News remains thin on the ground over the summer holiday period, although we may possibly hopefully see the polling cycle crank up again as of next week. Two pieces of federal preselection news to relate:
• A report in The Australian today raises further doubts about the security of Craig Kelly’s preselection in Hughes – not for the reasons you would hope, but because he has failed to raise any campaign funding for head office since July 2019, according to leaked party documents. He is not alone in this distinction, however, with Farrer MP Sussan Ley, Robertson MP Lucy Wicks and Lindsay MP Melissa McIntosh likewise having come up empty. Kelly was saved from preselection challenges by prime ministerial intervention before both the 2016 and 2019 elections, and a Liberal source cited in The Australian says “there’s no appetite in the party to save him a third time”.
• Ken O’Dowd, who has held the central Queensland seat of Flynn for the Nationals since 2010, announced on January 5 that he will retire at the next election. Queensland Country Life reports that Colin Boyce, who holds the partly corresponding seat of Callide in the state parliament, will contest the preselection. The report quotes Boyce complaining about the failure of David Crisafulli, who replaced Deb Frecklington as Liberal National Party leader after the October state election, to have promoted him to the front bench. It also suggests he may face competition in Flynn from Gladstone councillor Glenn Churchill, who was the party’s unsuccessful candidate for the seat in 2007 and challenged O’Dowd for preselection ahead of the 2019 election.
With the Western Australian election now two months away, two bits of data have emerged from a Painted Dog Research poll conducted for The West Australian in mid-December, which as always do not encompass voting intention:
• Three weeks after Zak Kirkup replaced Liza Harvey as Liberal leader in late November, the poll found him with a 19% approval and 14% disapproval rating. While this compares favourably with Harvey’s 10% and 37% from September, but is obviously remarkably mostly for the 67% uncommitted rating. The poll also found 36% saying Kirkup would be a better leader than Harvey and 11% saying otherwise, with 53% uncommitted.
• With Ben Wyatt to bow out at the election, the poll found 21% favouring Health Minister Roger Cook to succeed him as Treasurer, with Rita Saffioti on 9%, Bill Johnston on 8%, “someone else” on 13% and 49% uncommitted.