Miscellany: seat entitlements, electoral reforms, by-elections latest and more (open thread)

Winners in losers in the carve-up of House of Reps seats between the states, Gerard Rennick’s Senate preselection under challenge, latest by-election developments, and more.

Recent electoral developments at the federal level:

• The population statistics that will be used next month to calculate state and territory House of Representation seat entitlements have been published, and as Antony Green reports, they establish that New South Wales and Victoria will each lose a seat, putting them at 46 and 38 respectively; Western Australia will gain one, putting it at 16; and the others will remain unchanged at Queensland 30, South Australia 10, Tasmania five, the ACT three and the Northern Territory two. The vagaries of rounding mean the total size of the House will be down one to 150. Redistributions will duly be required in three states – Antony Green has a further post looking at the specifics in Western Australia, where the new seat seems likely to be in the eastern suburbs of Perth.

Matthew Killoran of the Courier-Mail reports a view that right-wing Liberal National Party Senator Gerard Rennick will “narrowly see off” challenges to his third position on the Queensland Senate ticket from Nelson Savanh, who works with strategic communications firm Michelson Alexander and appears to be an ideological moderate, and Stuart Fraser, director of a private investment fund.

Jamie Walker of The Australian reports speculation that Pauline Hanson will shortly retire from politics, with her Senate vacancy to be filled by her chief-of-staff, James Ashby, who first came to public attention when he brought sexual harassment allegations against Peter Slipper, then the Speaker and Ashby’s boss, in 2012. Hanson spoke to The Australian of her frustration at being sidelined by a Labor government that prefers to negotiate with Jacqui Lambie and David Pocock to pass contested legislation through the Senate.

• The Guardian has launched an Indigenous Voice poll tracker. Meanwhile, academic Murray Goot has things to say about Newspoll’s recent result and The Australian’s presentation of it.

Paul Sakkal of the Age/Herald reports the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters will shortly recommend donation and spending caps and bans on false information in political advertisements, which have the broad support of the government and the relevant minister, Special Minister of State Don Farrell. Labor’s new draft national platform says it will work towards reducing reliance on donations and move to an expanded public funding system, much of the impetus coming from Clive Palmer’s extravagant electoral spending. Donation caps are opposed by Climate 200 and the Australia Institute, which argue that donor-funded campaigns provide the only opportunity for new entrants to take on incumbents. Donation caps at state level of $6700 a year in New South Wales and $4000 in Victoria were seen as inhibiting teal independent efforts to replicate their successes at federal elections.

• This week’s federal voting intention numbers from Roy Morgan have Labor’s two-party lead out from 55.5-44.5 to 56-44, from primary votes of Labor 35%, Coalition 33.5% and Greens 13.0%.

State by-elections latest:

• The Victorian Liberals will choose their candidate for the Warrandyte by-election on Sunday. Rachel Baxendale of The Australian reports the outcome is “far from clear”, with 22-year-old law student Antonietta Di Cosmo di Cosmo reckoned as good a chance as any out of the field of nine candidates. Conservative allies of Deakin MP Michael Sukkar are reportedly split between former Institute of Public Affairs executive director John Roskam and former Pentecostal pastor Nicole Ta-Ei Werner, while the opposing factional claim is divided between KPMG director Sarah Overton, tech business founder Jason McClintock and former Matthew Guy staffer Jemma Townson. Meanwhile, The Age reports Labor MPs are pressing for the party to field a candidate. Confirmation of a date for the by-election is still a while off, with outgoing member Ryan Smith not to formally resign until July 7.

• In Western Australia, Josh Zimmerman of The West Australian reports Labor’s administrative committee has confirmed party staffer Magenta Marshall as its candidate to succeed Mark McGowan in Rockingham on July 29. Rather surprisingly, the Liberals have committed to field a candidate in a seat McGowan won in 2021 by 37.7%.

Resolve Strategic: Labor 41, Coalition 26, Greens 15 in Victoria

A new poll adds to an ever-mounting accumulation of bad news for the Liberals in Victoria.

The Age has a poll of Victorian state voting intention from Resolve Strategic that records a deterioration in Coalition support from an already dismal starting point in the last such poll two months ago, despite the government bringing down a seemingly tough budget in the interim. Labor is on 41%, down one on the previous poll, as compared with 36.6% at the election; the Coalition on 26%, down four, as compared with 34.4%; the Greens on 15%, up five (which in turn was down three on the February poll), compared with 11.5%; a generic category for independents on 12%, unchanged on the previous poll, compared with 5.6% at the election; and 6% for others, up one, as compared with 11.9%. Based on an educated guess of preference flows, this would come out as a Labor lead of between 62-38 and 63-37, where the previous poll would have been around 59-41 and the result at the election was an even 55-45.

The poll credits Daniel Andrews with a lead over John Pesutto of 49-26 as preferred premier, out from 49-28 two months ago. It also gauged opinion on two contentious budget measures: “an increase in the payroll tax paid by some businesses and high-fee independent schools”, which found 40% in favour and 27% opposed, and “an increase in land tax by around $1300 a year for property investors with average landholdings of $650,000”, for which 34% were in favour and 38% opposed. The poll had a sample of 1006 and combined results of the pollster’s last two monthly national surveys, conducted from May 10 to 14 and June 7 to 11. Since the budget fell between these dates, the questions relevant to it presumably had around half the total sample size.

Further evidence of Labor’s ongoing dominance was provided recently by Kos Samaras of RedBridge Group, whose polling of 1003 respondents in the Greater Melbourne area in late May had Labor on 44%, Liberal on 31% and the Greens on 12%. By my reckoning, this compares with results at the election of around Labor 40%, Liberal 31% and Greens 13%.

In other Victorian electoral news, the Victorian Electoral Commission has published exhaustive preference counts down to the final two candidates in 39 seats where they were technically unnecessary, since the winning candidate crossed the 50% threshold at an earlier point in the count. Most of the electoral commissions conduct exhaustive counts for informational purposes, but the VEC has not traditionally done so. I believe an exception was made on this occasion to address conspiracy theories about Daniel Andrews’ seat of Mulgrave, propagated in part by a Liberal candidate with a penchant for Trumpian rhetoric. Michael Piastrino in fact failed to make the final count, having been outpolled by independent candidate Ian Cook. Information earlier published by the VEC established that 22,976 ballot papers (60.2%) had Andrews ahead of Piastrino, with 15,191; we now know that 23,070 (60.8%) had Andrews ahead of Ian Cook on 14,854.

Miscellany: by-elections latest (open thread)

Major party starters in place for Fadden, a date set for Rockingham, and nine candidates emerge for Liberal preselection in Warrandyte.

News to report on the three by-elections presently in view – one federal and two state, two with dates confirmed and one to be announced:

• The Liberal National Party candidate for the Fadden by-election on July 15 will be long-serving Gold Coast councillor Cameron Caldwell, who won a final round vote of 153 preselectors over Dinesh Palipana, with Fran Ward, Owen Caterer and Craig Hobart falling by the wayside in earlier rounds. Lydia Lynch of The Australian reports a meeting of Labor’s administrative committee last Friday unanimously endorsed Letitia Del Fabbro, a nurse educator who was also the candidate at the May 2022 election.

• Nine candidates have nominated for Liberal preselection in Warrandyte, expected to be held in about a fortnight, controversial former Kew MP Tim Smith not being among them. As reported by Rachel Baxendale in The Australian, they are John Roskam, former executive director of the Institute of Public Affairs; Sarah Overton, KPMG director; Nicole Ta-Ei Werner, who ran in Box Hill at the November state election; Jason McClintock, a tech business founder who ran in Eltham (and who donated heavily to the party’s state election campaign); David Farrelly, who ran in Pakenham; Jemma Townson, “energy industry communications director and former Matthew Guy and Katie Allen staffer”; Antonietta di Cosmo, 22-year-old “Ryan Smith staffer, champion rower and law student”; Allison Troth, “cancer campaigner and former John Howard staffer”; and Andrew Conlon, “Manningham councillor and maths teacher”. The report says factional conservatives are likely to back Roskam or Werner, while “an opposing factional grouping that coalesces around powerbrokers Frank Greenstein and Holly Byrne” might support Overton, McClintock or Townson.

• The Rockingham by-election to replace Mark McGowan has been set for July 29. The West Australian reports that Labor’s candidate will likely be Magenta Marshall, who has won backing from the Right, despite last week saying she was “not sure it’s my time”. Marshall is in her late twenties and works in a “specialised campaigning role” in party headquarters, having previously been an electorate officer to Balcatta MP David Michael.

Miscellany: by-elections left and right (open thread)

As the major parties move forward with candidate selection for Fadden, state by-elections now loom in Victoria and Western Australia.

There are now three by-elections in the pipeline, one federal and two state:

• The Gold Coast Bulletin reports a Liberal National Party preselection vote for the July 25 Fadden by-election this weekend has attracted five candidates: the reputed front-runner, Cameron Caldwell; two widely noted rivals with strong support in Dinesh Palipana and Fran Ward; and apparent dark horses in Owen Caterer, who boasts “a long career in wealth management” including a decade working in China, and Craig Hobart. Labor is now committed to fielding a candidate, after earlier reports that Anthony Albanese would prefer to forfeit, with David Crowe of the Age/Herald reporting that the candidate from 2022, Letitia Del Fabbro, was “seen as the leading contender”.

• In Victoria, Liberal MP Ryan Smith announced his resignation on Wednesday, initiating a by-election in his eastern suburbs seat of Warrandyte, which he retained at the November election by 4.2% with a slight favourable swing. This has yielded the stimulating possibility of a return to politics for Tim Smith, who tested over double the legal blood alcohol limit in 2021 after crashing his car into the side of a house in Hawthorn, and abandoned his seat of Kew at the election. Smith had won favour with conservatives for the vehemence of his attacks on Daniel Andrews during the Melbourne lockdowns, and has presumably continued to do so as a regular on Sky News. His comments professing an interest in the seat were implicitly critical of party leader John Pesutto, who says he would “very much like to see a woman in amongst the candidates”. Between reports in The Age and The Guardian, five such are mentioned: Caroline Inge, one of the party’s federal vice-presidents and a “former staffer and political ally” of Smith; Sarah Overton, a director at KPMG; Michelle Kleinert, a Manningham councillor; Nicole Werner, a former Pentecostal pastor who ran at the election in Box Hill; and Ranjana Srivastava, an oncologist who was recently fortunate to be overlooked for the Aston preselection. The Guardian reports the by-election is “expected to be held between 5 August and 30 September”.

The West Australian reports three Labor preselection candidates have emerged as potential successors to Mark McGowan in his surely unloseable southern Perth seat of Rockingham. These are Matt Dixon, who was the party’s state secretary in 2018 and 2019, and has more recently been a staffer to Stephen Dawson, Emergency Services Minister and a prominent figure in the AMWU sub-faction of the Left; Clem Chan, state president of the United Professional Firefighters Union; and Magenta Marshall, a locally based party official. However, there is said to be concern that Dixon’s candidacy would be “a distraction” due to the circumstances of his departure as state secretary, which followed controversy over the use of funds raised by state parliamentarians on the 2019 federal campaign, and Marshall is quoted saying she is “not sure it’s my time”. Electoral commissioner Robert Kennedy tells The West Australian the by-election is likely to be in late June or July.

Also of note:

• Maria Kovacic, who stood aside as the party’s state president to contest the preselection, won a Liberal Party ballot on the weekend to fill the late Jim Molan’s New South Wales Senate vacancy. Kovacic prevailed in the final round over Andrew Constance, former state government minister and unsuccessful candidate for Gilmore at last year’s election, by 287 votes to 243. Kovacic’s win means a seat formerly held by a factional conservative now goes to a moderate. Constance, who is also a moderate, gained some support from conservatives by promising to abandon the seat at the next federal election for another run in Gilmore, which is still considered likely to do. Anthony Galloway of the Sydney Morning Herald reports the seat would likely have stayed with the right if Dallas McInerney, chief executive of Catholic Schools NSW, had nominated, but in the event the only right nominee was Jess Collins, who narrowly failed to make the final round. Earlier exclusions were Space Industry Association chief executive James Brown, former Lindsay MP Fiona Scott and Shepherd Centre executive David Brady.

• An analysis by former Labor Senator John Black of Australian Development Strategies in the Financial Review identifies Labor’s targets to regain lost primary votes as working families on $100,000 to $150,000 a year, “digitally disrupted families” on $50,000 to $100,000, parents with children at state schools, and Christians who have supported Labor only under the leadership of Kevin Rudd; and the Coalition’s as white migrants, defectors in the teal seats, professional women on more than $150,000 a year, and professionals and the 35-to-50 age cohort.

Rhianna Down of The Australian reports Anthony Albanese told colleagues on Tuesday that Labor’s target Liberal-held seats for the next election are Canning, Moore, Bass, Braddon, Banks, Menzies and Sturt, though presumably hopes for the first two have taken a knock with Mark McGowan’s resignation.

Charlotte Varcoe of Border Watch reports Liberal MP Tony Pasin won a preselection ballot for his South Australian seat of Barker with 284 votes against 58 for Katherine McBride, who owns grazing property with husband Nick McBride, the state member for MacKillop.

Resolve Strategic: Labor 42, Coalition 30, Greens 10 in Victoria

Resolve Strategic’s second Victorian state poll since the November election finds Labor with as resounding a lead as the first.

The Age has a Resolve Strategic poll on state voting intention in Victoria, which was conducted the Wednesday to Monday before last in conjunction with its recent federal poll from a full sample of 1609, and not by combining sub-samples from two monthly national polls as has been done in the past. This makes it timely enough to catch the impact of the Moira Deeming controversy for the Liberals, but not last week’s adverse IBAC report for Labor.

As it stands, the poll credits Labor with a resounding lead over the Coalition of 42% to 30% on the primary vote (compared with 41% and 30% at the previous poll in February), with the Greens on 10% (down three), independents on 12% (down one) and others on 5% (up one). This compares with results at the November election of Labor 36.7%, Coalition 34.5% and Greens 11.5%, and would pan out to nearly 60-40 on two-party preferred. Daniel Andrews records a lead of 49-28 as preferred premier, in from 50-26 in February.

An effort was made to gauge opinion on the Moira Deeming issue, but only after respondents were provided with a lengthy explanatory preamble* that is unavoidably open to criticism. Thirty-four per cent of respondents were uncommitted, leaving 23% saying she should have been expelled from parliament compared with 20% for “no action or less action”, while in the middle 9% said she should have been expelled from the Liberal Party but not parliament and 13% favoured what actually happened, namely her temporary suspension from the party.

* “Last week, a state Liberal MP, Moira Deeming, participated in a Let Women Speak rally in Melbourne at which far-right and neo-Nazi protestors separately appeared. The new Liberal leader, John Pesutto, attempted to have the MP expelled from the party, but in the end a compromise was reached where she was suspended for nine months. What would have been your preferred outcome?”

Resolve Strategic: Labor 41, Coalition 30, Greens 13 in Victoria

A Victorian state poll suggests Labor has gained further ground after its sweeping win in November.

The Age has the first Victorian state poll since the November 25 election, which shows Labor on 41% of the primary vote (36.7% at the election), the Coalition on 30% (34.5%) and the Greens on 13% (11.5%). No two-party preferred is provided, but this would pan out to at least 59-41 in favour of Labor based on preference flows in November. The poll also finds Daniel Andrews leading new Liberal leader John Pesutto by 50-26 as preferred premier. The poll was conducted from a sample of 825 “in late January and mid-February”, suggesting this follows the pollster’s usual practice of combining samples from two monthly polls to produce state voting results for Victoria and New South Wales in alternating months. This suggests the pollster should be good for a poll of federal voting intention very shortly.

Supplementary elections, by-elections and no polls (open thread)

Minor electoral events from Victoria and Northern Territory in lieu of new polling news to report.

We continue to await the return of Newspoll for the year, which I imagine might be forthcoming ahead of the return of parliament next week. With Essential Research having an off week in the fortnightly cycle, this leaves me with nothing to report on the poll front. Two bits of electoral news worth noting are that the Liberals won the supplementary election for the Victorian state seat of Narracan as expected on Saturday, confirming lower house numbers of 56 for Labor, 19 for the Liberals, nine for the Nationals and four for the Greens; and that Northern Territory Chief Minister Natasha Fyles has announced that the by-election for the seat of Arafura, following the death of Labor member Lawrence Costa on December 17, will be held on March 18. With that, over to you.

Narracan supplementary election

Commentary and live coverage for the Narracan supplementary election, which will put in place the final piece of Victorian state election result.

Click here for full results updated live.

Live commentary

End of Saturday night. My system is probably showing its limitations by projecting the Greens to finish second, as independent Tony Wolfe has a bare lead over them on the primary vote and I imagine will do better on preferences. So the 12.7% Liberal margin on the Liberal-versus-Wolfe two-candidate preferred count, which will likely increase a little on postals, is probably more meaningful than my projection of 17.9% over the Greens. Certainly it’s an easy win for Liberal candidate Wayne Farnham, although the 11% drop in their primary vote in the absence of competition from Labor, who polled 35.5% in 2018, is an uninspiring result.

7.36pm. The preference split is now looking more like what I would expect, or at least less unlike, favouring the independent 58-42. But it’s an academic point with the Liberals leading the TCP count 65-35. I notice my booth results map isn’t firing – I’ll look into that after all the results are in for the evening.

7.21pm. I think my results feature is behaving as it should now, with Wayne Farnham and Tony Wolfe set as the TCP candidates, although my projection says the Greens are more likely to finish second. It turns out preferences are splitting about evenly between Farnham and Wolfe, where I had earlier assumed they would flow massively to Wolfe. So this looks like the anticipated walkover for Farnham, though with a rather soft primary vote.

7.05pm. Nine booths in and I’ve got the projected Liberal primary vote up to 42.9%, which is more like it for them. The TCP count clearly isn’t Liberal versus Greens – the lower end of my results display won’t work until I rejig it to accommodate this.

6.56pm. This is a pretty steep drop for the Liberals in the three booths concerned compared with where they were in 2018, such that I’m presently predicting them to end with a primary vote of 37.8%, which would be dangerously low for them.

6.50pm. Three booths in on the primary vote, Liberal primary at 44.8%, Tony Wolfe looking clearly the strongest independent and slightly outpolling the Greens. Still don’t know what’s happening with the TCP count.

6.30pm. The VEC feed is updating every 15 minutes. The 6:30pm update is through but there are still no results in it. My results page says the latest update is 6pm – I believe this will remain unchanged until there is actually a result in (UPDATE: I’ve fixed this). I’m assuming for the time being that the two-candidate preferred count will be Liberal versus Greens, but won’t actually know until there are results to report.


The Victorian state election reaches its denouement today with the election for the seat of Narracan, which was unable to proceed on November 26 due to the death of Nationals candidate Shaun Gilchrist six days earlier. Narracan was never a target for Labor, but with the retirement of incumbent Gary Blackwood, who had held it for the Liberals since 2006, the seat appeared to be a possibility for the Nationals, who ended up with a notably better story to tell about their election result than the Liberals. However, the Nationals have decided not to put forward a candidate for the fresh election, which together with Labor’s more predictable forfeit make the contest look like a walkover for the new Liberal candidate, Wayne Farnham.

There is nonetheless a field of eleven candidates, and the possibility one of the independents may have enough critical mass to become competitive with the help of strong flows of preferences. The most outwardly promising of the three would appear to be Annemarie McCabe, the mayor of Baw Baw Shire. Also in the field are Tony Wolfe, a former Baw Baw deputy mayor who describes himself as a “coal worker advocating for renewable energy”, and Ian Honey, a project facilitator and former Bairnsdale councillor.

If only for the sake of completeness, I have put together a profile page for the seat. Live results will be published on this site following the usual format from 6pm.