson.
• Jessica Whelan withdrew as the Liberal candidate for Lyons yesterday over anti-Muslim posts on Facebook, although she says she will continue to campaign as an independent. Whelan’s problems began on Wednesday when The Mercury reported she had posted that Muslims should not be allowed to live in Australia, and that Donald Trump should deal with Muslim-sympathetic feminists by giving them clitoridectomies and selling them to Muslim countries. She initially responded that the screen shots were fabricated, and referred the matter to the Australian Federal Police. Scott Morrison’s position on Thursday was that this was good enough for him, although he appeared to go to some lengths to avoid getting too close to Whelan when the two appeared together at a pre-arranged promotional opportunity at an agricultural show. However, Whelan appeared to change her mind about both the views expressed and their having been fabricated when she announced her withdrawal yesterday, prompting Morrison to complain he had been lied to. The Liberals will now encourage supporters to vote for the Nationals candidate, Deanna Hutchinson.
Horse race latest:
• In his column in the News Corp tabloids today, David Speers relates that “hard heads” in the Liberal Party doubt they can win. As one such reportedly puts it: “If we had another three months, who knows”.
• Steven Wardill of the Courier-Mail reported on Thursday that Labor sources said the party was “losing its grip” in Coalition-held marginals in regional Queensland where it led early in the campaign.
• Jennifer Hewett of the Financial Review reported on Monday that Liberals were “increasingly optimistic about internal polling” in Flinders, where Greg Hunt was “no longer at real risk”. Elsewhere in Victoria, Deakin was “considered solid”, although Corangamite was “much less certain”. The only seats in Victoria the Liberals were giving away were Dunkley and Chisholm.
• Andrew Clark of the Financial Review reports Liberal polling in Wentworth shows them “in a winning position, though the numbers are extremely close”, while in Warringah, Zali Steggall’s campaign is spruiking a poll that has her leading on the primary vote, with Tony Abbott said to be stuck on around 40%.
• For the second time in the campaign, the Liberals have provided the media – in this case Matthew Denholm of The Australian – with polling conducted by TeleReach that shows Bill Shorten with poor personal ratings in northern Tasmania. The poll gives Shorten a 29% approval and 63% disapproval rating in Braddon (compared with 55% and 37% for Scott Morrison), 37% approval and 56% disapproval in Bass, and 37% approval and 50% disapproval in Lyons. However, as was the case last time, no voting intention numbers appear to have been provided.
If you’re interested in my take on the state of play in my home state of Western Australia, you can hear a shorter version of it on Monday’s edition of the ABC’s AM program, or a much longer one on The Conversation’s Politics with Michelle Grattan podcast. Then there are my two paywalled articles for Crikey this week, lest anyone be worried that I haven’t been keeping myself busy lately.
From yesterday, an account of the importance of the Chinese community at the election:
Labor won enduring loyalty among many Chinese voters after the Hawke government allowed students to stay in Australia after the Tiananmen Square massacre, and John Howard did lasting damage with his suggestion that Asian immigration should be curtailed during his first stint as leader in 1988. When Howard himself suffered his historic defeat in Bennelong in 2007, the result was widely attributed to the transformative effect of Chinese immigration on the once white middle-class electorate. Increasingly though, the rise of China’s middle class is bringing affluent new arrivals with economic priorities to match, together with a measure of cultural resistance to the broader community’s progressive turn on sex and gender issues.
And from Monday, on Clive Palmer’s preference deal with the Coalition:
If Palmer can get ahead of the third candidate on the Coalition’s ticket, who will have what remains after the first 28.6% is spent electing its top two candidates, a quarter of their vote will then flow to Palmer, if Coalition voters’ rate of adherence to the how-to-vote card in 2016 offers any guide. That could give him a decisive edge over Malcolm Roberts of One Nation, his main competition for a third seat likely to be won by parties of the right. But so far as the Liberals are concerned, the significance of the deal is in showing up what a dim view they must be taking of their prospects, and their readiness to grasp at any straw that happens to come within reach.