More month of May miscellany

Preselection challenges aplenty against federal Liberals from New South Wales; a potential second Labor membership ballot as the party seeks a new leader in New South Wales; and a state by-election looms in Queensland.

There has been an outbreak of preselection challenges against federal Liberal incumbents in New South Wales, which would appear to be the fruit of new preselection rules that put more power in the hands of the party rank-and-file. However, the branch has not been so democratised as to deny the possibility of federal intervention, which Sarah Martin of The Guardian reports is likely to be invoked by the Prime Minister to protect the incumbents.

• Environment Minister Sussan Ley faces a challenge in her rural seat of Farrer from Christian Ellis, whose conservative credentials extend to an effort to expel Malcolm Turnbull from the Liberal Party after he published his autobiography last year. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Ley has complained of “outsiders” descending upon her electorate with “city-based factional branch stacking” and “a toxic culture which isn’t about the policies or the candidate”.

• Further challenges are brewing against two leading factional powerbrokers: Alex Hawke of the centre right, from conservative-aligned army colonel Michael Abrahams; and Trent Zimmerman of the moderate faction, from both Hamish Stitt, a conservative barrister, and Jess Collins, a member of the centre right.

• In the marginal Sydney seat of Reid, moderate-aligned Fiona Martin faces a challenge from sports administrator Natalie Baini. Apparently at an earlier stage of gestation are potential challenges to Bennelong MP John Alexander from Gisele Kapterian, former chief-of-staff to Michaelia Cash; and Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, whose Senate seat is reportedly being eyed by conservative colleague Dallas McInerney, chief executive of Catholic Schools NSW.

• One challenge that will not proceed is the one said to have been of “most concern” to senior Liberals in a report by Sarah Martin of The Guardian. Melissa McIntosh, a member of the centre right faction who won the key seat of Lindsay from Labor in 2019, was said to have been under serious pressure from Mark Davies, Penrith councillor and husband of state Mulgoa MP Tanya Davies, having “lost control of her branches to the conservative faction”. However, Clare Armstrong of reports the conservatives have “done a deal to drop the challenge”, the terms of which are unclear.

Preselections elsewhere:

Tom Richardson of InDaily reports that candidates for Labor’s preselection in the Adelaide seat of Spence include Matt Burnell, an official with the Right-aligned Transport Workers Union, and Alice Dawkins, who works with “a consulting firm specialising in Asian strategic engagement” and is the daughter of Keating government Treasurer John Dawkins. The safe Labor seat in northern Adelaide will be vacated at the election by Nick Champion’s move to state politics.

• A Liberal preselection last weekend for the Adelaide seat of Boothby was won by Rachel Swift, moderate-aligned management consultant and medical researcher. Swift was chosen ahead of conservative rival Leah Blythe, who had the backing of outgoing member Nicolle Flint.

• The Tasmanian seat of Lyons will be contested for the Liberals by Susie Bower, Meander Valley councillor and chief executive of the Bell Bay Advanced Manufacturing Zone. Bower was a candidate for Lyons at the recent state election, but polled last out of the six Liberal candidates with 3.5% of the vote. Lyons could potentially have joined Bass and Braddon as a Liberal gain at the 2019 election if not for the mid-campaign disendorsement of the party’s candidate, Jessica Whelan.

Other news:

• Jodi McKay’s resignation as New South Wales Labor leader on Friday potentially sets up a second membership ballot for the party to go with the one that will choose Rebecca White’s successor in Tasmania. This depends on whether former leader Michael Daley puts his name forward in opposition to Chris Minns, who would appear to be the clear favourite. Today’s Sun-Herald reports that head office would prefer that Minns take the position unopposed so as to avoid “an expensive ballot of rank-and-file members, which would take weeks”. However, a tweet by Daley yesterday suggested he was not of a mind to oblige them.

• Labor MP Duncan Pegg announced his resignation from the Queensland parliament early this week after a terminal cancer diagnosis. This will lead at some point to a by-election for his southern Brisbane seat of Stretton, which Pegg retained by a margin of 14.8% at the state election last October. Such has been the electoral record of opposition parties recently that one might have thought the Liberal National Party would sit this one out, but they have in fact jumped into the fray with the endorsement of Jim Bellos, a police officer and former Queenslander of the Year. The Courier-Mail reports the front-runner for Labor preselection is James Martin, an electorate officer to Pegg.

• Occasional Poll Bludger contributor Adrian Beaumont has a piece in The Conversation on the apparent trend of non-university educated whites abandoning parties of the centre left in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia.

Sarah Martin of The Guardian reports the Liberal party room was told this week that the election would be held next year.

Opposites detract

As Peter Malinauskas puts the loyal back in loyal opposition, two contenders emerge for the thankless task of leading the WA Liberals to the March state election.

I had a paywalled article in Crikey yesterday that riffed off South Australian Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas’s pointedly supportive approach to the state’s brief COVID-19 lockdown, and the explicit distinction he drew between his own approach and that of Michael O’Brien in Victoria. It was noted that Malinauskas clearly believes the general tenor of polling coming out of Victoria, even if the likes of Peta Credlin do not. This also afforded me the opportunity to highlight a clip from September in which Credlin and two Sky-after-dark colleagues brought their formidable perspicacity to bear on the likely impact of Queensland’s hard border policies on the looming state election.

Speaking of the which, both Antony Green and Kevin Bonham offer extremely detailed post-match reports on the Queensland election, in which both try their hand at estimating the statewide two-party preferred: Antony Green coming in at 53.2% for Labor, and Kevin Bonham making it 53.1%. This represents either a 1.8% or 1.9% swing to Labor compared with the 2017 election result of 51.3%, which was barely different from the 2015 result of 51.1%. Annastacia Palaszczuk can now claim the vanishingly rare distinction of having increased her party’s seat share at three successive elections. For further insights into how this came about, JWS Research has published full results of its post-election poll.

Elsewhere, Western Australia’s Liberal Party will today choose a new leader after the resignation on Sunday of Liza Harvey, who came to the job last June but has been politically crippled by COVID-19 — a no-win situation for the Liberals in the best of circumstances, but one made quite a lot worse than it needed to be by a response that was more Michael O’Brien than Peter Malinauskas. The two contenders are Zak Kirkup, 33-year-old member for the all too marginal seat of Dawesville in southern Mandurah, and Bateman MP Dean Nalder, who unsuccessfully challenged Colin Barnett’s leadership six months before the Liberals’ landslide defeat in March 2017. The West Australian reports that Zirkup has it all but stitched up, since he has the support of Harvey as well as key numbers men Peter Collier and Nick Goiran.

On and off again

The 2019 federal election pollster failure gets probed and prodded, as the dust settles on the Queensland election

The site experienced issues yesterday that prevented comments from appearing, which are now more-or-less resolved. However, this involved a lot of plugin updates that might cause certain of the site’s features to misfire for a while. One issue seems to be that comments pagination wasn’t working on the previous thread, hence the need for a new thread despite me not having all that much to relate. Except:

• The Association of Market and Social Research Organisations has published its report into the 2019 opinion poll failure, which is important and a big deal, but such has been the pace of events lately that I haven’t had time to really look at it yet. Kevin Bonham has though, and he elaborates upon the report’s analysis of historical federal poll performance by looking at state polls as well, which fail to replicate a finding that polls have a general skew to Labor.

• Recounts in the Queensland cliffhanger seats of Bundaberg and Nicklin confirmed Labor’s narrow victories, by nine rather than the original 11 votes in Bundaberg, and by 85 rather than the original 79 in Nicklin.

Simon Benson of The Australian reports privately commissioned post-Queensland election polling by JWS Research found 24% rated “economy, jobs and living costs” as the most important issue, with COVID-19 on 15%, the state’s border arrangements in response on 14% (one might well think the results for these two responses should be combined), environment and climate change on 9%, health on 8% and infrastructure on 6%.

Victorian poll, Queensland election, Groom by-election

A good poll result from Labor in Victoria, an even better election result for Labor in Queensland, and only four candidates come forward for the Groom by-election.

The Herald-Sun reported on Monday on a “privately conducted” Victorian state poll by YouGov that showed Labor maintaining a commanding 55-45 lead on two-party preferred, from primary votes of Labor 44%, Coalition 40% and Greens 11%. This compares with 57.3-42.7 at Labor’s landslide win in 2018, when the primary votes were Labor 42.9%, Coalition 35.2% and Greens 10.7%. Personal ratings are good for Daniel Andrews (65% approval and 32% disapproval) and disastrous for Liberal leader Michael O’Brien (26% approval and 53% disapproval).

The poll nonetheless found that 55% thought it fair to hold Daniel Andrews responsible for the second COVID-19 wave, compared with 40% for not fair. Fifty per cent believed Andrews had been honest and transparent about the hotel quarantine failure against 43% for not honest and transparent; 53% said Victoria was heading in the right direction versus 39% who said it is “time for change”. The poll was conducted from October 29 to November from a sample of 1241.

UPDATE: Now a Roy Morgan poll gives Labor a lead of 58.5-41.5, up from 51.5-48.5 a month ago, from primary votes of Labor 45% (up five), Coalition 34.5% (down 5.5) and Greens 11% (up two). Daniel Andrews’ approval rating split is out from 59-41 to 71-29. The poll was conducted by SMS on Monday and Tuesday from a sample of 818.

In real election news, the Electoral Commission of Queensland has been completing preference distributions for the October 31 state election, and while the numbers haven’t been officially published, Antony Green relates that luck has favoured Labor in the final preference distributions in Bundaberg and Nicklin. These seats have been gained from the LNP with respective margins of 11 and 79 votes, pending LNP requests for recounts.

Confirmation of these results would leave Labor with 52 seats in a parliament of 93, a net gain of four compared with the 2017 result. South Brisbane was lost to the Greens (6.0% margin, 9.5% swing), while five were gained from the LNP Bundaberg (by a 0.0% margin with a 4.2% swing), Nicklin (a 0.1% margin and a 5.4% swing), Caloundra (a 2.5% margin and a 5.9% swing), Hervey Bay (a 2.2% margin and an 11.3% swing) and Pumicestone (a 5.1% margin and a 6.0% swing). These are Labor’s first ever wins in Nicklin and Caloundra, both of which are on the Sunshine Coast.

The LNP is duly reduced from 38 seats to 33, unless you count their recovery of Whitsunday after its previous member was expelled from the party mid-term. Their one piece of good news from late counting was that they managed to retain the Gold Coast seat of Currumbin by 310 votes, a 0.3% margin against a swing to Labor of 3.0% (David Crisafulli will be chosen as the party’s new leader unopposed at a party room meeting today). South Brisbane increases the Greens from one to two, with the party having easily its 2017 gain of Maiwar from the LNP, while Katter’s Australian Party and One Nation achieved status quo results of three seats and one respectively, as did independents with Sandy Bolton comfortably retaining Noosa.

Official results are naturally available from the ECQ; the numbers on my live results facility are emphatically not official, in that I have preserved them as they were a week ago before the ECQ removed the indicative two-candidate preferred counts. This means both the booth-level two-candidate preferred results and preference flow by candidate breakdowns are preserved, albeit in not entirely complete form.

Finally, while the attention of most of us has been firmly elsewhere, the process for the November 28 Groom by-election has continued chugging along, with nominations having been declared last Friday. The by-election has attracted a remarkably thin field of four candidates, which somewhat to my surprise includes one from Labor: Chris Meibusch, a community lawyer and unsuccessful candidate for the Toowoomba mayoralty in March. The preselection of LNP candidate Garth Hamilton was related here. The other two candidates are from the Liberal Democrats and Sustainable Australia – as well as there being no One Nation presence, this must be the first time a while that the Greens have left a federal contest uncontested.

Queensland election: late counting

A post tracking the progress of the late count for the Queensland election.

Click here for full Queensland election results updated live.

Tuesday evening

In the two days since my last update, Labor’s narrow lead in Bundaberg has worn away, with the LNP sneaking ahead by four votes at the close of play yesterday. However, they continue to hang on grimly in Nicklin, where a slight edge on absents cancelled out their usual deficit from postals, leaving their lead at 67 compared with 84 the other night. Neither I nor the ABC is calling Currumbin for the LNP, where their lead has nudged from 268 to 302, but I imagine the addition of a two-party count on absent pre-polls will take care of that. Similarly, there is no LNP call yet for Clayfield, where counting is proceeding slowly, but there assuredly will be when the postal two-party votes are added.

Three seats are being called that weren’t as of Sunday night: Hervey Bay, now rated a Labor gain after an outstanding pre-poll result came in, and they further managed a remarkably strong result on postals; Burleigh, which is now confirmed LNP with their lead at 582; and Coomera, where the LNP now has a clearly decisive lead of 901.

Monday afternoon

A piece I wrote for Crikey that they didn’t have room/money for:

As the world braces for an electoral convulsion of one kind of another in the United States, Australia has maintained its COVID-19 era habit of endorsing the status quo with Annastacia Palaszczuk’s re-election in Queensland on the weekend.

It was a good night for the political left, with a Labor government returned, the Greens’ inner-city empire expanded, One Nation rebuffed, Clive Palmer saved from humiliation only by his lack of shame, and the Morrison government denied a return on the capital it spent taking Labor on before and during the campaign. In a parliament of 93 seats, Labor seems most likely to make a net gain of two or three on the 48 it won in 2017, with the negative side of its ledger consisting of former Deputy Premier Jackie Trad in South Brisbane defeat by the Greens in South Brisbane.

The demographics of the seats that have actually or potentially been gained point to Labor’s success among a cohort whose support it probably shouldn’t get used to, namely seniors. The three clearly gained by Labor are Hervey Bay, Pumicestone and Caloundra, which rank second, third and eighth out of the state’s 93 seats by median age (it is no doubt also notable that each was being vacated by a retiring LNP incumbent). In the retiree-rich and normally solid blue Sunshine Coast region, Labor’s performance was of an equal with the Peter Beattie landslides of two decades ago.

Relatedly, Labor seemed to do better than expected among the many greying legions of One Nation deserters, which helped blunt the LNP’s much-touted attack in central and north Queensland. The LNP had plotted a path to victory that ran through as many as seven Labor-held seats in these regions — among them Mackay, which the party did not even win in its epochal landslide of 2012 — but emerged completely empty-handed.

At the other end of the age spectrum, the Greens added South Brisbane to a trophy wall of youthful inner-city state seats that includes Balmain and Newtown in New South Wales, Melbourne, Brunswick and Prahran in Victoria, and Maiwar in Queensland — none of which the party held a decade ago. Reflecting the situation in Sydney and Melbourne, the Greens’ footprint is expanding into the inner urban periphery, adding Campbell Newman’s old seat of Cooper (then known as Ashgrove) to McConnel in the CBD as a potential target for future elections. However, such prospects may depend on the grace of the LNP, which gave the Greens an unusual fillip on this occasion by putting Labor last on its how-to-vote cards.

The resulting transformation in the Greens’ share of LNP preferences in South Brisbane — from about 40% in 2017 to 68% on the latest numbers — had Labor’s election night panellists crying blue murder and Anthony Albanese complaining of an “LNP-Greens coalition”. Had preference flowed as they did in 2017, South Brisbane would be going down to the wire, compared with what looks to be a Greens margin of around 5%.

The other fly in the Greens’ ointment was that their success was very much limited to inner Brisbane. They were not spared the exodus from the minor parties elsewhere, resulting in a drop in their overall vote from 10% to 9%. This raises the possibility that a focus on the very particular kind of seat the party can win at state elections, in terms of both campaign resource allocation and policy orientation, is weakening it elsewhere and imperilling its hold on Senate seats that are determined by the statewide vote.

Last but not least, the election was also the first serious test of Australian opinion polling since last year’s federal debacle, and in particular for YouGov, which has since assumed the job of conducting Newspoll for The Australian. The result was a qualified pass: the election eve Newspoll got the winner right and nailed the LNP vote, but tested its margin-of-error by short-changing Labor by three points and understating the decline of the minor parties.

Sunday night

This post will be progressively updated with news on the late counting for the Queensland election. My live election results pages now include the preference flow by candidate data that the ECQ is uniquely publishing progressively, in a rather more user-friendly and easy-to-locate form than on the ECQ’s site. Here you can readily find the answers to such questions as how many LNP preferences are flowing to the Greens in South Brisbane (the current answer being 67.8% of them).

The ECQ separately publishes the election night count of the primary vote and what other jurisdictions would describe as the “recheck”, on which work began yesterday. This means I have a choice between publishing the election night or the recheck results, and I will be sticking with the former until the latter are largely or entirely completed.

My results system is calling 49 seat for Labor, 30 for the LNP and cross-bench of seven, with seven Labor-versus-LNP contests in doubt. However, some of these are not really so, as will be explained when I consider them in turn shortly: one of the seven should probably be counted for Labor and four for the LNP, leaving only two generally in doubt. And another reminder that the extensive effort that has gone into all this can be rewarded via the “Become a Supporter” button at the top of the page.

• The ABC is calling Hervey Bay for Labor but my system is a hair’s breadth away from doing so. It probably should, because one of the two pre-poll booths has 7639 votes that have so far reported only the primary vote, and which will boost Labor’s 760 lead to by about 375 when its two-party count finally comes through.

• Labor leads by 277 in Bundaberg, but this is without a two-party count on 2833 postals, which by my reckoning should slightly more than halve that. That flow of about 52.5-47.5 to the LNP on postals presumably indicates there is a good chance last postals will wear away what remains of Labor’s lead.

• Labor leads by 84 in Nicklin, and could get a fillip when absents are added, if 2017 is any guide. Against that will be the usual trend to the LNP on late postals.

• The LNP leads by 268 in Currumbin, but there probably aren’t that many votes outstanding, so there would been to be some surprises here on absents and late postals for Labor to win.

• The LNP leads Labor by 547 in Burleigh, which late postals will presumably widen.

• The LNP leads by only 365 in Clayfield, but 5441 votes from the Clayfield early voting centre and 6743 postals should blow that out when they have two-party as well as primary votes reported. The ABC is calling this for the LNP.

• The LNP leads by 814 in Coomera, without much remaining to be added, so you can put down your glasses there.

Queensland election plus one day

Determining the exact size of Annastacia Palaszczuk’s slightly increased majority.

Click here for full Queensland election results updated live.

The bugs in my election results facility are largely dealt with now, some niggles notwithstanding – here you will find booth results in a far more manageable form than offered by the ECQ, and the only swing data at booth level available anywhere. This will updated live throughout the final stages of the count, although the ECQ’s move to the separately published “official” count either today or tomorrow will need to be finessed. If you find any value in this labour-intensive effort, gestures of appreciation in the form of donations are gratefully received through the “Become a Supporter” button at the top of the page.

My results system is giving Labor 50 out of the 52 seats in which they currently lead the two-party count, and the LNP 29 of their 34, with the Greens to win two barring late-count surprises at Labor’s expense in McConnel and Cooper, and the cross-bench otherwise being a status quo of three Katter’s Australian Party, one One Nation and one independent. In the few cases where my system disagrees, I suspect it is because the ABC is projecting the two-party result in large pre-poll centres that have so far reported only the primary vote. A large pre-poll booth in Hervey Bay is one such, while another pre-poll booth in the seat hasn’t reported at all. Hervey Bay also hasn’t reported any postals yet, which went around 63-37 to the LNP in 2017 compared with 59-41 in the electorate at large. Even so, even the ABC projection has Labor’s lead at 3.2% compared with a raw 4.9%, so they would have to be rated the strong favourite.

My system and the ABC’s are agreed that the LNP is not yet home and dry in Burleigh, Chatsworth, Coomera and Currumbin, but my fifth LNP in-doubt seat is Clayfield and the ABC’s is Glass House, which mine is giving away just barely. I would think it likely that the LNP will get home in all of them. I presume the ABC’s call of Clayfield relates to it projecting a two-party result from the Clayfield Early Voting Centre, which as yet has only reported on the primary vote and accounts for more than a quarter of the current primary vote total. Labor will need to achieve something special in Glass House out of the Woodford Early Voting Centre, which hasn’t reported on either the primary or two-party count. I also wouldn’t be too amazed if Labor’s leads in LNP-held Bundaberg and Nicklin failed to survive the late count, and their existing total of 50 proves their final score, one up on the result from 2017.

I’ll offer a more in-depth analysis of the situation tomorrow, together with ongoing commentary on the late count.