Confusion surrounding the likely date of the New South Wales state by-elections, to add to that we already have about the federal election.
This coming Monday is the last date on which an election can be called for this year, specifically for the December 11 date spruiked recently by Anthony Albanese, which few if any still expect. The parlour game thus seems likely to move on now to the alternative scenarios of March and May. A complication in the former case is a South Australian state election set in the normal course of events for the third Saturday in March, i.e. March 19. If I understand the situation correctly, the South Australian government will have the discretion to delay the election by up to three weeks if a federal election is called before February 19 for a date in March.
Here’s what we do know:
• Max Maddison of The Australian reports grumbling within the New South Wales Liberal Party over its failure to have finalised candidates in the important seats of Dobell, Warringah and Gilmore. The report cites Liberal sources, no doubt with an interest in the matter, accusing Alex Hawke of using his clout on state executive to delay proceedings to the advantage of candidates of his centre right faction. “Other senior Liberal sources” contend the problem is “a lack of quality candidates and impending local government elections”. Prospective nominees for Dobell include former test cricketer Nathan Bracken, along with Michael Feneley, a cardiologist who has twice run unsuccessfully in Kingsford Smith, and Jemima Gleeson, owner of a chain of coffee shops.
• Further on Gilmore, the ever-readable Niki Savva reported in her Age/Herald column a fortnight ago that “speculation is rife” that Andrew Constance will not in fact proceed with his bid for preselection, just as he withdrew from contention Eden-Monaro ahead of last year’s by-election. If so, that would seemingly leave the path clear for Shoalhaven Heads lawyer Paul Ell, who is reckoned a formidable opponent to Constance in any case.
• Labor has not been breaking its back to get candidates in place in New South Wales either, with still no sign of progress in the crucial western Sydney fringe seat of Lindsay. However, candidates have recently been confirmed in two Liberal marginals: Zhi Soon, an education policy adviser and former diplomat, in Banks, and Sally Sitou, a University of Sydney doctoral candidate and one-time ministerial staffer, in Reid.
• In Victoria, Labor’s candidate in La Trobe will be Abhimanyu Kumar, owner of a local home building company.
• In an article by Jason Campbell of the Herald Sun, JWS Research says rising poll numbers for Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party are being driven by “skilled labourers and lower-end middle-management”, supplementing an existing support base that had largely been limited to people over 65. Maleness and low education remain common threads.
• An article on the voter identification laws by Graeme Orr of the University of Queensland in The Conversation makes a point I had not previously heard noted: that those who lodge a declaration vote in lieu of providing identification will have no way of knowing if their vote was ultimately admitted to the count. This stands in contrast to some American states, where those who cast the equivalent of postal or absent votes can track their progress online.
New South Wales by-election latest:
• It is now clear that the by-elections will not be held simultaneously with the December 4 local government elections as initially anticipated. The Guardian reports that the state’s electoral commissioner, John Schmidt, told a parliamentary committee hearing yesterday that “it wouldn’t be possible or sensible to try and aim earlier than the middle of February”, in part because the government’s “piecemeal funding” of his agency had left it with inadequate cybersecurity standards.
• Labor has announced it will field a candidate in Bega, making it the only one of the five looming by-elections in which the Coalition and Labor are both confirmed starters. James O’Doherty of the Daily Telegraph (who I hope got paid extra for pointing out that “Labor has chosen to contest the seat despite Leader Chris Minns last month criticising the looming by-election as expensive and unnecessary”) reports nominees for Liberal preselection will include Eurobodalla Shire mayor Liz Innes and, possibly, Bega Valley Shire councillor Mitchell Nadin.
• Anton Rose of Inner West Courier reports Liberal hopes in Jodi McKay’s seat of Strathfield are not high, particularly if Burwood mayor John Faker emerges as the Labor candidate, and that the party would “not be mounting a vigorous campaign”. One prospective Liberal nominee is said to be Natalie Baini, a sports administrator who was said earlier in the year to planning a preselection against Fiona Martin in the federal seat of Reid.
• A Redbridge Group poll conducted for Simon Holmes a Court’s Climate 200 non-profit group records Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s primary vote as having slumped from 49.4% in his blue-ribbon Melbourne seat of Kooyong to 38%. With the Greens on 15%, well short of the heights achieved with Julian Burnside as candidate in 2019, such a result would put Frydenberg under pressure from Labor on 31%. Around half of the balance is attributed to the United Australia Party, which seems doubtful in an electorate such as Kooyong. The objective of the poll was to test the waters for a Zali Steggall-like independent challenge, and responses to some rather leading questions indicated that such a candidate would indeed be competitive or better. The survey was conducted from October 16 to 18 by automated phone polling from a sample of 1017.
• Liberal-aligned think tank the Blueprint Institute has results from a YouGov poll on attitudes towards carbon emissions policy, conducted in nine regional electorates from September 28 to October 12 with samples of around 415 each. In spite of everything, these show large majorities in favour of both halving emissions by 2030 and net zero by 2050 even in such electorates as Hunter and Capricornia. Even among coal workers (sub-sample size unclear), the results are 63% and 64% respectively.
• The Australia Institute has published its annual Climate of the Nation survey, based on a poll of 2626 respondents conducted by YouGov in August.
• It took me a while to update BludgerTrack with last week’s Resolve Strategic and Roy Morgan results, but now that it’s done, I can exclusively reveal that they made very little difference. Labor is currently credited with a two-party lead of 53.8-46.2.
• Antony Green has published his analysis of the finalised Victorian state redistribution.