The Palmer United Party secures three new MPs, reports of troubling private polling for the Country Liberal Party government, and a big-but-not-big-enough swing to Labor in a by-election held a fortnight ago.
Enough going on in the top end lately that it seems opportune to rope them together into a blog post:
• The Palmer United Party has silently secured three seats in the 25-member parliament after recruiting the three remote-area indigenous MPs who quit the Country Liberal Party a month ago. Senior among the three is Namatjira MP Alison Anderson, who was elected as a Labor member in 2005, became an independent in 2009 and joined the Country Liberal Party in September 2011, easily winning re-election in 2012 by a margin of 18.6%. The other two are Arnhem MP Larisa Lee and Arafura MP Francis Xavier, who were two out of the three surprise CLP winners in remote seats at the 2012 election, contributing to Labor’s defeat despite their success at retaining all their seats in Darwin. However, a cloud hangs over Larisa Lee who faces a charge of aggravated assault, which could cost her her seat if it leads to a sentence of more than one year. In the meantime, Palmer United has doubled its total representation across Australia’s federal, state and territory parliaments, with Anderson, Lee and Xavier joining Clive Palmer as member for Fairfax in the House of Representatives, and Gaven MP Alex Douglas and Yeerongpilly MP Carl Judge in the Queensland MP. Glenn Lazarus, Zhenya Wang and Jacqui Lambie will shortly join them as Senators for Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania when the new Senate term begins on July 1.
• The Australian reported a fortnight ago that an automated phone poll of 881 respondents in Darwin, conducted by Telereach/JWS Research for an unidentified client, showed a 10% swing against the CLP since the last election, at which its territory-wide two-party preferred vote was 55.8%. The poll showed a minus 11% net approval rating for Adam Giles, a minus 23% rating for his deputy Dave Tollner, and a minus 4% rating for Labor leader Delia Lawrie.
• With counting completed for the April 12 by-election for the Palmerston seat of Blain, Nathan Barrett has retained the seat for the CLP by a margin of 3.2%, representing a swing to Labor of 10.0%. The CLP primary vote was down from the 61.6% recorded in 2012 for Terry Mills, who was at that time his party’s candidate for the chief ministership, while Labor’s vote was up only modestly from 33.6% to 37.3%. Independent candidate Matthew Cranitch, the president of the territory branch of the Australian Education Union, polled 8.7%, and directed his preferences to Barrett. The Greens and the Citizens Electoral Council, neither of whom fielded candidates in 2012, respectively polled 8.7% and 1.4%.