Weekend miscellany: WA Liberal preselections, Queensland and SA by-elections (open thread)

A comeback lined up for a former WA Liberal Senator, plus candidates in place for state by-elections in Queensland and SA.

The biggest electoral news of the week was probably the annual release of electoral donations disclosures, which has been widely covered elsewhere. From the more narrow concerns of this site, there is the following:

• Ben Small, who served in the Senate from November 2020 to June 2022, has emerged as the only nominee for Liberal preselection in the regional Western Australian seat of Forrest. The seat will be vacated at the next election with the retirement of Nola Marino, who has held it safely for the Liberals since 2007. The West Australian also reports Mark Wales, an SAS veteran, Survivor winner and former McKinsey consultant, plans to nominate for Tangney, a normally comfortable Liberal seat that fell to Labor in 2022. Others known to be interested are Canning mayor Patrick Hall and IT consultant Harold Ong.

• The Liberal National Party has chosen its candidates for the looming Queensland state by-elections for the safe Labor seats of Inala and Ipswich West, respectively being vacated by Annastacia Palaszczuk and Jim Madden: Trang Yen, a 28-year-old public servant in the Department of State Development, and Darren Zanow, president of the Ipswich Show Society. The by-elections will be held concurrently with local government elections on March 16.

• With former South Australian Premier Steven Marshall saying he will formally resign from parliament “in the coming months”, the Liberals have preselected lawyer and former ministerial adviser Anna Finizio for the looming by-election for his seat of Dunstan, which once had the more instructive name of Norwood. Labor is again running with its candidate from March 2023, Cressida O’Hanlon, a family dispute resolution practitioner.

Miscellany: Essential Research on tax, Roy Morgan, by-election latest (new thread)

Half-cooked early indications on the tax cuts backflip produce mixed signals.

The first two polls after the government’s tax cuts backflip are out, though neither was conducted entirely after the new policy was announced on Thursday. The Essential Research poll, which was conducted Wednesday to Monday with a sample of 1201, is as yet lacking voting intention numbers, which will hopefully be along later today. As reported in The Guardian, the poll presented respondents with a description of the stage three tax cuts as originally proposed and a choice of four responses, with only 22% favouring that the cuts proceed unchanged, up two from November. Of the remainder, 47% preferred they be “revised so they mostly benefit those on low and middle incomes”, in line with the government’s new policy, up six; 19% favoured an option of delaying cuts for those on more than $200,000 until “economic conditions improve”, down three; and 13% opposed the cuts altogether, down three.

UPDATE: Essential Research’s voting intention numbers are Labor 32% (up one from mid-December), Coalition 34% (steady), Greens 13% (steady) and One Nation 7% (steady) with 5% undecided. Its 2PP+ measure has Labor leading 48-46, in from 49-46.

The weekly voting intention poll from Roy Morgan had only half its field work after the announcement, being conducted Monday to Sunday from a sample of 1688. The two-party headline of 50.5-49.5 in favour of Labor is in from 52.5-47.5 last week, though that result was something of an outlier: the previous four polls, conducted from late November to early January with a week’s break for Christmas, were all in the range from 51-49 to 49-51. On the primary vote, Labor is down one-and-a-half to 31% and the Coalition is up by the same amount to 37.5%, with both the Greens and One Nation up half a point to 13.5% and 5% respectively.

Essential Research also asked about respondents’ personal financial circumstances, which reportedly showed improvement “over summer”, though I can’t find the earlier poll being compared to. Eleven per cent rated their circumstances as comfortable, 38% as secure (up seven), 39% as struggling a bit (down four), and 12% as in serious difficulty (down two). Regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict, 67% felt Australia should stay out entirely, up six since November, with a five point drop in support for “active assistance to Palestine” to 16% and a one point drop for Israel to 17%. A presumably related question on the ABC found an even 39% for and against the proposition that it was independent and unbiased. Support for a republic was at 42% and opposition at 35%; on Australia Day, 40% supported the status quo, 18% a separate new date, and 31% a new date in addition to the existing one.

In other news, yet another by-election is on the horizon after Labor MP Jim Madden announced his resignation from the Queensland state seat of Ipswich West. Like the by-election for Annastacia Palaszczuk’s seat of Inala, this will be held simultaneously with the local government elections on March 16, at which Madden will run as a candidate for Ipswich City Council. Madden had previously announced he would retire at the next election after a series of unwelcome headlines last year, including claims of bullying and harassment of electorate office staff. Labor had already preselected Wendy Bourne, a Right-aligned former staffer to Annastacia Palaszczuk, who was unopposed after the withdrawal of Neisha Traill, an official with the Left faction Electrical Trades Union.

The road ahead: Dunkley, Inala and more

With dates set for a federal and a Queensland state by-election, a review of looming electoral events.

House of Representatives Speaker Milton Dick has announced the Dunkley by-election will be held on March 2, with nominations to close on February 8 and be decared the following day, and the Poll Bludger’s guide to the by-election is now up and running. It is the first of my guides to feature historical results charts for the primary vote as well as two-party preferred (among many other things), which I hope is of use to somebody because it involved a lot of work.

In a report on the by-election in The Age yesterday, David Crowe related that “this masthead reported last week that Labor officials privately believe the Coalition has the edge”. I am not clear if this refers to a report from Broede Carmody, saying only that the officials “expect a swing against them”, or one from Paul Sakkal saying “both parties are privately downplaying their chances”.

The other by-election on the way is in Queensland for Annastacia Palaszczuk’s safe Labor seat of Inala, which Premier Steven Miles has confirmed will be held simultaneously with the local government elections on March 16. Seemingly assured of Labor endorsement is Margie Nightingale, former teacher and policy adviser to Treasurer Cameron Dick, who has the support of the Right. Lydia Lynch of The Australian reports the Liberal National Party is “due to preselect its candidate within a fortnight” – I will hold off doing an election guide until then.

The council elections are of substantial interest in their own right, with Brisbane City Council in particular being both the most powerful and the most partisan local government jurisdiction in the country. The conservatives have been dominant since Campbell Newman became Lord Mayor in 2004. The current incumbent, Adrian Schrinner, won by 56.3-43.7 after preferences in 2020, a swing to Labor of 3.0% from 2016. His Labor opponent this time is Tracey Price, a lawyer and sewing shop owner.

The Liberal National Party’s dominance on council reached new heights with the elections of 2016 and 2020, both of which saw them win 19 out of 26 council wards, leaving five for Labor and one each for Greens and an independent. The Greens have high hopes of expanding their footprint after their federal breakthrough in 2022, to the extent of talking up the possibility of displacing Labor as the council opposition. Considerably more detail on the elections is available courtesy of Ben Raue at the Tally Room.

Also looming are Tasmania’s periodic Legislative Council elections, presumably to be held on May 4, which this year encompass two of the chamber’s fifteen seats: Prosser, covering rural territory immediately north of Hobart, and the self-explanatory seat of Hobart. These are of particular interest this year because former Greens leader Cassy O’Connor has abandoned her seat in the lower house to run for Hobart, which if successful will win the Greens its first ever seat in the chamber. The seat will be vacated with the retirement of Rob Valentine, who has held it as an independent since 2012. Prosser is held for the Liberals by Jane Howlett, one of the chamber’s four Liberal members, who won narrowly in 2018 and may struggle amid the government’s declining fortunes. Labor likewise holds four seats, the remaining seven being independents.

Friday miscellany: culture war edition (open thread)

Poll results on republicanism, Australia Day and boycotting Woolworths, plus Roy Morgan voting intention numbers and preselection latest.

Roy Morgan remains the only regularly reporting pollster to have returned for the year on voting intention, but Essential Research presumably isn’t far off. Past experience suggests it should be at least another week before Newspoll is back in the game. Which leaves us with:

UPDATE: There are now voting intention results for the YouGov poll mentioned below. Labor’s two-party lead is out to 52-48 from 51-49 in the final poll last year, from primary votes of Labor 32% (up three), Coalition 37% (steady), Greens 13% (down two), One Nation 7% (steady).

• This week’s Roy Morgan poll found Labor with a two-party lead of 51.5-48.5, after the Coalition led 51-49 upon the pollster’s return for the year a week ago. The primary votes were Labor 31.5% (up two-and-a-half), Coalition 37% (down two), Greens 12% (down one) and One Nation 4.5% (down half). The poll was conducted from a sample of 1727 last Monday to Sunday.

• Pollster DemosAU, which produced accurate polling on the Indigenous Voice referendum, has a poll showing strong support for a republic referendum in the next five years, but also that any given model for a republic will have a hard time ahead of it. On the former count, 47% said yes and 39% no, a notable contrast with Freshwater Strategy’s finding of 55% opposition to a referendum “now”. On the latter, “direct election with open nomination” trailed the status quo 38-41; “executive president/US model” trailed 35-43; “ARM ‘Australian choice’ model” trailed 32-45; the 1999 referendum proposal trailed 27-48; and the McGarvie model, for all its impeccable credentials, did worst of all at 27-49. The aforementioned are summaries of more detailed question wordings that can be found on the methodology statement. The poll was conducted January 8 to 12 from a sample of 1300.

• YouGov has an Australia Day themed poll finding 49% support for keeping the holiday as its present date, 21% for changing the date, and 30% favouring a “two-day public holiday that celebrates old and new”. Respondents were also which of three options was closest to their view concerning Peter Dutton’s call for a boycott of Woolworths and Big W: support for Dutton’s position, which scored 20%; support for Woolworths and Big W, which scored 14%; and “my main concern with supermarkets now is excessive price rises rather than this issue”, accounting for the remaining 66%. The poll was conducted Friday to Wednesday from a sample of 1532.

Other news:

Hayden Johnson of the Courier-Mail reports the by-election for Annastacia Palaszczuk’s seat of Inala simultaenously with Queensland’s local government elections on March 16, and that the Liberal National Party is expected to field a candidate for the safe Labor seat. Labor’s candidate is likely to be Margie Nightingale, former teacher and policy adviser to Treasurer Cameron Dick.

• Liberal preselection nominations have closed for Kooyong and Goldstein, where Josh Frydenberg and Tim Wilson were respectively defeated by teal independents in 2022. As previous reports indicated, Kooyong will be a four-way contest between Amelia Hamer, Susan Morris, Michael Flynn and Rochelle Pattison, with Hamer boasting the support of Frydenberg. In addition to Wilson and the previously reported Stephanie Hunt, the Goldstein preselection will also be contested by IPA research fellow Colleen Harkin. Rachel Baxendale of The Australian reports the preselections are likely to be held shortly after the Dunkley by-election.

Dan Jervis-Bardy of The West Australian reports Patrick Hill, Canning mayor and former police officer, and Howard Ong, a Singapore-born IT consultant, will seek Liberal preselection in Tangney, where the party suffered one of its worst defeats of the 2022 election at the hands of Labor’s Sam Lim. The report says the former member, Ben Morton, is understood to have ruled himself out. It also relates that Senator Michaelia Cash is marshalling support for Moore MP Ian Goodenough in the face of a preselection challenge from former Stirling MP Vince Connelly.

Monday miscellany (open thread)

A preselection opponent for Tim Wilson in Goldstein, update on the Queensland by-election for Annastacia Palaszczuk’s seat, and Eric Abetz announces a state comeback bid.

Three items of electoral relevance to emerge amidst the New Year news and polling drought:

Paul Sakkal of The Age reports Stephanie Hunt, corporate lawyer and former legal adviser to Julie Bishop and Marise Payne, will seek Liberal preselection for Goldstein, which Tim Wilson hopes to recover after losing to independent Zoe Daniel in 2022. Wilson remains the front-runner, in the estimation of a further report in The Age today.

Lydia Lynch of The Australian reports Margie Nightingale, former teacher and policy adviser to Treasurer Cameron Dick, is the front-runner to succeed Annastacia Palaszczuk in her seat of Inala, the by-election for which is “tipped to be held in March”. Palaszczuk’s former deputy chief-of-staff, Jon Persley, had long been mentioned as her likely successor, but he has withdrawn from contention, saying the party’s gender quota rules played a “big factor” in the decision.

Sue Bailey of the Sunday Tasmanian reports that veteran former Liberal Senator and conservative stalwart Eric Abetz will seek state preselection in the division of Franklin for an election due in June next year, assuming Jeremy Rockliff’s government is able to keep the show on the road that long.

New Year miscellany: Dunkley by-election, preselection and polling round-up (open thread)

First reports emerge of preselection contenders for the looming Dunkley by-election, plus state polls from Victoria and Queensland and much else besides.

First up, developments ahead of the Dunkley by-election, which Rachel Baxendale of The Australian reported yesterday was “unlikely to be held before late February”:

• A Liberal preselection ballot scheduled for January 14 is expected to include Frankston mayor Nathan Conroy; Donna Hope, who as Donna Bauer held the state seat of Carrum from 2010 to 2014 and is now an electorate officer to Chris Crewther, former federal member for Dunkley and now state member for Mornington; Bec Buchanan, another staffer to Crewther and the party’s state candidate for Carrum in 2022; and Sorrento real estate agent David Burgess, who was on the party’s Legislative Council ticket for Eastern Victoria in 2022.

Paul Sakkal of The Age today reports the widower of the late Labor member Peta Murphy, Rod Glover, is being encouraged to seek preselection by “senior Labor figures”. The report describes Glover as a “respected former staffer to Kevin Rudd, university professor and public policy expert”. Also mentioned in Rachel Baxendale’s report were Madison Child, an “international relations and public policy graduate in her mid twenties who grew up in Frankston”, and has lately worked as an electorate officer to Murphy; Georgia Fowler, a local nurse who ran in Mornington at the November 2022 state election; and Joshua Sinclair, chief executive of the Committee for Frankston and Mornington Peninsula.

Other preselection news:

• Tim Wilson has confirmed he will seek Liberal preselection to recover the Melbourne seat of Goldstein following his defeat at the hands of teal independent Zoe Daniel in 2022. Paul Sakkal of The Age reports he is “unlikely to face a challenger”.

Lydia Lynch of The Australian today reports nominations for Liberal National Party preselection will close on January 15 in the inner Brisbane seat of Ryan, which the party lost to Elizabeth Watson-Brown of the Greens in 2022, and the Gold Coast seat of McPherson, which will be vacated with the retirement of Karen Andrews. The front-runner in the former case is said to be Maggie Forrest, barrister and the party’s honorary legal adviser. In addition to the previously identified Ben Naday, Leon Rebello and David Stevens in McPherson (the first two being rated the front-runners) is Adam Fitzgibbons, head of public affairs at Coles. Party insiders are said to be “increasingly concerned” about the emergence of a “McPherson Matters” group that is preparing a teal independent bid for the seat.

Lily McCaffrey of the Herald-Sun reports Emanuele Cicchiello, deputy principal Lighthouse Christian College deputy principal, has been preselected as Liberal candidate for Aston, the Melbourne seat that was lost to the party in a historic by-election result on April 1. Cicchiello ran unsuccessfully in Bruce in 2013 and has made numerous other bids for preselection.

• Rochelle Pattison, chair of Transgender Victoria and director of corporate finance firm Chimaera Capital, has nominated for Liberal preselection in Kooyong, joining an existing field consisting of Amelia Hamer, Susan Morris and Michael Flynn.

• The New South Wales Liberal Party website records two unheralded federal election candidates in Sam Kayal, a local accountant who will again run in Werriwa following an unsuccessful bid in 2022, and Katie Mullens, conservative-aligned solicitor at Barrak Lawyers who ran for the state seat of Parramatta in March and has now been preselected for the federal seat of the same name.

Polling news:

• The Courier-Mail sought to read the temperature of Queensland politics post-Annastacia Palaszczuk without breaking the budget by commissioning a uComms robopoll, crediting the Liberal National Party opposition with a two-party lead of 51-49. The only detail provided on primary votes was that the LNP was on 36.2% and Labor 34.4% – no indication was provided as to whether this was exclusive of the uncommitted, which is often not the case withuComms. Steven Miles was viewed positively by 42.7% and negatively by 27.6%, with only the positive rating of 37.8% provided for David Crisafulli. A forced response question on preferred premier had Crisafulli leading Miles by 52.2-47.8. True to the Courier-Mail style guide, the report on this unremarkable set of numbers included the words “startling”, “explosive”, “whopping” and “stunning”. The initial report on Tuesday was accompanied by a hook to a follow-up that promised to tell “who Queenslanders really wanted as Annastacia Palaszczuk’s replacement”. The answer was revealed the next day to be Steven Miles, favoured by 37.8% over Shannon Fentiman on 35.0% and Cameron Dick on 27.1%. The poll was conducted December 21 and 22 from a sample of 1911.

• RedBridge Group has a poll of Victorian state voting intention showing Labor leading 55.9-44.1, little different to the 55.0-45.0 result at the November 2022 election. The primary votes are Labor 37% (36.7% at the election), Coalition 36% (34.5%) and Greens 13% (11.5%). Extensive further results include leadership ratings inclusive of “neither approve nor disapprove” option that find Jacinta Allan viewed positively by 24%, negatively by 30% and neutrally by 32%, John Pesutto at 16% positive, 36% neutral and 29% negative, and Greens leader Samantha Ratnam at 14% positive, 29% neutral and 35% negative. The poll was conducted December 2 to 12 from a sample of 2026.

• Nine Newspapers published results from Resolve Strategic on Thursday on whether various politicians were viewed positively, neutrally, negatively or not at all, which it had held back from its last national poll nearly a month ago. Whereas a similar recent exercise by Roy Morgan simply invited respondents to identify politicians they did and didn’t trust, this one took the to-my-mind more useful approach of presenting respondents with a set list of forty names. In the federal sphere, the five most positively rated were Penny Wong (net 14%, meaning the difference between her positive and negative results), Jacqui Lambie (10%), Jacinta Price (6%), David Pocock (5%) and Tanya Plibersek (3%). The lowest were Scott Morrison (minus 35%), Lidia Thorpe (minus 29%, a particularly remarkable result given what was presumably modest name recognition), Barnaby Joyce (minus 27%), Pauline Hanson (minus 25%) and, interestingly, Bob Katter (minus 15%). Of state leaders, Chris Minns (plus 14%) and David Crisafulli (plus 9%) did notably well, and John Pesutto (minus 7%) and the since-departed Annastacia Palaszczuk (minus 17%) notably poorly. The poll was conducted November 29 to December 3 from a sample of 1605.

Annastacia Palaszczuk resigns

Annastacia Palaszczuk’s departure after nearly nine years as Premier brings on a by-election and a potentially messy leadership contest.

Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced her imminent retirement from politics, two months short of her ninth anniversary as Premier of Queensland. This follows a period of mounting pressure on her leadership amid deteriorating opinion polls ahead of an election to be held on October 26. Palaszczcuk has endorsed Deputy Premier Steven Miles as her successor, but it appears that does not settle the matter, with one MP so far declaring support for Health Minister Shannon Fentiman. The parliamentary party has a strong incentive to settle on a consensus candidate, as a contested vote would require a process lasting several weeks in which equal weight would be given to votes of the caucus, affiliated unions and the party rank-and-file, a process that has never been tested since the state party introduced it a decade ago.

Both Miles and Fentiman are members of the Left, which commands a majority at state conference. However, the United Workers Union, and in particular its state secretary Gary Bullock, works as an individual source of power within it that has lately been allied with the Old Guard sub-faction of the Right (UPDATE: Comments feedback suggests categorising the Old Guard as part of the Right may be out of date – it has typically been identified as a third faction in recent times). The other sub-faction of the Right is the Labor Forum, dominated by the Australian Workers Union, which counts among its number Annastacia Palaszczuk and Treasurer Cameron Dick. In August, Dick took it upon himself to release a “blueprint” for how Labor could win the next election, which was widely seen as an effort to deal himself into the game. However, James Hall of the Courier-Mail assessed he would “find it challenging to secure sufficient support”.

Palaszczuk will resign as Premier later this week and from parliament next month, resulting in a by-election for her south-western Brisbane seat of Inala, which she retained in 2020 with a margin of 28.2%, making it Labor’s safest seat. It was also among the seven that remained to the party following its near annihilation at the 2012 election, which left Palaszczuk as the only plausible contender for the leadership of what remained of the parliamentary party. It has long been reckoned Palaszczuk’s successor in the seat would be her deputy chief-of-staff, Jon Persley. However, The Australian’s Feeding the Chooks column noted in December that his candidacy would raise difficulties with affirmative action and the optics of imposing a political apparatchik on a multicultural electorate. Right faction sources identified an alternative in Nayda Hernandez, ward officer to local councillor Charles Strunk, who had “grassroots support”.

Resolve Strategic: LNP 37, Labor 33, Greens 12 in Queensland

A relatively positive poll result for state Labor in Queensland, plus a round-up of preselection news from the state over the past month.

The Brisbane Times has published one of its occasional slow-release polls on Queensland state voting intention that combine results from Resolve Strategic’s monthly polling, in this case going back to September with a combined sample of 940. Just as Resolve Strategic’s federal polling has become noted for being more favourable for Labor than its competitors, this one tells a relatively positive story for Annastacia Palaszczuk’s government, putting the LNP ahead of Labor by 37% (down one on the mid-year aggregation) to 33% (up one) with the Greens up a point to 12% and One Nation steady on 8%. This suggests a fairly even split on two-party preferred, for which Resolve Strategic does not provide a result. However, LNP leader David Crisafulli now leads Palaszczuk 39-34 as preferred premier, out from 37-36, and Palascszczuk’s “net likeability” rating has slipped further from minus 15 to minus 17, while Crisafulli is up from plus seven to plus nine.

Developments since the previous Queensland state post relating to an election due for October 26 next year:

• Rockhampton MP Barry O’Rourke announced last month that he will retire at the election. Biomedical engineer Craig Marshall had expressed interest in preselection, and has the support of O’Rourke and the Old Guard sub-faction of the Right. As The Australian’s Feeding the Chooks column puts it, O’Rourke “pulled a swifty, and didn’t let on publicly that he was retiring until after the expressions of interest for candidates closed”, a move that granted the “inside running” to Marshall.

The Australian reports the only Labor incumbent facing a preselection challenge is Stafford MP Jimmy Sullivan, who is up against Susan Lynch, “a one-time staffer of former Stafford incumbent Anthony Lynham”.

Hayden Johnson of the Courier-Mail reports the LNP has again preselected Marty Hunt, who held the seat from 2017 until his defeat in 2020 by Labor’s Rob Skelton, as its candidate for the Sunshine Coast seat of Nicklin. Gold Coast councillor Hermann Vorster has been confirmed as the candidate for Burleigh, which will be vacated with the retirement of LNP incumbent Michael Hart.

The Australian reported last month that polling for the Together public sector union showed Labor on track to lose its three Townsville seats of Townsville, Mundingburra and Thuringowa to the LNP and the inner Brisbane seats of Bulimba, Cooper and McConnel to the Greens, but maintaining leads in the Brisbane marginals of Aspley and Mansfield and the seats in and around Cairns.