The nation’s tea-leaf readers have been left driving blind after today’s non-appearance of Newspoll, which is apparently taking an extended long weekend. Phoney War Dispatches accordingly has disappointingly little to report.
With expectations of an August 7 poll continuing to mount, the Prime Minister appeared to indicate otherwise today when he told the National Press Club he "would hope" that legislation for the United States free trade agreement could be passed before the election was held. Bearing Howard’s subtle qualification in mind, that suggests a new session of parliament to proceed on schedule in August and no election until October.
The boil of Labor’s South Australian Senate preselection was finally lanced with Senator Geoff Buckland’s unexpected announcement today that would not be seeking another term. Buckland’s Right faction will now throw its support behind former state deputy leader Annette Hurley, who boldly abandoned her safe seat of Napier to unsuccessfully challenge a sitting Liberal minister at the 2002 state election. This means that Senator Nick Bolkus no longer has to abandon his place for the party to meet stricter definitions of its affirmative action quota.
Peter Garrett has been the only nominee for Labor endorsement in the safe Sydney seat of Kingsford-Smith, the spurned rivals who were so vocal a week before quietly conceding defeat after the ALP National Executive took over the preselection process from the state branch. Newspoll did at least manage a poll released on the weekend gauging reaction to Garrett’s recruitment, with 39 per cent deeming it good for Labor against 19 per cent poor.
Residents of Adelaide marginal seats are no doubt fed up with opinion pollsters already, but they can expect no respite between now and polling day. A Taverner poll in Adelaide’s Advertiser newspaper on Saturday for the electorate of Adelaide had Liberal and Labor equal on 38 per cent, calculated as a 53.2 per cent two-party preferred vote for Labor. This still represents a shift back to the Liberals from a poll taken in late February which had Labor ahead on the primary vote 40 per cent to 37. The poll also included questions on the budget in which the Poll Bludger isn’t much interested, but which were used by the Advertiser to paint a gloomy picture for the Government.