The latest Essential Research survey has the Coalition gaining a point on two-party preferred, their lead now at 57-43, with both major parties steady on the primary vote (49% for the Coalition and 31% for Labor) and the Greens down one to 10%. The poll also includes Essential’s monthly leader approval ratings, which have Tony Abbott gaining three points on approval to 35% and down one on disapproval to 53%, with Julia Gillard steady on approval at 32% and up two on disapproval to 58%. Abbott has also nudged ahead on preferred prime minister, gaining from 37-37 to 38-37.

Further questions find broad hostility to the Greens, whose “performance in federal parliament” is rated as good by 17% and poor by 47%, with 53% rating their policies “too extreme” and 26% “representing the views of many voters”. There are two questions on Julian Assange which seem to suggest sympathy for him has declined since March: 28% now believe the support he has received from the government has been appropriate, compared with 22% in March, while those who think otherwise (though this could potentially include those who think it has provided too much support) is down from 36% to 33%.

Preselection stuff:

• The WA Liberals have confirmed the preselection of Christian Porter in Pearce, ahead of 24-year-old trademark lawyer Alex Butterworth and local party members Rod Henderson and Bill Crabtree. Gary Adshead of The West Australian reports the winning margin was 39 to 15, which I take to refer to Porter’s and Butterworth’s totals in the first and final round. UPDATE: The Australian reports Porter and Butterworth were the only two candidates, another two who had been mentioned having withdrawn.

• The Sunshine Coast Daily reports a field of nine candidates has nominated for the LNP preselection for Fisher on July 29: “Stephen Ainscough, Mr Brough, Richard Bruinsma, James McGrath, Graeme Mickelberg, Alan Nielsen, Daniel Purdie, Peta Simpson and Andrew Wallace”.

• The Nationals have preselected Matthew Fraser, owner of two Hungry Jacks stores in the Tweed Heads are, as their candidate for the north coast NSW seat of Richmond. Fraser won a preselection vote over Alan Hunter, a Myocum beef farmer and the candidate in 2010, Scott Cooper, a university lecturer, and John McMahon, a Tweed Heads newsagency owner.

• The Cessnock Advertiser reports the Nationals have preselected Michael Johnsen, Scone businessman and former mayor of Upper Hunter, to run against Joel Fitzgibbon in Hunter (margin 12.5%). Johnsen also ran in the seat in 1996 and 2010.

Bevan Shields of the Illawarra Mercury reports five union leaders have publicly endorsed Stephen Jones, Labor’s member for Throsby, as Right forces led by state Wollongong MP Noreen Hay marshall forces for a preselection challenge. The unions concerned include the Right faction Australian Workers Union, together with the Left faction Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, Australian Services Union, Maritime Union of Australia and United Services Union.

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