The mercurial Roy Morgan organisation put out a newsletter this week saying its fortnightly poll had Labor leading 56.5-43.5 and would be published in full within 48 hours, but nothing more was heard. However, there is no shortage of other electoral news to relate, even without getting too deep into the developing situation of the New South Wales Liberals’ federal preselection tangle, which was covered in depth here. Note that I also have a separate post dealing with the imminent Super Saturday of four New South Wales state by-elections.
• The Liberals in New South Wales have at least resolved their dispute to the extent of proceeding with plans for a preselection ballot for Bennelong, which David Crowe of The Age reports is likely to be held in March. The candidates are Gisele Kapterian, former chief-of-staff to Michaelia Cash and current executive at software company Salesforce; Craig Chung, a City of Sydney councillor; and Simon Kennedy, a former partner at McKinsey.
• Labor also has a few loose ends in New South Wales, having yet to choose candidates to succeed retiring members Sharon Bird and Julie Ovens in Cunningham and Parramatta. A membership ballot for Cunningham will be held on February 19 between Misha Zelinsky, Australian Workers Union assistant national secretary and former criminal defence lawyer, and Alison Byrnes-Scully, staffer to Sharon Bird (and wife of state Wollongong MP Paul Scully). Zelinsky has been in the news over social media posts and an e-book he co-authored nearly a decade ago which featured jokes denigrating women. The Guardian reports that Labor is struggling to find a candidate in Parramatta that the party hierarchy considers up to standard, having lately been rebuffed by Cameron Murphy, prominent barrister and son of Lionel Murphy.
• Northern Territory Senator Sam McMahon, a Country Liberals member who sat with the Nationals in Canberra, resigned from the party last week and is leaving open the possibility of contesting the election either for a different party or as an independent. McMahon lost her preselection last June to Alice Springs deputy mayor and conservative media identity Jacinta Price.
Noteworthy matters of electoral law and administration at state and territory level:
• A headache looms in South Australia ahead of its March 19 state election, with no contingency in place for voters put in COVID-19 isolation who are unable to meet the deadline for a postal vote application. A bill to allow for voting to be conducted over the phone in this circumstance was passed by the lower house and amended in the upper, and the lower house had not considered the amendments when it rose in early December. The Advertiser reports that Labor says it would be a simple matter for the house to reconvene and agree to the amended bill, but Premier Steven Marshall says there is not enough time to pass legislation before the government enters caretaker mode ahead of the election. Marshall blames Labor for supporting the amendments, but it appears to me that the government chose to sit on the bill for the last three days of the session.
• The Canberra Times reports Labor has “indicated a willingness” to support a Greens bill to make voting compulsory for 16 and 17 year olds in ACT elections, notwithstanding the local electoral commission’s evident horror at the resulting administrative burden.
• Remy Varga of The Australian reports the Victorian government is taking a stand against the pernicious practice of political parties handling postal vote applications so they can harvest data from them.