The Age brings a Resolve Strategic poll (not on the website at the time of posting but in today’s print edition) showing a substantial narrowing since the blowout Labor lead the pollster recorded at the start of the campaign four weeks ago, with Labor and the Coalition tied on 36% of the primary vote, having respectively dropped two and gained five. The Greens are down two to 10%, and where the previous poll had independents on 12% and others on 6%, this one has it the other way round – probably in part reflecting a change in response options following the closure of nominations. This translates to a two-party preferred of 53-47 in favour of Labor, compared with 59-41 last time. Daniel Andrews’ lead as preferred premier has narrowed from 49-28 to 48-34. The poll was conducted Wednesday to Sunday from a sample of 1000.
Other news from the past three days:
• The election for the Gippsland seat of Narracan will not proceed on Saturday following the death of Nationals candidate Shaun Gilchrist. The death of a candidate between the closure of nominations and polling day results in the election for the seat being declared void and a supplementary election being held at a later time. This last happened in 1999 in the seat of Frankston East, when Liberal-turned-independent Peter McLellan died on the day of the election itself. When the election subsequently produced a hung parliament, great weight was placed on the result of the Frankston East supplementary election four weeks later, at which Labor’s win resolved any doubt that the three independents would use their numbers to depose Jeff Kennett’s government and put Labor in power under Steve Bracks. Narracan is unlikely to prove so decisive, which likely loomed as a contest between the Liberals and the Nationals following the retirement of Liberal incumbent Gary Blackwood.
• Matthew Guy said arch-conservative upper house candidate Renee Heath would not be allowed to join the Liberal party room after 60 Minutes and The Age reported on her involvement with religious conservative political organisations, notwithstanding that her links to the City Builders Church were a matter of considerable controversy when she was preselected for Eastern Victoria region in August. Tim Smith, outgoing Liberal member for Kew and estranged former ally of Guy, said on Twitter that Guy had no such power and described the decision as cultural Marxism. Coming well after the close of nominations, the episode does not affect Heath’s place at the top of the party ticket, from which she is seemingly sure to win election. The Age reported yesterday that Heath had engaged lawyers and was considering a religious discrimination complaint against the party in the Australian Human Rights Commission.
• The Age published a recording on Sunday of a freewheeling political exchange involving Timothy Dragan, Liberal candidate for Narre Warren North, at pre-poll booth last week. The recording finds Dragan describing Liberal front-bencher Brad Battin a “prick”, declaring himself “100 per cent” opposed to an Indigenous treaty on the grounds that “we won this land fair and square”, and saying that if elected he will vote against his own party’s emissions targets.
• Police are investigating Catherine Cumming, independent MLC and candidate for the Angry Victorians party, after she told an anti-lockdown rally outside Flinders Street Station of her ambition “to make Daniel Andrews turn into red mist”. For the benefit of those not sharing her army reserve background, Cumming clarified that this involved, in its milder pink form, blowing the subject up. Cumming now argues that she was in fact referring to the red shirts affair. Noting the positions of Angry Victorians and other micro-party parties of the right on their group voting tickets, Deputy Premier Jacinta Allan accused the Liberals of preferencing “Nazis”, prompting a rebuke from Anti-Defamation Commission chairman Dvir Abramovich.
• The impact of the Liberal Party’s change of preference strategy, in which it will place the Greens ahead of Labor as part of a “put Labor last strategy”, is analysed by Antony Green and Kevin Bonham, the latter focusing specifically on the seat of Pascoe Vale, which Bonham argues is a stronger possibility for the Greens than betting markets suggest.