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”.

BludgerTrack: 51.1-48.9 to Labor

Malcolm Turnbull’s personal ratings lose their lustre, but the poll trend records no change on voting intention. Also featured: preselection action from Labor in the ACT and the Liberals in Tasmania.

BludgerTrack has been updated this week with new results from Newspoll and Essential Research, both of which provided leadership ratings as well as voting intention, and a Queensland-only federal poll result from YouGov Galaxy. None of this has made any difference to the two-party preferred reading, although both parties are down on the primary vote and One Nation is up. On the seat projection, the Coalition gains a seat in Victoria and loses one in New South Wales, with no change anywhere else. However, conspicuously poor personal ratings for Malcolm Turnbull from Newspoll have knocked the edge off his surge in the BludgerTrack trend. Full results from the link below.

Now on to two areas of intense preselection activity this week, involving Labor in the Australian Capital Territory and Liberal in Tasmania.

Continue reading “BludgerTrack: 51.1-48.9 to Labor”

Saturday smorgasbord

Details on two privately conducted polls, plus a stew of federal preselection news.

Two privately conducted ReachTEL polls from the past week to relate, followed by enough federal preselection news to choke on. Also note immediately below this the post on a new YouGov Galaxy state poll from Queensland. I should also observe that September 8 has been set as the date for the Wagga Wagga state by-election in New South Wales, to be held after Liberal member Daryl Maguire fell foul of the Independent Commission Against Corruption. It presumably won’t be contested by Labor and will probably be of interest only to locals, but Antony Green naturally has a guide up.

On with the show:

The Guardian reports a poll conducted for the ACTU has Labor leading 51-49 on two-party preferred. Other findings of the poll relate to wage rises, or the lack thereof: 47.6% reported not having received one in the past year, 32.9% said such as they had received did not cover the cost of living, and only 19.5% said their pay had improved in real terms. The poll was conducted on August 2 from a sample of 2453.

• Greenpeace has a Victoria only poll which, after exclusion of the 6.7% undecided, has the Coalition on 35.4% (compared with 41.8% at the 2016 election), Labor on 34.9% (35.6%), the Greens on an unlikely 18.6% (13.1%) and One Nation on 5.1%. Labor leads 57-43 on two-party preferred, compared with 51.8-48.2 at the election. The poll was conducted July 30 from a sample of 1118.

The preselection news bonanza starts in Victoria, where internal party democracy has been having a rough time of it lately, with Labor’s national executive and the Liberal Party’s state administrative committee both taking over federal preselections to protect sitting members amid factional unrest.

Continue reading “Saturday smorgasbord”

BludgerTrack: 52.3-47.7 to Labor

Two new polls for the week cancel out the slight gain Labor made in last week’s reading of the BludgerTrack poll aggregate.

After recording a slight spike to Labor last week on the back of the Ipsos result, the latest results from Newspoll and Essential Research have brought the BludgerTrack two-party trend reading to about where it was before. This has happened without any changes in the seat projection, in any seat. Newspoll and Essential also both provided leadership ratings, which cause Malcolm Turnbull’s net approval result to improve a little, and Bill Shorten’s to worsen a little. This will be an off week for both the regularly reporting pollsters, but Sky News may step into the breach with a ReachTEL on Sunday morning. We’re also due for Newspoll’s quarterly poll state and demographic breakdowns. Full results from BludgerTrack by clicking on the following:

Preselection news:

• A preselection for the Queensland Liberal National Party Senate ticket has dumped incumbents Ian Macdonald and Barry O’Sullivan in favour of Paul Scarr, described by Jared Owens of The Australian as a “low-profile mining executive”, and Susan McDonald, managing director of a chain of butcher’s shops and member of a Queensland grazing dynasty. The third position goes to Gerard Rennick, a finance executive. Macdonald will have to make do with number four, which was last productive in the freak result of 2004 than delivered the Howard government a Senate majority during its final term. Also frozen out was Scott Emerson, the former minister in Campbell Newman’s government who lost the seat of Maiwar to the Greens in the state election last November.

• The first of two retirement announcements this week from federal Labor MPs in Victoria was that of Michael Danby, who has held Melbourne Ports since 1998. Danby insists the decision was wholly his own choice, which reflects suggestions his pro-Israel outlook may have been contributing to the pressure Labor has increasingly faced in the inner city electorate from the Greens. Three names that have long been mooted as potential successors for Labor preselectionn are Josh Burns, an adviser to Daniel Andrews and former staffer to Danby; Mary Delahunty, a Glen Eira councillor and former mayor (not to be confused with the former state member for Northcote); and Nick Dyrenfurth, executive director of the John Curtin Research Centre. The latter reportedly ruled himself out in February, but has been rated a potential starter in media reports following Danby’s announcement.

• The second was that of Jenny Macklin, who had held Jagajaga since 1996. According to Noel Towell of The Age, the vacancy could finally provide Labor with a solution to its dilemma of how to accommodate Jane Garrett, who refuses to defend her existing state seat of Brunswick from the ever-rising threat of the Greens, and was rebuffed in her bid for a berth in the state upper house. It was earlier suggested that Garrett might get the safe Labor federal seat that was predictably produced by the recently finalised redistribution, but Bill Shorten is now considering taking it instead, as it takes much of his existing seat of Maribyrnong. The redrawn Maribyrnong is perhaps not of interest to Garrett because, as Fairfax recently reported, it was “tipped to turn marginal in the coming years”, although I have my doubts about that personally.

Mid-week miscellany

Federal electoral news nuggets, sourced from Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory.

We are having one of the poll-free weeks that have occasionally bedevilled us since Essential Research moved from weekly to fortnightly, with Newspoll having one of its occasional three-week gaps so its next poll coincides with the resumption of parliament. So here’s some random bits of electoral news:

• A polling nugget I forgot to relate a fortnight ago: according to a report by Nick Butterly of The West Australian, a Labor internal poll recorded a neck-and-neck result in the Perth seat of Stirling, which Michael Keenan holds for the Liberals by a margin of 6.1%. After excluding the 10.8% undecided, the primary votes were Liberal 40.2% (49.5% in 2016), Labor 37.6% (32.2%), Greens 9.0% (11.7%) and One Nation 5.3%. The poll was conducted by Community Engagement from a large sample of 1735.

Gareth Parker in the Sunday Times reports that Matt O’Sullivan, who ran unsuccessfully in the lower house seat of Burt at the 2016 election, has narrowly won preselection for the third position on the Liberals’ Western Australian Senate ticket, behind incumbents Linda Reynolds and Slade Brockman. O’Sullivan emerged with 56 votes to 54 for Trish Botha, co-founder with her husband of an evangelical church in Perth’s northern suburbs. The closeness of the result surprised party observers, especially given Christian conservative numbers man Nick Goiran backed O’Sullivan. As Gareth Parker noted in his weekly column, Botha appears to have attracted support from “non God-botherers” opposed to Goiran’s alliance with Mathias Cormann and Peter Collier, who may not have been aware of the messianic language employed by Botha’s church.

• Katy Gallagher has announced she will seek preselection to recover the Australian Capital Territory Senate seat from which she was disqualified last month over Section 44 complications, after speculation she might instead seek the territory’s newly created third lower house seat. However, it appears she will face opposition from the newly anointed successor to her Senate seat, David Smith, former local director of Professionals Australia.

• As for the lower house situation in the Australian Capital Territory, Andrew Leigh will remain in Fenner and Gai Brodtmann will go from Canberra to the nominally new seat of Bean, leaving a vacancy available in Canberra. Smith appears set to run if he loses the Senate preselection to Gallagher; Sally Whyte of Fairfax reports he will be opposed by Kel Watt, a lobbyist who has lately made a name for himself campaigning against the territory Labor government’s ban on greyhound racing. Other potential starters include John Falzon, chief executive of the St Vincent de Paul Society; Jacob Ingram, a staffer to Chief Minister Andrew Barr; and Jacob White, a staffer to Andrew Leigh.

• Occasional Poll Bludger contributor Adrian Beaumont has launched his own website of local and international election and polling news.