Situation normal

Accumulating bad news for the federal Coalition includes the results of two new seat polls and the state of the Liberal preselection process in New South Wales.

First up, two privately conducted uComms seat polls to relate courtesy of the Australia Institute (you may care to note here the disclosure statement at the bottom of my sidebar, which is particularly relevant to the seats in question), both providing bad news for the Liberals and good news for the independent rebellion they face:

• In North Sydney, the poll shows Liberal member Trent Zimmerman trailing independent Kylea Tink 59-41 and Labor 58-42, suggesting he would lose to whichever of the two finished ahead at the second last count. When results for the two primary vote questions are combined as appropriate, the second being a forced-response follow-up for the initially undecided, Zimmerman is on 35.5%, Labor candidate Catherine Renshaw is on 23.1%, Tink is on 21.3%, and the Greens are on 11.3%.

• In Wentworth, Liberal member Dave Sharma likewise trails independent Allegra Spender by 56-44 and a to-be-determined Labor candidate by 55-45. In this case the primary votes are 37.6% for Sharma, 28.5% for Spender, 19.2% for Labor and 8.0% for the Greens.

The two automated phone polls were conducted on January 24, with samples of 850 in North Sydney and 853 in Wentworth. More detail, including responses on various questions relating to the ABC, is available through the Australia Institute link above. I would add the caution that seat polls do not have a particularly stellar record, perhaps especially so for the kind of inner metropolitan seat under consideration here.

On top of that and everything else, there is all too much news to relate about the New South Wales Liberal Party’s extraordinarily fraught federal preselection process. Its state executive met on Friday to consider a factional peace deal that would have concluded long-delayed preselections for a number of important seats, the catch being that party membership ballots would be bypassed in a number of cases. However, signing off on this required the support of fully 24 out of the executive’s 27 members, and reports indicate it didn’t come close. This raises the spectre of intervention by the federal branch, which in turn would be assured of triggering legal action.

• The stickiest sticking point would seem to be the southern Sydney seat of Hughes, which the Liberals need to wrest back from Craig Kelly after his move to Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party. The factional deal would have handed the preselection to PwC Australia management consultant Alex Dore, much to the displeasure of local branch members given he lives in Manly, was earlier weighing up a run in Warringah, and hadn’t even bothered to nominate. Michael Koziol of the Sydney Morning Herald also reports that Scott Morrison is less than enthusiastic about Dore, as he favoured the claim of state Holsworthy MP Melanie Gibbons. This was vehemently opposed by Dominic Perrottet and others who did not care for the prospect of a by-election in marginal Holsworthy, since the state government is already in minority and fears losing the Bega by-election on February 12. However, Koziol’s report suggests the by-election might happen anyway should Gibbons register her displeasure by resigning from parliament. Anne Davies of The Guardian reported last week that some in the party were of the view that Alex Dore for Hughes was so clearly a deal-breaker that it was no more than a ploy to bring on a federal intervention.

• The deal would have spared Sussan Ley a challenge from Christian Ellis, a public relations specialist who has made a name locally campaigning for water rights, in her regional seat of Farrer. Liberal branches in the electorate have reportedly been targeted by a conservative recruitment drive, putting Ley in grave peril despite her status as the Morrison government’s Environment Minister.

• Another incumbent who would have been spared a challenge is Alex Hawke in Mitchell, which is telling since Hawke’s machinations as the leading powerbroker of the centre right faction, and thus a key element of Scott Morrison’s power base, have been widely blamed for the endlessly protracted preselection process. Hawke would reportedly struggle to hold off Michael Abrahams, an army colonel with strong backing among conservatives.

• Another factional powerbroker, moderate Trent Zimmerman, would be rubber-stamped in North Sydney, where he faces challenges from Hamish Stitt and Jessica Collins, respectively aligned with the hard right and the centre right. However, Anne Davies of The Guardian suggests their prospects in a membership ballot would be less strong than those of Ley’s and Hawke’s challengers.

• The deal would have installed the preferred candidate of Scott Morrison, Pentecostal preacher Jemima Gleason, on the Central Coast seat of Dobell, where the Liberals have been hopeful of reeling in Labor’s 1.5% margin. However, Anne Davies of The Guardian reports that Gleason has now withdrawn, and that “another potential candidate – a well-known cricketer – has also cooled on the idea”. Presumably this refers to Nathan Bracken, as per reports last year. This just leaves conservative-aligned Michael Feneley, a cardiologist at St Vincent’s Hospital who has twice run unsuccessfully in the Sydney seat of Kingsford Smith.

• Reports last week indicated the deal would also secure top position on the Coalition Senate ticket for Marise Payne, but it appears Friday’s state executive meeting decided otherwise, since Aaron Patrick of the Financial Review reported on Monday that a process had commenced that would have both winnable Senate positions determined by the usual process involving party branch delegates. Patrick reports the moderate-aligned Payne is “probably safe”, which is just as well given her status as Foreign Minister. With the second position reserved to the Nationals, that leaves number three as a battle between Connie Fierravanti-Wells and Jim Molan. Three incumbents are chasing two seats as a legacy of Nationals Senator Fiona Nash’s Section 44 disqualification in 2017, which left the Liberals with all three of the six-year terms the Coalition won at the 2016 double dissolution. Fierravanti-Wells was elevated from a three-year to a six-year term and Molan, who had initially been unsuccessful at the election, took over her three-year term. Molan was reduced to the unwinnable fourth position in 2019, but was back later in the year when he filled Arthur Sinodinos’s vacancy in a six-year term. Liberal sources cited by Anne Davies of The Guardian suggest Molan’s popularity with the party membership makes him the likely winner.

• Then there were the three seats that were uncontentiously to proceed to a party ballot under the factional deal. Even here there is bad news for the Liberals, with the announcement by moderate-aligned barrister Jane Buncle, the presumed front-runner to take on Zali Steggall in Warringah, that she was withdrawing her nomination. That just leaves conservative-aligned Lincoln Parker, who according to Jim O’Rourke of the Daily Telegraph has “worked in defence research and technology development” and at consulates in the United States. He has also contributed columns to the Epoch Times, the newspaper of China’s suppressed Falun Gong movement, the enthusiasm of which for Donald Trump extended to passing off his tales about voter fraud as fact. As James Campbell noted in the Daily Telegraph, the heat had gone out of the Warringah preselection contest due to a growing sense that victory was beyond the party’s grasp. The other two seats designated for party ballots under the deal are Bennelong and Labor-held Parramatta, on which I have nothing new to relate.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

2,308 comments on “Situation normal”

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  1. Morrison the trainee hair-washer? He is a buffoon. There’s a pandemic. Real household incomes are under serious pressure. There’s a climate crisis. There’s a budget to prepare. His own Party is tearing itself to pieces in NSW. And therefore he stages another stunt. He takes us all for idiots. He really should not be taken seriously. What a complete fuck-wit he is.

    Thinking of Reactionary politics in NSW, if there is a common denominator in the rise of the Absolute Right in the Liberal Party it is Tony Abbott. It seems he and his erstwhile supporters are having their revenge on the brothers and sisters who tore him down.

    We’ve had five successive Liberal leaders from NSW – Howard, Nelson, Turnbull (twice), Abbott and Morrison – each one more divisive and delusional than the last. It really is time the rest of the country told the NSW Liberals that they have outstayed their welcome. They can no longer even run themselves, let alone the country…something Morrison no longer even pretends to try to do.

  2. How many Western Australians is Alan Joyce prepared to kill so his airline can make some money? 10, 1000, 10,000?

    And his juvenile north korea stuff was ridiculous.

    The board should sack him.

  3. Apparently, internal criticisms of the Leader are not a very new idea in the Liberal Party!

    Also, they don’t necessarily do any long term harm.

  4. Barney:

    Your post seems to reinforce what I said.

    I still think many kids ‘know’ – or would know – if non-heterosexual relationships/diverse gender expressions were rammed down our throats as much as heterosexuality is, from an early age.

    But yes, I agree that no LGBTQI+ student has the power to stop their parents sending them to a religious school, where they’ll probably be taught that what they are is shameful. The secular school system does a good enough job of that already without adding any of the God stuff on top of it.

  5. Allan Joyce’s contribution was absolutely pathetic. He may be interested to compare gay rights in WA to North Korea.

    Such a shame the corporate types and mainstream media are not half as interested in the poor people dying in aged care as they are beating up on WA.

  6. Snappy Tom

    I’ve done spells of teaching at community schools.

    Although they proudly say that they cater for students who don’t fit into the current education system, at the end of the day they do so very poorly.

    This is because they simply can’t offer the resources that even a poorly funded public school does. A lot of the funding the community schools do receive seems to be channelled into bureaucracy – the requirements for them to constantly justify their existence chews up a lot of time and resources.

    One place I worked at, which catered for intellectually disabled adults, was so desperate for funding that they short changed their clients – for example, allowing adults who weren’t funded to sit on classes provided for those with funding (and therefore, one assumes, greater need for individual assistance) thus drawing teacher time and focus away from the ones who were supposed to be benefitting.

    After these observations, I would like to see these kinds of education – adult literacy, at risk students – catered for within the present education system, with access to the resources every school provides.

    The simplest way to do this would be to provide them with their own classrooms, separate from the rest of the school population, but within easy access of proper libraries and computer systems (just for starters), with staff who are employed as part of the larger school.

    The ‘Flying Fruit Circus’ at Albury/Wodonga has a structure like this (although their students are not ‘at risk’ in the usual sense). Some NSW schools I’ve taught at operate in the same way for special needs students – which also allows these students to move between ‘mainstream’ and ‘special’ classes seamlessly.

  7. Economic Outlook

    Global economic growth picked up in the second half of 2021 following the lifting of mobility restrictions, and is forecast to remain above trend in 2022. The rapid spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 has been disruptive but is not anticipated to have a large or sustained impact on growth. Inflation in many countries has persisted at multi-year highs and has broadened in scope. Central banks in advanced economies still expect inflation to moderate, but have raised their inflation forecasts for 2022 and have emphasised the considerable uncertainty surrounding this outlook (see chapter on ‘The International Environment’).

    The Australian economy had established solid momentum prior to the Omicron outbreak at the end of 2021. Domestic economic activity bounced back strongly in the December quarter, driven by a surge in household spending as restrictions relating to the Delta outbreak were eased. The spread of the Omicron variant will slow growth in the March quarter, but is expected to have a much smaller impact on economic activity than previous waves of COVID-19; activity is forecast to regain momentum in coming quarters. In the central scenario, GDP is forecast to have grown by 5 per cent over 2021, and to grow by around 4¼ per cent over 2022 and 2 per cent over 2023. The unemployment rate is forecast to decline gradually over the forecast period, to 3¾ per cent by the end of 2023 (Table 5.1).

    Inflation picked up in the second half of 2021, by more than expected at the time of the November Statement, and the outlook for inflation has been revised higher. Consumer price inflation in the December quarter was 1.3 per cent and 3½ per cent over the year, led by increases in the prices of new dwellings, durable goods and fuel. Underlying inflation has also picked up in recent quarters and is forecast to increase further to 3¼ per cent in mid-2022, largely reflecting upstream cost pressures amid strong demand in housing construction and the durables goods sector. Further out, the drivers of inflation are anticipated to shift, with a steady pick-up in labour costs in response to strong labour market conditions forecast to sustain inflation in the top half of the 2 to 3 per cent target range.

  8. Perhaps if the media advisors who I presume are on the public payroll could suggest he waged the hair of a resident in an aged care facility instead? Most aged care homes have a hair dressers room with basins etc.

  9. Zerlo,

    The Electoral Act requires a period of at least 33 days between the issuing of the writs and election day, and that election day be a Saturday. So the earliest an election can be held from now is Saturday 12th March, and this would need to be called before Monday.

  10. [‘Desperate moment Scott Morrison washes a woman’s HAIR as he tries to win back Aussies after hellish week where he didn’t know the price of MILK, was called ‘horrible’ in texts from Gladys and BACKED Mark McGowan’s crazy hard border.’]

    Morrison’s minders must be nuts if they think this kind of stunt
    is going to woo female voters.

  11. Pi
    “Not enough people understand the effect that islamic culture had on mathematics”

    Yep. And science too. Hence, we have the Arabic-derived words ‘alkali’ and ‘alcohol’, and a host of star names such as Aldebaran, Algol, Deneb, Rigel , Betelgeuse, etc.

  12. MacGowan’s “crazy hard borders” allowed me and thousands of others time to get our booster shots in before the New South Wales plagues descend on us.

    Crazy? Crazy like a fox.

  13. “Buffon”: a ridiculous but amusing person; a clown.

    I think that Morrison is something more sinister (and he’s not particularly amusing).

  14. The pamphlet actually predates column 8 but “old granny” was a nickname for the SMH and was presumably the origin for the pseudonym of column 8’s first writer

  15. If RATs don’t detect until day 4 other than tracing what utility do they serve at the individual level, haven’t you potentially exposed loved ones before the RAT lets you know?

  16. Fulvio Sammut:

    Friday, February 4, 2022 at 1:12 pm

    [‘MacGowan’s “crazy hard borders” allowed me and thousands of others time to get our booster shots in before the New South Wales plagues descend on us.

    Crazy? Crazy like a fox.’]

    Well, it is the Daily Mail.

  17. “[‘Son of former Whitlam government minister Lionel Murphy rejects approach to run in Parramatta for family reasons.’]”

    It’s a shame that David Borger could not be persuaded: unlike Cameron Murphy – who I like, so I have no personal issue with him – David is actually a proven local campaigner in the area, having served as Parramatta Lord Mayor and state member for Granville (only losing his seat in 2011 wipeout).

  18. freaking hell, I just watched Morrison’s latest bilious stunt, washing a woman’s hair in a salon.

    The first thing I thought of was the thousands of Nursing Home residents who (probably) have not had their hair washed for weeks, maybe months!

  19. I think what could be going on with Morrison is that he jumped the shark with the marketing and communications industry talk that goes on behind closed doors or during late night drinks: about how stupid people are. George Carlin levels of describing the stupidity of people. And there are indeed incredibly stupid people out there.

    They’ve looked at the studies for decades done on how gullible people are to take advantage of, and in advertising, I have noticed a lot of incredibly cynical people working in that industry. Deep to the bone. I think a lot of them are very lonely and angry people, and they found a way to get back at the world/their parents/their private school, but making money off it and being snarky at people, while hitting great parties in Bondi etc.

    Anyway, I’d say that these stunt are a continuation of those late night drinks: “hah, they’ll ALL fall into line like the gullible empty white-bread sheep that they are. So I’ll wash a woman’s hair! because the study I saw about idiotic suburban women is that you just have to show up doing x y z and they all swoon. Ha!”.

    So he does it. But now none of it is working. “But it must! My industry has proven it always works!!!!”

    So Plan A on it goes. Plan A exhausts, because the research is in about the infinite nature of people, so why change ANYTHING?

    The lack of self-awareness with these guys is massive. It’s biting them on the arse now. Ha! back to them.

  20. I am the ghost of elections future.

    Running an election campaign on stunts is a terrible idea. It saw the Canberra Liberals receive a 3% swing against them and only stay narrowly ahead of the Greens for seats (9-6 although was a rounding error away from 8-6).

    Yes, Borris did it and he won. With first past the post, Murdoch and Labour party incompetence and infighting, Borris could have run a campaign solely composed of drunken karaoke and would have won.

  21. Nick Feik


    How about – bear with me here – instead of addressing the crisis in aged care, you get out there and wash women’s hair?

    11:10 AM · Feb 4, 2022·Twitter Web App

  22. LOL.

    Qantas boss says WA’s borders ‘starting to look like North Korea’
    By Ashleigh McMillan

    Qantas boss Alan Joyce has likened Western Australia’s borders to North Korea and questioned why Australia’s borders remain closed to all international tourists despite the country’s high COVID case load.

    Earlier this week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he expected regular travel into Australia from overseas to resume before Easter.

    ————– We know what Qantas boss lobbyists too ————–

  23. Cameron Murphy ran for the ALP in East Hills and was targeted by a Liberal dirt campaign – would not be surprised if he doesn’t want to subject his family to this again..

    HE endured one of the nastiest smear campaigns in Australian political history, was wrongly called a “paedophile lover” and “convicted rapist”, but a prominent Sydney Labor candidate is set to make a return.

    The NSW Labor Party this afternoon confirmed Cameron Murphy has secured preselection to contest the seat of East Hills in 2019.

    It marks nearly two years since his run in the 2015 State Election, when his reputation was assaulted by a highly organised smear campaign which he believes robbed him of victory.

    Thousands of gloss pamphlets slipped in letterboxes, scattered on the street and at polling booths, including schools, falsely accused the father-of-two of “supporting the rights of paedophiles” and being a “convicted rapist”.

    The barrister’s campaign posters were slapped with stickers reading “paedophile lover” and the Muslim community were wrongly told he attended an anti-mosque rally.

    But the “horrific” time in his life and subsequent loss to now independent East Hills MP Glenn Brookes by 372 votes hasn’t stopped him from returning to politics.

    “It wasn’t a difficult decision,” Mr Murphy told The Express.

    “I also think you can’t let people who stooped to those sort of tactics get away with it and something that is driving me is … wanting to the best for the area I live in with my wife and two kids, I want to make sure they have the best of opportunities as they grow up in Padstow, but I also want to make sure politics is better than this.

    “Otherwise if I was too walk away from it after my experience last time then I think it’d just get worse and worse over time and it will happen again.”

    The question of who distributed the suspect flyers is now playing out in the courts.

    The NSW Electoral Commission has accused Jamil “Jim” Daniel, Mr Brookes’ former campaign manager, of letterbox dropping the material on a quiet street in Milperra between 10pm and 10.25pm on March 17 2015, 11 days before the NSW State Election. Mr Daniel is fighting the allegations.

    Mr Daniel, a former Bankstown councillor, was suspended from the Liberal Party when he was served with court attendance notices in March last year and days later Mr Brookes stood aside from the party while it was before the courts.

  24. Voice Endeavour says:
    Friday, February 4, 2022 at 1:44 pm
    I am the ghost of elections future.

    Running an election campaign on stunts is a terrible idea.

    You might mention this to the Greens, and remind them of the idiocy of the Adani campaign….a campaign that only advantaged the Reactionaries in 2019 and may well sustain them in power in 2022.

  25. ACT Policing, with additional resources from the Australian Federal Police, have this morning (Friday, 4 February 2022) moved camping equipment and illegally parked vehicles from the Patrick White Lawns adjacent to the National Library of Australia.

    The operation was peaceful and no arrests were made in relation to crowd behaviour.

    Four vehicles were towed from the location after their owners refused to move them. A small amount of camping and other equipment was also seized by police.

    A 44-year-old man was arrested following the execution of a search warrant. A loaded modified rifle was located in his vehicle and he is expected to be charged with the possession of an illegal firearm. He will also face multiple traffic offences in relation to the roadworthiness of his vehicle.

    ACT Policing would like to thank the community for their patience while multiple road closures and diversions were in place today. Due to planned and unplanned events in the area, traffic disruptions may continue to occur in the Parliamentary Triangle area in the coming days.

    While ACT Policing recognises the rights of people to peacefully protest, when illegal actions take place the people responsible will be dealt with in accordance with the law.

  26. “We are probably about 20 years away from politicians offering the public hand jobs for their votes.”

    Can you wait that long or will you be in politics by then?

  27. The Happy Days jumping the shark episode is an apt description of where Morrison and his motley crew are at.

    Good times, high ratings, the world their oyster … but the magic slowly disappears, the scripts get cornier, the ratings decline.

    So what to do? Retire, after a job well done? Or try to bring back those good times with more crazy scenes.

    Get Fonzy to water ski and jump a shark? Get ScoMo to don a hairdresser’s bib and wash a woman’s hair in front of national media?

    Yeah, let’s do it!

  28. Cameron Murphy could not move the dial in 2019 when the swing was on in 2019 so why prefer him?.

    David Borger stood out in the 2007-2011 crowd but why go back? There is probably a few instances where he has been praiseworthy of the NSW Govt in Western Sydney too.

  29. As expected, Morrison is dead scared of upsetting Colbeck and causing even more instability in the Liberal party. Pity about the welfare of people in aged care.

    (Guardian updates at 13:32)

    Morrison is asked why Richard Colbeck should remain as aged care minister.

    He defends Colbeck, saying that he spoke to him today and that “even as recently as yesterday afternoon, [Colbeck] has been in constant contact with the aged care sector to understand their needs”.

    Responding to calls for Colbeck’s resignation, Morrison said:

    I understand those seeking to make political points about this.

  30. Politic@l Spinner


    We are witnessing a tragic and sad pathetic ending of Scott Morrison as PM.. Isn’t it wonderful… The longer he leaves it to the election the worse it gets .. Should have went late last year Smiling face with open mouth and cold sweatThumbs up why was Dutton on #abc730? He hates the show

    10:10 PM · Feb 3, 2022 from Brisbane, Queensland·Twitter for Android

    I’m not sure about the ‘tragic’ reference but all else is fine.

  31. “A 44-year-old man was arrested following the execution of a search warrant. A loaded modified rifle was located in his vehicle and he is expected to be charged with the possession of an illegal firearm. He will also face multiple traffic offences in relation to the roadworthiness of his vehicle. ”

    Not good. 🙁

  32. “As expected, Morrison is dead scared of upsetting Colbeck and causing even more instability in the Liberal party. Pity about the welfare of people in aged care.”

    Well, sacking a minster this close to an election would not be a good look and serve to drive the #leadershit stuff. And really, its only incompetence and if they apply that as a reason for sacking he would have to clear out cabinet completely, and then look the hypocrite for not applying the same standard to himself. 🙁

  33. C@tmommasays:
    Friday, February 4, 2022 at 7:29 am
    ‘Poor’ Phil Coorey will no longer be able to sit in the PMO on a comfy chair and take dictation.

    Weren’t the ‘poor’ in Dickensian era books called ‘wretched’?

  34. Morrison’s Melbourne presser, basically saying that those in aged care were due to die in any event. If he thinks his shouty persona will win people over, he’s barking up the wrong tree.

  35. The AFR’s editorial says that the 2022 federal election should be a genuine, policy-focused contest of ideas, not simply the referendum on the Prime Minister that some in the media want it to be. Hang on, isn’t Morrison himself trying to make it a presidential-style election, keeping his minsters out of the fray? Just like he did the last time.

    Nah, the reason behind AFR editorial preachings is to get ALP policies in open so that they can scare shit out of Australians like 2019.

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