Following last week’s surprising and almost certainly rogue Newspoll result, The Australian sent its pollster out into the field again over the weekend for an eagerly anticipated follow-up survey. However, when the results were published yesterday, all that was offered was attitudinal results on asylum seekers – although breakdowns by party support made clear that voting intention had also been ascertained. This sent Gary Morgan on the offensive:

Newspoll should have conducted another poll as soon as possible when they saw the dramatic change in their results – and if different, released the data to correct the misconceptions caused by their “rogue” poll … A statistical analysis of the data reported on Australians’ attitudes to “boat people” issues – specifically the breakdown by “Political support” – suggests the ALP vote in that poll was very strong. The percentage supporting each political party clearly should have been released. Polls and their publishers should not seek to set the agenda by selectively releasing polling data. Polls and their publishers are powerful but with that power comes responsibility.

Queried by Andrew Crook of Crikey, The Australian’s editor Chris Mitchell explained that “even Crikey” should be able to understand that a non-fortnightly set of voting intention figures would cause a disturbance in the force. Mitchell further invoked a Beatles-and-the-Stones style arrangement between Newspoll and Nielsen in which they have agreed not to step on each other’s releases. Yet just one month ago, on the same day that Nielsen produced its regular monthly poll, The Australian published a “special Newspoll survey” on the Liberal leadership in between its regular fortnightly polls, and was not in the least bit shy about informing us that the sample produced the same 58-42 split in favour of Labor as recorded the previous week. In fairness, it should be noted that Crikey “understands that on Sunday morning, Newspoll chief Martin O’Shannessy contacted his Nielsen counterpart John Stirton and agreed not to release the two-party preferred vote to The Australian”.

My own concern with all this is that I was hoping for a new poll result to hang my regular set of electoral updates off, and didn’t get one. Here they are:

• The saga surrounding the YouTube Downfall parody aimed at Mitchell MP Alex Hawke over his feud with former Right ally and state upper house MP David Clarke has lifted a rock on preselection manoeuvres for safe Liberal state seats. Hawke-Hitler is portrayed in the video castigating himself for having backed Hills Shire councillor Andrew Jefferies to depose incumbent Wayne Merton in Baulkham Hills. The Clarke forces have been hoping the seat might instead go to Damien Tudehope, who has a not inconsiderable public profile as spokesman for the NSW Family Association – and whose son Thomas has just resigned as Malcolm Turnbull’s media adviser after being linked to the aforesaid YouTube video. The infamous episode where 40 Clarke supporters showed up at a Young Liberal branch meeting at Hawke’s office, prompting Hawke’s staff to call the police, reportedly occurred as part of efforts to secure Baulkham Hills for Tudehope. In Castle Hill, Clarke faction operative Dominic Perrottet (whose brother Charles has just resigned as Clarke’s chief-of-staff after he too was linked to the YouTube video) has been plotting to depose incumbent Michael Richardson. On the other side of the pendulum, Hawke is apparently backing another ally, state Young Liberals president Scott Farlow, for the seat of Drummoyne (which Labor’s Angela D’Amore holds by a margin of 7.6 per cent), while Clarke man Kevin Conolly hopes to again contest Riverstone, where he ran against Labor’s John Aquilina in 2007.

Stephanie Peatling of the Sydney Morning Herald reveals the identity of the abortive Right challenger to Philip Ruddock in Berowra: Richard Quinn, a Hunters Hill councillor. A Ruddock supporter specifically identifies Quinn’s backers as “the Taliban faction”, meaning the forces associated with David Clarke. Quinn has “now expressed interest in Bennelong”, which would put him up against former tennis player and unsuccessful Bradfield preselection aspirant John Alexander, plus another previously unheralded entrant in “businessman Mark Chan”.

Lisa Carty of the Sydney Morning Herald explains Labor’s recent western Sydney preselection shenanigans in terms of a deal in which the Right will retain its hold on Fowler following Julia Irwin’s retirement at the next election, despite the numbers in local branches being finely poised between the two factions. The Right’s favoured candidate for Fowler is Ed Husic of the Communications Electrical and Plumbing Union, who was defeated by Louise Markus when he ran in Greenway at the 2004 election. In return for not pursuing a claim in Fowler, the Left will be awarded Werriwa at the expense of Right incumbent Chris Hayes. However, state secretary Matt Thistlethwaite is quoted in the article saying there is “no deal to shift (Hayes) to Macarthur”. That hasn’t stopped an avalanche of reports about whether Werriwa will go to Reid MP Laurie Ferguson, as proposed by Julia Gillard and the soft Left, or Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union organiser Damien Ogden, the candidate of Anthony Albanese and the hard Left.

Andrew Clennell of the Sydney Morning Herald reports claims Labor internal polling of 650 voters in Robertson shows Belinda Neal set to be dumped by a swing of “about 20 per cent”, although this has naturally been denied by state secretary Matt Thistlethwaite. The report also quotes Labor sources suggesting recent talk of a run for the premiership by her husband John Della Bosca has been raised for use as a “bargaining chip” to protect Neal’s position.

• The Queensland Liberal National Party has preselected Hajnal Ban, Logan councillor, Nationals candidate for Forde in 2007 and recipient of an eye-watering Russian surgical procedure to lengthen her legs, as its candidate for the new Gold Coast hinterland seat of Wright. Unsuccessful candidates included Cameron Thompson, the former Liberal member for
Blair (who was presumably handicapped by an understanding that the seat was the domain of the Nationals), and Gold Coast councillor and former children’s television presenter Bob La Castra.

• Former Senator, one-time Democrats leader and blogosphere identity Andrew Bartlett will run for the Greens at the federal election in Brisbane, which Labor’s Arch Bevis holds with a diminished post-redistribution margin against the LNP of 3.8 per cent. Antony Green explains why he won’t win.

Peter Kennedy of the ABC reports Labor preselection nominations for Canning, Cowan and Swan will close on December 1, and candidates will be chosen by mid-December.

• The Macquarie Street blog of Poll Bludger regular Oz informs us that NSW upper house MP Gordon Moyes, long estranged from the Christian Democratic Party from which he was elected, has announced he is joining Family First.

Steven Wardill of the Courier-Mail reports that Anna Bligh will respond to the state’s review on accountability by moving to impose a $1000 cap on political donations unless the federal government does likewise before July 2010, as well as imposing a ban on “success fees” to lobbyists.

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