We begin with the unusually complicated state of affairs arising from Senate President Scott Ryan’s announcement yesterday that he will retire from politics before parliament resumes next month, having previously planned to do so when his term ends in the middle of next year. The Victorian Liberal Party now has the task of both filling his vacancy and determining its Senate ticket for the coming election, with the latter process having been up in the air due to the lockdown. Candidates for Ryan’s vacancy are reportedly likely to include Simon Frost, staffer to Josh Frydenberg and former state party director, and Greg Mirabella, Wangaratta farmer and husband of Sophie Mirabella.
The Coalition secured three long-term Senate positions at the 2016 double dissolution, which went to Mitch Fifield, Bridget McKenzie of the Nationals and Scott Ryan. Fifield quit politics after the 2019 election and his vacancy was filled by Sarah Henderson, lately defeated in her lower house seat of Corangamite. With the second position on the ticket reserved to the Nationals, and hence to McKenzie, Henderson urgently needs to win top spot on the ticket.
Rob Harris of The Age reports that she will probably need a rank-and-file ballot for this to happen, since she is unlikely to win a vote of the administrative committee if it exercises its power to take matters into its own hands. The same apparently applies to Frost in his bid to fill the Ryan vacancy, which would appear to suggest that the administrative committee would pick Mirabella both to fill the immediate vacancy and top the Senate ticket at the election. This would, however, be a hugely contentious move, given resentment over the rank and file being denied preselection ballots before the last election.
Further preselection news:
• Daniel Repacholi, a former coal miner who represented Australia in pistol shooting at the Olympics, was confirmed as Labor’s candidate to succeed Joel Fitzgibbon in Hunter by the party’s national executive yesterday. The Australian reports Repacholi “will run as a factionally unaligned candidate but he has the backing of elements of the Right, including Joel Fitzgibbon, and also the Left, including Mr Albanese and the CFMEU”. Preselection hopefuls thwarted by the move include Stephen Ryan, Newcastle barrister and former Cessnock councillor; Morgan Campbell, a former lawyer and local councillor; and Jo Smith, executive director of the Australian Guild of Screen Composers and unsuccessful candidate for Lake Macquarie at the 2019 state election. A late withdrawal was Cessnock nurse Emily Suvaal, whom The Guardian reports had support from Right-aligned unions. The Nationals candidate for the seat is James Thomson, 28-year-old community relations officer at Maitland Christian School; One Nation, who recorded 21.6% of the vote in 2019, have endorsed Singleton hotelier Dale McNamara, who ran for the party at the state by-election for Upper Hunter in May.
• As reported in The Australian, Gordon Reid, a local doctor of Aboriginal heritage, has been preselected unopposed to run as Labor’s candidate for Robertson, held for the Liberals by Lucy Wicks on a margin of 4.2%. The preselection for Reid, held by Fiona Martin on a margin of 3.2%, will be contested between Sally Sitou, a University of Sydney doctoral candidate and one-time ministerial staffer to Jason Clare, and Frank Alafaci, president of the Australian Business Summit Council. In Banks, held by David Coleman on a margin of 6.3%, will be contested between former diplomat Xian-Zhi Soon and Georges River councillor Warren Tegg.
• The West Australian reports Ian Goodenough, Liberal member for the Perth northern suburbs seat of Moore, has won a preselection ballot ahead of Vince Connelly, whose existing seat of Stirling is to be abolished in the redistribution, by a margin of 39 to 36. Goodenough is noted for his support network among local Pentecostal churches, and his association with a broader grouping within the state party known as “The Clan”. The report says Goodenough owed his win to support from Young Liberals and religious conservative powerbroker Nick Goiran. Further contested preselections for the Liberal-held seats of Swan and Durack will follow over the fortnight to come.
• The Greens have announced candidates in the two Melbourne seats they could potentially win from the Liberals: Piers Mitchem, an employment lawyer with corporate law firm Thomson Geer, will run against Josh Frydenberg in Kooyong, which Julian Burnside came within 5.7% of winning for the party in 2019 after outpolling Labor; while Sonya Semmens, owner-director of a fundraising consultancy, will run against Katie Allen in Higgins.
• Legal academic Kim Rubenstein has cleared the new-and-improved benchmark of 1500 members to register a party called Kim for Canberra in support of her run for an Australian Capital Territory Senate seat.
• A uComms automated phone poll of 1057 voters in Canberra, commissioned by of The Australian Institute, records federal voting intention results for the Australian Capital Territory that are strikingly similar to those at the 2019 election. When the results to the forced-response follow-up for the initially undecided are included, the poll shows Labor on 41.1% (up 0.2% on the election), Liberal on 31.3% (down 0.8%) and the Greens on 16.9% (up 0.4%). One Nation, who did not field candidates in 2019 and probably won’t next time either, were on 3.9%. The poll also gauged Senate voting intention, which had Labor on 35.9% (down 3.4%), Liberal on 29.7% (down 2.6%) and the Greens on 21.1% (up 3.5%), with independents on 7.4%, One Nation on 4.0% and others on 1.7%. However, the disparity between the House and Senate results would be typical of an issue to common to Senate polling, which often inflates minor party support. In any case, both suggest the usual result, in which Labor wins the house seats and the two Senate seats divide between Labor and Liberal.
• Also from the Australia Institute, a tidy display of Essential Research COVID-19 polling data, including time series charts of the regular question on federal and state governments’ handling of the situation.
• Final results from the Daly by-election in the Northern Territory: 2022 votes to Labor candidate Dheran Young (56.1%), 1582 to Country Liberal Party candidate Kris Civitarese, for a swing to Labor of 7.3%.
• A federal election preview from Daniel Smith of CGM Communications draws on state-level poll trend calculations I provided, suggesting Labor stands to pick up 13 seats based on the current numbers.