Labor sources have been keeping themselves busy briefing journalists on a grim outlook for their party in Queensland and Victoria.
• Michael McKenna of The Australian reported yesterday that “insiders from both sides of the political divide” say their strategies in Queensland are being revamped as it becomes clear that the front line runs through Labor rather than Liberal National Party marginals. The LNP now anticipates retaining its existing seats, and aspires to further snare Moreton (Labor margin 1.1%), Petrie (2.5%), Lilley (3.2%) and Capricornia (3.7%). However, contrary to the findings of last week’s automated phone polls, both sides consider Peter Beattie’s tilt at Forde (LNP margin of 1.6%) to be “hanging in the balance”. A “senior ALP insider” is quoted saying the party still has hopes for the Townsville seat of Herbert (2.2%), where Peter Beattie was campaigning on Monday, and to a slightly lesser extent for Brisbane (1.1%), where Labor started the campaign as short-priced favourites. Labor will benefit from a deal with Katter’s Australian Party that will deliver it a preference recommendation in Herbert and Capricornia, along with the less likely prospects of Flynn and Hinkler. The price of this was that Labor is directing Senate preferences to the party in Queensland ahead of the Greens.
• A Labor source quoted in The Australian today describes the party’s position in its most marginal seat in the country, the Victorian electorate of Corangamite, as “irretreivable”. Kevin Rudd is accused of being “delusional” in the seats he is targeting in the state, namely the Liberal-held Melbourne seats of Aston and Dunkley. For the Liberals’ part, party sources are quoted saying they expect to win at least three seats in the state. Tony Abbott nonetheless saw fit yesterday to promise that a Coalition government would spend $25 million over five years upgrading Corangamite’s chief attraction, the Great Ocean Road.
• The Liberals will go into the election without an endorsed candidate for the Hunter region seat of Charlton, held by Labor on a margin of 12.7% and to be vacated at the election by the retirement of Greg Combet. This follows the revelation that their candidate, Kevin Baker, had run an online forum for Mini Cooper enthusiasts on which various offences against political correctness were committed, some of the milder examples being from his own hand. Baker will continue to appear on the ballot paper as the Liberal candidate, the deadline for nominations having closed, but he has resigned as the party’s candidate and declared his campaign over.
• A key election milestone was reached yesterday with the commencement of pre-poll voting. The Victorian Greens have raised Labor’s ire by disseminating how-to-vote cards at Victorian pre-poll centres which instructed voters to determine their own preference order, in violation of a deal which has seen Labor place the Greens second on Senate preference tickets in every state but Queensland. The Greens have said an administrative error was to blame, and have pulled the tickets from circulation.