Ahead of the last weekend before the big day, and with nearly a million pre-polls plus over 750,000 returned postals already in the bag:
• In her weekly column in the Age/Herald, Nika Savva writes that Liberal internal polling shows the primary votes of the six members under challenge from teal independents have “plunged to between the mid-30s and the low 40s”, and that there is “an ever-expanding list of prime Liberal real estate tilting to Labor including Bennelong, Reid, Chisholm, Higgins, Brisbane, Ryan and Leichhardt”. Savva further accuses Scott Morrison of sacrificing these seats in a bid to “harvest votes in the regions and outer suburbs” by reviving the controversy over Warringah candidate Katherine Deves’ comments on transgender issues. According to a “well-connected Liberal” quoted by Savva, the interview on Monday in which Deves recanted her earlier apology was “set up deliberately to resuscitate the issue”.
• I had a piece in Crikey on Wednesday looking at prospects for the Senate race, and in particular for the chamber’s overall balance to tip over in favour of the left. Since the “right”, i.e. the Coalition plus One Nation, won four seats in Queensland in 2019, such an outcome would require four-left, two-right results in two states. That’s unless ACT Senate candidate David Pocock is deemed part of the left and succeeds in ousting Zed Seselja, in which case it comes down to one. However, my reading of the polls is that it’s hard to see in what state the extra seat comes from, although Tasmania, from which there is next to no credible data, cannot be ruled out. More likely is that Nick Xenophon returns and/or the Jacqui Lambie Network wins a second seat, in which case an incoming Labor government will need support from either or both in addition to the Greens to win passage for contested legislation. But there remains a worst case scenario for an incoming Labor government in which the Coalition and One Nation have half the numbers between them. An expanded post on the Senate with a dedicated thread for discussion of the Senate race is something I hope to get around to one of these days.
• The third leaders’ debate of the campaign, hosted by the Seven Network on Wednesday night and moderated by Mark Riley, was rated a clear win for Anthony Albanese by undecided voters gathered by the network in four marginal seats to subject proceedings to a “pub test”. Albanese was deemed to have won by 50% compared with 25% for Scott Morrison in both Macquarie and Solomon, and by 52% in Chisholm, against 35% for Morrison. The two were tied at 44% among the sample in Hasluck.
• A claim by Fiona Martin, the Liberal member for Reid, that her Labor opponent Sally Sitou was only contesting the seat because she had been knocked back for preselection in Fowler has prompted suggestions she had confused her opponent with Tu Le, who was passed over for Labor preselection in the seat to accommodate Kristina Keneally. Martin defended herself by pointing to a news report from 2018 that Sitou was being “touted” as a possible candidate for the corresponding state seat of Cabramatta, sufficient for her to be deemed a “failed state candidate for Cabramatta”. There appears to be no actual suggestion she was ever in prospect for Fowler.
• The Australian reports on data from PowerHousing Australia identifying the 20 seats in which property prices and rents have increased the most over the past two years. Notable in respect to property prices are Gilmore at number one (55.5% higher), Bass at number six (51.7%), Lyons at number eleven (49.0%), Eden-Monaro at number sixteen (47.0%) and Dobell at number nineteen (46.2%). For rents: Robertson at number four (26.7%), Bass at number seventeen (23.9%) and Solomon at number twenty (23.6%).