Once again, the latest haul of federal preselection news is dominated by both action and inaction on the Liberal Party front:
• Matthew Denholm of The Australian reports the Tasmanian Liberal executive has delayed until March preselection votes that were scheduled for Braddon on November 12 and Bass for November 18 amid a conservative push to oust Bridget Archer from Bass. Candidates will also be required to sign an agreement not to speak out against the party line, which was likely prompted by Archer’s outspokenness on issues such as the party’s push in parliament for a royal commission into child sex abuse.
• A report on the above matter from Benjamin Seeder of the Burnie Advocate draws my attention to the fact that Liberals preselected Susie Bower, who was also the candidate in 2022, in the central Tasmanian seat of Lyons back in April. Bower is chief executive of the Bell Bay Advanced Manufacturing Zone and a former Meander Valley councillor. Brian Mitchell has held the seat precariously for Labor since 2016, Bower reducing his margin in 2022 to 0.9% with a 4.3% swing that was partly a correction after a troubled Liberal campaign in 2019.
• A Liberal preselection will be held tomorrow for Russell Broadbent’s seat of Monash in regional Victoria, where the 72-year-old incumbent faces challenges from Nathan Hersey, mayor of the Shire of South Gippsland, and Mary Aldred, head of government relations for Asia Pacific at Fujitsu. Aldred is the daughter of the late Ken Aldred, who held various federal seats for the Liberals from 1975 to 1996. While her father was a figure of some controversy, The Age reports Mary Aldred is “viewed as a moderate”, in common with Broadbent.
• The Australian’s Feeding the Chooks column reports displeasure among Liberal National Party members at the time being taken to begin preselection proceedings for the Gold Coast seat of McPherson, which will be vacated at the next election on the retirement of Karen Andrews. Mentioned as possible contenders are Ben Naday, former migration agent and federal ministerial adviser; Leon Rebello, solicitor at King & Wood Mallesons; and David Stevens, managing director of a private strategy and investment consulting firm and Howard government cabinet policy unit adviser.
• Canberra CityNews reports the Liberals have preselected Joanne van der Plaat, Cooma lawyer and former president of the Law Society of New South Wales, as candidate for Eden-Monaro. Van der Plaat was chosen ahead of Vanessa Cheng, a management consultant.
There is also the following to relate on the polling front:
• This week’s Roy Morgan poll has Labor leading 52-48 on two-party preferred, in from 53-47 last week, from primary votes of Labor 31.5% (down one), Coalition 35% (steady) and Greens 13.5% (down one-and-a-half). The poll was conducted last Monday to Sunday from a sample of 1371.
• SEC Newgate’s regular bi-monthly Mood of the Nation survey finds 32% rating the federal government’s performance as good, down four points from August, with poor steady at 36%. Expectations about the state of the economy three years from now have taken a hit, with the positive rating down eight from the last survey to 50% and negative up six to 34%. The question of whether Australia is headed in the right direction, on which opinion was evenly divided through 2022, is now running 63-37 against. Of the mainland states, small sample state breakdowns have consistently found optimism highest in Western Australia and lowest in Queensland. Queensland was targeted with an elevated sample of 603, of whom 27% rated the state government’s performance as good compared with 43% for poor. The poll was conducted October 18 to 23 from an overall sample of 1610.
• The Australian reports Newspoll found the most favoured options for helping with the cost of living were, in order, subsidising energy bills (84%), subsidising fuel prices (81%), cutting government spending to reduce inflation (77%), personal tax cuts (73%) and cash payments to low-income families (56%).
• Kos Samaras from RedBridge Group offers further results from its poll last week showing 34% consider the Albanese government has the right priorities compared with 50% who disagree, while 30% believe “the Coalition led by Peter Dutton” is ready for government and 50% think otherwise.