BludgerTrack: 54.5-45.5 to Labor

A devastating Newspoll strips the Coalition of almost all of its poll trend gains from two improved results last week.

In the week that brought them the Victorian election result, Newspoll has taken from the Coalition what Ipsos and Essential Research gave the week before in BludgerTrack, with Labor up 0.6% on two-party preferred and making seat projection gains in Victoria and South Australia. I’m afraid I’ve been too preoccupied/lazy to update the leadership trends, but Newspoll is unlikely to have changed them much. Other than that, full results from the link below.

Federal election minus six months (probably)

Tales of preselection action from Hughes, Indi, Cowper, Bennelong, Chisholm, Longman and New England.

Roughly six months out from a likely federal election, a gathering storm of preselection action. (Note also the thread below this one on the Victorian election campaign).

Phillip Coorey of the Australian Financial Review reports Scott Morrison has sought to save Craig Kelly from a preselection defeat in Hughes, but that moderate backers of challenger Kent Johns are not to be deterred. According to a source identified as one of his conservative allies, Kelly “has been remiss in looking after his branches and would be lucky to have 25 per cent of the vote”. Quoth a moderate: “As far as the moderates are concerned, Malcolm Turnbull saved Concetta Fierravanti-Wells and Angus Taylor and Kelly last time, and look what they did to him.” Among the quandaries this raises are that Kelly may react to his defeat by moving to the cross-benches, further weakening the already shaky position of the government.

• There have been a few suggestions that Barnaby Joyce may fall foul of a new candidate-vetting process the Nationals have introduced, ostensibly to prevent further Section 44 mishaps. Figures in the party appear to have been putting it about that Joyce might face trouble due to the fear that even after the events of the past year, there remain “skeletons in the closet”. However, inquiries by Richard Ferguson of The Australian suggest that “a few members on the NSW Nationals’ 84-people-strong central council do plan to refuse to endorse Mr Joyce but they are in the minority”.

David Johnston of the Border Mail reports nominees for a Liberal preselection vote for Indi, to be held on December 8, include Steve Martin, project manager for the Mars Petcare Wodonga plant expansion and Seeley International’s relocation from Albury to Wodonga, and Stephen Brooks, a local businessman. Another potential nominee is Greg Mirabella, husband of former member Sophie Mirabella. The seat’s independent member, Cathy McGowan, has not yet committed to seeking another term. The report also raises the possibility that Senator Bridget McKenzie, who is preparing to move her electorate office to Wodonga, might run for the Nationals.

Christian Knight of the Nambucca Guardian reports the Nationals have preselected Patrick Conaghan, a local solicitor who was formerly a police officer and North Sydney councillor, to succeed the retiring Luke Hartsuyker in Cowper. The other candidates were Chris Genders, a newsagent; Jamie Harrison, former Port Macquarie-Hastings councillor and owner of an electrical business; and Judy Plunkett, a Port Macquarie pharmacist. Conaghan appears to have won over half the vote in the first round.

• Labor has recruited Brian Owler, neurosurgeon and former Australian Medical Association president, as its candidate for Bennelong. The party had initially preselected Lyndal Howison, communications manager at the Whitlam Institute and the party’s candidate in 2016, but she agreed to step aside for Owler.

• Gladys Liu, director of Blue Ribbon Consultancy, has been preselected as the Liberal candidate to succeed Julia Banks in Chisholm, having emerged “the clear winner in the field of eight candidates”, according to Liberal sources cited by Benjamin Preiss of The Age. Other candidates included Theo Zographos, a Monash councillor, and Litsa Pillios, an accountant. James Campbell of the Herald Sun reports Liu had backing from party president Michael Kroger and conservative powerbroker Michael Sukkar.

David Alexander of the Pine Rivers Press reports the Liberal National Party has preselected local small businessman Terry Young as its candidate for Longman. The party recorded a portentously weak showing in the seat at the Super Saturday by-election on July 28, for which Young was an unsuccessful preselection candidate.

Not the Wentworth by-election thread

Some preselection news, and a thread for discussion of political matters not directly related to the Wentworth by-election count.

For discussion focused on the count for the Wentworth by-election, which turns out not to have been as over as you thought it was last night, the live results thread is still in action. For general political discussion, I offer the following post, with my usual semi-regular updates of preselection news.

Phillip Coorey of the Australian Financial Review reports a New South Wales Liberal Senate preselection next month is a three-way contest between Jim Molan, Andrew Bragg and Hollie Hughes. Molan found a place in the Senate last December by the grace of Section 44, after securing only the unwinnable seventh position on the Coalition ticket at the 2016 double dissolution, to the chagrin of conservatives including Tony Abbott. Then followed the disqualification of Nationals Senator Fiona Nash, followed by the determination that the sixth candidate on the ticket, the aforesaid Hollie Hughes, was likewise ineligible due to a position she had taken on the Administrative Affairs Tribunal. Now it appears Molan is primed to take top spot, and since the third position is reserved for the Nationals, this leaves two and four to be fought out between Bragg, whose decision to withdraw himself from consideration for preselection in Wentworth is now looking pretty good, and Hughes, whose Section 44 complication is behind her.

• The Port Macquarie News reports three candidates have nominated to succeed retiring Luke Hartsuyker as Nationals candidate for Cowper: Patrick Conaghan, a former police officer and North Sydney councillor who now works locally as a solicitor; Chris Genders, a newsagent; and Jamie Harrison, former Port Macquarie-Hastings councillor and owner of an electrical business.

• The Burnie Advocate reports Gavin Pearce, who has been described as a “farmer and ex-defence force member”, has been preselected as Liberal candidate for Braddon ahead of “Devonport business identity Stacey Sheehan and property developer Kent Townsend”.

More Monday miscellany

A summary of federal preselection developments, much of it relating to Tasmanian Senate tickets.

We’re in an off-week for federal opinion polling, although we may get geographic and demographic breakdowns from Newspoll – the leadership change had broken up their usual schedule of quarterly publication, and they have already published the results from the end of the Turnbull epoch. So here’s a summary of preselection news. Note the post below on the Wentworth by-election, and the one below that on the US mid-terms, courtesy of Adrian Beaumont.

• After successful lobbying from Scott Morrison, Peter Dutton and Mathias Cormann, Richard Colbeck will head the Tasmanian Liberal Senate ticket. Earlier reports indicated he would again be dumped, as he was in 2016 – initially costing him his seat, before he won it back on the countback that resulted from Stephen Parry’s Section 44-related disqualification. Claire Chandler, a conservative backed by Eric Abetz, is number two, with Hobart councillor Tanya Denison number three. The presence of two women on the ticket makes a change from the usual form of the state party, which last had a woman in federal parliament in 2002. Those who missed out included Brett Whiteley, who held Braddon from 2013 to 2016 and failed to win it back in the Super Saturday by-election, and Wendy Summers, political staffer and the sister of David Bushby.

• Tasmanian Labor, on the other hand, has persisted in dumping Senator Lisa Singh to number four, despite her historic success in having below-the-line voters overturn her demotion in 2016. This reflects the party’s persistence in favouring the claim of John Short, state secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, who will be number three. The top two positions go to incumbents of the Left and Right, Carol Brown and Catryna Bilyk.

• Ann Sudmalis’s retirement in the dicey New South Wales seat of Gilmore leaves in the field her prospective preselection challenger, Grant Schultz, a real estate agent and the son of former Hume MP Alby Schultz. However, Mark Kenny of Fairfax reports “the moderate faction of the Liberal Party believes it can retain its hold on the seat and find a replacement for Ms Sudmalis”.

Chris O’Keefe of Nine News reports Hughes MP Craig Kelly has been approached to run in the marginal state seat of East Hills, to smooth over his likely preselection defeat in his existing seat at the hands of Kent Johns. Kelly appeared to scupper his chances when he suggested forgiving Russia for the MH17 disaster was “the price we have to pay” for “good relations going forward”.

• Perin Davey, a Riverina water policy specialist, has won preselection to succeed the retiring John “Wacka” Williams as the Nationals’ New South Wales Senate candidate. The existing coalition agreement gives the Nationals the difficult third position on the ticket, but Joe Kelly of The Australian reports the party is considering breaking away to run its own ticket. To this end it has chosen a full slate of four candidates, rounded out by “small business owner Sam Farraway, Gunnedah Mayor Jamie Chaffey and Wagga-based farmer Paul Cocking”.

• Skye Kakoschke-Moore has been confirmed as the lead South Australian Senate candidate for the Centre Alliance, confirming that Nick Xenophon will stand by the pledge he made at the time of his failed run for state parliament that he would not run at the federal election.

Senate selections

Labor sorts out its Senate ticket for Queensland, while both parties in Tasmania appear loath to learn from the preselection lessons of 2016.

We seem to be going into an ill-timed poll drought, so to keep things ticking over, here’s a post focusing on Senate preselection news. Please note there’s a post below this one on this Saturday’s Wagga Wagga by-election, which is developing into a fairly interesting contest.

• Queensland Labor’s state conference determined its Senate preselection on the weekend, having been hurried along by a national executive concerned the Liberal leadership crisis might bring on an early election. In doing so it bypassed a vote that was granted to the party membership under rule changes in 2013. The top position has gone to Nita Green, a former staffer to Senator Murray Watt and the favoured candidate of the CFMMEU and United Voice. The position is reserved to the Left, and is being vacated with the retirement of Claire Moore.

Green’s ascendancy has been contentious because party rules reserve the position for a regional representative and she lives in Brisbane, though she says she will move if elected. Supporters of rival Left candidate Tania Major, a Cairns-based indigenous youth advocate and protege of Cape York leader Noel Pearson, have further complained of being ambushed by a process for the factional ballot in which a three-day nominations period was followed immediately by the start of voting.

The second place on the ticket, which is reserved to the dominant Labor Forum sub-faction of the Right, has been retained by incumbent Chris Ketter. The cancellation of the party membership vote saw off any threat from rival nominee Pat O’Neill, former army major and candidate for Brisbane in 2016, although he was reportedly unlikely to win in any case. Number three goes to Frank Gilbert, a former Mackay councillor and candidate for Dawson in 2016, and a member of the Old Guard sub-faction of the Right.

Matthew Denholm of The Australian reports Tasmanian Labor’s union establishment has again lined up against Lisa Singh for Senate preselection, undeterred by the success of a below-the-line voting campaign in overturning her demotion at the 2016 election. Singh will presumably dominate the party member component of the vote, but is reportedly unlikely to do any better than the loseable third position. This is because the dominant Left wants places for an incumbent, Carol Brown, and John Short, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union official for whom Singh was relegated in 2016, while the Right is defending incumbent Catryna Bilyk.

• Tasmania’s Liberals are also conducting their Senate preselection vote on Saturday, and there are suggestions they too may repeat unhappy history from 2016. Richard Colbeck is again under pressure from conservative forces associated with Senator Eric Abetz, despite having almost matched Lisa Singh’s feat after being dumped to number five in 2016. He found his way back in the recount that followed Stephen Parry’s disqualification in November, and was promoted last week to the outer ministry, making him the only Tasmanian at that level of seniority. Brett Worthington at the ABC reports conservatives want the top position to go to Brett Whiteley, veteran of three winning and three losing campaigns at both federal and state level in Braddon, or alternatively to a woman. Further demotion beyond that would be particularly remarkable for Colbeck, as he is the only one of the four Tasmanian Liberal Senators facing re-election, the others having scored six-year terms. The other nominees for the preselection were detailed in an earlier instalment.

Après le déluge

Situations vacant for aspiring Liberals, first in Wentworth, now in Chisholm, and perhaps soon in Curtin. Also: polls for the ACT Senate and next weekend’s New South Wales state by-election in Wagga Wagga, neither good for the Libs.

Post-leadership change turbulence costs the Liberals a sitting MP in a crucial marginal seat, as preselection hopefuls jockey for safe seat vacancies:

• Liberal MP Julia Banks yesterday announced she will not recontest her Melbourne seat of Chisholm, citing bullying she was subjected to ahead of last week’s leadership vote by the anti-Malcolm Turnbull camp. Banks won the seat on the retirement of Labor member Anna Burke in 2016, making her the only Coalition member to gain a seat from Labor at the election. Rob Harris of the Herald Sun reports the Liberals will choose their new candidate in a community preselection, which presumably entails an open primary style arrangement in which anyone on the electoral roll can participate. Labor has endorsed Jennifer Yang, former adviser to Bill Shorten and mayor of Manningham who ran second as a candidate in the Melbourne lord mayoral election in May, finishing 3.0% behind winning candidate Sally Capp after preferences. The party initially preselected the unsuccessful candidate from 2016, former Monash mayor Stefanie Perri, but she announced her withdrawal in May, saying she had been deterred by the expreience of Tim Hammond.

Alexandra Smith of the Sydney Morning Herald cites “several senior Liberals” who say the “only real contenders” for the Wentworth preselection are Dave Sharma, former ambassador to Israel, and Andrew Bragg, a director at the Business Council of Australia and former leader of the Yes same-sex marriage survey campaign. The report says Sharma has moderate factional support, including from powerbroker Michael Photios, while Bragg is supported in local branches. It also says it is no foregone conclusion that Labor will contest the seat, despite having an election candidate in place in Tim Murray, managing partner of investment research firm J Capital. An earlier report by Alexandra Smith suggested Christine Forster’s bid for Liberal preselection appeared doomed in part because, as an unidentified Liberal source put it: “She is an Abbott and how does that play in a Wentworth byelection? Not well I would suggest.”

Primrose Riordan of The Australian identifies three potential candidates to succeed Julie Bishop in Curtin, assuming she retires. They are Emma Roberts, a BHP corporate lawyer who contested the preselection to succeed Colin Barnett in the state seat of Cottesloe, but was defeated by David Honey; Erin Watson-Lynn, director of Asialink Diplomacy at the University of Melbourne; and Rick Newnham, chief econmist at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Sally Whyte of the Canberra Times reports a Greens-commissioned ReachTEL poll of the Canberra electorate suggests ACT Liberal Senator Zed Seselja’s role in Malcolm Turnbull’s demise may have put his seat in danger. Elections for the ACT’s two Senate seats have always resulted in one seat each for Labor, but the Liberal seat could potentially fall to the Greens if its vote fell significantly below one third. After allocating results of a forced response question for the initially undecided, the results are Labor 39.6%, the Greens 24.2%, Liberal 23.7% and One Nation 2.8%. Even accounting for the fact that the Canberra electorate is particularly strong for the Greens, these numbers suggest there would be a strong possibility of Greens candidate Penny Kyburz overhauling Seselja on preferences. The poll also finds 64.6% of voters saying Seselja’s role in Turnbull’s downfall made them less likely to vote for him, with only 13.0% saying it made them more likely to, and 22.4% saying it made no difference. Among Liberal voters, the respective figures were 38.7%, 29.6% and 31.7%.

In other news, the Liberals in New South Wales are managing expectations ahead of a feared defeat in Saturday week’s Wagga Wagga state by-election, most likely at the hands of independent Joe McGirr. Andrew Clennell of The Australian reports a ReachTEL poll commissioned by Shooters Fishers and Farmers has the Liberals on 30.2%, Labor on 23.8%, McGirr on 18.4% and Shooters Fishers and Farmers on 10.9%, after exclusion of the 7.4% undecided. However, McGirr faces a complication in Shooters Fishers and Farmers’ unusual decision to direct preferences to Labor, which could potentially prevent him from overtaking them to make the final count. According to Clennell’s report, “any government loss post-mortem would be expected to focus on why the Liberals did not let the Nationals run for the seat”.