Around the grounds:
Ashgrove (Labor 7.1%): Yet another ReachTel automated phone poll for Ashgrove was conducted on February 9 from a sample of 616, and it showed Campbell Newman with a narrower lead than in any of the previous five: 49 per cent to 41 per cent on the primary vote, which panned out to an implausibly narrow 51-49 on ReachTel’s dubious two-party preferred measure. The Greens continue to hover around 6 per cent in this poll series, which is much lower than seems credible in this seat. In other Ashgrove news, the LNP is complaining that a “community group” to back Kate Jones under the banner “Locals for Locals” was set up by Labor to help it evade the $50,000 spending cap on promoting individual candidates which is coming into force at this election.
South Brisbane (Labor 15.0%): ReachTel also targeted the Premier’s electorate with a poll canvassing 339 respondents on January 23, and it found Anna Bligh leading the LNP 35 per cent to 34 per cent, which would pan out to a very comfortable win for her after distribution of preferences from the Greens, who were on 22 per cent.
Ferny Grove (Labor 4.5%): The most recent ReachTel poll canvassed 370 respondents in this seat on February 17, and together with past results it seems to suggest a pattern of ReachTel being roughly plausible in inner suburban seats like the two noted previously, but producing fantastically bad results for Labor further out in the suburbs. This poll had Labor incumbent Geoff Wilson trailing LNP challenger Dale Shuttleworth 63 per cent to 23 per cent on the primary vote. This was the first ReachTel poll which didn’t come with a respondent-allocated two-party preferred result, which presumably had something to do with Antony Green’s blog post on the matter a week earlier.
Mount Ommaney (Labor 4.8%): Following a very late retirement announcement from Labor member Julie Attwood, the party’s new candidate is Ben Marczyk, an organiser with Together Queensland.
Stretton (Labor 9.5%) and Sunnybank (Labor 10.8%): Steven Wardill of the Courier-Mail reported a fortnight ago that retiring Labor MPs Stephen Robertson and Judy Spence failed to attend the opening of their successor candidates’ electorate office. Robertson has reportedly “fallen out with branch members after the party preselected unionist Duncan Pegg over his preferred candidate, David Forde” (who is running as an independent), and “courted controversy late last year by attending a fundraising function for Mr Forde”.
Southern Downs (LNP 21.1%): Peter Watson, Labor’s 19-year-old candidate for this unwinnable rural seat, has been disendorsed and expelled from the party over comments he left on web forums at the age of 15 and 16, in which he supported the White Australia Policy and said homosexuals were “degenerates” who should be “wiped out” from society. Anna Bligh argued, rather implausibly, that Watson had infiltrated the party in order to embarrass it. However, his father Dudley Watson is a long-standing party member and former president of his local branch, and resigned his membership in response to Bligh’s comments. Labor is using Watson’s expulsion to claim higher standards than the LNP, which is continuing to endorse Gavin King in Cairns despite his colourful record as a newspaper columnist. This follows the LNP using Richard Towson’s withdrawal in Broadwater over a drink-driving offence to plead higher standards than Labor, which continues to endorse Algester MP Karen Struthers despite her own drink driving conviction in 2007. Labor’s dumping of Watson has called attention to the party’s large retinue of wet-behind-the-ears candidates: 18-year-old Ben Parker, who lives on the Gold Coast, in Gympie; 20-year-old Oscar Schlamowitz in Indooroopilly; 20-year-old Jack O’Brien in Gregory; and 19-year-old Rachel Patterson in Mermaid Beach.
Lytton (Labor 12.2%): Meanwhile, the LNP’s 23-year-old candidate for Lytton, Neil Symes, has attracted attention over comments he made on Facebook describing asylum seekers as “terrorists and queue jumpers”.
• Bernard Keane of Crikey observes that spending caps which are taking effect at this election arrive just in time for Labor’s loss of its spending advantage over the LNP, whose coffers have been engorged by donors courting favour with the expected victor.
• The registration of political parties which will take effect at the election has been finalised and it doesn’t include the Australian Sex Party, who were unable to prove they had the requisite 500 members. All that leaves is Labor, the LNP, the Greens, Katter’s Australian Party, One Nation, Family First and Daylight Saving for South East Queensland.