Weekend miscellany: Liberal preselection argybargy and by-election results (open thread)

Liberal preselection turbulence across four states, and a look at the final results from Fadden and Rockingham.

It’s been three weeks since Newspoll, which more often than not means another one should be along tonight. On that note, academic Murray Goot writes in Inside Story that there has been an “unreported upheaval” at YouGov’s Australian operation, which conducts the poll, in which “virtually all of those working in the public affairs and polling unit” have left – including Campbell White, who had been its head since it took over Newspoll in the wake of the 2019 election.

Until then, here’s the usual weekly assembly of federally relevant preselection news:

Paul Karp of The Guardian reports factional conservatives consider their preselection challengers “likely” to defeat Melissa McIntosh in Lindsay and a “good chance” against Sussan Ley in Farrer. Alex Hawke “may require support from moderate Liberals” in Mitchell, and the move against Paul Fletcher in Bradfield is “considered unlikely to succeed”.

Matthew Denholm of The Australian reports Brendan Blomeley’s bid for the state presidency of the Tasmanian Liberal Party marks part of an effort by Eric Abetz’s conservative faction to gain control of the state executive with a view to placing Blomeley on the Senate ticket at the expense of Richard Colbeck, securing a political comeback for Abetz in state parliament, and potentially undermining the preselection of arch-moderate Bass MP Bridget Archer.

Eli Greenblat of The Australian reports the front-runners for Liberal preselection in Higgins are William Stoltz, senior manager at cybersecurity firm CyberCX and associate at the Australian National University’s National Security College, and Marcus Pearl, Port Phillip councillor and former mayor and chief executive of financial advisory and consulting services firm QMV. Katie Allen, who lost the seat to Labor’s Michelle Ananda-Rajah last year, is reportedly keen to run again, but faces resistance because she crossed the floor to oppose the Morrison government’s amendments to religious discrimination laws.

• Party sources cited by The Australian’s Feeding the Chooks column report that a disputes committee of the Liberal National Party in Queensland is likely to rule in favour of Senator Gerard Rennick’s challenge to his narrow preselection defeat last month, resulting in the process being repeated.

By-election latest:

• Quicker than I would have expected, the Western Australian Electoral Commission has conducted its full preference count from last Saturday’s Rockingham by-election. This showed Liberal candidate Peter Hudson finished third behind independent Hayley Edwards, the latter overcoming a primary vote deficit of 17.7% to 15.9% on preferences to lead by 22.1% to 21.0% at the final exclusion. Labor’s Magenta Marshall went on to win at the final count with 13,412 votes (61.4%) to Edwards’ 8443 (38.6%).

• While the preference distribution is still to be conducted, the last remaining postal votes have been added for the Fadden by-election, confirming a two-party swing to the LNP of 2.72%. On Thursday, Phillip Coorey of the Financial Review related a bullish take on the result presented to the Coalition party room by Senator James McGrath, which noted an elevated swing of 9% in “booths where there was a high rate of mortgages”. However, this was selectively based on the LNP primary vote in two booths – taking the newly developed Coomera and Pimpama area in total, the two-party swing was 5.5%. Further, the suburbs in question are dominated not so much by mortgage payers (32.8% of private dwellings as of the 2021 census, compared with 35.0% nationwide) as renters (55.5% compared with 30.6%). McGrath also claimed a 3.5% drop in independent Stewart Brooker’s vote was a measure of how much Labor benefited from top position on the ballot paper, which at least triples more judicious estimates of the donkey vote effect. Overlooked was the fact that Brooker was part of a field of thirteen this time and seven last time, and went from being the only independent to one of three.

Rockingham by-election live

Live coverage and some preliminary commentary on the by-election for Mark McGowan’s now former seat of Rockingham.

Click here for full display of Rockingham by-election results.

Final result (August 5)

Quicker than I would have expected, the WAEC has conducted its full preference count. My projection was correct in suggesting independent Hayley Edwards, who polled 15.9% of the primary vote, would overtake Liberal candidate Peter Hudson, on 17.7%, to make the final count. This she did with 4823 votes (22.1%) at the last exclusion to Hudson’s 4590 (21.0%). The final result was 13,412 (61.4%) to Labor’s Magenta Marshall and 8443 (38.6%) to Edwards, compared with the 10.8% winning margin projected by my preference estimates. The media feed still records an abandoned TCP count between Marshall and Hudson, which is reflected in what’s on my results page.

Live commentary

11pm. I have corrected a preference model that was significantly flattering Labor in its projected lead over Hayley Edwards, which I now have at 10.7% rather than 16.1%. Edwards rather than the Liberal candidate is projected to make the final count because the preference model has her ahead 23.1% to 21.9% at the final exclusion. Happily, the WAEC’s notional two-candidate count means the Labor-versus-Liberal two-party preferred is recorded for posterity, at least up to the present point in the count. For all the contingent factors that undoubtedly contributed to the 22.5% swing, it is notable that it exceeds Labor’s statewide winning margin in 2021.

8.31pm. The WAEC feed doesn’t seem to have updated for about 15 minutes, which might suggest that’s it for the evening.

8.24pm. My results page is updating again after a bit of a blip, and the two-party swing against Labor is now north of 20% — higher than they would like, but not a disaster of the scale intimated by the opinion poll. That’s if the Liberal candidate indeed finishes second ahead of Hayley Edwards, which remains unclear. In any case, Labor’s Magenta Marshall has at all times looked to be in the ballpark of 50% on the primary vote and in zero danger of actually losing.

7.56pm. The WAEC is now letting its TCP results into the wild, which show what I reckon to be a 17% swing against Labor. This would be a bad result for them under normal circumstances, but it may be noted that the Utting Research poll recorded a 24% swing, without the loss of a Mark McGowan personal vote being a factor as it presumably is here.

7.52pm. Types rows have been restored to my results table.

7.30pm. A huge 5037 votes that I thought were going to be counted under “Rockingham EVC” have been added as “Early Votes (In Person)”. That they don’t have their own line on my page at this stage due to the bug discussed below is disappointing, but the results are entirely in line with the norm in having Magenta Marshall with almost exactly half of the primary vote.

7.28pm. My probability gauge isn’t quite doing what it should be — “probability unavailable as preference count unclear” should only be appearing if the distinction could conceivably make a difference to result, and it is clear Labor will win regardless of whether Hayley Edwards or the Liberals make the final count.

7.22pm. Eight booths now, but the overall trends are so clear that distinctions between them individually are pretty fine.

7.15pm. The special hospitals, remotes and mobiles has reported, so I was wrong to say earlier that the “types” rows wouldn’t be needed this evening. This amounts to 129 formal votes, the results of which you can work out by comparing the difference between the “polling booths sub-total” and “total” rows.

7.12pm. The early voting centre has reported with only 688, which I’m puzzled by because nearly 11,000 early votes were cast and most of them would have been there. Perhaps the result there will be updated progressively. Since my projections assumed as much, they are now out of whack.

7.07pm. Five booths in on the primary vote, and either there are no TCPs reporting yet or the WAEC is sitting on the results because it’s not sure the Liberal candidate will come second.

7.05pm. The WAEC’s TCP count, for which we have no results yet, is Labor versus Liberal.

7.02pm. I’ve done an ugly fix on the big issue by removing the “types” rows, which we won’t be needing tonight anyway. Four booths now on the primary vote, and while Labor has dipped below 50% on the raw primary vote, I’m projecting them to make it just over when all the votes are in. Nothing to separate Hayley Edwards and the Liberal candidate for second, but this will ultimately be academic.

6.58pm. Making progress on the bug fixes, but not all the way there yet. Now we’ve got three booths in, and the projection continues to be for a Labor primary vote in the low fifties.

6.53pm. We have a booth in, and while my system has a bug of some description, the result you can see is Bungaree Primary School, where the swings are consistent with Labor scoring slightly over 50% of the primary vote.

6pm. Polls have closed, and with that the start of a nervous wait for both candidates and those of us who are hoping our live results pages will function smoothly. For the time being my set-up assumes the WAEC’s notional two-candidate count will be between Labor and Liberal, but it can’t be ruled out that they will have gone with independent Hayley Edwards rather than the Liberal. The WAEC has unusual practices on this count – if memory serves, it only publishes the results once it is satisfied the candidates it has picked are the correct ones. My own projection will make up its own mind as to who the leading candidates are, and will work off preference estimates unless and until the WAEC has numbers for the same pair of candidates as those determined by my system.

Saturday morning

Today is the day of the by-election for the Western Australian state seat of Rockingham, arising from the unanticipated retirement of Mark McGowan. Here I offer my customary overview of the by-election; here, my coverage of a state opinion poll this week that greatly increased the level of interest surrounding the by-election; and here, if you’re a Crikey subscriber, my account of the potential federal implications of a collapse in Labor support in Western Australia, if that’s indeed what we’re seeing. This post will supplemented with live coverage of the account from 6pm this evening, and the site will as usual feature its famed live results, offering projections, probability estimates and a booth results map.

The West Australian is reporting that Rockingham deputy mayor and independent candidate Hayley Edwards is emerging as an outside chance, after a straw poll it conducted at pre-polling found 22 out of 73 respondents saying they had voted for her, compared with 34 for Labor candidate Magenta Marshall (leaving only 17 for others, among them Liberal candidate Peter Hudson). Another report in the paper today breathlessly relates a late change in Labor’s how-to-vote card has moved Edwards from third to eighth, ahead only of obscure independent Peter D. Dunne. This is sold as a “sign the ALP is worried the election for the long-held and uber-safe seat will be decided on preferences”, though the logic behind this is unclear.

It is one thing for a result to be “decided on preferences”, which will happen in the seemingly plausible event that Labor’s primary vote falls from the 82.8% Mark McGowan received in 2021 to below 50%. But the preferences of those who vote Labor will only enter the equation if its candidate fails to reach the final count, which would require what Kevin Bonham described yesterday as “the worst result in the history of everything”. It should be noted that the change in Labor’s how-to-vote card is a response in kind to Edwards, a former party member whose own how-to-vote card equally has all comers but Peter D. Dunne ahead of Magenta Marshall.

By-election latest: Fadden, Rockingham, Warrandyte

Candidates confirmed and ballot papers drawn for Fadden and Rockingham, and Liberal preselection determined for Warrandyte.

Candidates were announced and ballot paper orders drawn for two of the three looming by-elections, an occasion I have marked with guides to the two in question — the federal by-election for Fadden on July 15, and the Western Australian state by-election for Rockingham on July 29. As well as providing a dedicated comments thread for discussion of the by-election, this post offers a summary of the most recent developments from all three, the most notable of which are for the Victorian state by-election for Warrandyte, for which a date is yet to be determined:

• A Liberal preselection held on Sunday to choose a candidate for the Warrandyte state by-election in Victoria was won by Nicole Ta-Ei Werner, who ran unsuccessfully for the party in Box Hill at the November state election. Werner is the daughter of Malaysian Chinese migrants and a former youth pastor with Pentecostal church Planetshakers, who now works as the business development for Empower Australia, a food relief centre run by the church. She prevailed in the preselection vote amid a field of nine, which after progressive rounds winnowed the field down to Werner, Institute of Public Affairs director John Roskam, and 22-year-old law student Antonietta di Cosmo. Werner and Roskam were at this point tied for second, which was resolved with a special round of voting that determined the result for Werner. The majority of Roskam’s backers then fell in behind Werner, who defeated di Cosmo in the final round with 55 votes to 50 (with “some members leaving early”, according to The Age). Labor sources cited by The Age on Monday said Labor would decide if it would field a candidate by the end of the week, but I have yet to hear any further.

• Nine candidates have nominated for Rockingham, the Liberal candidate being Peter Hudson, a 21-year-old resources sector recruitment consultant who ran for the party in Brand at last year’s federal election, and was the only nominee for preselection. Also in the field is Rockingham deputy mayor Hayley Edwards, who was mentioned as a potential candidate for Labor but will instead run as an independent.

• With a crowded field of 13 candidates, Labor has had rather the better of the ballot paper draw in Fadden, their candidate Letitia Del Fabbro placed at the top while Cameron Caldwell of the Liberal National Party is second last.

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%.

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.

North West Central by-election live

Preview and live commentary of today’s North West Central state by-election in Western Australia.

Click here for full North West Central by-election results updated live.

Live commentary
8pm. All the booths are in on the primary vote and now, in one great flood, on two-party preferred as well, and we also have 413 postals and 381 pre-polls (the latter on primary vote only as I type). Raw figures are as good as projections at this stage, and they show the Nationals winning by a margin of 8% to 9%. However, their primary vote has not improved, which you might say is despite the absence of a Labor candidate or because of the absence of Vince Catania. The Liberals can take a certain amount of heart from the fact that their primary vote is up from 7.9% to 25.8%, but again, that may just reflect the fact that a lot of conservative support was hitherto locked up with Catania. Similarly, the Greens are up from 4.1% to 14.3%, but with a 40.2% Labor vote last time up for grabs, that’s not necessarily a particularly outstanding result.

7.21pm. The veil has now been lifted on two-party numbers, for which we have results from four booths. They suggest a roughly 60-40 split in preferences between the Nationals and the Liberals, which is similar to what happened when they finished first and second in 2013. This means the Liberals have no chance of winning from second on the primary vote in a context where they have no chance of finishing first, hence the probability dial hitting 100% for the Nationals.

7.05pm. Now the Kalbarri booth is in, with an above-par result for the Nationals. My probability gauge keeps getting stuck for some reason — it’s still on 98.0% when it should be at pretty much 100%.

7.02pm. The Exmouth booth and, to a lesser extent, Carnarvon Woolshed have almost doubled the vote count, giving the Greens a boost at the expense of the Nationals. In two-party terms though the picture is as it was in that the Nationals are well ahead of the Liberals and I expect them to do better on preferences.

6.53pm. I think that problem will fix with the next update, so consider me just about calling it for the Nationals. I’d forgotten that the WAEC has a peculiarity of not reporting two-party numbers until it’s confident it’s picked the right candidates, which is why we’re not seeking any action yet on that score.

6.46pm. My probability reading is stuck on 72.5% for the Nationals when it should be 98.0%. Looking into it.

6.41pm. We’ve got a relatively big booth in Onslow Primary School — all of 151 votes. The big picture is that the Nationals are down a little on the primary vote while the Liberals are up around 20% on their single figure result; that the Nationals retain a handy primary vote lead in a context where they’re likely to do better than the Liberals on preferences; and that we still don’t have any two-party numbers.

6.40pm. There’s an issue in the WAEC’s data feed for the Coral Bay booth, which is missing the line that’s supposed to record the Liberal result.

6.35pm. A sixth booth in now — probably Meekatharra Shire Hall, because that’s the best one for the Nationals and the dial just moved in their favour.

6.32pm. Problem fixed. Five booths in now, one of them small and four of them tiny, and while my speculative preference estimates point to a Nationals winning margin of 5% to 6%, there are far too few votes for me to call it.

6.23pm. Now we’ve got two booths in, the follow-up being 102 votes from Carnarvon Community College. The Nationals are well down on last time, but still with just over 50% of the primary vote. There is a problem with my two-party projection though, which I’ll look into.

6.22pm. In any case, I can tentatively say that my results facility is working, and that it’s coming through with the goods quicker than the WAEC site.

6.20pm. We’ve got 11 votes in from Wiluna Remote Community School. Presumably the fact that none of them are for the Liberals explains why my projection is sticking with 50-50.

6pm. Polls have closed. Now to see if my live results page is going to work. Results should come in reasonably shortly given there are some very small booths involved, although twelve candidates on the ballot paper should slow things up a bit. The WAEC will provide updates at leisurely five minute intervals.

Today is the day of Western Australia’s state by-election for North West Central, resulting from the retirement of Nationals MP Vince Catania, which likely looms as a contest between the Nationals and Liberals in the absence of a Labor candidate, albeit that there are twelve candidates in all. My own perspective on the matter is laid out in my by-election guide. Note that a mere 7741 formal votes were cast in 2021: not only does the seat have markedly below average enrolment due to the “large district allowance” that applies to seats of more than 100,000 square kilometres, it also records unusually low turnout, which is sure to be lower still at a by-election.

My live results page can be found here, awaiting numbers that will start to come through from 6pm. Given that Antony Green has “tickets to the Swans versus Collingwood AFL match … so won’t be able to publish any results until I get home from the match”, I think I can get away with saying that my results facility and accompanying commentary will be the best available.

My results display will feature two-party swing figures working off a rather artificial set of Nationals-versus-Liberal numbers from last year based on the assumption that Labor and minor party preferences would, if distributed, have split between the two in the same proportion as in 2013, when Labor obligingly finished third. On this basis, the Liberals need a 20.5% swing to poach the swing from the Nationals, having polled but 7.9% at the March 2021 election compared with 39.7% for the Nationals (and 40.2% for Labor).

My guess would be that that’s not going to happen: homeless Labor voters are probably more likely to swing behind the Nationals candidate Merome Beard, proprietor of the Port Hotel, which is by some distance the best pub in Carnarvon (the one that was infamouly run by Wilson Tuckey back in the day). Should Liberal candidate Will Baston pull off an upset, the Nationals and Liberals will be deadlocked at three seats apiece in the Legislative Assembly, raising the question of whether Nationals leader Mia Davies will retain the status of Opposition Leader.

Hawks and doves (open thread)

A new poll from the Australia Institute poses many a hard question on the potential for conflict with China.

The Australian has today published a Newspoll result of state voting intention in Victoria, which I have added as an introductory note to my earlier post covering general electoral developments in the state. I am not sure what the deal is with Newspoll’s federal polling – plainly it has not returned to its earlier schedule of a poll every three weeks, as there would otherwise have been one on Monday.

We do have two new attitudinal polls from the Australia Institute, one posing an array of stimulating questions on the potential for conflict with China. This encompassed both an Australian sample of 1003 and a Taiwanese sample of 1002, the survey work being conducted by international market research firm Dynata.

Among many other things, the Australian end of the survey found 47% expecting a Chinese armed attack on Australia either soon (9%) or “sometime” (38%), with only 19% opting for never and 33% uncommitted. Twenty-one per cent felt Australia would be able to defend itself from China without international assistance, compared with 60% who thought otherwise, and 57% anticipate such support would be forthcoming from the United States compared with 11% who didn’t and 19% who opted for “it depends”. Thirty-five per cent would back the US and Australia to win such a conflict compared with 8% for lose and 26% for a draw of some description.

Thirty-seven per cent felt the Australian people would be prepared to go to war if China threatened military action against Australia, effectively equal to the 38% who thought otherwise. Twenty-six per cent were prepared for Australia to go to war to help Taiwan gain independence compared with 33% who weren’t and 41% for uncommitted. Framed a little differently, 14% strongly agreed and 23% less strongly agreed that Australia should “send its defence forces to Taiwan to fight for their freedom … if China incorporated Taiwan”, compared with 20% for disagree and 9% for strongly disagree.

The Taiwanese end of the survey is beyond this site’s scope, thought it’s interesting to note that 41% felt optimistic with respect to the future for Taiwan compared with 40% for neutral and only 20% for pessimistic. The survey was conducted between August 13 and 16 – Nancy Pelosi’s visit was on August 2 and China’s military exercises followed from August 4 to 7.

A second report from the Australia Institute provides results of a poll conducted back in April on the seemingly less pressing subject of “wokeness”, a concept that meant nothing to 43% of those surveyed, ranging from only 22% of those aged 18 to 29 to 59% of those aged 60 and over. Forty-nine per cent of the former cohort owned up to being woke, decreasing with arithmetic precision to 9% for the latter, while around 30% for each of the five age cohorts identified as “not woke”. Interestingly, Coalition and Labor voters produced similar results, with Greens and One Nation voters deviating in the manner you would expect. The poll was conducted from April 5 to 8 from a sample of 1003, so the sub-sample sizes for the results cited above are not great, however intuitively likely the results might be.


Anthony Galloway of the Sun-Herald identifies possible successors to Scott Morrison in Cook: Mark Speakman, moderate-aligned state Attorney-General and member for Cronulla; Melanie Gibbons, state member for Holsworthy, who unsuccessfully sought preselection for the Hughes at the federal election; Carmelo Pesce, the mayor of Sutherland Shire; and Alex Cooke, identified only as a “party member”.

• The Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters has called for submissions to its inquiry into the 2022 federal election. Matters specifically touched up on by the terms of reference include political donation and truth-in-advertising laws, enfranchisement of New Zealand citizens living in Australia and “proportional representation of the states and territories in the parliament”, the latter seemingly referring to the possibility of adding extra seats for the territories in the Senate.

• The Australian Parliamentary Library has published a “quick guide” on the technicalities of when the next federal election might be held, together with a handy calendar showing when state and local elections are due through to 2006.

• No fewer than twelve candidates have nominated for Western Australia’s North West Central by-election on September 17, with Labor not among them, for a seat with only 11,189 voters. As well as the Nationals and the Liberals, there are two candidates of the Western Australia Party, one being hardy perennial Anthony Fels, plus the Greens, One Nation, Legalise Cannabis, Liberal Democrats, No Mandatory Vaccination, the Small Business Party and two independents. My guide to the by-election can be found here.

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