New South Wales election minus seven weeks

Fresh news on independent candidates for the March 25 New South Wales state election, plus a rather less fresh poll result.

Roy Morgan had a rather dated New South Wales state poll this week that was conducted way back in December, showing Labor leading 55-45 on two-party preferred. However, both Labor and the Coalition were at a low ebb of 33.5% on the primary vote, with the Greens on 12% and One Nation 4.5%, leaving a further 16.5% scattered among independents and other minor parties. The poll was conducted by phone and online from a sample of 1446.

In other news, two notable independents have confirmed themselves as starters, though one seemingly has more promising prospects than the other:

• Northern Beaches mayor Michael Regan made his long-anticipated announcement that he will run in Wakehurst, which is being vacated by Health Minister Brad Hazzard. Regan has served locally as mayor since 2008, first for the old Warringah Council and then in Northern Beaches when it was created from a merger of Warringah, Pittwater and Manly in 2016. James O’Doherty of the Daily Telegraph wrote in November that Regan would be “favourite at unbackable odds” if he ran. The Liberal candidate is Toby Williams, RSL club director and electorate officer to Hazzard.

• Former Liberal Gareth Ward has announced he will seek re-election as an independent in his southern Illawarra seat of Kiama. Ward resigned from the ministry and the Liberal Party in May 2021 after identifying himself as the MP subject to an inquiry by the child abuse and sex crimes squad, and was suspended from parliament when charges were laid in March last year.

Roy Morgan and Ipsos Indigenous voice poll (open thread)

A bit more detail than usual from Roy Morgan this week, plus a small-sample Ipsos poll suggesting Indigeous Australians are overwhelmingly on board with the voice to parliament.

I note that the front page of the Roy Morgan website has some detail on the federal voting intention numbers in which its weekly update video typically provides on the two-party preferred, though I’m not sure if this is new or unusual. The latest result has Labor leading 57-43, in from 59-41 last week; the primary votes are Labor 37.5%, Coalition 33.5%, Greens 11.5% and others 17.5%; and the field work dates were January 23 to 29. However, no detail on sample size or survey method is provided.

Other than that, an Ipsos poll of 300 Indigenous Australians released by pro-Indigenous voice group Uluru Dialogue last week found 80% support for the proposal, including 57% who were very sure and 21% who were fairly sure, with only 10% opposed.

Donation drive

Time for the Poll Bludger’s donation drive, conducted at the end of every second month to squeeze some extra generosity out of the site’s valued and loyal supporters. Donations can be made through the “become a supporter” buttons at the top of the page and at the bottom of each post.

This also works as an occasion to update what I’m up to, which at present is all about the New South Wales state election on March 25. The usual comprehensive election guide is at a well advanced and state and should be published in a couple of weeks, and my live results architecture is now running smoothly enough (recent example: Saturday’s supplementary election for Narracan in Victoria) that I can guarantee it will be in service on the big night.

For those of you seeking directions to the routine general discussion thread, it can be found here, just under the post immediately below on the changes in leadership for Western Australia’s Liberals and Nationals.

The spoils of defeat

A changing of the guard among what remains of the conservative forces in Western Australia.

After a weekend of convulsions among what remains of the parliamentary ranks of the Liberals and Nationals in Western Australia, both parties settled on new leaders yesterday, with Moore MP Shane Love taking the mantle of Opposition Leader as head of the Nationals, who have four seats in the lower house, and Vasse MP Libby Mettam emerging leader of the Liberals, who have two. To deal with the developments in turn:

• The ball began to roll when Mia Davies, who has led the Nationals and hence the opposition since the 2021 election, unexpectedly announced her resignation on Friday, though she will serve out her term as member for Central Wheatbelt. With North West Central MP only having served in parliament since a by-election in September, this left the the party’s other two lower house members, Moore MP Shane Love and Roe MP Peter Rundle, as the only plausible successors (the party has a further three seats in the Legislative Council). Rundle declared himself a “potential contender” on Sunday, but in the event Love was chosen unopposed, with Rundle replacing him as deputy.

• Hours after Mia Davies’ announcement on Friday, Vasse MP Libby Mettam launched her long-anticipated challenge against her only Liberal lower house colleague, Cottesloe MP David Honey. This left the matter effectively to be determined by the party’s seven Legislative Council members, with weekend reports suggesting five were lining up behind Mettam (Tjorn Sibma from North Metropolitan region, who uniquely went on the record, together with Peter Collier from North Metropolitan, Steve Thomas from South West, Steve Martin from Agricultural and Donna Faragher from East Metropolitan), with Honey claiming the support only of Nick Goiran from South Metropolitan and Neil Thomson from Mining and Pastoral. Honey duly conceded defeat and left Mettam to take the position unopposed. Steve Thomas was also elected unopposed to succeed Mettam as deputy.

Liberal internal affairs have been dominated over the past 18 months by controversy over the machinations of “the Clan”, a loose factional grouping including Nick Goiran and Peter Collier, together with Mathias Cormann before he quit federal politics in October 2020. Mettam sought to seize the initiative yesterday by announcing that Goiran, a religious conservative with an extensive network of support in the party’s southern Perth branches, would be excluded from the shadow ministry, which since the 2021 election has found places for all Liberal and Nationals members.

On the other side of the aisle, Labor is negotiating a less consequential but electorally noteworthy difficulty arising from the retirement of high-profile former minister Alannah MacTiernan and the resulting vacancy for her South West region upper house seat. Such vacancies are filled through a countback of ballot papers from the previous election and not with the favoured nominee of the party, as in the Senate. The top three of Labor’s six candidates on the South West ticket were elected in 2021, and in the normal course of events the countback would elect the next candidate along. However, The West Australian reports the candidate in question, John Mondy, is “understood to be reluctant” to tear himself away from a successful Bunbury signwriting business to spend two years as a parliamentarian.

That puts the focus on the fifth candidate, Narrogin lawyer Ben Dawkins, who faces dozens of charges of breaching a family violence restraining order, which he says relates solely to “emotive” language in emails he sent to his estranged wife. Dawkins is said to be interested in taking up the vacancy, but would do so as an independent given his legal troubles have caused him to be suspended from the ALP. The situation does not threaten Labor’s upper house majority, which inclusive of MacTiernan consisted of 22 seats in a chamber of 36.

Supplementary elections, by-elections and no polls (open thread)

Minor electoral events from Victoria and Northern Territory in lieu of new polling news to report.

We continue to await the return of Newspoll for the year, which I imagine might be forthcoming ahead of the return of parliament next week. With Essential Research having an off week in the fortnightly cycle, this leaves me with nothing to report on the poll front. Two bits of electoral news worth noting are that the Liberals won the supplementary election for the Victorian state seat of Narracan as expected on Saturday, confirming lower house numbers of 56 for Labor, 19 for the Liberals, nine for the Nationals and four for the Greens; and that Northern Territory Chief Minister Natasha Fyles has announced that the by-election for the seat of Arafura, following the death of Labor member Lawrence Costa on December 17, will be held on March 18. With that, over to you.

Narracan supplementary election

Commentary and live coverage for the Narracan supplementary election, which will put in place the final piece of Victorian state election result.

Click here for full results updated live.

Live commentary

End of Saturday night. My system is probably showing its limitations by projecting the Greens to finish second, as independent Tony Wolfe has a bare lead over them on the primary vote and I imagine will do better on preferences. So the 12.7% Liberal margin on the Liberal-versus-Wolfe two-candidate preferred count, which will likely increase a little on postals, is probably more meaningful than my projection of 17.9% over the Greens. Certainly it’s an easy win for Liberal candidate Wayne Farnham, although the 11% drop in their primary vote in the absence of competition from Labor, who polled 35.5% in 2018, is an uninspiring result.

7.36pm. The preference split is now looking more like what I would expect, or at least less unlike, favouring the independent 58-42. But it’s an academic point with the Liberals leading the TCP count 65-35. I notice my booth results map isn’t firing – I’ll look into that after all the results are in for the evening.

7.21pm. I think my results feature is behaving as it should now, with Wayne Farnham and Tony Wolfe set as the TCP candidates, although my projection says the Greens are more likely to finish second. It turns out preferences are splitting about evenly between Farnham and Wolfe, where I had earlier assumed they would flow massively to Wolfe. So this looks like the anticipated walkover for Farnham, though with a rather soft primary vote.

7.05pm. Nine booths in and I’ve got the projected Liberal primary vote up to 42.9%, which is more like it for them. The TCP count clearly isn’t Liberal versus Greens – the lower end of my results display won’t work until I rejig it to accommodate this.

6.56pm. This is a pretty steep drop for the Liberals in the three booths concerned compared with where they were in 2018, such that I’m presently predicting them to end with a primary vote of 37.8%, which would be dangerously low for them.

6.50pm. Three booths in on the primary vote, Liberal primary at 44.8%, Tony Wolfe looking clearly the strongest independent and slightly outpolling the Greens. Still don’t know what’s happening with the TCP count.

6.30pm. The VEC feed is updating every 15 minutes. The 6:30pm update is through but there are still no results in it. My results page says the latest update is 6pm – I believe this will remain unchanged until there is actually a result in (UPDATE: I’ve fixed this). I’m assuming for the time being that the two-candidate preferred count will be Liberal versus Greens, but won’t actually know until there are results to report.

Preview

The Victorian state election reaches its denouement today with the election for the seat of Narracan, which was unable to proceed on November 26 due to the death of Nationals candidate Shaun Gilchrist six days earlier. Narracan was never a target for Labor, but with the retirement of incumbent Gary Blackwood, who had held it for the Liberals since 2006, the seat appeared to be a possibility for the Nationals, who ended up with a notably better story to tell about their election result than the Liberals. However, the Nationals have decided not to put forward a candidate for the fresh election, which together with Labor’s more predictable forfeit make the contest look like a walkover for the new Liberal candidate, Wayne Farnham.

There is nonetheless a field of eleven candidates, and the possibility one of the independents may have enough critical mass to become competitive with the help of strong flows of preferences. The most outwardly promising of the three would appear to be Annemarie McCabe, the mayor of Baw Baw Shire. Also in the field are Tony Wolfe, a former Baw Baw deputy mayor who describes himself as a “coal worker advocating for renewable energy”, and Ian Honey, a project facilitator and former Bairnsdale councillor.

If only for the sake of completeness, I have put together a profile page for the seat. Live results will be published on this site following the usual format from 6pm.

Resolve Strategic: Labor 37, Coalition 34, Greens 12 in NSW

A second poll in a week records Labor well ahead with three months to go until the New South Wales state election.

The Sydney Morning Herald yesterday brought us the second New South Wales state poll in a week, this one courtesy of Resolve Strategic. It shows Labor leading on the primary vote with 37% (down one on the last such poll in September and October) to the Coalition’s 34% (down one), with the Greens on 12% (up one), Shooters on 2% (up one), independents at 11% (up one) and others on 5% (steady). Dominic Perrottet’s lead as preferred premier nonetheless increases from 30-29 to 33-29. The poll recorded high levels of awareness about Perrottet’s Nazi costume confession (80%), his cashless gaming card proposal (two-thirds), Labor’s promise to remove stamp duty for first home buyers on properties of up to $800,000 (64%) and the Coalition’s promised $150 back-to-school vouchers (three-quarters), though none scored high as likely influences on vote choice. The report doesn’t provide specifics, but the poll presumably encompasses a sample of 1000 combined from both this month’s and last month’s monthly national surveys, as per the pollster’s usual practice.

This week’s Essential Research report also had state leadership ratings from its small sample of 300 New South Wales respondents, which has Dominic Perrottet at 47% approval and 36% disapproval and Chris Minns at 39% approval and 26% disapproval.

There is also fresh preselection news since the weekend post on the YouGov poll:

• The general secretary of Labor’s state branch, Right faction powerbroker Bob Nanva, will replace Khal Asfour on the Legislative Council ticket after he withdrew last week amid negative publicity over his expenses claims as mayor of Canterbury-Bankstown. Nanva will presumably take the seventh position on the ticket, to which Asfour was preselected at the party’s state confererence last September. Nanva has been general secretary since 2019, and needed to be granted an exemption from the national executive to bypass a rule barring general secretaries from preselection until they have served at least five years in the job.

• Canada Bay deputy mayor Stephanie Di Pasqua has bucked a recent trend in Liberal preselections by winning a ballot for Drummoyne with a clear majority in the first round amid a field of five candidates, three of them male. The seat will be vacated at the election by John Sidoti, a former Liberal who has been sitting as an independent since March 2021 amid an ICAC investigation into his property dealings, for whom Di Pasqua formerly worked as an electorate officer.

• A weekend Liberal preselection vote for the Northern Beaches seat of Wakehurst, to be vacated with the retirement of Brad Hazzard, was won by Toby Williams, RSL club director and electorate officer to Hazzard. Jim O’Rourke of the Daily Telegraph reports Williams won 70 votes against 49 for Wendy Finianos, owner of a boutique management consultancy.

• The Sydney Morning Herald reports NRL player Josh Mansour turned down an approach from the Liberal Party to run against Chris Minns in Kogarah. The Daily Telegraph reports the party’s candidate from 2019, tutoring business owner Scott Yung, has also been approached, but he is asking for another seat as a fallback option if he doesn’t win, which an unidentified Liberal source says he has no chance of getting.

Resolve Strategic and Essential Research polls (open thread)

Labor continues to record commanding leads in recent federal polls, although one records a dip in Anthony Albanese’s personal ratings.

As I ought to have reported yesterday, the Age/Herald has the first federal poll of the year from Resolve Strategic, which credits Labor with a primary vote lead of 42% (unchanged on last month) to 29% (down one), with the Greens on 11% (steady), One Nation on 6% (up two), the United Australia Party on 2% (steady) and independents on 8% (steady). Resolve Strategic does not provide two-party preferred results, but applying preference flows from last year’s election suggests a crushing Labor lead of around 60-40. Limited state breakdowns suggest Labor leads of around 60-40 in Victoria and 57.5-42.5 in New South Wales and Queensland. Anthony Albanese’s combined very good and good rating is at 60% compared with 25% for poor and very poor, while Peter Dutton is respectively at 28% and 46%, with Albanese leading 55-20 on preferred prime minister. The poll was conducted last Tuesday to Sunday from a sample of 1606.

The poll also has a suite of questions relevant to Australia Day, which find 47% support for the federal government’s policy of allowing councils to choose days other than Australia Day for citizenship ceremonies with 19% opposed; 40% in favour of a republic (up five since September) with 30% opposed (down seven); and a 31% positive rating for King Charles III’s performance, with 12% negative and 57% neutral or unsure.

Also from Resolve Strategic is a set of results in the Indigenous voice that combines its December and January poll for an overall sample of 3618. Following on from similar findings in YouGov’s New South Wales poll last week, the poll finds support for a constitutionally enshrined Indigenous voice has fallen from 53% to 47% since August and September, with opposition up a point to 30% and undecided up four to 23%. Support is at 72% among Greens voters, 61% among Labor voters and 27% among Coalition voters. When the uncommitted were forced to choose, the result came in at 60% for yes and 40% for no, in from 64% to 36% in August and September. Only 13% felt confident they could explain the proposal, with 63% saying they would struggle to and 23% saying they had never heard of it. The narrowest results at state level were 56% yes and 44% no in both Queensland and South Australia.

The first fortnightly Essential Research poll of the year includes federal voting intention figures if you know where to look, which alongside a 5% uncommitted component have primary votes of Labor 34% (down one on early December), Coalition 31% (up one), Greens 14% (up one) and others 16% (down one), with the pollster’s “2PP+” scores at 53% for Labor (up two), 42% for the Coalition (down two) and 5% uncommitted (steady). It nonetheless records a significant fall in Anthony Albanese’s still strong personal ratings, which are at 55% approval (down five) and 31% disapproval (up four).

Further questions found 33% support for both a separate day to recognise Indigenous Australians (down four on last year) with another 33% opposed (up four) and 26% believing such a day should replace Australia Day (up six). Eighty-two per cent rated Australia a better place to live than most other countries and 77% expressing pride in Australia, although 47% also agreed Australia needed to be a better global citizen with 16% disagreeing. Forty-two per cent agreed things were better for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia than ten years ago, compared with 38% for about the same and 10% for worse. The polling was conducted Wednesday to Sunday from a sample of 1050.

Roy Morgan also has an SMS poll of 1231 respondents conducted Friday to Monday, which finds 64% favour the name of Australia Day being retained against 36% who would prefer that it be called “Invasion Day”, and the two-party preferred federal voting intention result in its weekly video has Labor leading 59-41, in from 59.5-40.5 last week. The BludgerTrack trend results on the sidebar and full display include the Resolve Strategic and Essential Research results, but don’t make use of Roy Morgan.