As independents proliferate, polls and insider talk continue to add to an impression of a Coalition too weak to capitalise fully on Labor’s difficulties come November.
UPDATE: The Australian has published a Newspoll state voting intention poll with a set of numbers very like that of the 2018 election, with Labor leading 56-44 (compared with 57.3-42.7) from primary votes of Labor 41% (42.9%), Coalition 36% (35.2%) and Greens 13% (10.7%). Daniel Andrews has 54% approval and 41% disapproval while Matthew Guy is on 32% and 49%, with Andrews leading 51-34 on preferred premier. The poll was conducted Monday to Thursday from a sample of 1027.
Before we dive in, let it be noted that beneath this post lies post covering recent polls of state voting intention in Tasmania and one of the few federal voting intention polls since the election.
Roy Morgan produced another of its SMS Victorian state polls a week-and-a-half ago, and it produced another eye-popping two-party lead for Labor, this time of 60.5-39.5 (out from 59.5-40.5 in early July), from primary votes of Labor 40.5% (down three), Coalition 27.5% (up two), Greens 14% (up two) and 5% for “a teal independent” (up two). The poll was conducted Thursday, August 11 to Saturday, August 13 from a sample of 1097.
Further on the independent candidate front:
• Annika Smethurst of The Age reports Kate Lardner, a doctor at Frankston Hospital, former Greens member and co-founder of a group that “mobilises doctors to address climate change”, will run in Mornington, and quotes an unidentified Labor source saying their polling indicates she will outperform them. Another starter identified in the article is Sarah Fenton, co-owner of the Bellarine Smokehouse, who will run in Labor-held Bellarine, to be vacated with the retirement of Lisa Neville.
• Nomi Kaltmann, a legal interpretation analyst in the Commonwealth public service with a background as a staffer to state minister Marsha Thomson and electorate officer to Mark Dreyfus, has announced she will run as an independent against deputy Liberal leader David Southwick in Caulfield, a week after quitting the ALP. Kaltmann told the Financial Review she became alienated from Labor after its national executive installed Enver Erdogan to fill a Legislative Council vacancy in South Metropolitan region in 2019 without reference to the party membership with backing from the Right faction Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association, despite him living in Melbourne’s north. However, The Australian reported on Friday that Kaltmann nominated for party office-holder positions as recently as February. The Financial Review further quoted Climate 200 convenor Simon Holmes a Court saying Kaltmann “had been in touch”.
• Jacqui Hawkins, a former adviser to federal Indi independent Cathy McGowan, will again run against Liberal member Bill Tilley in the northern Victorian seat of Benambra, having come within 2.4% of toppling Tilley on her first attempt in 2018.
• The Age reports two former Bayside mayors appear likely to enter the ring: Clarke Martin in Sandringham, where he managed a modest 8.4% on his first attempt in 2018, and former Liberal preselection aspirant Felicity Frederico in Brighton.
• Patrick Durkin of the Financial Review reported a fortnight ago that “confidential independent polling” put the Coalition “well short of the 18 seats it needs for victory”, but suggested Labor would lose up to six seats in “Victoria’s growth corridors”.
• Despite heavy publicity from the Herald Sun, which asserted the party was likely to feature in a massively expanded lower house cross-bench after the election, the Victorians Party has announced it will not contest the election “due to the limitations on new political parties raising campaign funding under Victoria’s electoral laws introduced after the last state election”. This presumably refers to laws that cap donations to political parties, old and new alike, at a rate presently set at $4320 over four years. The party was launched by Small Business Australia executive director Bill Lang and sought to attract support from lockdown opponents.
• In the regional seat of Euroa, which will be vacated with the retirement of Nationals member Steph Ryan, the new Nationals candidate is Annabelle Cleeland, editor of Fairfax Media title Stock & Land, while the Liberal candidate will be Brad Hearn, principal of the Flexible Learning Centre in Benalla.
• A Victorian Liberal upper house preselection I missed when summarising them in my previous post: Anne-Marie Hermans, a former Family First candidate, will lead the ticket in South Eastern Metropolitan, replacing the retiring Gordon Rich-Phillips.
• Tom McIntosh, an electrician and former staffer to federal MP Ged Kearney, has been sworn in to replace the late Jane Garrett as Labor’s member for Eastern Victoria region in the Legislative Council. McIntosh had already been preselected to succeed her at the election after she announced her intention to retire in December.
• The Victorian Electoral Commission has calculated its own two-candidate preferred margins for the newly redistributed electoral boundaries, which make use of its data recording which voters voted at which polling booths. It identifies Caulfield, Hastings, Pakenham (formerly Gembrook) and Ripon as having flipped from Liberal to Labor, Bass and Bayswater as having done the reverse, and Mildura as flipping from independent to Nationals. Labor-held Keysborough and Mount Waverley and Liberal-held Ferntree Gully are counted as abolished, and it credits Labor with margins of 22.0% and 23.4% in the new seats of Greenvale and Laverton, and Liberal with a 1.3% margin in Berwick.
UPDATE: The Age reports Resolve Strategic asked the 500 Victorian respondents from this week’s poll further questions about state political issues, and found 42% crediting Labor with greater integrity and honesty compared with 21% for the Coalition, and 53% expecting Labor to win the election compared with 18% for the Coalition.