Green and red

Your correspondent had heretofore enjoyed a monopoly as Poll Bludger content provider, but he is more than happy to surrender it to ABC election analyst Antony Green. Mr Green dropped a line last week looking for a home for his election overview and key seat summaries until ABC Online sees fit to give it one, which will not be until the election is called. I have placed Green’s election overview on a page of its own, while his key seat summaries have been incorporated into my existing skeleton guide to the House of Representatives election, to which my own long-promised federal electorate summaries will be added in coming weeks.

The Poll Bludger is also pleased to announce that he has not succumbed to the temptation to so obsess over the House of Representatives that the Senate election passes unremarked. To this end he proudly unveils his guide to the Senate election, in which the contests in each state and territory are put under the microscope and post-mortems conducted on the many ugly preselection spats. The page has been constructed under the assumption that there will be no double dissolution – the Prime Minister has until August 11 to prove me wrong.

Antony Green’s key seats are as follows, with links provided to the relevant entries.

New South Wales: Cunningham, Dobell, Eden-Monaro, Greenway, Lindsay, Lowe, Macarthur, New England, Page, Parramatta, Paterson, Richmond and Robertson.

Victoria: Ballarat, Bendigo, Chisholm, Corangamite, Deakin, Dunkley, Gippsland, La Trobe, McEwen and McMillan.

Queensland: Bonner, Bowman, Brisbane, Dickson, Herbert, Hinkler, Longman, Moreton, Petrie and Rankin.

Western Australia: Canning, Cowan, Hasluck, Kalgoorlie, Stirling and Swan.

South Australia: Adelaide, Hindmarsh, Kingston, Makin and Wakefield.

Plus Bass and Braddon from Tasmania and Solomon from the Northern Territory.

Phoney war dispatches: calm before the storm edition

With the election appearing even more imminent than was realised, the Poll Bludger has abandoned sleep and meal breaks to complete his guide to the federal election, which when unveiled will be a colossal bonanza of fun facts and figures covering each of the 150 House of Representatives seats, plus a complete state-by-state run-down on all the Senate election action. If the wind blows in the right direction this should be with you within the fortnight. Once that blockage has worked its way through the system postings will proceed on an almost-daily basis, so do stay tuned.

The Daily Telegraph reported on Thursday that "an anonymous person or persons" had booked Sydney’s Wentworth Hotel, scene of the last three Liberal Party election night celebrations, for the evening of Saturday, August 7. However, "whomever made the booking indicated they would confirm or cancel by next Friday, May 28" – it will be clearer then if this was merely a red herring. Then on Channel Nine’s Sunday program, Laurie Oakes got straight down to business in an interview with National Party minister Larry Anthony, telling him "I understand you’ve made a six-week block-booking of highway billboards and advertising space in bus shelters, staring on July the 1st in your electorate". Anthony, who holds the crucial New South Wales marginal seat of Richmond, did not deny the booking but insisted that no significance should be attached it. August 7 is the last Saturday in the relevant six-week period.

• While last week’s Roy Morgan poll offered hope to Liberals wishing to argue that Newspoll had been an aberration and the Government really did get a fillip from the budget, an ACNielsen poll taken over the weekend has undoubtedly tipped the balance the other way. Optimists in the party are now pinning their faith on the notion that the dividend will not be yielded until the tax cuts and benefit payments hit wallets on July 1. In keeping with the general trend of post-budget polling the figures offered a contradictory mix of support for the budget (46 per cent saying it would be good for the country, 29 per cent saying bad) with declining support for the Government. The answer may be found in the 63 per cent of respondents (up 12 per cent) who said they considered the Iraq war unjustified, which strongly suggests the Abu Ghraib scandal to be a factor in all this. The Coalition was down three points to 39 per cent while Labor rose one to 43 per cent, with Labor’s two-party preferred vote reaching a formidable 56 per cent. It is well worth noting that the Greens gained 2 per cent to reach double figures. Howard’s approve-disapprove figures narrowed from 55-37 to 52-41, while Latham’s widened from 54-33 to 58-29. Howard’s lead as preferred prime minister has all but disappeared, from 50-41 last fortnight to 47-43 now.

• Labor received a welcome boost in its campaign for the crucial South Australian marginal seat of Makin with moralistic Liberal member Trish Draper in a spot of bother over revelations she had taken a boyfriend on an overseas trip at taxpayer expense in clear violation of the rules. Typically Labor are too scared about skeletons in their own closet to run with the issue, so its electoral impact is likely to be localised.
Also of potential significance in the Adelaide marginals (which also include Adelaide and Hindmarsh) was Mitsubishi’s decision this week to close its Lonsdale plant at a cost of 650 jobs over the next 18 months.

• Another ray of light for the Coalition could be Western Australia, home to an unpopular state Labor Government and three seats that could be won from Labor with swings of 2.1 per cent or less. The West Australian’s Westpoll, published today, suggested they may not be too far out of reach. This was despite figures on the budget that were at least as unfavourable as those of the other polls, with 30 per cent saying Labor could do better and only 9 per cent saying they couldn’t. Taken late last week from a rather thin sample of 404, the poll had Labor falling an implausible eight points from the 40 per cent it recorded the previous month, with the Coalition rising from 39 to 44 per cent.

Phoney war dispatches: budget polling bonanza

Budget week has let loose a torrent of opinion poll results from which you can argue whatever you like, depending on which ones you choose. Roy Morgan and Newspoll both reported a positive response to the budget but bounced in opposite directions on the question of voting intention, while the Sunday Age reported its exclusive results under the headline "poll shock for PM as budget misfires". Bearing in mind the wise note of warning sounded in today’s editorial in The Australian – that "it is when people actually see the money in their paypackets and family payments, after July 1, that the budget’s real political impact will be registered" – let us now examine the entrails.

• Today’s Newspoll offered a very strange mix of findings, including solid support for the budget, pronounced scepticism about Labor’s ability to do better, rising popularity for John Howard and a widening of his lead over Mark Latham as preferred prime minister – but with Labor opening up a three point gap on voting intention after being tied with the Coalition last fortnight, and their two-party preferred lead widening from 52-48 to 54-46. The Australian all but apologised for the latter finding, arguing that "historically there seems to be a firewall between what voters initially make of a budget and their voting intention".

• As if to demonstrate the time-honoured adage that you can prove anything with statistics, a Sunday Age-Taverner poll was reported under very different headlines from the others despite results that were not inconsistent with them. Reporter Phillip Hudson spoke of grim tidings for the government with results showing "two-thirds of people believe there was no benefit in the budget for them and 62 per cent of those who will receive tax cuts would be prepared to give the money up for more spending on services". Experienced political operators on both sides of the fence no doubt had a good laugh over the latter finding. The former suggests that 33 per cent of respondents did think there was benefit for them in the budget, compared with 29 per cent from Newspoll and 19 per cent in The Advertiser (see below). On voting intention Labor was put at 44 per cent against 40 per cent for the Coalition, but the 911 respondents were all in New South Wales and Victoria which would tend to distort things in Labor’s favour. The poll was taken on Thursday and Friday evening, before Newspoll (Saturday and Sunday) and after those below (Wednesday evening).

• On Friday the Adelaide Advertiser published results of a poll conducted on budget night from an unreliably small sample of 500 voters. It showed moderate support for the budget (19 per cent said they would be better off, 11 per cent worse) and a big swing to the Coalition since their previous poll on April 14. The ALP was down four points to 37 per cent with the Coalition up three to 41 per cent – presumably these are South Australian voters only.

• On Thursday Roy Morgan issued results from a phone poll gauging immediate reactions to the Treasurer’s budget speech of the previous evening. Twenty-seven per cent of voters thought it good while 12 per cent thought it poor, the accompanying blurb noting that "six in 10 budgets receive more negative than positive responses". The question of voting intention was also raised and produced a remarkably pro-Government result compared with the company’s findings from its fortnightly face-to-face polls, with the Coalition on 52 per cent of the two-party preferred vote. No primary voting intention breakdown was provided.

Budget lockdown

Readers will hardly need the Poll Bludger to inform them that the spending bonanza in Tuesday night’s budget has had pretty much everyone convinced that the federal election will be sooner rather than later. Another item of conventional wisdom is firming by the day: that the poll is unlikely to be held after the US election as a defeat for President Bush would not be a good look for Australia’s own Man of Steel. Melbourne News Limited tabloid the Herald Sun today includes a helpful graphic outlining the most likely nominations, which run as follows:

August 7. The earliest possible date for a normal House of Representatives and half-Senate election, which cannot be called until a year prior to the expiry of the Senators’ terms in mid-2005 and cannot be held until at least 33 days after the issue of the writs. It has been mentioned elsewhere that the Prime Minister might not care to have the election coincide with the Bledisloe Cup.

August 14, 21 or 28. The Herald Sun notes that these days overlap with the Athens Olympics and argues "the expected feel-good Games atmosphere may suit a campaigning PM". Providing nothing goes wrong of course. Touch wood.

September 4. If the Poll Bludger were prime minister this would be his favourite option – close enough after the Olympics for photo ops with medallists, near enough to September 11 to focus the mind on security issues. September 11 itself is considered a bit much. Then come a series of dates with nothing in particular to recommend them, followed by school holidays.

October 23 or 30. The last pre-US election windows of opportunity.

Like I said, the budget has shortened the odds on the earlier options. For this reason the Poll Bludger will be frantically getting his comprehensive guide to the federal election in order in the coming months and will thus be forced to restrict his overt activity to the weekly Phoney War Dispatches. Since the fortnightly release of Newspoll is the be-all and end-all of everything, these will be moved from Sundays to Tuesdays.

Phoney war dispatches: episode three

Welcome to the Poll Bludger’s Mothers’ Day Edition of Phoney War Dispatches.

• Tuesday’s Newspoll had the Coalition and Labor even on 42 per cent, with the Coalition down 1 per cent. The head-scratching that greeted Newspoll’s two-party preferred calculation last time had evidently led them to do something differently, because the Coalition increased 1 per cent on this measure to trail 48 to 52 per cent. The rebound in Mark Latham’s approval rating from last fortnight was all but reversed, his rating having bounced from 66 to 52 to 59 to 53 per cent over the last four polls. Newspoll also released figures showing the number of respondents who felt it worth going to war in Iraq dropping to 40 per cent from 46 per cent in February, with the percentage disagreeing increasing from 45 to 50. Perhaps most significantly, 47 per cent supported the assertion the troops should be home by Christmas.

Roy Morgan might be doing something differently as well, as Friday’s poll was their most Newspoll-like result in recent memory. It had the Coalition gaining 1 per cent directly at Labor’s expense to reach 42 per cent with Labor on 44 per cent. It is not unusual for Roy Morgan to record Labor 2 per cent higher than Newspoll but usually the Coalition are a point or two lower as well. Labor’s two-party preferred rating of 53 per cent was their lowest since the poll conducted on December 6/7, the first week of Latham’s leadership.

• A long-simmering Queensland Liberal Party preselection feud over the marginal Queensland seat of Herbert ended on Tuesday with the withdrawal of Peter Fon, challenger to incumbent Peter Lindsay. As related in this earlier posting the challenge was seen as a counter-attack by the party’s Santoro-Caltabiano faction following a challenge by moderates to Peter Slipper in Fisher. Several months after declaring his intention to run and one night before the vote, Fon suddenly decided he did not wish to jeopardise the return of the Howard Government.

Phoney war dispatches: episode two

Despite an eventful week in federal politics, things were somewhat quieter on the electoral front.

• ACNielsen turned in a near replica of last week’s Newspoll with the release of its monthly figures on Wednesday. The poll had Labor and the Coalition each on 42 per cent with Labor’s two-party preferred rating on 53 per cent, which differs from Newspoll only in that the Coalition are 1 per cent lower on the primary vote. Prime Minister John Howard’s approval and disapproval ratings were both steady on 55 and 37 per cent, while the impact of Opposition Leader Mark Latham’s rough month was measured as a 3 per cent drop in approval to 54 per cent and a 5 per cent increase in disapproval to 33 per cent. Howard gained 2 per cent as preferred prime minister directly at Latham’s expense, and now leads 50 per cent to 41. The table as published in The Age is available at Mumble.

• Brian Deegan, Adelaide magistrate, father of Bali bombing victim Josh Deegan and vocal critic of the Federal Government, announced he would run as an independent against Foreign Minister Alexander Downer in his South Australian seat of Mayo. Deegan’s move was no doubt partly inspired by John Schumann’s surprise near-success as Australian Democrats candidate for the seat in 1998. However the latest redistribution has made the electorate more rural and presumably less subversise, with a poll published today in the Sunday Mail putting Downer on 48 per cent against 18 per cent for Deegan with no allocation of the 12 per cent undecided. In Bennelong Prime Minister John Howard faces a similar irritant from former Office of National Assessments analyst turned leftist crusader Andrew Wilkie.

• Reports emerged this week that proposals for Senate reform raised in a government discussion paper in October last year died unnoticed in their sleep last month. Brendan Nicholson of The Age reported that an announcement was mistakenly placed on the website of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet calling attention to a non-existent prime ministerial response to the consultative group from March 24 announcing that "the Government would not be pursuing constitutional change at this time". As Nicholson puts it, "it appears the announcement was planned for March 24, but when it was postponed someone forgot to tell those in charge of the website", although the government is maintaining the line that it has yet to decide if it will proceed. Given the near-impossibility of any new model gaining acceptance at a referendum, the move always looked like a gambit designed to scare minor party Senators into believing that a hostile attitude towards the government could put their futures in jeopardy.

Dispatches from the phony war: episode one

Today the Poll Bludger commemorates Anzac Day with the first in what will be a regular series drawing together the major events of the preceding week as momentum builds towards the coming federal election.

• Prime Minister John Howard gave little away when probed by Neil Mitchell of Melbourne’s 3AW on Wednesday about the likely election date, but hypothetical mentions of late October and mid-November proved enough to provoke a flurry of nebulous speculation regardless. He at least ruled out the "sacred" weekends at the end of September and the start of October, which is very mildly interesting given that the 1998 election was in fact held on October 3.

Roy Morgan yesterday released a poll taken over the two previous weekends showing Labor and the Coalition each gaining 1.5 per cent on the primary vote at the expense of independents and Greens. With Labor recovering from a dip a fortnight earlier, Morgan has shown little fluctuation for Labor this year around its current level of 45 per cent. The Coalition however has reached its highest level for the year at 41 per cent primary and 45.5 per cent two-party preferred, although this doesn’t represent a major breakout from the 38-40 and 44-45 per cent bands in which they have been operating throughout this year. The poll also shows the Coalition recovering a lead on the question of who voters expect to win, which they had surrendered at the two previous polls.

• As discussed in my previous post, Tuesday’s Newspoll had the Coalition up from 40 to 43 per cent with Labor fading from 44 to 42. This represents the Coalition’s best showing since December 12-14, in the second week of Latham’s leadership. Confusingly, Labor’s two-party preferred rating is steady at 53 per cent. Mark Latham recovered exactly half of the 14 per cent he lost from his satisfaction rating in the previous poll, bouncing back to 59 per cent (historical perspective: Alexander Downer recovered 3 per cent in the poll following his record 17 per cent belly-flop at the poll of 5-7 August 1994), while John Howard’s rose from 51 to 53 per cent.

• The Geelong Advertiser reported on Friday that Labor’s polling has them ahead in the Colac/Great Ocean Road electorate of Corangamite. Such an outcome would be a tremendous result for Labor, with Liberal member Stewart McArthur currently sitting on a margin of 5.4 per cent after a redistribution that cost him 0.3 per cent. The poll reportedly involved 2000 respondents and had Labor with 51 per cent of the primary vote, confirming a similar poll the party conducted three weeks earlier showing them on 50.5 per cent. Internal polling results are normally top secret party information, and no source is disclosed by the Advertiser. One can’t help noting that their release to the local media would have been helpful in encouraging cynicism over the Prime Minister’s motives in visiting the electorate twice this month.

• Former Australian Medical Association state president Dr Ingrid Tall won preselection for Labor’s most marginal seat, Brisbane, held by Arch Bevis with a margin of 0.9 per cent. Tall defeated unsuccessful 2001 candidate Sebastian Monsour 55 votes to 43. Monsour, a brother-in-law of Brisbane Mayor Campbell Newman, was at the centre of the "Brisbane Water-gate&quot incident on council election night which excited the Courier Mail but not the Crime and Misconduct Commission.

Makin whoopee

Opinion poll watchers are currently trying to work out how Newspoll was able to conclude this week that although Labor’s 4 per cent primary vote lead from a fortnight before had turned into a 1 per cent deficit, they had maintained their 53-47 lead on two-party preferred. The Poll Bludger will leave the number-crunching to others (Peter Brent at Mumble is always a good place start) as the broad lessons from recent polls are clear – Labor’s apparently election-winning momentum of a month ago has stalled, and the prospects of Mark Latham sweeping all before him are substanially diminished. Thus does our attention return to the seats that could have swung either way from last time, and in which a small nudge towards Labor will be enough for a change of government.

The consensus is that those located in Queensland and South Australia are the most important, and with good reason. In Victoria, Labor polled well enough last time that they have less room for improvement than elsewhere, even if they did emerge with only one new seat to show for it. Newspoll’s geographical voting analysis for the January-March period showed Labor’s primary vote had improved 5 per cent in New South Wales and 7.3 per cent in Queensland since the 2001 election, but only 1.4 per cent in Victoria. Furthermore the Victorian redistribution has tended to boost Liberal margins, such that the state has only one of the 11 most marginal seats that would give Labor victory. Combine that with the fact that the state Labor administration is a great deal less popular today than it was in November 2001 and it may be concluded that Victoria will be less instrumental in deciding the outcome than it is used to.

New South Wales may also present Labor with some collateral damage from a state government for which the love has long since died, but the Coalition’s historically strong performances in the last three elections mean that for them the only way is down, and there are plenty of seats in the firing line should the local boy come good. However it’s in Queensland and South Australia that Labor has serious room for improvement, and here the state governments are respectively still popular and basking in the peak of their honeymoon phase. Today the Poll Bludger will focus his attention on South Australia, where the last election saw the Liberal Party win nine seats out of 12 from a primary vote of 45.9 per cent (against 43.1 per cent nationally for the Coalition) with Labor winning the remaining three from 33.7 per cent (against 37.8 per cent nationally).

The first complication to be noted is that those 12 seats are now 11, this being the second occasion that the state has had its representation cut through relative population decline since the House of Representatives assumed its current size in 1984. Essentially the existing electorates of Bonython and Wakefield – respectively held safely for Labor by Martyn Evans and Liberal by Neil Andrew, who circumvented a post-redistribution preselection brawl by choosing to retire – have been abolished. Wakefield lives on in name, but bears little resemblance to the existing seat in its new form. Where it once awkwardly took in the Yorke Peninsula before stretching up the Murray Valley all the way to the Victorian border, Wakefield now retains a sliver of its former territory around Gawler as the base for a move into the suburbs taking in more than half of the electors formerly in Bonython. The AEC chose to stick with the name Wakefield for essentially sentimental reasons, Edward Gibbon Wakefield having been a fascinating and much underrated figure (of Sir John Langdon Bonython, the Poll Bludger knows very little). The new seat, with which Martyn Evans will have to make do, has a notional Labor majority of 1.5 per cent, although this was in the context of a historically poor performance for Labor in South Australia at the last election.

The three most marginal Liberal seats in the state, Adelaide, Hindmarsh and Makin, have also undergone small but potentially significant changes which represent a mixed bag for the incumbents. Adelaide and Hindmarsh, held by the Liberals in 2001 with respective margins of 0.2 and 1.9 per cent, have both lost territory from the northward expansion of the safe Liberal southern suburbs seat of Boothby. Adelaide has been compensated with extra territory in the east from safe Liberal Sturt, improving Trish Worth’s margin from 0.2 to 0.6 per cent, while Hindmarsh has moved north along the coast to take a chunk out of safe Labor Port Adelaide, cutting the Liberal margin from 1.9 to 1.1 per cent. Makin, located to the immediate north-east of Adelaide, has gained Salisbury East and Salisbury Heights with the abolition of Bonython, but its margin remains unaltered on 3.8 per cent.

Hindmarsh has been held since 1993 by Chris Gallus, whose success in winning first the now-abolished Hawker and then Hindmarsh – each for the first time in the Liberal party’s history – has earned her a reputation as something of a vote-winner. Samantha Maiden of The Australian reports that it "is understood" that the Prime Minister "hit the roof" when Gallus made her unexpected decision to retire at the coming election, since party polling showed her to be worth an extra 6 to 7 per cent to the Liberal vote. "Political observers" cited by Craig Bildstien of The Advertiser were more conservative, putting it at 3 or 4 per cent, but both sets of figures are easily the difference between victory and defeat. Significantly replacement candidates were reluctant to step forward, with Adelaide Crows player Nigel Smart among those declining to take the field in order to hold out for a safer seat. The preselection instead became a contest between Gallus-backed Simon Birmingham and the right faction’s Stavroula Raptis, with Crikey reporting that Birmingham won on the second ballot with "50 per cent plus three votes". For the third election running, Labor’s candidate is Steve Georganas, a former taxi driver who got the gig as the "soft left" faction’s nominee in a deal that saw the right’s Kate Ellis take Adelaide (more on that below). Georganas did extremely well to almost unseat Gallus with a 6.9 per cent swing in 1998, but in 2001 he performed no better or worse than the state average in dropping 1 per cent. He has been keeping off the streets lately thanks to a job as adviser to SA Urban Development Minister Jay Weatherill.

Ellis, an adviser to state Industry Minister Rory McEwen, will attempt to break a humiliating 11-year Liberal grip on what ought to be another safe Labor inner-city seat. Between World War II and 1988, Labor only ever lost Adelaide with the 1966 Harold Holt landslide. An embarrassing by-election defeat for the Hawke Government was corrected at the 1990 election (Andrew Peacock having since taken over as Liberal leader from John Howard), but a strong statewide swing against the national trend helped Trish Worth pick the seat up in 1993. Since then she has had a nervous but remarkably stable time of it, her closest shave coming with a 343-vote victory in 2001. Worth’s political future appeared in doubt when she was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, but she apparently remains in good health and is again taking the field. The redistribution has tripled her margin, but most observers will be surprised if it’s enough.

Labor are in big trouble if they don’t reel in Adelaide and Hindmarsh, but Makin could be the one that decides the outcome if the result comes down to the wire. Member Trish Draper was named by the Prime Minister in 1998 as one of three Liberal "heroes" (along with Jackie Kelly in Lindsay and Danna Vale in Hughes) whose success in maintaining their seats in traditional enemy territory had helped the government cling to power at that year’s election. Draper had just limited her Labor opponent to a flimsy 0.2 per cent swing against a statewide average of 4.8 per cent, and her performance in 2001 was scarcely less impressive, her 3 per cent swing comparing with a state average of 1 per cent.

However, Draper’s Labor opponent at this election is a strong candidate in more ways than one. Tony Zappia is the only Australian weightlifter ever to win 10 national titles, and has managed to hold the mayoralty of Salisbury aloft for seven hamstring-straining years, with a further 20 years on council before that. He was widely seen to have been hard done by in losing the 2001 nomination to Gail Gago, former nursing union leader and current MLC, essentially due to his factional non-alignment. A repeat performance appeared to be on the cards when the deal over Adelaide and Hindmarsh referred to earlier reserved Makin for Dana Wortley, Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance state secretary and nominee for a faction described by Paul Starick of The Advertiser as a "coalition of the Hard Left and remnants of the Centre". The deal was of use to the major left faction centred around Nick Bolkus as the preselection of a female candidate would have allowed the party to achieve its affirmative action quota without costing Bolkus his spot in the Senate. Local party members however were not pleased, which led state member Frances Bedford to throw her hat into the ring in what Rebecca DiGirolamo of The Australian described a "tactical move to get Mr Zappia up", despite Bedford being a factional colleague of Wortley. In the event Premier Mike Rann managed to persuade Wortley’s key union backers to shift their support to Zappia, in what would appear to have been an electorally sensible decision.

On top of Liberal Party internal polling reportedly showing Labor ahead in Hindmarsh, the Sunday Mail helpfully shed light on the matter with an impressive opinion poll sampling 500 voters from each of the three electorates currently under our microscope. The poll found Labor ahead 42 per cent to 35 in Hindmarsh (compared with 38.3-46.0 in 2001), 40-37 in Adelaide (37.1-44.2 in 2001) and 41-39 in Makin (36.7-45.9). This however was published on February 22, at the very peak of pendulum’s swing towards Labor. The correction that has followed in a very short time frame since suggests that none of these seats is about to get any less interesting between now and polling day.

UPDATE: By a chilling concidence Peter Brent at Mumble has chosen today to publish extensive ruminations on the situation in South Australia submitted to him by one-time Labor candidate for Sturt Phil Robins. It draws attention to one conspicuous omission from above – the possibility that the very popular Karlene Maywald, the only National Party MP in state parliament and thus effectively an independent, will run against the no-profile Liberal member for Barker, Patrick Secker. The Riverland is Barker’s focal point now that it has gained the area following Wakefield’s reconstruction (see above), and this is Maywald’s home territory. The smart money would be on her to prevail if this were to eventuate.

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