With Newspoll and Essential Research both having said their piece this week, there is likely to be a fortnight gap between federal polls. Not counting state and territory election action, which you can be assured you will be hearing more about shortly, there are two important preselections on the boil on the conservative side of politics:
• A situation is vacant for the Liberals in the Toowoomba-based federal seat of Groom following last week’s resignation announcement from John McVeigh, the member since 2016. In a column for the Brisbane Times, former Newman government minister and current 4BC presenter Scott Emerson says the vacancy presents an opportunity to head off a stoush over the order of the next Senate ticket between James McGrath and Amanda Stoker. The winner of this fight will get top position while the loser must settle for third, second being reserved for the Nationals. Emerson reports that this amounts to a battle between moderates and the Christian Right, of which McGrath is apparently one of the former. The suggestion is that Groom might give McGrath an opening, but in this he could face opposition from locals who support the claim of Toowoomba councillor Rebecca Vonhoff. Suggestions the seat might be of interest to another Senator, Matt Canavan, are complicated by the fact that he is a National, the sensitivity of which was illustrated when the LNP organisation blocked an attempt by the seat’s previous member, Ian Macfarlane, to jump ship from Liberal to the Nationals in 2015.
• Nathan Hondros of WAToday reports the Liberals will hold their preselection to fill Mathias Cormann’s Western Australian Senate vacancy on November 7, with the winner to take third position on the party’s ticket at the next election behind Michaelia Cash and Dean Smith. There would appear to be three nominees: Julian Ambrose, stepson of the late Perth construction billionaire Len Buckeridge; Sherry Sufi, an arch-conservative party activist; and Albert Jacob, former state Environment Minister and current mayor of Joondalup, who emerged as a “last-minute nomination”. Jacob held the coastal northern suburbs seat of Ocean Reef from 2008 to 2017, when he was defeated in the landslide the tipped the Barnett government from office. Cormann is reportedly lobbying for Ambrose, and his backers are pressuring Sufi to withdraw.