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.

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.

New South Wales election minus three months

A bumper crop of New South Wales election news accumulated over the past month, much of it involving the Liberal Party’s ongoing struggles with representation of women.

Time for the monthly assembly of New South Wales state election news, starting with some none-too-timely opinion poll snippets before moving on to a meaty stew of preselection:

• Roy Morgan published a somewhat dated poll last week conducted at an unspecified time in November, encompassing a phone and online sample of 1234. It had Labor leading 52-48 from primary votes of Coalition 37%, Labor 35%, Greens 11.5% and One Nation 5%.

• On November 17, Max Maddison of The Australian reported that a statewide poll conducted for a “major industry group” that asked not to be identified had Labor on 40% of the primary vote, up from 33.3% at the 2019 election, and the Coalition at 37%, which entailed the Liberals holding steady from 32.0% while the Nationals tumbled from 9.6% to 4%. The Greens were on 9% and One Nation 6%, respectively compared with 9.6% and 1.1% (from a small number of seats contested in One Nation’s case). Chris Minns had 42% approval and 27% disapproval, while Domonic Perrottet was on 39% and 47%. The poll was conducted from a sample of 1000 from November 8 to 10.

• RedBridge has published polls conducted from September 23 to October 3 from seats with prospects for teal independents, from which the topline results suggested they were struggling to poll clear of Labor in Manly, North Shore, Pittwater and Wakehurst, but would be placed to take it right up to the Liberals at the final count if they could make it there. However, they also suggested independents were starting from too far behind in Lane Cove and the regional seat of Oxley. When it was put to respondents that the independents might bear comparison to Zali Steggall, Kylea Tink, Sophie Scamps and Caz Heise, they landed in first place on the primary vote in Manly and close to it everywhere else except Lane Cove.

Now to a thicket of Liberal preselection disputes, the recurring theme of which is gender balance:

Continue reading “New South Wales election minus three months”

Resolve Strategic: Labor 38, Coalition 35, Greens 11 in NSW

After a Labor blowout last time, Resolve Strategic lands close to recent Newspoll and Freshwater Strategy results in its latest New South Wales state poll.

The Sydney Morning Herald has a Resolve Strategic state poll for New South Wales, showing Labor with a lead over the Coalition of 38% to 35% on the primary vote, narrowing from a rather striking result of 43% to 30% at the previous such poll in mid-September. No two-party result is provided, but if preferences behaved as they typically do, it would come in at around 54-46 to 55-45 in favour of Labor. The Greens are up one to 11% and independents are steady on 10%. Dominic Perrottet and Chris Minns are again effectively tied on preferred premier with a result of 30-29 in favour of Perrottet, compared with 28-28 last time. The reported sample size is 1150 – I presume the poll to be a combination of results from this week’s post-budget poll and the previous national poll in early October.

For a whole lot more on New South Wales politics, a ran an extensive post at the start of the week on recent developments relevant to the March 25 state election.

New South Wales election minus five months

News, and lots of it, on preselections and related goings-on ahead of the March 25 New South Wales state election.

News concerning the March 25 state election continues to fly thick and fast, mainly in the form of preselection spats, retirement announcements and party resignations. As you can see from the accumulated backlog below, all of it from the month-and-a-bit since I last did this, it might be an idea for me to do these update posts more often. Anyway, without further ado:

• David Elliott, Transport Minister and Liberal member for Baulkham Hills, announced last week that he will retire at the election after conceding defeat in a long and fraught preselection dispute. Baulkham Hills is to be abolished in the redistribution and superseded by Kellyville, although much of its territory is being transferred to Castle Hill, held by Elliott’s friend and centre right faction associate Ray Williams. The redrawn Castle Hill’s branches are dominated by factional conservatives, who strongly favour the claim of Noel McCoy, Norton Rose Fulbright partner and former ministerial adviser. However, Elliott had been set on running in Castle Hill to avoid lining up against Williams, who is set to contest Kellyville. Dominic Perrottet backed Elliott to the extent of helping secure a waiver from state executive to overcome an administrative difficulty arising from a short lapse in his party membership, but conservative powerbrokers refused to yield to Elliott’s efforts to prevent McCoy from running. It was reported that Perrottet urged Elliott to try his hand in Parramatta, a marginal seat to be vacated with the retirement of Geoff Lee, but Elliott did not believe he could win preselection there either as it too was dominated by factional conservatives. Linda Silmalis of the Daily Telegraph reports McCoy does not face a clear run in Castle Hill, with rival contenders including Monica Tudehope, deputy chief-of-staff to Dominic Perrottet and daughter of Finance Minister Damien Tudehope; Julian Whealing, former chief-of-staff to Tudehope; and Mark Hodges, solicitor and The Hills deputy mayor.

• Further high-profile additions to the retirement list are Health Minister Brad Hazzard in Wakefield and Infrastructure and Cities Minister Rob Stokes in Pittwater. Both seats have been mentioned as possibilities for the lower house ambitions of Legislative Council member Natasha Maclaren-Jones. It was initially anticipated she would seek preselection in Pittwater, with James O’Doherty of the Daily Telegraph reporting that moderate factional support was consolidating behind her, in part out of considerations for gender balance. However, the Northern Beaches Advocate reports she has has grown concerned about the strength of support for rival contender Rory Amon, a Northern Beaches councillor, and might run in Wakehurst instead. Others mentioned in relation to Wakehurst include David Walton, retired police commander and veteran Northern Beaches councillor; Wendy Finianos, Lebanese-born former Warringah Chamber of Commerce president who challenged Hazzard for preselection before the 2019 election; and Toby Williams, electorate officer to Hazzard.

Continue reading “New South Wales election minus five months”

Freshwater Strategy: 54-46 to Labor in New South Wales

A new pollster on the block produces a set of New South Wales state two-party numbers that agree with last month’s Newspoll.

The Financial Review yesterday had a poll of New South Wales state voting intention from Freshwater Strategy, which according to The Australian has been founded by four recently departed directors from CT Group, the famed Liberal-aligned pollster associated with Lynton Crosby and Mark Textor.
The poll credits Labor with a two-party lead of 54-46 after exclusion of the undecided. A more detailed two-party result has Labor on 47%, the Coalition on 40%, “would not place either” on 8% (as voters can do under the state’s optional preferential voting system) and “firmly undecided” on 6%. The primary votes are Coalition 36%, Labor 37%, Greens 11%, independents 5%, Shooters 1% and others 11%.

Dominic Perrotet was credited with an approval rating of 37% and a disapproval rating of 35%, with 20% opting for a response of neutral, while Labor’s Chris Minns was on 26% approval, 15% disapproval and 24% neutral. A preferred premier question had Minns leading 41-38. Respondents were also asked about the federal leaders, with results of 50% approval, 26% disapproval and 21% neutral for Anthony Albanese and 33% approval, 34% disapproval and 25% neutral for Peter Dutton. The poll was conducted Thursday to Sunday from a sample of 1042.

Newspoll: 54-46 to Labor in New South Wales

Six months out from the election, polls from Newspoll and Resolve Strategic find Labor opening up an election-winning lead in New South Wales.

The Australian today brings a state Newspoll result from New South Wales that suggests big trouble for Dominic Perrotett’s Coalition government, crediting Labor with a two-party lead of 54-46 from primary votes of Coalition 35% (compared with 41.6% at the 2018 election), Labor 40% (33.3%) and the Greens 12% (9.6%). Perrottet nonetheless has reasonable personal ratings of 47% approval and 41% approval, although Labor leader Chris Minns does better in net terms with 42% approval and 27% approval, while Perrottet has a 39-35 edge as preferred premier. The poll was conducted Monday to Thursday from a sample of 1006.

UPDATE: And now the Sydney Morning Herald has come through with a Resolve Strategic result drawn, like the earlier Victorian poll, from the samples for its last two federal polls. The results in this case are quite a bit worse for the Coalition than Newspoll’s, putting Labor ahead 43% to 30% on the primary vote, with the Greens on 10% and Shooters Fishers and Farmers on 2%. By my loose reckoning, this would pan out to a Labor lead of around 60-40 on two-party preferred. Dominic Perrottet and Chris Minns are tied on 28% for preferred premier, leaving fully 44% uncommitted. The polling was conducted “in August and September” from a sample of 1170.

Other recent news from the state relevant to the March 25 election:

• If I correctly understand a complicated situation, Right faction candidates on the Legislative Council ticket will include incumbent Courtney Houssos in top spot, along with the following newcomers: Emily Suvaal, a Cessnock nurse who was in contention for the federal Hunter preselection, in a position described by one report as “unbeatable”; Stephen Lawrence, Dubbo-based barrister and former mayor; Sarah Kaine, an honorary professor at the University of Technology Sydney; Nick McIntosh, deputy national secretary at the Transport Workers Union; and Canterbury-Bankstown mayor Khal Asfour. The Left has endorsed incumbents Rose Jackson, John Graham and Mick Veitch. All of which remains to be confirmed at next month’s state conference. However …

Brad Norington of The Australian reports that Cameron Murphy will defy his defeat in the Left faction by nominating for a position on the ticket at state conference. The results of Left ballot were 81 for Rose Jackson, 74 for John Graham and 73 for Mick Veitch, with Murphy on 64. Murphy and his “soft Left” backers (once identified as the Ferguson Left) are crying foul at the exclusion of 23 CFMEU delegates of the vote, a ruling made by George Simon, assistant state secretary and member of the rival hard Left.

• Labor’s member for Bankstown, Tania Mihailuk, was dumped from the shadow ministry yesterday after using parliamentary privilege on Tuesday to accuse the aforementioned Khal Asfour of “unprincipled actions in furthering the interests of developers and identities, in particular Eddie Obeid”. Max Maddison of The Australian reported yesterday that a letter from ICAC from 2013 referred to circulation of such claims by Mihailuk as “baseless” and “undesireable”. Mihailuk is at the centre of a preselection impasse that looks likely to shunt her to the seat of Fairfield, where local mayor Frank Carbone appears to be preparing an independent run after serving as a prime mover behind Dai Le’s successful campaign in the corresponding federal seat of Fowler, with Fairfield MP Guy Zangari moving to Cabramatta, which is being vacated with the retirement of Nick Lalich, and Jihad Dib moving to Bankstown from his abolished seat of Lakemba. The mooted possibility of an escape hatch for Mihailuk into the Legislative Council has not transpired.

• Following Jonathan O’Dea’s recent retirement announcement, Alexandra Smith of the Sydney Morning Herald reports suggestions Roads Minister Natalie Ward, a moderate-aligned member of the Legislative Council, will nominate to succeed him in his safe Liberal seat of Davidson. Another candidate is Matt Cross, who has worked for Barry O’Farrell and Mike Baird and as an electorate officer to Gladys Berejiklian.

• Alexandra Smith further reports that nominees to succeed retiring Liberal member Gabrielle Upton in blue-ribbon Vaucluse will be “journalist-turned-executive Kellie Sloane, Woollahra mayor Susan Wynne, former NSW Liberal Women’s Council president Mary-Lou Jarvis and businesswoman Roanne McGinley Knox”.

New South Wales election minus six months

A new poll suggests a tight race in New South Wales, as retirement announcements and preselection contests proliferate.

The Guardian reported on Monday that an Essential Research poll for New South Wales, released in tandem with one reported here yesterday for Victoria, had the Coalition on 36.4%, Labor on 32%, the Greens on 8.5% and 13% unallocated by virtue of being undecided. My best guess is that this would result in a fairly even split on two-party preferred, although the poll’s modest sample of 661 together with its high undecided component implies an error margin of around 4%.

I also have a large accumulation of preselection news since my previous New South Wales state post on July 8 to unload, so strap yourselves in:

Max Maddison of The Australian last week reported that an impasse over factional “branch allocations” threatens Transport Minister David Elliott’s plans to contest the safe seat of Castle Hill. The redistribution will transform Elliott’s current seat of Baulkham Hills into the new seat of Kellyville, which will be contested by Elliott’s centre right colleague Ray Williams, the current member for Castle Hill. Branches in Castle Hill are presently dominated by conservatives, meaning a party ballot would likely be won by insolvency lawyer Noel McCoy.

Brad Norington of The Australian reports a meeting of Labor’s Right tonight to determine its Legislative Council nominees is likely to result in incumbents Adam Searle and Shaoquett Moselmane being dropped in favour of Stephen Lawrence, Dubbo-based barrister and former mayor; Sarah Kaine, an honorary professor at the University of Technology Sydney; and Nick McIntosh, deputy national secretary at the Transport Workers Union. Kaine is also linked with the TWU, being the sister of national secretary Michael Kaine and ex-wife of the latter’s predecessor, Senator Tony Sheldon, although Norington’s sources say her preselection is in fact being pushed by the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association. For their part, Searle is lacking union support (although he has some from YouTube celebrity Jordan Shanks), while Moselmane has faced criticism over links to figures connected with the Chinese Communist Party. Right faction incumbent Courtney Houssos will head the party’s ticket, while another faction member, Walt Secord, will bow out after losing his position in the shadow ministry last month over bullying allegations.

• Brad Norington’s report further suggests that the abolition of Jihad Dib’s lower house seat of Lakemba could variously result in Bankstown MP Tania Mihailuk facing a preselection challenge from Dib; seeking preselection in Cabramatta, where she would run into Guy Zangari’s plan to move from his existing seat of Fairfield; or moving to the upper house with the support of Chris Minns. It was earlier reported that a plan to accommodate Mihailuk in Fairfield had been complicated by suggestions that Frank Carbone, local mayor and a key backer of Dai Le’s successful independent campaign in Fowler at the federal election, was considering running there as an independent.

Alexandra Smith of the Sydney Morning Herald reports the Left has endorsed Legislative Council incumbents Rose Jackson, John Graham and Mick Veitch. This leaves the hard Left with a lock on the faction’s upper house positions, and presumably means the CFMEU and its soft Left allied failed in their efforts to have Veitch deposed in favour of Cameron Murphy, barrister, son of the late High Court justice Lionel Murphy and twice narrowly unsuccessful candidate for the lower house seat of East Hills. Michael McGowan of The Guardian reported last month that CFMEU delegates had been blocked from the Left faction conference after the union’s withdrawal from the state conference after its father-and-son state secretary and assistant secretary, Darren and Michael Greenfield, were suspended from the party at the urging of Chris Minns after being charged with accepting bribes, which remains before the courts.

• Parliamentary speaker Jonathan O’Dea announced last week that he will not seek re-election in his blue-ribbon seat of Davidson, which makes life easier for the Liberals as they seeks to manage the fallout from the redistribution in their northern Sydney strongholds. James O’Doherty of the Daily Telegraph earlier reported Treasurer Matt Kean might move from Hornsby to Wahroonga, the successor to abolished Ku-ring-gai, whose member Alistair Henskens could then move to Davidson if O’Dea were so obliging as to retire. Linda Silmalis of the Sunday Telegraph further offered that such an arrangement would make Hornsby available to Maria Kovacic, newly elected state party president and unsuccessful candidate for Parramatta at the federal election, and thwart designs on Davidson held by Matt Cross, former electorate officer to Gladys Berejiklian, which were deemed undesirable for reasons unclear.

• Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello announced in mid-August that he would not seek re-election in Ryde. NCA Newswire reports likely nominees for preselection to succeed him included Ryde mayor Jordan Lane and former Sydney councillor Craig Chung. Other recent retirement announcements include Geoff Lee, the Liberal member for Parramatta, and Nationals Melinda Pavey and Stephen Bromhead, members for Oxley and Myall Lakes.

• Guyra farmer Aileen MacDonald was yesterday sworn in to the Legislative Council after winning Liberal preselection to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Catherine Cusack. Her husband, Scot MacDonald, was earlier a member of the chamber from 2011 to 2019. An unidentified “senior Liberal” complained to the Daily Telegraph that the state executive had conspired to produce a preselection panel consisting of “party warlords and a handful of other people controlled by factions”, with prospective nominee Yvonne Kean, former mayor of Hills Shire, withdrawing due to concerns over the process.