Seems Morgan are having one of their occasional weeks off. Plenty of federal preselection action to report, as the parties prepare contingencies for a potential early election:

The Australian’s Michael Owen reports South Australian Labor is finalising its federal preselections, which “senior factional figures” link to a potential early election. Mia Handshin is keen to run again, either in a second tilt at Sturt or where Nicole Cornes failed in Boothby. Cornes herself has found an interesting new line of work as an industrial officer for the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association, but is “unlikely to win preselection”. A “senior ALP figure” nonetheless claims she is a genuine future prospect. Owen also reckons Labor Senator Dana Wortley faces electoral oblivion through “moves to relegate her to an unwinnable third spot”, although it was from that unwinnable position that she actually won her seat in 2004.

• Institute of Public Affairs director John Roskam has withdrawn from the contest to succeed Petrio Georgiou as Liberal candidate for Kooyong. He has thrown his support behind industrial relations lawyer John Pesutto, who looms as a threat to merchant banker Josh Frydenberg’s long-held designs on the seat. Rick Wallace of The Australian reports Pesutto also has the support of Ted Baillieu, who angered the Frydenberg camp by attending a function they “claim was to support Mr Pesutto”. Wallace also notes the June preselection will be “one of the first carried out under the Liberal Party’s new constitution, which empowers all eligible members within a seat to vote instead of only specially chosen delegates”. Andrew Landeryou at VexNews is told that “many of them … will be swinging votes with a history of supporting Baillieu/Petro or at least having a significant amount of affection for them or an in-built objection to the recruiting enthusiasms of Joshua”.

• Another interesting preselection for the Victorian Liberals looms in the eastern suburbs seat of Deakin, where two former members are hoping to make a comeback. One is Phil Barresi, who lost the seat to Labor’s Mike Symon in 2007. The other is Ken Aldred, whose eccentric reign extended from 1990 until his preselection defeat by Barresi in 1996. Aldred won a preselection ballot in Holt ahead of the 2007 election, but it was overturned by wiser heads in the party. Rounding out the field of known contenders is Deanna Ryall, a “local businesswoman”. Labor holds the seat with a margin of 1.4 per cent.

• New Queensland Opposition Leader John-Paul Langbroek foreshadows a more “flexible” approach than his predecessor in negotiating fixed four-year terms, improving the prospects for a referendum on the matter during the current term. Langbroek says it is not a priority, but Anna Bligh has apparently put the matter “on the agenda”. A referendum in 1991 for unfixed four-year terms was defeated with a 51.2 per cent no vote.

Antony Green on the slow death of the election night tally room:

The next South Australian election will be the first conducted without a tallyroom. Both Victoria and NSW have also decided not to hold tallyroms at state elections due in November 2010 and March 2011. These state decisions may yet play a part in deciding whether free to air broadcasters attend the next Federal tallyroom. There were serious noise problems in the tallyroom in 2007, Sky News already bases its coverage from studio, and hosting from a studio would save the ABC and other free-to-air broadcasters considerable amounts of money and allow greater use of studio technology.

• I am maintaining elsewhere progressively updated posts on two looming electoral events: the May 16 Fremantle by-election and May 2 Tasmanian upper house elections.

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