Federal election minus 37 days

Miscellaneous federal election news, including focus group findings from the Financial Review and sundry developments at local level.

Market research:

• My first of what will be regular contributions to Crikey each Wednesday through the campaign makes the case for taking opinion polling seriously again, though you may think that I would say that.

• Today’s Financial Review reports focus groups of undecided voters in Sydney and Melbourne found Scott Morrison to be “smirking, unkempt, immature and dishonest”, to which women added “annoying and patronising”. However, he was also considered a hard worker and “good orator”, and marked up for his response to the Ukraine war. Anthony Albanese was “dull, uninspiring and too negative”, and his failure to have made a clear impression meant Labor had failed to fully shake off perceptions it planned to abolish franking credits and introduce a death tax. The focus groups were conducted for the paper by Ipsos on Tuesday – there is no indication that Albanese’s stumbles over unemployment and the cash rate the previous day were raised.

Miranda Ward of the Financial Review reports Nielsen Ad Intel data shows the United Australia Party has spent $3.49 million in media advertising this month, compared with $472,247 by Labor, $103,265 by Liberal and $42,991 by the Greens.

Candidate news:

• George Christensen’s plan to run for One Nation proved to be a damp squib for everyone but his accountant, the big idea being to run for the inconsequential third position on the party’s Senate ticket. This will entitle him to six months’ worth of their salary, or over $100,000, as part of a “resettlement allowance” paid to defeated but not retiring incumbents. According to Andrew Tillett of the Financial Review, Christensen’s claim that he would have been entitled to it anyway on the grounds that he was effectively knocked back for Liberal National Party preselection does not square with the rules set out by the Remuneration Tribunal.

• Fairfield deputy mayor Dai Le will run as an independent in Fowler, seeking to capitalise on discontent over Labor’s preselection of Kristina Keneally over a member of the seat’s substantial Vietnamese community. Le came within 2.1% of gaining the state seat of Cabramatta for the Liberals in the party’s 2011 landslide and polled 25.9% as an independent there in 2019. Her campaign is backed by Fairfield mayor Frank Carbone, who had earlier floated the possibility of running himself.

On the ground:

David Crowe of the Age/Herald reports Scott Morrison will be in northern Tasmania today dispensing $219.5 million from a forestry industry fund, with a view to shoring up the Liberal-held marginals of Bass and Braddon and perhaps snaring Labor-held Lyons.

• Barnaby Joyce was in the Northern Territory on Tuesday to target its two Labor-held seats, promoting the budget’s $1.5 billion of spending on new port facilities in Darwin and promising to spend $440 million on logistics hubs elsewhere in the territory, respectively of interest to Solomon and Lingiari. According to David Crowe of the Age/Herald, this points to Coalition hopes it can “gain ground in the regions despite poor polling in the cities”.

• Katherine Deves, who is running for the Liberals against independent Zali Steggall in Warringah, was found to have deleted social media posts relating to trans rights issues, one of which referred to “vulnerable children surgically mutilated and sterilised in furtherance of an unattainable ideal”. This was evidently thought to have exceeded her brief as a campaigner for strict definitions of biological sex in women’s sport, but even here Scott Morrison now appears less keen than he did when he rated it a point in her favour after rubber-stamping her preselection last week.

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.

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