Liberal leadership turmoil hasn’t saved SA Labor from sinking to its worst position in Newspoll since it came to office a decade ago.
GhostWhoVotes reports Newspoll has a surprisingly poor state poll result for the Labor government in South Australia, which it records as having crashed to a 57-43 deficit on two-party preferred for the July-September quarter. This compares with a 52-48 deficit when that last such poll was published for January-March, and the Labor government’s worst Newspoll result since it came to office in 2002. Labor’s primary vote of 28% is down six points on the previous poll, and was last at this level just before the 1993 election wipeout. The Liberals are up three to 43% and the Greens steady on 11%, with “others” having spiked three points to a remarkable 18%. Jay Weatherill’s honeymoon personal ratings have dissipated, his approval falling five points to 42% and his disapproval up ten to 33%. Isobel Redmond has surprisingly strong figures considering the speculation about her leadership, although her approval is down three to 40% and her disapproval up two to 36%. She has also narrowed her deficit as preferred premier from 46-23 to 40-27.
With the next election roughly 18 months away, we’ve been hearing the first preselection stirrings. Daniel Wills of the Sunday Mail provided an information-rich report on Liberal jockeying at the start of the month, noting a large number of women in the field:
• Peta McCance is again the front-runner for Liberal preselection in the southern suburbs seat of Mitchell, where Labor’s Alan Sibbons ousted Labor-turned-Greens-turned-independent member Kris Hanna last time after holding out against McCance with a two-party margin of 2.1% (adjusted to 2.4% by the redistribution).
• Maria Kourtesis’s bid to again contest the coastal southern suburbs seat of Bright as the Liberal candidate will face opposition from Marion deputy mayor David Speirs. Kourtesis fell 167 votes short of unseating Labor’s Chloe Fox in 2010, and the redistribution has given the seat a notional Liberal margin of 0.1%.
• Local party branch president Terina Monteagle is likely to contest Ashford, which Stephanie Key holds on a margin of 1.5%, reduced from 4.8% by the redistribution.
• Former state party director Bev Barber, who unsuccessfully sought to fill Mary Jo Fisher’s Senate vacancy, is “being spoken of as a possible candidate to run for Transport Minister Pat Conlon’s seat of Elder”. The redistribution cut Elder’s margin from 3.6% to 1.7%, and there is “doubt he will recontest”.
• Heidi Harris, staffer to front-bencher Duncan McFetridge, “may run in Fisher”, which is held by independent Bob Such (who as far as I’m aware will seek another term).
• In Colton, Jassmine Wood, who ran in Hindmarsh at the 2010 federal election, and Suzette Lamshed are possible starters to take on Water and River Murray Minister Paul Caica in Colton, where the margin is 3.9%.
• One of the few men named in Wills’s article is Norwood councillor Vincent Tarzia, who is “strongly tipped” to take on Education Minister Grace Portolesi in Hartley. Portolesi carved out a decisive victory in 2010 after suffering a swing of just 2.3%, but the redistribution has garnished her margin garnished from 2.3% to 0.5%. UPDATE: Independently Thinking in comments relates that Tarzia has backing from Christopher Pyne, and is likely to prevail over former member Joe Scalzi and Campbelltown councillor Marijka Ryan.
• Wills’s reported related that Tea Tree Gully mayor Miriam Smith was “likely” to contest Newland, which Sports Minister Tom Kenyon holds with a post-redistribution margin of 2.7%, although she subsequently denied this to Erin Jones of the Leader Messenger.
• There have been persistent suggestions that Finniss MP Michael Pengilly will lose his preselection. An honour student at the Grahame Morris school of gender sensitivity, Pengilly has variously said Transport Services Minister Chloe Fox “ought to be put down”; that Fox’s female staffers had been involved in a “catfight”; that the Prime Minister was a “real dog”; and that former Kangaroo Island major Jackie Kelly was a “dead dog walking”. It was also reported by Sarah Martin of The Advertiser that four councils within the Finniss electorate had held a formal meeting with Isobel Redmond to raise concerns about his dealings with them. Redmond agreed with a reporter’s suggestion that she had “little confidence” in Pengilly, who has refused to rule out running as an independent if dumped. There was speculation his party membership might be terminated. Adelaide lawyer Josh Teague, son of former Senator Baden Teague, has been mentioned as a possible successor, as has Alex Brown, son of former Premier Dean Brown.
• Barossa councillor Susie Reichstein was named by The Advertiser’s Greg Kelton as a possible Liberal successor for Schubert MP Ivan Venning when he announced his intention to retire in July.
• Peter Treloar, member for the very safe Liberal Eyre Peninsula seat of Flinders, made a surprise announcement earlier in the month that he was bowing out due to “personal and family reasons”. However, he changed his mind a few days later.
• A putative challenge to Liberal front-bencher David Pisoni’s preselection in Unley was knocked on the head by the party’s candidate review committee. The prospective candidated was Peter Maddern, a businessman who ran in Morialta for the Save the Royal Adelaide Hospital Party in 2010.