Entsch looms as runaway federal poll winner
WARREN Entsch would run away with an election victory if the polls were held in Leichhardt today, and only a nationwide surge in popularity for Labor would topple him, local commentators say.Speculation is growing over who the Australian Labor Party will select to contest the marginal Far Northern seat, with five expressions of interest lodged and a party vote imminent. It is understood the party is eyeing an indigenous candidate, who would become Labor's first Aboriginal MP in the House of Representatives if victorious.
But James Cook University's Associate Professor of political science Doug Hunt says the polls are currently in Mr Entsch's favour and are likely to remain that way unless the national mood shifts towards Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her candidates.
"It's not completely hopeless for Labor, but it's pretty close to that," Dr Hunt said.
"Overall in Australia, you've got the Coalition with a 4 to 6 per cent lead in the most optimistic polls for Labor, and I don't expect there would be much variation in favour of Labor in Leichhardt.
"Labor would need a national-level turnaround. The result in Leichhardt won't be impacted on much by any particular local issue," he said, adding that scandals such as Craig Thomson's arrest are hurting the Government's chances of re-election.
"Labor, nationally, had made a tiny comeback over the last month or so, but if we're talking about present indications, they need a significant increase in support."
Mr Entsch won Leichhardt from the ALP in 2010 with an 8.61 per cent swing. He holds the seat with a margin of 4.6 per cent and has been pre-selected for the September 14 poll. But Dr Hunt said the federal LNP candidates were unlikely to get a boost from last year's state election landslide.
"A fair amount of shine has come off the Newman Government and it might make Labor look a little bit better federally in Queensland, but I think the election will be fought on federal issues," he said.
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