To mark the occasion of today’s announcement of May 21 as the date of the federal election, I have given my federal election guide a thorough overhaul, which it needed, having not been seriously updated since January. A great many candidates have been announced since then, among the most notable being those Liberal candidates in New South Wales whose positions were not confirmed until Friday, when the High Court definitively quashed a long-running challenge against the manner of their selection. In addition to confirming incumbents including Sussan Ley in Farrer, Alex Hawke in Mitchell and Trent Zimmerman in North Sydney – the first two being cabinet ministers – a further nine candidates had been rubber-stamped by a committee consisting of Scott Morrison, Dominic Perrottet and former party president Christine McDiven, including five in seats of actual or potential interest:
• Jenny Ware, a moderate-aligned lawyer who works at Georges River Council, will run against Craig Kelly, now of the United Australia Party, in Hughes. The choice of Ware appeared to throw a bone to the local party membership, who were angered by earlier plans to impose Manly-resident PwC Australia management consultant Alex Dore on the electorate. They were nonetheless deprived of the preselection ballot that would otherwise have pitted Ware against state Holsworthy MP Melanie Gibbons, presumably reflecting Perrottet’s determination that there should be no by-election for Gibson’s existing seat.
• Jerry Nockles, Pharmacy Guild executive, navy veteran and former staffer to politicians including Senator Jim Molan, will be the candidate for Eden-Monaro. Dan Jervis-Bardy of The Canberra Times reports a rival candidate, former Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council deputy mayor Mark Schweikert, withdrew his nomination after the cancellation of a rank-and-file ballot, saying he did not wish to be seen to endorse the national executive’s takeover.
• Maria Kovacic, Franchise Council of Australia director and former owner of an ANZ franchise, will face off against Labor’s Andrew Charlton in Parramatta. Another nominee for the preselection was Charles Camenzuli, engineer and brother of Matt Camenzuli, who had pursued the legal action against the takeover of the preselection process.
• Katherine Deves, a lawyer and co-founder of a group that campaigns for strict definitions of biological sex in women’s sport, will seek to recover Warringah from independent Zali Steggall. Deves was given dispensation to run despite not having been a financial party member for the requisite six months, as the party hierarchy cast around for an option better suited to local sentiment than arch-conservative Lincoln Parker.
• Pradeep Pathi, a project manager at Westpac, will run against Labor’s Michelle Rowland in Greenway, where he might find himself buoyed by the results of a new seat poll, on which more below.
Another legal issue worth noting is that the Liberal Democrats have found a loophole in legislation designed in large part to force them to drop the word “Liberal” from their name, and will accordingly contest the election under their existing name. Antony Green relates that the party withdrew its voluntary application to change its name on March 22, compelling the Australian Electoral Commission to lodge a notice to deregister it for falling foul of the new law, initiating a process that will not be complete by the time the existing register of parties is set in stone by the issue of the election writs.
• The News Corp papers yesterday published four seat polls by Redbridge, which were a mixed bag on voting intention, to the extent that the reporting allowed this to be discerned. A poll for Bass had the Liberals on 36% (down 6.3% on the 2019 result) and Labor on 36% (up 1.3%); in Paterson, Labor were on 38% (down 3.1%) and the Coalition were “0.58% higher”, which I think means 33%;; in Greenway, Labor was on 38% (down 7.9%) and Liberal were on 40% (down 0.6%); and in Longman, the Liberal National Party was on 34% (down 4.6%) and Labor were on 33% (down 1.1%). This suggests Labor would knock over a 0.4% margin in Bass but fail to defend its 2.8% margin in Greenway, while falling slightly short against a 3.3% margin in Longman and suffering a survivable swing against their 5.0% margin in Paterson. Results on economic questions seem to be worse for the Coalition than usual, with Labor “neck-and-neck” on economic management, cost of living and interest rates, and no majority support for the notion that the Liberals were “a safe pair of hands in these uncertain times” or that “taxes will always be higher under a Labor government”. The polls sampled “between 800 and 1000” respondents and were “conducted in the past week&8221; – further clarification on both counts will shortly be forthcoming when Redbridge publishes its methodology statement.
• InDaily has published results of a Greens-commissioned uComms poll from across South Australia showing Labor with a lead of 58-42, a swing in their favour of 7.3%. The primary votes were Liberal 33.2%, Labor 39.4%, Greens 9.6%, United Australia Party 3.6% and One Nation 3.1%, with 5.6% undecided. The results in 2019 were Liberal 40.6% (plus 0.3% for the Nationals), Labor 35.4%, Greens 9.6%, United Australia Party 4.3% and One Nation (who ran in only one seat) 0.8%. Also featured was a result on Senate voting intention, which was remarkably poor for Nick Xenophon: Liberal 32.2%, Labor 36.1%, Greens 11.6%, Nick Xenophon 5.2%, Rex Patrick 3.0%, One Nation 3.9% and United Australia Party 2.7%, compared with 2019 results of Liberal 37.8%, Labor 30.4%, Greens 10.9%, One Nation 4.9%, United Australia Party 3.0% and Centre Alliance 2.6%. The poll was conducted on Tuesday from a sample of 1052. InDaily reports the result were at odds with Labor internal polling conducted before Nick Xenophon announced his run, which found 16.3% would vote for him if he did so, along with 30.8% for Labor, 27.7% for Liberal, 8.9% for the Greens and 5.2% for One Nation.