First up, please note two other important posts above and below this one: the former asking for money, the latter offering an opportunity for on-topic discussion about the Senate election to mark the happy occasion of the publication of my new Senate election guide, complementing the already published seat-by-seat guide to the House.
With that out of the way, three new items of federal election news to ring in the new year:
• State MP Andrew Constance is now effectively confirmed as the Liberal candidate for the key seat of Gilmore on the New South Wales South Coast, which forms a major part of the government’s re-election strategy given its hope that Constance can recover a seat that was lost in 2019. His main rival, Shoalhaven Heads lawyer Paul Ell, withdrew from the race last week, saying he had formed the view that Constance was best placed to win, a view that was backed by a Liberal source quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald based on party polling. Others to withdraw over the past fortnight were Jemma Tribe, a charity operator and former Shoalhaven councillor, and Stephen Hayes, a former RAAF officer and staffer to Christopher Pyne, who said he was concerned he would face Section 44 issues due to his business dealings with the government.
• The Liberal candidate to succeed Christian Porter in the northern Perth seat of Pearce is Linda Aitken, a nurse and Wanneroo councillor who has run unsuccessfully three times for the state seat of Butler. Peter Law of The West Australian reports Aitken won a ballot of local party members ahead of Miquela Riley, a former navy officer who ran unsuccessfully for the state seat of Fremantle in March, by 31 votes to 23. Aitken is a member of the Victory Life Church, founded by tennis champion and noted social conservative Margaret Court. Riley had conservative credentials of her own, with earlier reports suggesting she had support from The Clan, the factional group that achieved notoriety after an extensive WhatsApp discussion between its principals was leaked to the media.
• Elizabeth Henson of The Advertiser reports a uComms phone poll of 828 respondents for the Australia Institute suggested Centre Alliance MP Rebekha Sharkie to be headed for another comfortable win in her Adelaide Hills seat of Mayo, with a 58.5-41.5 lead over the Liberals on two-party preferred, compared with her 55.1-44.9 winning margin over Liberal candidate Georgina Downer in 2019. The primary vote figures quoted are 30.9% for Sharkie, 30.8% for the Liberals, 13.3% for Labor, 7.7% for the Greens, 6.5% for One Nation, 3.3% for the United Australia Party and 3.0% for independents, with the spare 4.5% presumably being undecided. As reported on the Australia Institute website, the poll also found overwhelming support for an integrity commission and truth in political advertising laws.