The first opinion poll of the Tony Abbott era has turned up a surprise: Labor’s two-party lead is a modest 53-47, and the Coalition is in front on the primary vote 43 per cent to 41 per cent. However, there are all sorts of reasons to treat this with caution. The poll is a Roy Morgan mid-week phone poll, which have a rather erratic record, and the sample was a very modest 597 respondents. The normal weekly face-to-face poll, conducted last weekend while Malcolm Turnbull was leader but considered unlikely to remain so for long, had Labor’s two-party lead steady at 58.5-41.5. Labor was down a point on the primary vote to 47 per cent, the Coalition was down half a point to 35 per cent and the Greens were up half to 9.5 per cent.

The phone poll has also produced questions on preferred Labor and Liberal leaders, which find Kevin Rudd coming down off previous highs and Tony Abbott enjoying a new-found legitimacy that hasn’t been quite enough for him to overhaul Joe Hockey. Rudd also has a leads as better prime minister of 60-25 over Abbott, 55-31 over Hockey and 64-25 over Turnbull. Contrary to conventional wisdom, Abbott did not perform notably worse among women than men.

Couple of other things:

• The Wentworth Courier reports Steven Lewis, Slater & Gordon lawyer, anti-high rise activist and members of the Jewish Board of Deputies, will contest Labor preselection in Wentworth. Former Australian Medical Association president Kerryn Phelps has been mentioned as a contender in the past, but declined to comment when approached by the Courier. The Australian reports barrister Mark Speakman, University of NSW deputy chancellor Gabrielle Upton and “most of the losers from the Bradfield preselection” would be in the running to succeed Malcolm Turnbull as Liberal member. The Courier throws Arthur Sinodinos into the mix. Speakman, Upton and Sinodinos have all been mentioned as possible successors to outgoing former state leader Peter Debnam in the corresponding state seat of Vaucluse.

• It was reported on Wednesday that NSW Treasurer Eric Roozendaal might seek to assume the premiership by entering the lower house as member for Wollongong, whose sitting member Noreen Hay would then take his place in the upper house. This plan has presumably been overtaken by events, at least in the short term.

• The Liberals are pressuring Labor to drop Wanneroo mayor Jon Kelly as the candidate-presumptive for the marginal Perth seat of Cowan after a Corruption and Crime Commission report spoke of “dealings” between Kelly and Brian Burke, without making adverse findings against him. Kelly has long been associated with the Burke-linked “old Right” faction, and ran as an independent against Margaret Quirk in the state seat of Girrawheen following the split that created the latter’s “new Right” faction.

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