EMRS: 43-36 to Labor in Tasmania

The latest quarterly EMRS survey of 1000 Tasmanian voters shows no radical change in state voting intention since February, with Labor’s lead after distribution of the undecided up a point to 43 per cent, the Liberals steady on 36 per cent and the Greens down two to 17 per cent. There are also breakdowns by electorate which you can see for yourself, but with samples ranging from 133 to 206 it wouldn’t do to take them too seriously. Slightly good news for the Liberals from the preferred leader ratings, which have David Bartlett down two to 39 per cent and Will Hodgman up two to 31 per cent. Newish Greens leader Nick McKim is up one to 13 per cent.

More from Peter Tucker at Tasmanian Politics and Kevin Bonham at the Tasmanian Times, who are puzzled by EMRS’s high undecided rates (24 per cent on this occasion).

Tasmanian Legislative Council elections live

NOTE: Results below were not updated beyond the day after the election. Official results are available from the Tasmanian Electoral Commission.

WINDERMERE VOTES % SWING PROJECTED
Dean* 7015 39.2% -11.2% 39.0%
Hay 4788 26.9%
Kaye 1750 9.8%
Sands 1433 7.9%
Whish-Wilson (GRN) 2904 16.3%
.
MERSEY
Gaffney 8344 42.9%
Jamieson 2590 13.3%
Laycock 3140 16.1%
Martin 5389 27.7%
.
DERWENT
Aird (ALP)* 9746 51.6% -25.9% 51.4%
Branch 6328 33.5%
Gunter (GRN) 2811 14.9%

Sunday

5.30pm. The last exclusion in Windermere shows Ivan Dean will be elected over Kathryn Hay by about 55-45. Whish-Wilson’s votes went 2,229 to Hay and 1,545 to Dean with 191 exhausting, leaving Dean on 9,743 (55.05 per cent) and Hay on 7,956 (44.95 per cent). While there will still be late counting of postals and the rest and a formal distribution of preferences at a later time, that wraps up the Poll Bludger’s coverage. Once again, congratulations to the Tasmanian Electoral Commission for promptly resolving the outcome and keeping the public informed of all aspects of the count’s progress, from which a couple of larger and presumably better funded bodies on the mainland could learn a thing or two.

5.15pm. The final exclusion in Mersey elects Mike Gaffney over Steve Martin with a two-candidate split of 11,676 (59.99 per cent) to 7,784 (40.01 per cent).

4.30pm. Now Kaye’s 2087 votes have been distributed in Windermere, going 836 to Dean, 647 to Hay and 604 to Whish-Wilson. Next up, the big one – 3965 votes to be distributed from Whish-Wilson, including 2904 of his own, 457 received as preferences from Sands and the 604 from Kaye. Hay needs to close a gap of 2473 votes, remembering that voters need only need number three preferences so some votes will start to exhaust at this point.

4pm. Another round of applause is due to the TEC for providing progressive updates on its provisional preference distribution. In Windermere, last-placed Ted Sands’ preferences have gone 457 to Greens candidate Peter Whish-Wilson, 347 to Ivan Dean, 337 to Peter John Kaye and 292 to Kathryn Hay. Rechecking has also given Dean a handy boost, docking 101 votes from Hay’s tally at the George Town booth. Hay now needs to make up a 2282-vote gap from the exclusion of Whish-Wilson (3361) and Kaye (2087). In Mersey, the elimination of last-placed Caroylnn Jamieson has sent 1107 votes to Gaffney, 828 to Martin and 636 to Laycock, so Gaffney needs fewer than 300 preferences from Laycock’s total of 3723 to defeat Martin. In other words, the only issue is the size of his margin. In Derwent, Kevin Bonham in comments corrects my earlier statement that there was no Greens candidate in 2003 – party affiliation was not listed at the time, but the one candidate who opposed Michael Aird ran under the party banner.

1am. A Tasmanian Electoral Commission media release informs us that a “provisional distribution of preferences” will be conducted today in Windermere and Mersey. Props are due to the TEC for this, and also for their counting of pre-polls and postals on election night.

Windermere. Kathryn Hay needs two-thirds of the minor candidates’ preferences in the context of a system which only requires voters to number three boxes (out of five in this case). I expected that Ivan Dean would win reasonably comfortably, and have emerged from the count duly impressed by the vote-pulling power of Kathryn Hay, whom Labor would do well to pursue if they’re not already. Antony Green: “It’s worth noting that Ivan dean’s vote held up in George Town, near the site of the proposed Gunns Mill, but was down between 10 and 20% through the rest of the electorate.”

Mersey. The only issue at stake here is the size of Mike Gaffney’s margin. I had tended to think Gaffney would suffer from his association with Labor, owing to past indications outside of Hobart of antipathy towards major party influence in the chamber, and the advancing years of the government. The success of a candidate who has been openly contemplating a ministerial position with the government might have been heartening news to Labor …

Derwent. … if it weren’t for the 26 per cent drop in Michael Aird’s vote, which can only be partly explained by the entry of the Greens (who have polled 15 per cent). Antony Green: “If you compare tonight’s result with the 2006 state election within Derwent, Labor has polled 51.6% compared to 64.8% in the Derwent booths, the Greens 14.9% compared to 10.3% in 2006, and Jenny Branch has polled 33.5% where the Liberal Party polled 22.9% in 2006.”

Saturday

7.58pm. Some pre-polls added for Mersey and postals for Windermere (good work by the Electoral Commission getting on to this on election night, and for what seems a well conducted count all round). The latter have gone 45 per cent to Ivan Dean, giving him a slight boost.

7.53pm. The last remaining booth, Newnham in Windermere, has reported a par for the course result. Ivan Dean’s career in politics depends on the flow of preferences from the Greens and two independents to Kathryn Hay.

7.51pm. All booths now in from Mersey – Gaffney’s vote has fallen a little further, but he’ll still win.

7.47pm … but Valley Road pulls him back again. Only Addison Street and Turners Beach to come.

7.44pm. Gaffney gains a further 0.5 per cent in Mersey from the large Devonport Central and Spreyton booths.

7.41pm. Kevin Bonham on Windermere preferences: “In Windermere just Newnham and postal to come, and Dean leading by nearly 11% on primaries. On the current figures, assuming Kaye’s preferences break evenly, Hay will need 73% of Sands and Whish-Wilson’s prefs to beat Dean assuming zero exhaust. But a few percent do exhaust and if enough anti-mill voters refuse to preference either Hay or Dean the exhaust % could be higher. At the moment Dean should survive, unless the Kaye prefs break against him as well.”

7.35pm. All booths now in from Derwent.

7.31pm. More booths in from Windermere, leaving only Newnham to come. Ivan Dean still looking shaky against Kathryn Hay.

7.27pm. Three more booths from Derwent, leaving just Austins Ferry and Bridgewater to come.

7.21pm. What’s more, the swing against Ivan Dean has picked up with the addition of further booths.

7.18pm. Despite what I’ve been saying, Kevin Bonham in comments reckons Ivan Dean is “not safe” as Hay will get Greens preferences. I tend to assume preferences in these elections scatter around a bit more than that, but local issues might mean that doesn’t apply here.

7.16pm. Four more booths added from Mersey.

7.14pm. 448 pre-polls and 1083 postals added for Derwent.

7.10pm. Most Derwent booths now in, Aird continuing to hover around 50 per cent.

7.09pm. Four more Windermere booths consistent with the overall trend.

7.07pm. Three more booths from Mersey suggest Mike Gaffney should win quite comfortably unless something unusual happens with preferences.

7.01pm. Three more booths from Windermere. Kevin Bonham in comments noted that the Norfolk booth which reported first was a good booth for the Liberals, but these have maintained the trend of an 8 per cent dip in Ivan Dean’s vote which should not be enough to trouble him.

6.55pm. Three more booths from Derwent maintain the overall trend.

6.53pm. Four booths, mobile and Hobart in from Mersey, and Mike Gaffney’s looking very good.

6.49pm. Seven new booths from Derwent. Looking very much like Aird will have to rely on Greens preferences, which he would have to rate as a disappointing result.

6.48pm. Changed the way I calcuate the swing and projection to correct for that.

6.44pm. Mobile votes in from Windermere as well – they dampen the swing shown (and boost the projection) because Ivan Dean is coming off a base of zero.

6.42pm. First results from Windermere are from Hobart and the substantial Norwood both – Ivan Dean down by 8 per cent, but looking good to retain the seat.

6.40pm. I should stress that the big booths at Bridgewater, Brighton, Claremont and Norfolk get 10 times as many votes as these ones, and they might tell a different story.

6.39pm. Kevin Bonham in comments notes these booths are showing the Greens vote much higher than at the state election. Fremantle home against West Coast.

6.33pm. Westerway in as well, and Aird’s vote there is down 36.4 per cent – if this keeps up he might have to rely on Greens preferences. Perhaps the trend showing to date is something to do with small booths beyond the orbit of Hobart.

6.31pm. Maydena booth reporting – Aird down 24.5 per cent there as well (remembering he polled 77.3 per cent overall last time).

6.30pm. Explanatory note: my “projection” is a projected primary vote, calculated by applying the swing shown on reporting booths with the total result in 2003. Obviously this is only being done with the incumbents.

6.28pm. Very big swings against Aird in both places, as should be expected against stronger competition, but not enough to suggest trouble.

6.27pm. Two small booths added for Derwent – Bronte and the booth in Hobart city – so the table’s looking good again.

6.25pm. 48 “mobile” votes added for Derwent. Since there was no such count in 2003, the “swing” currently shown for Aird is off a base of zero. Best ignore my “projection” for now! (It adds the booth swing to his total 2003 vote).

6pm. Polls have closed in the elections for the Tasmanian state upper house seats of Windermere, Mersey and Derwent. This post will provide live coverage, with first results due in in about half an hour. Further coverage from Antony Green at ABC Elections.

Tasmanian upper house elections: May 2

Friday, April 24

Legislative Council maps available for enjoyment courtesy of Adam Carr and Ben Raue. You can also access ABC Local Radio forums with the candidates for each of the three divisions from ABC Elections.

Tuesday, April 21

On Saturday week, one fifth of Tasmanian voters go to the polls – or at least, ought to go to the polls – to perform some reupholstering on the state’s 15-member Legislative Council. Members of said chamber are elected for six-year terms on a rotating basis, which sees either two or three of the single-member divisions face the voters each May. Of the 15 members, four are Labor and the remaining 11 are independent, including former Labor member Terry Martin. The Liberals have traditionally not fielded candidates, and were badly rebuffed when they did so in the early 2000s. This year is the turn of Derwent, held for Labor by Treasurer Michael Aird; Windermere, where independent Ivan Dean faces re-election; and Mersey, which is vacated by retiring independent Norma Jamieson. Further reading from Antony Green and Tasmanian Politics.

Windermere occupies interesting electoral real estate on the eastern bank of the Tamar River, from the mouth through Bell Bay of Gunns pulp mill fame on to the northern and eastern suburbs of Launceston. Ivan Dean, the member since 2003, has attracted a surprisingly large field of four challengers, who perhaps detected vulnerability when he failed to win re-election as Launceston mayor in 2007. Best known of these is Kathyrn Hay, a former Miss Australia who served a term in the lower house after being recruited by Labor. After surprisingly choosing to bow out in 2006, Hay is now running as an independent, and Peter Tucker of Tasmanian Politics reckons she “clearly has a chance”. Peter John Kaye is a former broadcaster and adviser to various federal ministers including Warwick Smith, and is presumably of Liberal sympathies. Ted Sands is a Launceston councillor who ran third in the mayoral election. Antony Green tells us he is “a former member of the Labor Party and nominated for Labor Party pre-selection in Bass ahead of the 2007 Federal election”. Also in the field is Greens candidate Peter Whish-Wilson, who not surprisingly is a “prominent anti-pulp mill campaigner”.

Mersey covers Devonport and its immediate surrounds. An open contest following the retirement of independent member Norma Jamieson, this has curiously failed to attract any more newcomers than Windermere. Lynn Laycock is well credentialled as mayor of Devonport, but she faces strong competition. Mike Gaffney is an interesting departure from the upper house norm. Since turning down an offer from David Bartlett of Labor preselection in Braddon, he has quit the party and decided to make his mark as an independent. However, Sue Neales of The Mercury reports he has “refused to rule out accepting a future ministerial position in a Labor government”, while Bartlett continues to describe him as a “good candidate”. How this will appear to voters who traditionally vote to defend the independence of the upper house remains to be seen. Carolynn Jamieson is the owner of local transport and metal fabrication businesses, a fluent Mandarin speaker and, significantly, the daughter of outgoing member Norma. A recent precedent for keeping it in the family was Tania Rattray-Wagner’s win in 2004 in Apsley, on the retirement of father Colin Rattray. Steve Martin is a Devonport restaurant owner and chairman of the Mersey Community Hospital group, who happily fesses up to work as “a part-time Electorate Officer for local Labor MPs”.

The great disappointment of this round of elections was former federal Labor MP Harry Quick’s abandonment of his plan to run against Treasurer Michael Aird in Derwent. The division extends from Hobart outskirts for about 100 kilometres through the Derwent Valley. Aird is opposed by independent Jenny Branch, a Glenorchy councillor and Liberal Party member said by Antony Green to be seeking preselection for Denison in 2010, and Susan Gunter for the Greens.

I am maintaining my yearly ritual of tallying independents’ voting in divisions, but as there have been only four this year there isn’t much to write home about. The table shows the proportion of divisions in which each member has voted with Labor. I have been dividing it into substantive and procedural votes since 2007. Note that Sue Smith has recently taken over the position of President from Don Wing, who had not recorded a vote since 2003.

. 2007-09
ALL
2007-09
SUB.
2002-07 expiry
Jim Wilkinson (Nelson) 3/11 1/9 25/59 (42%) 2014
Sue Smith (Montgomery) 8/11 6/8 19/58 (33%) 2013
Greg Hall (Rowallan) 8/12 7/10 27/64 (42%) 2012
Don Wing (Paterson) 0/4 0/4 2/14 (14%) 2011
Ruth Forrest (Murchison) 7/14 7/11 8/16 (50%) 2011
Tanya Rattray-Wagner (Apsley) 8/14 7/11 11/27 (41%) 2010
Terry Martin (Elwick) 3/13 3/11 0/1 (0%) 2010
Norma Jamieson (Mersey) 3/12 3/10 8/36 (22%) 2009
Ivan Dean (Windemere) 11/14 9/12 13/39 (33%) 2009
Kerry Finch (Rosevears) 6/14 6/12 22/45 (49%) 2008
Paul Harriss (Huon) 7/15 5/12 10/64 (16%) 2008
Tony Fletcher (Murchison) 6/48 (13%) 2005
Colin Rattray (Apsley) 19/36 (53%) 2004

Keeping it holy

… with some God-fearing Good Friday news nuggets to tide you over until the pubs re-open.

• Senate polls have consistently proved themselves to be pointless endeavours, but let the record note that Roy Morgan has produced one from their last three months of surveys. This might be of at least some use if Morgan gave South Australian respondents a chance to indicate support for Nick Xenophon, but they presumably don’t because he is not up for re-election next time (unless there’s a double dissolution of course). Nonetheless, South Australia shows an “others” result of 19.5 per cent compared with 8 per cent nationally.

• The Tasmanian Liberals have preselected three candidates for the Hobart electorate of Denison for next year’s state election, after earlier delaying the process due to concerns about a “lack of high-profile talent”. The nominees are 70-year-old incumbent Michael Hodgman; lawyer Elise Archer, who polled a solid 3.2 per cent at the 2006 election; and Matt Stevenson, state president of the Young Liberals. No sign of contentious Hobart alderman Marti Zucco, but two positions remain to be filled.

• Yesterday’s Crikey Daily Mail had a piece by Malcolm Mackerras noting the looming by-election in New Zealand for Helen Clark’s seat of Mount Albert, and the absurdity of such a thing in a supposedly proportional representation system. If it loses, Labour will be deprived of one of the seats entitled to it by its national vote share at last November’s election. New Zealand’s mixed-member proportional system is modelled on Germany’s, but departs from it in that vacated constituency seats in Germany are filled by unelected candidates from the party’s national lists – which New Zealand was obviously loath to do as it would randomly match members to electorates with which they had no connection.

• Mackerras also notes that the May 12 election in the Canadian province of British Columbia will be held in conjunction with a second referendum seeking to replace its first-past-the-post single-member constituency system with “BC-STV” (British Columbia-Single Transferable Vote). I take this to be identical in every respect to Hare-Clark as it operates in Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory (complete with Robson rotation and optional preferential voting), except the number of members per region will range from two to seven. A referendum was also held at the previous election in 2005, but it received 57.7 per cent support while requiring 60 per cent to be binding. Get funky with the official website of British Columbians for BC-STV.

UPDATE (11/4/09): The West Australian carries a second Westpoll survey of 400 respondents on the May 16 daylight saving referendum, showing 47 per cent supporting and 51 per cent opposed compared with 42 per cent and 57 per cent at the poll last month. The West’s report says this means “community support for daylight saving has climbed steadily over the last month”, but I don’t need to tell you all what a load of bollocks that is. Taken together, the surveys suggest the proposal is most likely headed for defeat by the same narrow-ish margins as in 1975, 1984 and 1992.

ACNielsen: 58-42

The Fairfax broadsheets have published an ACNielsen survey of 1400 voters showing federal Labor’s two-party lead at 58-42, up from 55-45 at the previous poll in November. Labor leads on the primary vote 47 per cent to 37 per cent. Also in the poll:

• Kevin Rudd’s approval rating is up four points to a stratospheric 74 per cent, the highest ever recorded by ACNielsen, while Malcolm Turnbull’s is down eight to 43 per cent. Their respective disapproval ratings are 22 per cent (steady) and 47 per cent (up 12 per cent).

• Rudd leads Turnbull as preferred prime minister 69 per cent to 24 per cent, his lead increasing seven points.

• Remarkably, 57 per cent say Kevin Rudd would be “justified in calling an early election to try and break the Senate impasse that has frustrated the passing of some legislation” (although they might think differently if they realised no double dissolution trigger existed, and that any election for the House of Representatives before the middle of next year would throw the two houses’ cycles out of sync).

• Peter Costello is favoured as Liberal leader by 47 per cent against 39 per cent for Turnbull, although Turnbull has closed the gap six points.

• 66 per cent say they oppose sending more troops to Afghanistan, a near identical result to last week’s Newspoll.

In other news:

• Newspoll has published its quarterly geographic and demographic breakdowns. Charts aplenty from Possum, here and here.

• The Victorian Liberals have advertised for federal election candidates in Kooyong, Corangamite and Deakin. Andrew Landeryou at VexNews says “long-time Liberal fundraiser and multi-millionaire Andrew Abercrombie is believed to be the Baillieu faction’s secret weapon candidate” to run in Kooyong against the Josh Frydenberg, who is backed by the Kroger camp and “Malcolm Turnbull’s numbers man”, Senator Michael Ronaldson.

The Australian reports the Left faction Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and Right faction Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association have joined in a “Moscow-Berlin pact” to seek a “Senate-style system for Victorian upper house preselections”. This would deny rank-and-file members a vote, and circumvent the recent deal between the two unions’ intra-factional rivals. For their part, the latter group are threatening to back separate ballots for each position rather than proportional representation, which would allow them to secure a clean sweep. More from Andrew Landeryou.

• Steve Grant of the Fremantle Herald reports that former Premier Alan Carpenter has backed Fremantle mayor Peter Tagliaferri to replace Jim McGinty as Labor’s candidate in Fremantle. His presumed rival, LHMWU state secretary Dave Kelly, now says he is no longer interested. While still denying it publicly, it is almost universally anticipated that McGinty will shortly quit parliament so a by-election can be held in conjunction with the May 16 referendum on daylight saving. Last week the Herald reported that Keith McCorriston, Maritime Union of Australia official and local party branch president, had “also emerged as a contender”. It was also reported that WA Opinion Polls had been canvassing the electorate asking respondents about Tagliaferri and Greens candidate Adele Carles.

• Speaking of which, The West Australian reports daylight saving advocates have been peddling an “online poll of 610 voters conducted last week by independent research company Synovate”, showing 50.5 per cent planning to vote yes against 46.8 per cent for no. Despite the smaller sample of 400, a Westpoll survey published earlier in the month showing 57 per cent for no and 42 per cent for yes might be thought more credible.

• The Tasmanian Liberals have been keeping busy with preselections for the state election due next March. Mark Worley of the Sunday Tasmanian reports three new candidates have been chosen for Franklin: Vanessa Goodwin, a criminologist who narrowly failed to win a seat in 2006; Clarence City Council building inspector David Compton; and Huon Valley small business owner Jillian Law. Party leader Will Hodgman will be a fourth, while the fifth will be “left open until later in the year”.

• In Bass, sitting members Peter Gutwein and Sue Napier will be joined by Michael Ferguson, who gained the federal seat for the Liberals in 2004 and lost it in 2007, and David Fry, who filled a vacancy in 2000 but failed to win election in his own right in 2002 or 2006. As in Franklin, a fifth position has been left vacant for the time being.

Sue Neales of the Mercury reports plans to preselect candidates in Denison have been deferred as the Liberals are “concerned by a lack of high-profile talent”. Michael Hodgman, whose parliamentary career goes back to 1966, is apparently set on another term despite being 70 years old and “suffering ill health”. From Michelle Paine of the Mercury (thanks to Peter Tucker of Tasmanian Politics for scanning this) comes a report that Marti Zucco, Hobart alderman and twice-unsuccessful independent upper house candidate, is also gearing up to nominate despite troubled relations with the party.

Over the fence, Rebecca White, a 26-year-old electorate officer to federal Denison MP Duncan Kerr, has been confirmed as a starter for Labor in Lyons.

• Anna Bligh says she will discuss fixed terms, possibly of four years, with whoever ends up leading the Liberal National Party. Queensland is the only state which still has terms of three years.

• Graeme Orr writes on the impact of optional preferential voting at the Queensland election, and related matters, at Australian Policy Online.

Gary Morgan takes aim at Newspoll and Galaxy over their under-estimation of Labor’s vote in Brisbane. To which they might justifiably reply: either shit or get off the pot. When Morgan starts publishing his own state polls, and when these prove more accurate than his rivals, then he can reasonably presume to start giving them advice.

UPDATE: Essential Research has Labor’s lead blowing out to 63-37 from 60-40 last week, and also shows Kevin Rudd’s approval rating at record levels: 21 per cent for “strongly approve”, his best result since this question was first asked last September. Malcolm Turnbull’s overall approval rating is down four points to 28 per cent and his disapproval up five to 48 per cent. In answer to George Megalogenis’s question on Insiders yesterday, 50 per cent say our troops should be withdrawn from Afghanistan, and 75 per cent say there should be more armed security at airports.

Morgan: 57-43

The latest weekly Morgan face-to-face survey of 883 voters shows Labor’s two-party lead down from 60.5-39.5 to 57-43. Labor’s primary vote is down two points to 48.5 per cent, the Coalition’s is up substantially from 34.5 per cent to 39 per cent, and the Greens are down two to 6 per cent. Between Morgan, Newspoll and Essential Research, there is now significant evidence that some of the gloss has come off the extraordinary spike Labor enjoyed from its response to the global financial crisis.

Elsewhere:

• The Geelong Advertiser reports on the federal Liberal preselection for Corangamite. Prospective nominees: former Kennett government minister Ian Smith, “considering his position”; Graham Harris, head of the party’s Corangamite electorate council; Victorian Farmers Federation president Simon Ramsay; “Moriac district resident” Rod Nockles; Simon Price, unsuccessful Colac Otway Shire Council candidate and former electorate officer Stewart McArthur who lost the seat in 2007.

• Mark Kenny of The Advertiser reports that “pressure is mounting inside the Liberal Party to dump its candidate for the state seat of Newland, Trish Draper”. Draper was federal member for Makin from 1996 to 2007, when she forestalled what seemed to be very likely defeat by retiring. Draper is seen to have been damaged by reports an ex-boyfriend has been identified as a suspect in a murder investigation, which is currently the subject of a defamation case. A Liberal source quoted by Kenny says Right faction powerbroker Senator Nick Minchin has told Opposition Leader Martin Hamilton-Smith to dump her.

• The ABC reports “speculation” that Premier David Bartlett is “planning to visit Tasmania’s Governor on Monday and send Tasmania to the polls as early as April 18”, resulting from the government’s failure to table long-promised legislation to enact fixed four-year terms. Bartlett denies this, and he would have to be pretty silly to ignore the still-accumulating evidence that unnecessary early elections are a bad idea.

• The ABC reports that Labor is courting Beaconsfield mine disaster survivor Brant Webb as a possible state election candidate for Bass.

• An interim report by the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters recommends an end to trials of electronic voting for the vision-impaired and overseas defence personnel on the grounds it is too expensive. The report said the 850 votes cast electronically in 2007 cost $2597 each, compared with $8.36 for each non-electronic vote. A dissenting report by Bob Brown argues the government should pursue electronic voting to assist disadvantaged voters, and investigate its use in the Australian Capital Territory and overseas.

• The Australian Parliamentary Library has published papers on women parliamentarians in Australia and the possibility of dedicated indigenous representation, a la the Maori seats in New Zealand.

Essential Research: 62-38

The latest weekly Essential Research poll has Labor’s lead steady at 62-38. Also included are an interesting question on what Peter Costello should do (34 per cent quit, 46 per stay in various possible capacities), along with very detailed material on economic management. Not only but also:

• A comprehensively briefed Andrew Landeryou at VexNews explains the background to the Victorian Liberal Senate preselection vote to be held this Friday. Michael Ronaldson seems assured of retaining his top position, but Julian McGauran faces an uphill battle for third place against Ross Fox, a Peter Costello backer. The second place is reserved for the Nationals.

Phillip Coorey of the Sydney Morning Herald reports on a NSW Liberal state executive ruling that new members in Bradfield will not be eligible to vote in the preselection to replace Brendan Nelson, to be held in nine months. Normally party rules require membership for six months for eligibility, but that would be an invitation to mass branch stacking in the current circumstances. Coorey also weighs in on recent shenanigans in the Perth seat of Tangney.

• Tasmanian LHMWU secretary David O’Byrne has confirmed he will seek preselection as a candidate for Franklin at next year’s state election. O’Byrne is a former state party president and brother of Bass MP Michelle O’Byrne. Among the Liberal candidates will be Vanessa Goodwin, who narrowly failed to defeat the now-departed Paula Wreidt at the 2006 election.

Some of the news that’s fit to print

It looked for a while as if Roy Morgan had returned to its weekly polling schedule, but that may have just been a short-term response to the stimulus package kerfuffle. In any event, there was no poll today. That being so, this week’s news nuggets will have to survive on their own:

• Alicia Bowie of the Campbelltown Macarthur Advertiser reports on Labor aspirants for Macarthur, whose Liberal member Pat Farmer has long since stopped behaving like a man who cares if he gets re-elected. The narrowly unsuccessful candidate from 2007, local carpenter Nick Bleasdale, is again in the running, but faces competition from Camden councillor Greg Warren. However, “the ALP will wait until the new boundaries are decided late this year before selecting its candidates for local electorates”.

Col Allison of the Hills News reports that David Elliott, former Australian Hotels Association deputy chief executive and staffer to John Howard – or as Allison would have it, “the ambitious Liberal Party stalwart lusting for a parliamentary career”, – has denied he will stand for preselection in Brendan Nelson’s seat of Bradfield. However, “insiders say he will try to win preselection for a State Liberal seat in the North-West at the May 2011 elections, upsetting the ambitions of other card-carrying right-wing conservatives, or even a sitting MP”. The seats mentioned are Riverstone, which is reasonably safe for Labor, and “even Baulkham Hills, in the unlikely event Wayne Merton, decides to step down”. Allison reports that Elliott “has the support of MLC David Clarke, controversial leader of the so-called Christian Right of the party and a back-room wheeler-dealer”, which is odd because he was put forward as the moderate candidate against Clarke protege Alex Hawke in Mitchell before the 2007 federal election.

Peter Tucker at Tasmanian Politics reports that Michael Ferguson, defeated in Bass at the 2007 federal election, will run for the state seat at the March 2010 election.

Matthew Franklin of The Australian reports that “Kevin Rudd has renewed his backing for four-year, fixed parliamentary terms but refused to criticise Queensland Premier Anna Bligh’s decision to call a state election six months before it was due”.

• Alex Mitchell in Crikey tells us we should “forget the nonsense written in The Australian about an early election being impossible”, because “the advance of Costello has spooked Labor which is now quietly preparing for an early election later this year”. We’ll see.

• There is a Queensland state election campaign in progress.