No shortage of news around the place – starting with polling and the general state of the horse race:
• Samantha Maiden at news.com.au reports on Redbridge Group seat polls conducted for Equality Australia showing independent candidate Allegra Spender leading Liberal member Dave Sharma by 53-47 in Wentworth, and Labor’s Andrew Charlton leading Liberal candidate Maria Kovicic by 55-45 in Parramatta, held by retiring Labor member Julie Owens on a 3.5% margin. Primary votes in Wentworth, after exclusion of 4.3% undecided, are Dave Sharma 38%, Allegra Spender 25%, Labor 17%, Greens 7% and United Australia Party 7% (the latter have been coming in a little high in some of these seat polls for mine); in Parramatta, after exclusion of 11.5% undecided, it’s Andrew Charlton 37%, Maria Kovacic 30%, Greens 12%, and the United Australia Party and Liberal Democrats on 8% apiece. Equality Australia is keep to emphasise findings that 67% in Wentworth strongly agree that “trans people deserve the same rights and protections as other Australians” and 62% in Parramatta strongly agree that schools should not be allowed to expel students for being transgender, although the former question especially rather soft-pedals the issue. LGBTIQ+ equality and transgender participation in women’s sports were ranked dead last in both electorates as “vote determining issues”. No indication is provided as to sample sizes or field work dates.
• Further results from the Ipsos poll published in Tuesday’s Financial Review that previously escaped my notice: Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese were both deemed competent by 42%, Morrison led on having a clear vision by 41% to 37% and a firm grasp of economic policy by 48% to 31%, and Albanese led on having the confidence of his party by 52% to 44% and being trustworthy by 41% to 30%. Forty-two per cent expected Labor to win the election compared with 34% for the Coalition.
• Two sophisticated new forecast models have been launched over the past week. That of Armarium Interreta “combines voting-intention polling with a sprinkle of leadership approval polling and economic fundamentals” and factors in extra uncertainty when the pollsters are herding, as they certainly did in 2019 but appear not to be this time. It currently rates Labor a 60% chance of a majority and the Coalition 13%. Australian Election Forecasts is entirely poll-based and features probability estimates for each electorate, including their chances of being won by independents or minor parties. It has a 67.2% chance of a Labor majority and 13.1% for the Coalition.
• Kos Samaras of Redbridge Group observes that demographic trends raise concerns for Labor in Greenway, which combines established Labor-voting territory around Seven Hills in the south with newly developing suburbs in the north. The increase in the electorate’s enrolment from 110,343 to 119,941 since the 2019 election will have been concentrated in the latter area: Samaras notes the median house price here is around $800,000, which is around $250,000 higher than comparable houses in Melbourne growth corridors that have been strengthening for Labor.
• I had a piece in Crikey yesterday that looked booth deep and wide at the One Nation and United Australia Party vote, the conclusions of which I riffed off during an appearance on ABC TV’s Afternoon Briefing program yesterday, which also featured Ben Oquist of the Australia Institute.
Local-level brush fires and controversies:
• Video has emerged of Simon Kennedy, the Liberal candidate for Bennelong, providing obliging responses to members of anti-vaxxer group A Stand in the Park when asked if he would cross the floor to oppose vaccination mandates and breaches of “your community’s individual freedoms”. Kennedy responded with a statement to the Age/Herald saying he was “a strong supporter of the COVID vaccination effort”.
• A candidates forum in Kooyong was held last night without the participation of incumbent Josh Frydenberg, who objected to it being staged by climate advocacy group Lighter Footprints. However, Frydenberg and independent candidate Monique Ryan eventually agreed to Ryan’s proposal for a one-on-one town hall-style debate on Sky News after Ryan turned down a proposal for a mid-afternoon debate broadcast live on the Nine Network, which had been pursued by both Frydenberg and Nine political reporter Chris Uhlmann.
• Writing in the Age/Herald, Chris Uhlmann of the Nine Network quotes a Labor strategist saying the Katherine Deves controversy is playing “90/10 in Deves’ favour” in “the suburbs and the regions”. Lanai Scarr of The West Australian goes further, reporting that Liberal internal polling defies conventional wisdom (and the Redbridge polling noted above) in showing the issue is even playing well in Warringah.
• Matthew Denholm of The Australian reports that One Nation will retaliate against a Liberal decision to put the party behind the United Australia Party, the Liberal Democrats and the Jacqui Lambie Network on its Tasmanian Senate how-to-vote card, by directing preferences to Labor ahead of selected Liberals deemed not conservative enough. These are understood to include Bridget Archer in Bass and Warren Entsch in Leichhardt.
• In the Australian Capital Territory Senate race, Labor has announced it will put independent David Pocock second on its how-to-vote card. This is presumably based on a calculation that Liberal Senator Zed Seselja is more likely to lose if the last count comes down to him and Pocock rather than the Greens, since Pocock is likely to receive the larger share of preferences. Labor’s Katy Gallagher will be immediately elected in the likely event that she polls more than a third of the vote, having polled 39.3% in 2019 – direction of preferences to Pocock will maximise the share he receives of the surplus.
Campaign meat and potatoes:
• Nikki Savva writes in the Age/Herald today that “Labor insiders tracking Morrison’s movements are intrigued by his visits to seats they reckon he has no hope of winning”, although Savva retorts that “maybe he knows something they don’t, particularly around the Hunter in NSW”. A review of the leaders’ movements by David Tanner of The Australian notes both Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese have spent slightly more time in the other side’s seats than their own, a fact more striking in Morrison’s case. Only Bass and Gilmore have been visited by both. Morrison has spread himself evenly across the country, but has been largely absent from the inner urban seats where the Liberals are threatened by teal independents, both personally and in party advertising. Nearly half the seats visited by Albanese have been in Queensland, but notably not central Queensland, where Labor appears pessimistic about recovering the competitiveness it lost in 2019. Jacob Greber of the Financial Review notes that Barnaby Joyce has twice visited the Victorian rural seat of Nicholls, where the retirement of Nationals member Damian Drum has the party fearing defeat at the hands of independent Rob Priestly.
• The Age/Herald calculates that the seats most comprehensively pork-barrelled by the Coalition have been Boothby, McEwen and Robertson, which have respectively been targeted with a $2.2 billion upgrade of Adelaide’s north-south road corridor, a $1.2 billion freight hub and $1 billion in rail and road upgrades. The biggest target of Labor’s more modest promises has been Longman, with Boothby in fourth place – the others in the top five are the Labor-held marginals of Corangamite, McEwen and Gilmore.
• Nick Evershed of The Guardian has “written some code that takes the records of Google and YouTube advertising, then converts the geotargeting data into electorates based on the proportion of the electorate’s population covered”. This has yielded data and interactive maps on where the major parties are geo-targeting their ads, including a specific breakout for a Scott Morrison “why I love Australia” ad that presumably plays better in some areas than others.
• The Australian Electoral Commission will not be running voting stations at around three-quarters of the foreign missions where it been offered in the past due to COVID-19 restrictions, requiring those living there to cast postal votes. This leaves 17 overseas countries where in-person voting will be available, which are listed on the AEC website. The Financial Review reports the move “has infuriated some expatriates in cities that will be affected, including Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Toronto and Vancouver”.
• The result for the South Australian Legislative Council has been finalised, producing the anticipated result of five seats for Labor, four for the Liberals and one each for the Greens and One Nation. Including the seats carrying over from the last election, this puts Labor on nine, Liberal on eight, the Greens and SA-Best on two each and One Nation on one. The full distribution of preferences doesn’t seem to be on the Electoral Commission site, but Antony Green offers an analysis of it.
• In Tasmania, Peter Gutwein’s Liberal seat in the Bass electorate will be filled by Simon Wood, who won the recount of ballot papers that elected Gutwein ahead of party rival Greg Kieser by 6633 (61.0%) to 3132 (28.8%), with three non-Liberal candidates on 1116 between them.