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 Palaszczuk’s former deputy chief-of-staff, Jon Persley, had long been mentioned as her likely successor, but he has withdrawn from contention, saying the party’s gender quota rules played a “big factor” in the decision.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.

Callide by-election live

Live coverage of the count for the Queensland state by-election for the seat of Callide, held by the LNP on a margin of 8.8%.

Click here for full Callide by-election results updated live.

8.53pm. All four pre-poll booths are now in, and they’re a clean sweep of bad results for Labor, so clearly there was a different dynamic between election day and pre-poll booths: on the former, the primary vote swings against the LNP and Labor are 10.8% and 3.4%; on the latter, 4.3% and 8.1%. The result now looks more like a typical anti-government by-election swing.

8.06pm. Three out of four pre-poll booths are now in on the primary vote, and they have all made things look worse for Labor, such that I’m now projecting swings against them of nearly 5% on the primary vote and 4% on TCP.

7.36pm. The first pre-poll booth is in, from Chinchilla, and its 2461 votes have swung quite heavily away from Labor. Whereas previously I was suggesting that Labor was not suffering much of a swing, it’s now a more substantial 4.2%.

7.21pm. The large Calliope booth has significantly lifted Labor’s raw primary vote, but reduced its projection: their primary vote there is down 12.6%, which will feed into a substantial swing to the LNP on the TCP.

7.02pm. So what we have here is pretty much a status quo result in which the entry of One Nation has drawn about 16% of the vote almost entirely off the LNP. To the extent that Labor might think about the result at all, they would probably be pretty happy to have almost held their ground at a mid-term by-election where they faced competition from One Nation that wasn’t there last time.

7.01pm. Now my probability is saying what I believe it should be saying, which is that the LNP will definitely win. It assumes LNP-versus-Labor at the final count, which seems very likely now — they are ahead on raw votes and well ahead on my projection/

6.56pm. My TCP projection is now working off preference flow projections. My win probability seems to be stuck on 83.6%, which is making me thing something is amiss with it.

6.46pm. One Nation’s primary vote lead has almost disappeared as larger centres start to report, and my projection puts Labor ahead of them.

6.41pm. My TCP projections are still based off preference estimates — they will kick over to using a projection based on actual preference flows probably when the next TCP booth result comes in.

6.37pm. There are two booths in from very near Gin Gin, Bullyard and Wallaville, which are the closest things we have to results representative of larger population centres. Wallaville has the LNP well down on the primary vote, to the extent that my projected final result for them has been dragged down from near 50% to 44%.

6.36pm. With six booths in on the primary vote and two on the TCP, nothing to add that hasn’t been said previously. The larger centres in this electorate are Biloela, Chinchilla, Calliope and Gin Gin, and the chance that they may behave differently from the rural booths is such that you wouldn’t quite call it yet, although there’s no reason so far to think things aren’t playing to script. Probably the main point of interest is who out of Labor and One Nation comes second.

6.26pm. The first TCP result is in, from Jimbour — only now can I confirm that the count being conducted is between the LNP and Labor.

6.25pm. Five booths now, with the picture as described in the previous update essentially unchanged. One Nation well ahead of Labor on the raw primary vote, but I am projecting a close race between them. I am also projecting an LNP primary vote just shy of 50%, which doesn’t suggest they are in serious difficulty. Early days still though, and different parts of the seat may produce different dynamics.

6.20pm. We have 257 primary votes in from the Brigalow and Jimbour booths, which show both parties down on the primary vote in the face of competition of One Nation, which is about as you would expect. One Nation currently leads Labor 35 votes to 18, but that may be a function of these being deeply rural booths.

6pm. Polls have closed. With a lot of small booths and not too many candidates to complicate the counting process, results should soon be coming in a pretty fair clip, the first primary votes reporting perhaps within half an hour.

4.30pm. Today is the day of the Queensland state by-election for Callide, held to choose a replacement for Liberal National Party member Colin Boyce following his move to Canberra as the new member for Flynn. This is a rural conservative seat and an historic stronghold for the Nationals, though such contests can be dicey for the party if an independent challenger or One Nation builds a head of steam. No independent has emerged, but One Nation are fielding a candidate who polled 25.6% when she ran in 2017 and came within 6.1% after preferences, though she only managed 12.2% as candidate for Flynn at the recent federal election. A little surprisingly, Labor have entered the field in a seat where they will need a swing of 15.8%.

Live commentary of the count will proceed here from the closure of the polls at 6pm. You can find my live results page here and my by-election guide here. I’m assuming for now that the Electoral Commission will be conducting a two-candidate count between the LNP and Labor, but it may well be One Nation that makes the final count. The same presumably cannot be said of Katter’s Australian Party, Legalise Cannabis or Animal Justice, who are also in the field.

By-elections three

A quick run through the three state by-elections shortly to be held in Liberal and Nationals seats in Labor-run states.

There are now three state by-elections on the way, one imminent, another three weeks away, and a third on a date yet to be determined. I have election guides for the first two of these, linked two below. In turn:

Callide. A by-election will be held for this rural seat in Queensland on Saturday to replace Liberal National Party member Colin Boyce, who has now gone federal as the member for the corresponding seat of Flynn. Labor has not gone the usual path of forfeiting a seat in which it has never been competitive, at least notionally setting up a contest between LNP candidate Bryson Head and Labor’s Bronwyn Dendle. However, there seems at least as much chance that final count will be between the LNP and One Nation, whose candidate Sharon Lohse achieved as much when she ran in 2017. Lohse was also the party’s candidate in Flynn at the recent federal election. For whatever reason, the party sat it out in the seat at the 2020 state election. Also in the field are Legalise Cannabis, Katter’s Australian Party and Animal Justice – but not the Greens, who tend not to trouble the scoreboard much in this part of the world.

Bragg. This blue-ribbon Adelaide seat goes to the polls on July 2 to choose a successor to former Deputy Premier Vickie Chapman, who displeased her party by pulling the plug on her political career shortly after the March election defeat. Here too Labor is gamely taking the field in a seat it has never held, but given the Liberals’ form in comparable seats at the federal election and its all-time low margin of 8.2% after the state election, it’s easier here to see why they might think it worth a roll of the dice. The Liberals could have had particular trouble if disgruntled political staffer Chelsey Potter had followed through on her threat to don the teal independent mantle, but it seems she was persuaded not to. The by-election thus pits Liberal candidate Jack Batty, who until recently worked at the High Commission in London, against Labor’s Alice Rolls, head of policy and strategy at the Australian Pro Bono Centre. The Greens and Family First have also announced candidates; nominations close on Friday.

North West Central. One of only six seats out of the 59 in Western Australia’s lower house not held by Labor, North West Central is shortly to be vacated with the retirement of Nationals member Vince Catania. Catania began his political career with Labor as a member of the Legislative Council in 2005, transferred to the Legislative Assembly in 2008, defected to the Nationals the following year and comfortably retained it through to 2021, when he held out by 1.7% against a swing of 8.4%, one of the lowest in the state. Although anything would seem possible given the loss of Catania’s personal vote, which is of particular significance in a seat where only 8000 voters were cast at the last election, the consensus seems to be that Labor will not field a candidate as it fears a backlash over its one-vote one-value reform to the Legislative Council, expects the seat to be abolished at the next redistribution and already has more MPs than it knows what to do with. The seat could potentially develop into a contest between the Nationals and the Liberals, but the odds on the latter would presumably be rather long.

Honeymoon polling and state by-election news

The first embers of polling since the election record strong support for the new Prime Minister and his agenda.

US pollster Morning Consult, which conducts monthly international polling on world leaders’ domestic personal ratings, has found Anthony Albanese with an approval rating of 51% and a disapproval rating of 25%. Its final result for Scott Morrison was 40% approval and 54% disapproval. The poll was conducted May 23 to 31 from a sample of 3770.

Essential Research published its usual fortnightly poll this week, which had nothing to offer on voting intention or leadership ratings, although it did find that 23% rated themselves more likely to vote Coalition with Peter Dutton as leader compared with 27% less likely. Questions on attitudes to Labor policies found 70% support for increasing the minimum wage and 69% support for a federal Independent Commission Against Corruption, with only 9% opposed in each case. Fifty-two per cent felt Labor should “look for opportunities to rebuild relations” with China, with only 19% favouring a more confrontational position and 12% favouring the current set of policies. Support for the Uluru statement was found to have increased significantly since November 2017, with 53% supporting an indigenous voice to parliament in the constitution.

Some notable state news that got lost in the federal election rush:

• A by-election will be held on June 18 for the Queensland state seat of Callide after its Liberal National Party member, Colin Boyce, moved to federal politics as the Nationals member for Flynn. This is a very safe rural conservative seat, but Labor has nonetheless endorsed Bronwyn Dendle to run against Bryson Head of the LNP, a 26-year-old mining industry geologist. Also in the field are candidates of One Nation, Katter’s Australian Party, Legalise Cannabis and Animal Justice.

• The by-election to replace Vickie Chapman in the safe Liberal seat of Bragg in South Australia has been set for July 2. The ABC reports four nominees for the Liberal preselection: Jack Batty, adviser to the Australian High Commissioner in London; Sandy Biar, national director of the Australian Republic Movement and public affairs officer with the army; and Melissa Jones, a law firm director; and Cara Miller, former co-owner of a radiology business.

• Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff has announced he will introduce legislation this year to increase the size of the state’s House of Assembly from 25 seats to 35, reversing a change made in 1998. The move has the support of the Liberals, Labor and the Greens.

Hello Newman

An eventful weekend bequeaths Queensland a by-election result and an unexpected new Senate election candidate.

I had a piece yesterday on Campbell Newman’s break with the Liberal National Party and plans to run for the Senate in Crikey, which I believe has its paywall down for a limited time only. The upshot is that Newman’s anti-lockdown message may struggle to gain traction in a state that hasn’t had many of them; that he is unlikely to benefit the conservative cause even if he wins; and that his presence on the ballot paper could even contribute to a seat currently held by the Liberal National Party (specifically Amanda Stoker) or Pauline Hanson instead going to Labor or the Greens.

The article includes a reference to a poll conducted by Ipsos in June from a sample of 500 Queensland respondents for conservative podcast host Damian Coory, who published approval ratings for state political figures among its small sample of 173 LNP voters. Newman was credited with an approval rating of nearly 60%, substantially higher than any of his four successors as party leader, which may have encouraged him in his present course. Newman has also maintained high name recognition, with only around 20% of respondents uncommitted, compared with around 40% for Lawrence Springborg and Deb Frecklington and 60% for David Crisafulli, who replaced Frecklington after the election defeat in October.

Rightly or wrongly, some media accounts have tied Newman’s abandonment of the LNP to a crisis in the party that was laid bare by Saturday’s Stretton by-election, which delivered it an unimpressive swing of 1.6%. My live results display for the by-election continues to be updated here, if on a somewhat irregular basis. The Electoral Commission of Queensland helpfully publishes preference flows by candidate, which may be of some interest: these show that preferences of the Informed Medical Options Party broke 60-40 to the LNP, while the Greens went 82-18 to Labor and Animal Justice went 56-44.

Elsewhere, Antony Green offers his estimated new margins for the finalised federal redistribution of Victoria.

Stretton by-election live

Live coverage of the count for today’s state by-election in Queensland.

Click here for full display of latest results.

Live commentary

10.04pm. The pre-polls are now in on two-party preferred, and the LNP ends the night with a 1.6% two-party swing. Diminishing batches of postals will be added over the coming week or so, together with a small number of provisional votes, but I’d say that’s it for this evening.

9.14pm. The main source of pre-polls has reported on the primary vote, accounting for 7507 votes with very little swing.

8.06pm. The addition of the postal votes on two-party preferred has pushed the LNP swing back over 2%.

7.52pm. The only outstanding results on the primary vote are a big set of pre-polls (maybe 6000) plus late postals; no TCP yet from the 5402 postals counted so far plus the Stretton polling booth. My two separate projections are now in close alignment, one crediting the LNP with a 1.6% swing, the other (which makes use of the booths that have so far only recorded primary votes) with 1.1%.

7.47pm. 5402 postal votes have been added on the primary vote — they have swung to the LNP by about 5%, though this may reflect a tendency of early arriving postal votes to be more conservative than later ones. In any case, it hasn’t changed by final projection too radically, which continues to show very little swing.

7.38pm. Four election day booths are now in on the primary vote, including three that are in on two-party preferred. My vanilla projection of the swing is 2.1% to the LNP, but after factoring in the booth that’s yet to report the TPP and crediting Labor with a higher share of preferences than last time, I’ve actually got a very slight swing to Labor on the overall projection. Maybe that won’t stick, but it’s clear that the LNP has picked up a small swing at best.

7.21pm. Small primary vote swing to the LNP at Runcorn East booth, where 1293 votes were cast.

7.18pm. The Kuraby booth, with 2076 primary votes, is better for the LNP — they’re up by 7.1%. My projection hasn’t changed much though, which I think is because another of the minor booths has reported on TPP and it’s given them a less good preference flow. This projection leans heavily on a preference estimate based on, at this stage, not enough minor party TPP votes (76 in all). The primary votes suggest an LNP swing of 3%-4%.

7.14pm. And with that, my projection is definitively calling it for Labor.

7.13pm. The first major result in is 2344 primary votes from the Sunnybank Hills booth, which record very little swing.

7.11pm. Still no election day results, which could well prove very different — but the three booths we have so far, of which two have TPP as well as primary vote results, suggest a swing to the LNP of insufficient size to put the result in doubt.

7.01pm. Actually, I think my primary vote projections are okay — Antony Green’s are identical.

6.59pm. ECQ booth now in on TPP, which I make to be a 2.1% swing there to the LNP, keeping in mind that this is their strongest result of the three sets of primary vote numbers so far. So it seems pretty clear that Labor aren’t in trouble. I believe there’s a problem with my primary vote projections, which I’m looking into.

6.49pm. The ECQ headquarters booth is in now on the primary vote: 154 votes, swinging slightly to the LNP. Still nothing on two-party preferred.

6.35pm. Now we’ve got “Telephone voting – early voting” as well. The distinction between this and the other telephone voting is unclear to me, but there’s 250 votes’ worth of these and they record a 6.4% drop on the primary vote.

6.15pm. “Telephone voting” is in: only 79 primary votes, little change since the election.

6pm. Polls have closed. I’m not sure when we will be seeing the first results — presumably the five election day polling booths will take a while, and the pre-poll booths still longer. However, the ECQ Headquarters booth in Brisbane will only account for a few hundred votes and shouldn’t take long to knock off if those votes are indeed being counted right away. There’s also telephone votes, which I can’t tell you about; a space for “mobile polling” results is listed, but I suspect there won’t actually be any.


Welcome to the live count thread for today’s by-election in the Queensland state seat of Stretton, which you can read all about here. The action will as ever commence with the close of booths at 6pm, with the first results presumably to follow an hour or so later.

The displays at the top of this post offer a glimpse of my full live results facility, which neatly lay out booth results and the swing calculations being used to project the result. It should be noted that the COVID-19 situation is making booth-matching an ever more fraught exercise: the number of election day polling booths has been cut from an already modest eight to an unheard-of low of five. For this purpose I have folded results from the decommissioned Calamvale booth into Stretton, Eight Miles Plains West into Runcorn East and Runcorn into Sunnybank Hills. We can presumably also expect to see a repeat of the state election when over third of the votes cast were postals.

A preselection, two redistributions and a by-election

An assemblage of random stuff to kick off the new week.

It being the mid-point of the year, we’re about due for Newspoll’s state and demographic aggregates and Essential Research’s dump of voting intention numbers, both of which come along quarterly. In the meantime, there’s the following:

• The Queensland Liberal National Party’s preselection for a successor to Andrew Laming in Bowman has been won by Henry Pike, media and communications director for the Property Council. Pike was the only male candidate in a field of five, and prevailed despite earlier urgings from the Prime Minister for a woman to be preselected. Madura McCormack of the Courier-Mail reports he won in the final round of the ballot of local preselectors with 107 votes against 88 for Maggie Forrest, a barrister. Pike said last week that comments he made on the subject of “f***ing a fat chick” in a group chat twelve years ago, when he was about 21, do not “reflect the person I’ve grown to be”.

• Antony Green has published a report calculating party vote shares for the draft state redistribution in Victoria. Finalised state boundaries for New South Wales will be along at some unspecified point in the probably not too distant future.

• I have published a guide to the by-election for the Queensland state seat of Stretton, to be held on July 24 to choose a successor to Labor member Duncan Pegg, who resigned in April due to ill health and died on June 10.

Lockdown miscellany

Top end preselection news, a date set for a Queensland state by-election, and the latest on federal and state redistributions.

As a new financial year dawns, it’s all happening on Poll Bludger — in addition to this post, there is:

• A new post by Adrian Beaumont on Britain’s Batley and Spen by-election, French regional elections and the New York City mayoral election;

• A post on the new draft state redistribution for Victoria, including my calculations of party vote shares for the new boundaries;

• A post on the federal redistribution for Victoria, which has now been finalised, and which likewise comes with an accounting of party vote shares under the new boundaries, and some analysis of how the changes affects the Greens prospects in Macnamara and Higgins; and

• The regular bi-monthly donation drive.

Further developments:

• The Northern Territory Country Liberal Party has preselected Jacinta Price as its Senate candidate at the expense of incumbent Sam McMahon, who came to the position at the 2019 election. Price is the deputy mayor of Alice Springs Council and head of indigenous research at conservative think thank the Centre for Independent Studies, and ran unsuccessfully for the CLP in Lingiari at the 2019 election. McMahon was in the news last week after her unsteadiness while in the Senate chamber prompted allegations she was drunk, although she insisted she had in fact been suffering symptoms of severe hypertension.

• The mayor of Alice Springs, Damien Ryan, has been preselected by the CLP as its new candidate for Lingiari, which will be vacated with the retirement of Labor veteran Warren Snowdon. Labor’s new candidate is Marion Scrymgour, former Deputy Chief Minister and current chief executive of the Northern Land Council.

• Federal parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters has published the report from its inquiry on the future conduct of elections operating during times of emergency situations. After considering the recent experiences of Queensland council elections, the Eden-Monaro by-election and general elections in Tasmania and the Northern Territory, it offers fairly modest recommendations: to give the Electoral Commissioner the power to extend pre-polling periods and allow for no-excuse postal and pre-poll voting (which exists de facto in any case) should the circumstances demand it, and to change the Electoral Act to change the date of an election in an emergency, giving better effect to a power that already exists under the Constitution.

• July 24 has been set as the date for Queensland’s Stretton by-election, which will fill the vacancy created by Labor member Duncan Pegg’s resignation after a terminal cancer diagnosis in May, followed weeks later by his death. The by-election will be contested for Labor by James Martin, a former electorate officer to Pegg, and for the Liberal National Party by Jim Bellos, a police officer and former Queenslander of the Year. Labor’s margin in the seat is 14.8%; I’ll be publishing a guide to the by-election soon-ish.