Three items of seat polling intelligence emerged over the weekend, none of which I’d stake my house on:
• Samantha Maiden of news.com.au reports a uComms poll of 831 respondents for GetUp! shows independent Zoe Daniel leading Liberal member Tim Wilson in Goldstein by 59-41 on two-candidate preferred and 35.3% to 34.0% on the primary vote, with Labor on 12.5%, the Greens on 8.9% and an undecided component accounting for 4.6%. It should be noted that the campaigns are clearly expecting a closer result, and that uComms is peculiarly persisting with a weighting frame based entirely on age and gender, which was common enough before 2019 but has generally been deemed insufficient since.
• Andrew Clennell of Sky News yesterday related polling conducted for the Industry Association of 800 respondents per seat showed Liberals incumbents trailing 58-42 in Robertson and 53-47 in Reid, and Labor leading by 56-44 in Parramatta and 54-46 in Gilmore, both of which the Liberals hope to win, and 57-43 in Shortland, which has never looked in prospect. The polling provided better news for the Coalition in showing the Liberals with a 57-43 lead in Lindsay and the Nationals trailing by just 51-49 in Labor-held Hunter. Clennell further related that “similar polling conducted earlier in the campaign also shows the government behind in Bennelong and Banks”. A fair degree of caution is due here as well: no indication is provided as to who conducted the polling, and its overall tenor seems rather too rosy for Labor.
• By contrast, local newspaper the North Sydney Sun has detailed results for North Sydney from Compass Polling, an outfit hitherto noted for polling conducted for conservative concerns that has then been used to push various lines in The Australian, which suggests independent Kylea Tink is running fourth and the threat Liberal member Trent Zimmerman faces is in fact from Labor’s Catherine Renshaw. The poll has Zimmerman on 34.9%, Renshaw on 25.0% and Tink on 12.4%, with Greens candidate Heather Armstrong on 15.0%. The online poll was conducted on May 6 from a sample of 507.
Speaking of staking houses, a fair bit of the electorate-level noise of the late campaign has related to where candidates claim to live for purposes of their electoral enrolment. The ball got ralling when The Australian reported that Vivian Lobo, the Liberal National Party candidate for the marginal Labor-held seat of Lilley in Brisbane, appeared not to live within the electorate at Everton Park as claimed on his enrolment. Labor’s demand that Lobo be disendorsed – always a challenging prospect after the close of nominations – was complicated on Saturday when Labor’s star candidate for Parramatta, Andrew Charlton, blamed an “oversight” for his enrolment at a Woollahra rental property owned by his wife a month after they moved to the electorate he hopes to represent.
The Liberals have naturally sought to maximise Labor’s embarrassment, with the Daily Mail quoting one over-excited party spokesperson calling on Labor to refer Charlton to the Australian Federal Police, as Lobo had been by the Australian Electoral Commission. But as the AEC’s media statement on the issue noted, Lobo has actively identified the Everton Park property as his residential address on his enrolment and nomination forms, potentially putting him in the frame for providing false or misleading information to a Commonwealth officer, punishable by a maximum 12 months’ imprisonment and $12,600 fine.
By contrast, Charlton’s is a sin of omission: failing to update his enrolment within the prescribed one month time frame after changing address, punishable only by a fine of $222 and in practice hardly ever enforced. There remains the question of why he was enrolled in Woollahra rather than at the Bellevue Hill property where he and his wife were living before their recent move to North Parramatta, but it’s difficult to see what ulterior motive might have been in play.
Now a new front has opened in the seat of McEwen on Melbourne’s northern fringe, where the Liberals are hopeful of unseating Labor member Rob Mitchell. Sumeyya Ilanbey of The Age reports today that Labor has asked the AEC to investigate Liberal candidate Richard Welch, who lives 50 kilometres from the electorate in the Melbourne suburb of Viewbank but listed an address in Wallan on his nomination form. Welch claims he had been living separately from his family in Wallan at the time of his nomination, but moved to his own property in Viewbank just days later after his landlord sold the house and terminated the lease.