I held off doing a post on yesterday’s unconvincing Morgan phone poll result in the hope they would give us a face-to-face poll this week, but either they’ve gone on Christmas break or are returning to their old pattern of combining results fortnightly. Yesterday’s effort was a phone poll from a sample of just 493 respondents, conducted on the back of a survey about climate change. The results were not unlike those of last week’s similarly dubious poll: Labor up a point to 42 per cent, the Coalition down 1.5 per cent to 41.5 per cent and the Greens down one to 9.5 per cent, with Labor’s two-party lead steady on 53-47.
• Phoebe Stewart of the ABC reports Palmerston deputy mayor Natasha Griggs has been preselected as the Country Liberal Party candidate for Darwin-based Solomon, defeating three other candidates including Darwin City Council alderman Garry Lambert and Tourism Top End head Tony Clementson. Bob Gosford of The Northern Myth further writes that Bess Price, described by the Northern Territory News as an “indigenous domestic violence campaigner”, has nominated for CLP preselection in the territory’s other electorate, Lingiari. Price has the backing of Alison Anderson, Labor-turned-independent member for Macdonnell, and says she has “always voted Labor” in the past.
• VexNews hears the NSW Liberals could dump Chris Spence as candidate for The Entrance early in the New Year. At issue is Spence’s comprehensive resume as a former One Nation activist: research officer to the party’s state upper house MP David Oldfield, federal candidate for Fraser in 1998, state candidate for Barwon in 2003, New South Wales state party secretary, national and state president of the youth wing “Youth Nation”, and ACT branch president and regional council chair.
• Samantha Maiden of The Australian reports possible scenarios for federal intervention into the NSW Labor Party include replacing secretary Matthew Thistlethwaite with an administrator answerable to the federal executive, and stripping Joe Tripodi and Eddie Obeid of their preselection (respectively for Fairfield and the upper house).
• Nick Minchin told ABC Television on Wednesday that it would be “healthy for democracy” if restrictions were placed on television election advertising to reduce the costs of campaigning.
• The Labor national executive has endorsed Rob Mitchell for a second try at McEwen, to be vacated at the next election by retiring Liberal Fran Bailey. The court ruling in Mitchell’s unsuccessful legal challenge against the 2007 result saw his margin of defeat increased from 12 to 27.
• Damien Madigan of the Blue Mountains Gazette reports the the state leadership change has inspired Labor’s national executive to delay its preselection decision for Macquarie, where Blue Mountains mayor Adam Searle is expected to be named successor to the retiring Bob Debus.
• Reader Sacha Blumen points me to a Wentworth Courier article from a month ago (see page 22) naming two potential Labor candidates for Wentworth – “Paddington veterinarian Barry Nielsen and Darlinghurst barrister Phillip Boulten” – in addition to Stephen Lewis, described in last week’s edition as a Slater & Gordon lawyer, anti-high rise activist and members of the Jewish Board of Deputies. Former Australian Medical Association president Kerryn Phelps has also been mentioned in the past. This week the Courier reports the Greens have endorsed Matthew Robertson, a Darlinghurst-based legal researcher for the Refugee Advice and Casework Service.
• Antony Green berates those of us who were “examining the entrails of the booth by booth results to try and divine some patterns” from Saturday’s by-elections, arguing such entrails are only interesting for what they tell us about “how Labor voters react to the Greens as a political party”. The conclusion is that “Labor voters in the ritzier parts of Bradfield seem more likely to view the Greens as a left-wing alternative to Labor than Labor voters in less affluent areas”. Antony has since conducted some entrail examination of his own to conclude that the resulting positive relationship between the two-party Liberal vote in 2007 and the Liberal swing at the by-election is unusual for urban electorates. My own post-mortem was published in Crikey on Monday.
• The NSW Nationals have announced the state seat of Tamworth will be the laboratory for its open primary experiment, in which the party’s candidate will be chosen by a vote open to every person enrolled in the electorate. The naturally conservative seat is held by independent Peter Draper, having been in independent hands for all but two years since Tony Windsor (now the federal member for New England) won it in 1991.
• Robert Taylor of The West Australian has written an action-packed column on Labor federal preselection matters in Western Australia. It commences thus:
On the surface, the WA Labor Party’s powerful state administrative committee looks to have a straightforward job next Monday when it meets to approve candidates in crucial seats for next year’s Federal election. In typical Labor fashion, three of the candidates for the most winnable Liberal seats of Swan, Cowan and Canning are unopposed, the backroom deals having already been done between the factional powerbrokers to obviate the need for a vote and all the inherent dangers that accompany them. In Durack, where there’s an outside chance of Labor rolling incumbent Barry Haase in the redrawn Kalgooorlie-based electorate, former State Geraldton Labor MP Shane Hill is also unopposed, but that’s because he was really the only one who wanted it badly enough. In Stirling, where Labor has a second to none chance of rolling incumbent Michael Keenan, something obviously went wrong because two people decided to nominate against the favourite Louise Durack, but an upset is highly unlikely.
So the administrative committee had very little to worry about until last Thursday when the Corruption and Crime Commission released its long-awaited report on goings-on at the City of Wanneroo, which handed a couple of misconduct findings to deputy mayor Sam Salpietro and fired a salvo across the bows of Wanneroo mayor Jon Kelly. The problem for Labor is that Mr Kelly is the party’s hope in the seat of Cowan, held by the Liberals Luke Simpkins with a thin 2.4 per cent margin. Labor sees a combination of the local mayor and Kevin Rudd as an irresistible combination in Cowan and had all but pencilled in the seat as a win before last week’s report. The CCC made it clear that in its opinion Mr Kelly was prepared to curry favour with former premier-turned-lobbyist Brian Burke in order to further his own political ambitions. Mr Kelly argued both at the commission and since the report came out that he did everything possible to distance himself from Mr Burke, but put bluntly the CCC just didn’t believe him – which must make the ALP’s administrative committee wonder whether the voters of Cowan will either.
• Dennis Shanahan of The Australian has been in touch to point out an error in last week’s Newspoll post, which stated both Newspoll and the Nielsen poll were both conducted on the Friday and Saturday. Newspoll’s surveying in fact continued throughout Sunday, with The Australian releasing the result at the end of the day.