No Morgan poll this week. Here’s some of the other mail:

• The Launceston Examiner reports that Brigadier Andrew Nikolic, veteran of numerous overseas postings and until recently the Australian Defence Force’s director-general of public affairs, has “confirmed that he is interested” in Liberal preselection for the federal seat of Bass. Also said to have his eye on the preselection is Senator Guy Barnett, who will otherwise have to settle for the slighly less appealing prospect of number three on the Liberal ticket.

Michelle Grattan reports on a “glowing reference” for Kooyong preselection aspirant Josh Frydenberg from John Howard. Another of Frydenberg’s backers is Andrew Peacock. His principal rival, industrial relations lawyer John Pesutto, is supported by Institute of Public Affairs executive director John Roskam, who was himself sniffing the breeze before deciding not to proceed. Former Liberal president and Fraser government minister Tony Staley has given his seal of approval to Peter Jonson, a 62-year-old former Reserve Bank official known to the web at large as Henry Thornton.

• The Townsville Bulletin reports there are rumours that prodigious McDonald’s franchiser George Colbran again hopes to run for Labor in Herbert, where he narrowly failed to unseat Peter Lindsay in 2007. Colbran reportedly says he “won’t commit either way”.

David Rood of The Age reports that John Brumby has “cleared the way” for Keilor MP George Seitz to be dumped at the next election, amid the fallout from the Ombudsman’s recent report into Brimbank City Council. The party’s administrative committee will decide this evening whether to take preselections for western suburbs seats out of the hands of local branches, in which Seitz and others remain powerful. Also affected will be Kororoit MP Marlene Kairouz, whose preselection ahead of last year’s by-election formed the backdrop of much of the shenanigans investigated by the Ombudsman, and Derrimut MP Telmo Languiller. Labor sources quoted in the article wonder why both Languiller and Western Metropolitan MLC Theo Theophanous aren’t equally being targeted along with Seitz, so it evidently should not be taken for granted that either Languiller or Kairouz are endangered.

• Taking his cue from Manmohan Singh’s assumption of the Indian prime ministership from the upper house, Malcolm Mackerras argues for an end to the convention that Australia’s party leaders must sit in the lower house, which he relates to the anachronistic presumption that it is the more democratic chamber.

• Final score from the Fremantle by-election: Carles 10,664, Tagliaferri 9,100. Margin: 3.96 per cent. I expected Labor would rein it in a little on late counting, but no.

• With the whiff of a dying government in the air, talk of electoral reform is very much in vogue in London this season, just as was when the scandal-ridden Major government was breathing its last. Conservative leader David Cameron opposes proportional representation but promises to “look seriously” at fixed terms. Health Secretary Alan Johnson – “still the favourite to lead Labour if Gordon Brown is removed from the top job“ – has suggested the government at last look seriously at the “Alternative Vote Plus” model which has been floating around since the 1998 report of the Jenkins commission, which was set up when Tony Blair came to power. It proposes a slightly watered down version of German/NZ style MMP, combining constituency members with party list members to produce a proportional result. Unlike Germany and NZ however, there would be a cap on the number of party list members which might make results less than fully proportional. The “Alternative Vote” part of the title refers to Australian-style preferential voting for the constituency seats, which the Jenkins commission appeared to be taken with as it had just helped defeat Pauline Hanson. From the Jenkins commission report, a “note of reservation by Lord Alexander”:

My colleagues also think that AV will contribute to a less confrontational style of politics because candidates will be inhibited from attacking rivals too strongly as they wish to gain their second votes. I do not see it as particularly desirable that candidates from different parties, who are different precisely because they do not agree on all issues, should be pulling their punches in order to seek approval from voters who support other parties. In any event, from my observation of Australia, which is the only single large country to use AV, their politicians tend to be, if anything, more blunt and outspoken than our own.

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