The opinion poll schedule for the week is likely to consist of the fortnightly Essential Research, which is not due to include the monthly leadership numbers and should thus be of limited interest (unless it includes their occasional dump of fortnightly voting intention results), and presumably a Roy Morgan voting intention poll on Wednesday.
For the time being, there is the following:
• The Australian reports that Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon will bow out at the election, creating a vacancy in his seat of Hunter, where his margin was slashed from 12.5% to 3.0% at last year’s election with One Nation polling 21.6%. There is no indication as to who might succeed him as Labor candidate, except that “NSW Right figures (are) concerned Hunter could be lost to the faction and go to someone from the left-aligned CFMEU or the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union”.
• There would seem to be no suggestion that the vacancy in Hunter might change the calculus behind Kristina Keneally’s controversial move to Fowler, which was criticised over the weekend by her federal Labor colleague Anne Aly, along with many others inside and outside the party. However, Michelle Grattan in The Conversation notes that the arrangement does not of itself deprive the local party membership of a preselection ballot, since a clause in the state party rules specific to Fowler enshrines the seat as the gift of the Right as a legacy of past branch-stacking controversies.
• The West Australian reports on two further preselection challenges to sitting Liberals in Western Australia, on top of that facing Ian Goodenough in Moore from Vince Connelly after the abolition of his seat of Stirling. In Swan, where Steve Irons would appear to have his work cut out for him in defending a 3.2% margin, the challenger is Kristy McSweeney, a Sky News commentator, former adviser to Tony Abbott and daughter of former state MP Robyn McSweeney. McSweeney earlier contested preselection for the once safe but now Labor-held seat of Bateman ahead of the state election in March. In the much safer seat of Durack, Melissa Price will be challenged by Busselton councillor Jo Barrett-Lennard. For what it’s worth, The Age columnist Jon Faine today tells us to “watch out to see if former attorney-general Christian Porter opts for a spot on the Federal Court on the cusp of the election, rather than face probable defeat in his outer-suburban Perth electorate” – namely Pearce, where redistribution has cut the margin from 7.5% to 5.2%.
• As those who followed the post below will be aware, Labor recorded a strong result in the Northern Territory’s Daly by-election, with their candidate Dheran Young leading the count over Kris Civitarese of the Country Liberal Party by 1905 (55.8%) to 1506 (44.2%) with only a handful of votes left outstanding. This amounts to a 7.0% swing compared with the election last August, at which the CLP won the seat by 1.2%. It is the first time a government party has ever won a seat from the opposition at a by-election in the territory, and first time anywhere in Australia since the Benalla by-election in Victoria in May 2000.