From Peter Brent at Mumble comes news that the latest fortnightly Newspoll has Labor’s two-party lead at 57-43 – up from 55-45 last time – with Labor’s primary vote on 46 per cent (up three), the Coalition on 38 per cent (down one) and the Greens on 9 per cent (down two). More to follow.

UPDATE: The Australian reports Malcolm Turnbull’s preferred prime minister rating has hit a new low of 16 per cent (down three), to Kevin Rudd’s 66 per cent (up two). Also featured is a question on the timing of an emissions trading scheme which finds 45 per cent believe the government should delay its legislation until “learning what other countries commit to at the Copenhagen climate conference in December”, compared with 41 per cent who believe legislation should proceed now. The Australian argues that the latter measure amounts to a 20 per cent drop in support for unilateral action since last September. However, the alternative answer in the earlier poll proposed that the scheme should proceed “only if other countries also introduce such schemes”, suggesting a longer delay than the less-than-five-months proposed by its counterpart in the current poll, and placing greater weight on the possibility a scheme might not proceed at all.

UPDATE 2: Peter Brent at Mumble has complete responses on the ETS questions.

Elsewhere:

• The latest weekly Essential Research survey has Labor’s lead up from 56-44 to 57-43. Also featured are questions on which party is better for handling various issues, which finds the Liberals have gone backwards since June 1; the government’s handling of relations with various countries; how safe respondents would feel visiting various countries; and Australia’s top security threat. More from Possum.

• The normally arcane topic of electoral reform has gone mainstream over the course of the past day’s news cycle, albeit in the questionable guise of optional voting rights for 16-year-olds. Special Minister of State Joe Ludwig has said the issue will be raised in the second of the government’s two green papers on electoral reform due later this year, the first of which dealt with campaign funding and expenditure issues and was published last December. The Greens are understandably enthusiastic, the Liberals equally understandably less so. Ben Raue spoke in favour on ABC News Radio earlier today, and further comments at The Tally Room.

• Advocates for retaining the existing Royal Adelaide Hospital site are rumoured to be seeking the requisite number of signatures (only 150 under the relatively lax provisions of the South Australian Electoral Act) to register their own political party in time for next year’s state election. Labor might like to recall that the two surprise defeats that cost their Western Australian counterparts government last year, Mount Lawley and Morley, were respectively in close and reasonably close proximity of Royal Perth Hospital, where a similar controversy was unfolding. Equivalent electorates in South Australia might be Adelaide (margin 10.2 per cent, but traditionally a swinging seat) and Norwood (4.2 per cent).

AAP reports that Labor is seeking a candidate with “green credentials” – a “Kerryn Phelps-style figure”, to be precise – to take on Malcolm Turnbull in Wentworth.

• After being cleared last week on a rape charge, Victorian Northern Metropolitan Labor MLC Theo Theophanous has made life easier for his party by announcing he will quit politics at next year’s election.

• The Geelong Advertiser reports that two candidates have emerged for Liberal preselection in South Barwon, which Labor’s Michael Crutchfield gained in the 2002 landslide and retained by 2.4 per cent in 2006, despite hostile press from the aforementioned Advertiser. The candidates are Ron Humphrey, who lost his Surf Coast Shire Council seat at last year’s elections and was an unsuccessful contestant for preselection in 2006, and Andrew Katos, who represents Deakin ward on Greater Geelong City Council.

• The Victorian Parliament’s Electoral Matters Committee is conducting an inquiry into last year’s Kororoit by-election, after the Electoral Commission’s report expressed concern that no action could be taken against an ALP pamphlet which claimed a vote for independent candidate Les Twentyman was “a vote for the Liberals”. For what it’s worth, I have my doubts as to whether it’s feasible or desirable to regulate election rhetoric in the manner proposed.

• The Launceston Examiner reports that school teacher Rob Soward has lost Labor’s game of musical chairs in Bass, where seven candidates were chasing six positions on the ticket for next year’s state election. The lucky winners were incumbent Michelle O’Byrne, former member Kathryn Hay, Beaconsfield mine disaster survivor Brant Webb, Winnaleah District High School principal Brian Wightman, CFMEU forests division secretary Scott McLean and North Tasmanian Development consultant Michelle Cripps.

• Legendary Clerk of the Senate Harry Evans, retiring after 40 years, reviews the evolution of parliament during his tenure in an article for Crikey.

• A self-explanatory new book entitled Australia: The State of Democracy, edited by Marian Sawer, Norman Abjorensen and Phil Larkin for the Democratic Audit of Australia, is now available through Federation Press. The introduction can be read here.

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