Donation drive

At the end of every second month, this site rattles the tin at its valued readers in a thus far successful effort to keep its head above water. Never has it done so in circumstances quite so unpromising as at present. So if you can find it in your hearts and/or wallets to do so now, it will be appreciated more than ever. While there are obviously a great many out there who are doing it a lot worse than I am, the general situation of the blog is analogous to the media as a whole, in that traffic is booming (comments activity has just about doubled) while revenue sags. This arrives on top of what was already a challenging period of election drought going back to the federal election last May, followed by no state elections until the one that will be held in Queensland in October.

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Essential Research and Roy Morgan: more coronavirus polling

Two new polls suggest early skepticism about the threat posed by coronavirus is fast disappearing.

As reported by The Guardian, Essential Research has unusually conducted a new poll just a week after the last. This effectively replicates last week’s suite of questions on coronavirus to tie in with an online forum later today involving The Guardian’s Katharine Murphy and Essential Research’s Peter Lewis.

The results show a sharp rise in concern since last week, with 53% now saying they are very concerned, after the three previous fortnightly polls had it progressing from 25% to 27% to 39%. Only 18% now say they consider there has been an overreaction to the thread, down from 33% last week, while 43% now think the threat has been underestimated, up from 28%. These results imply little change to last week’s finding that 39% thought the response about right, though we will presumably have to await publication of the full report later today for a complete set of numbers. The poll also finds overwhelming support for the restrictive measures that have been taken. The rise in concern appears to have been matched by a decline in skepticism about media reportage, which 42% now say they trust, up from 35% last week.

Also out today is a Roy Morgan SMS poll on coronavirus, showing 43% support for the view that the federal government is handling the crisis well with 49% disagreeing — a rather weak result by international standards (it is noted that a similar poll in the United Kingdom a bit under a fortnight ago had it at 49% and 37%). This poll finds an even higher pitch of public concern than Essential, in that only 15% believed the threat to be exaggerated, with fully 81% disagreeing. Relatedly, 80% said they were willing to sacrifice some of their “human rights” to help prevent the spread of the virus (evidently having a somewhat different conception of that term from my own), with only 14% disagreeing. The poll was conducted on Saturday and Sunday from a sample of 988.

UPDATE: Full report from Essential Research here. The recorded increase in concern about the virus is not matched by a change in perceptions of the government’s handling of it, which 45% rate as good, unchanged on last week, and 31% rate as poor, up two. There is also a question on concern about climate change, which refutes the hopes of some conservative commentators in suggesting it has not been affected by the coronavirus crisis: 31% say they are more concerned than they were a year ago, 53% no more or less so, and 16% less concerned. However, the number of respondents saying Australia is not doing enough to address climate change is down from 60% in November to 55%, with doing enough up one to 23% and doing too much up one to 9%. The poll was conducted Thursday to Sunday from a sample of 1086.

Another three things

A bluffers’ guide to Saturday’s elections in Queensland, plus further items of marginal interest.

No Newspoll this week it seems. News you can use:

• Queensland’s elections on the weekend are covered in extensive and ongoing detail here. To cut a long story short: the state by-elections of Bundamba and Currumbin resulted in victories for the incumbent parties, namely Labor and the Liberal National Party respectively; Adrian Schrinner of the LNP was re-elected as lord mayor of Brisbane; and the LNP have almost certainly retained a healthy majority on Brisbane City Council. In Bundamba, the LNP ran third behind One Nation (and probably shouldn’t have bothered to run), whose presence in the field also took a bite out of the Labor primary vote. Labor did manage to improve their primary vote at the LNP’s expense in Currumbin, where One Nation is a lot weaker, but the latter’s presence means they will get a lower share of the combined preferences and thus fail to bite into the LNP’s existing 3.3% margin. There has been no notional two-party count, but scrutineers’ figures cited by Antony Green suggest Labor received an uncommonly weak 71% share of Greens preferences.

• Roy Morgan’s promise that it would provide further detail on its half-way intriguing findings on trust in political and business leaders (see here and here) has borne disappointing fruit. Rather than provide the trust and distrust scores as most of us would have hoped, a follow-up release offers only blurry impressions as to the specific attributes that caused the various leaders to be trusted or distrusted, in which “honest/genuine” and “integrity/sincerity” were uselessly listed as distinct response options.

• The Tasmanian government has delayed the date for the periodical Legislative Council elections, which this year encompass the seats of Huon and Rosevears, but only from May 2 to May 30. The Tasmanian Electoral Commission says this will give it more time to “ensure electors have access to the voting process and to maintain the integrity of the 2020 Legislative Council elections during the COVID-19 pandemic”, which presumably means a greater emphasis on postal, pre-poll and maybe telephone voting.

Bundamba, Currumbin and Brisbane City Council live

Live results for Bundamba here and Currumbin here, including booth level totals and swings.


11pm. I’ve actually turned off the booth matching now, so the 76.7% probability shown of an LNP probability win entails an expectation that the uncounted two-party vote (i.e. all pre-polls, postals and the rest) should behave similarly to the election day votes, when the primary vote numbers make clear that they will actually favour the LNP. So disregard the probability and treat this is near-certain LNP win. Other than the two-party numbers, there was next to no additional counting in the by-elections today. However, the picture for Brisbane City Council has become clearer, and it bears out expectations that postal votes would heavily favour the Liberal National Party — so much so that they now look like matching their performance in 2016, when it won 19 seats out of 26. Labor’s clearest hope of an addition to its meagre was for a surprise win in Calamvale, but that’s faded now; the LNP has also pulled clear from a hitherto precarious position in marginal Holland Park; and the general trend suggests they should also prevail in currently lineball Enoggera and Northgate. The same is probably also true of Paddington, where they presently hold a narrow lead over the Greens, who thus look unlikely to gain a second seat to add to The Gabba despite a generally strong performance.

5.30pm. There are now two-party results in Currumbin for all election day polling booths. This means my projections have come to life – and they are projecting a 1.2% swing to the LNP for a winning margin of 4.5%, with a 99.7% probability of victory. But as I noted at the very beginning of all this, this is based off estimates of where votes would be cast at the by-election that entailed a huge amount of guess work. The reason I have very different swing results in the tables at the top left and the charts at the top right is that the latter estimate two-party results where only primary votes are presently available, i.e. for pre-polls and postals. Other than that, no new numbers have been added today — indeed, the existing postal votes for Bundamba seem to have disappeared for some reason.


As you can see on the links above, my results reporting pages are in action, but they only have primary votes to work with — it doesn’t appear notional two-party counts are being conducted, and I am not making use of preference estimates like Antony Green. Nonetheless, they are of value in being the only place you can find booth results short of poring through the XML media feed, and exclusively feature swings for polling booths and vote types.

The situation in Bundamba and Currumbin seems to be that most of the election day and pre-poll primary votes have been counted; that there should be roughly 5000 postals for each electorate and maybe 1500 to 2000 of various other kinds of vote, of which respectively 2191 and 998 formal votes have been counted in Currumbin, while only 747 postals have been counted in Bundamba. In Currumbin, the current primary vote shares are LNP 43.1%, Labor 39.6%, Greens 10.9% and One Nation 6.5%, with postals heavily favouring the LNP as expected, and “other” votes so far leaning their way as well. My back-of-envelope reckoning is that the LNP’s 3.5% primary vote lead should increase to upwards of 6%, which Labor should only be able to reduce by a couple of points on preferences — Antony Green has scrutineer info that Labor is only getting 71% of Greens preferences, while the LNP is getting 62% from One Nation. So the LNP went into the by-election with a 3.3% margin, and should probably come out of it with about the same.

In Bundamba, Labor does not appear to be losing ground on postals, so their 42.4% is likely to be more or less solid. The Greens are, however, which may rein their 13.5% by upwards of 0.5%. That would mean Labor’s routine three-quarter share of Greens preferences would put them fairly comfortably over the line even without accounting for preference leakage from the LNP, which should be pretty substantial. Labor weren’t claiming victory last I heard, but I don’t see why they shouldn’t.

The LNP are claiming victory for Adrian Schrinner in the Brisbane lord mayoralty race, where Antony Green projects a final margin of 5.0%, which I see no reason to question. The LNP also looks assured of retaining its majority on council: yesterday I said they only had five of their council wards in the bag, but that this said more about the slow grind of the count than the weakness of their position. With today’s counting providing further clarity, it is now clear they have won 13 out of the 26 seats and would not be writing off any of their complement of 19 from 2016. They have retained the more-or-less marginal wards of The Gap, Marchant, Doboy and Runcorn, are very likely to hold Holland Park as well (although the ABC computer isn’t calling that one yet), and appear to have overcome early scares in the seemingly safe wards of Bracken Ridge and Jamboree.

Labor’s clearest shot at a gain from their existing tally of five seats looks to be Calamvale, a rather spectacular result given the existing 14.3% margin. Two LNP marginals, Enoggera and Northgate, look like going down to the wire, but Labor suffered a disappointing failure in Doboy, where the LNP margin had been erased by the redistribution. The Greens are in a tight race to take Paddington off the LNP, which would give them a second seat to add to The Gabba. However, they look to have done well but not well enough in Central, Coorparoo and Walter Taylor.

Saturday night overview

Tonight’s counting and reporting of results was an incomplete and highly chaotic affair, reflecting these times. All that seems clear is that Labor will retain Bundamba, and that Adrian Schrinner seems near certain to retain the Brisbane lord mayoralty. Currumbin is impossible to call at this stage. The council ward results in Brisbane so far look rather weak for the Liberal National Party, but that seems likely to change when counting of postal votes begins. By the same token, the Greens look to have done extremely well, but that too seems likely to moderate. Nowhere do we appear to have two-party preferred counts.


The ECQ website has 56.0% of the primary vote counted in Bundamba, but there are only 25.4% counted (9301 votes) on the media feed, which is the only place where booth results are available. Presumably the former is all the election day and pre-poll results, leaving a big bunch of postals outstanding. Labor are on 42.9% on the latest count, but it was a good result nonetheless for One Nation (27.8%), who far outpolled the LNP (15.9%). The best that can be said for the LNP is that they haven’t come last, as one poll suggested they might, with the Greens on 13.4%. Presumably most of the LNP vote will exhaust, and Labor should get a good flow of preferences from the Greens. I have my results facility back online, but a) as noted it’s well behind the ECQ website count, being based off the feed, and b) my primary vote and swing projections are screwy — they should say Labor 40.3% (-13.0%), Liberal National 16.8% (+1.7%), Greens 16.3% (5.4%). If nothing else, they offer an opportunity to look at booth swings in an easy-to-read format, with due regard to the collapse in traffic at polling booths.


The Currumbin results look to have been removed altogether from the media feed, leaving us with raw totals only the ECQ website’s to go off, accounting for 12,988 votes or 37.1% of the enrolment. So clearly there are plenty of pre-poll and perhaps even election day results to come here on top of the postals.

Brisbane lord mayoralty

The count as recorded on the ECQ website is relatively well advanced, accounting for 41.6% of enrolment. It’s a very different story on the media feed though, so the projection on the ABC site, which makes use of booth-matching, is not illumating. LNP incumbent Adrian Schrinner is on 45.6%, which should presumably be enough. Labor’s Pat Condren is on 31.8%, and while he can hope for a solid boost for preferences from Greens candidate Kath Angus 15.8%, postals should favour Schrinner.

Brisbane City Council

The counts for the council wards are less advanced than for the mayoralty, with progress ranging from barely over 10% to the low forties as a percentage of enrolled voters. While the LNP has only a handful of its existing seats bolted down (Chandler, Hamilton, Macgregor, McDowall and Pullenvale), they seem to be holding up well in some fairly dicey wards (The Gap, Holland Park, Marchant, Doboy). They aren’t doing brilliantly on the early count in the double-digit margin wards of Bracken Ridge, Calamvale and Jamboree, but it’s early days in each case and my guess is that they will pull through. Labor can at least be hopeful of gaining Enoggera, Northgate and Runcorn, which may be the decisive contests in determining if they can wear away the LNP majority.

Early results have been encouraging for the Greens, who have clearly retained The Gabba, are in the hunt to take Paddington off the LNP and can’t be ruled out in Central, Coorparoo and Walter Taylor, although my feeling is that the LNP will pull clear in the latter three. Independent Nicole Johnston has easily retained Tennyson, but Kate Richards failed to pull a rabbit out of the hat in Pullenvale. My best guess is that the LNP, after winning 19 wards out of 26 in 2016, will drop a few seats but retain a majority, but there are very wide error bars on that assessment.

Election night commentary

9.31pm. The ECQ relates: “Preliminary counts are underway. Results are coming into the ECQ as expected. We’re having technical issues displaying results online. We are are working on the issue. Preliminary count continues tonight till around 10pm. The official count begins tomorrow.” Furthermore, the lack of scrutineers means party insiders can’t offer the insight they usually would. Antony Green relates on twitter that “from a hand-scribbled A4 sheet, it seems the LNP leads Currumbin 3200-3167 from 10 counting centres, but 12,000 pre-polls to be counted and then the LNP leaning postals after that”. Given postals are likely to favour the LNP, this suggests they are more likely to hold on that not, but the bulk of the uncounted pre-poll vote suggests nothing should be taken for granted – and it would seem we are unlikely to have much joy on that front tonight.

8.47pm. With 6.9% counted in Central ward, LNP incumbent Vicki Howard is on 42.8% with the Greens running second on 34.0% and Labor third on 23.2%, suggesting it’s worth keeping an eye on as a potential Greens gain. No or next to no votes counted in the Greens existing seat of The Gabba and other potential gains in Coorparoo and Paddington.

Labor are running third in Central ward with 6.9% counted, suggesting it’s worth kee

8.40pm. There are no two-party numbers in the feed, so I presume Antony Green’s numbers are based on preference estimates.

8.20pm. A big hit of results for the Brisbane lord mayoralty with 44,720 votes now counted, though still only a bit more than 5% of enrolment. Adrian Schrinner leads Pat Condren 43.4% to 30.4%, though a lot depends on where those votes are from — probably inner urban areas, judging by the 18.7% Greens vote, which should feed Condren quite a few preferences. This update hasn’t made it through to the feed and the ABC site yet, so no booth matched calculations available.

8.14pm. Slow progress all around. Nothing to report since the last updates.

7.50pm. Antony Green is detecting a 10% swing to Labor in the lord mayoralty race, which should bring it down to the wire. But the qualification remains that projecting results is uniquely challenging at these elections. No further progress in the Currumbin count.

7.40pm. There are nine booths in from Currumbin, with at most 563 formal votes. Antony Green projects no swing at all, which is good news for the LNP, but we’re still only talking 1107 votes counted, or 3.5% of the roll. A different dynamic on pre-polls and postals might yet change things.

7.36pm. Clearly my results facility isn’t about to come to life any time soon, so I’ve put it on ice and will fix it this evening so it will at least be of use in following the late count. Just eyeballing the media feed, I can report that eight booths are in from Bundamba, none of which recorded more than 563 formal votes. Antony Green is calling it for Labor; the LNP look like coming third, not fourth; but One Nation are in second place on a substantial 28.2%, but projected to fall 8.6% short after preferences.

7.21pm. For what very little it’s worth, the Greens lead in the race for the lord mayoralty with 0.12% counted. So presumably an inner city booth.

7.18pm. Some small numbers are starting to appear for Brisbane City Council on the ECQ, but I fear the media feed may have tanked — still nothing on Antony Green’s results page.

7.14pm. Now there are some primary results on the ECQ site for Currumbin, which look reasonably encouraging for the LNP in that they lead Labor 47.9% to 37.6%, but again we don’t know what part of the electorate this is from.

7.11pm. More numbers in from Bundamba on the ECQ site, but still nothing on the feed (no updates on Antony Green’s page either so the problem doesn’t seem to be on my end). The latest update does not change the situation noted previously. We don’t what booths these votes are from, but Bundamba is homogenous enough an electorate that it’s unlikely to matter much.

7.06pm. There are some numbers from Bundamba on the ECQ site but they’re not on the feed yet. They suggest that uComms poll might not have been far off the mark, with the LNP coming last out of four and Labor poised to win easily.

7.00pm. An hour in, and there’s not a single result yet anywhere across Queensland. Might be that social distancing is slowing the process.

6.18pm. I’ve mostly got it working now, I hope, though a niggling error means I’m unable to provide rows for non-ordinary (i.e. mostly postal) votes, which shouldn’t matter until later in the evening and hopefully I’ll have fixed it by then. In any case, the projections have to be regarded as experimental due to the extraordinary circumstances of the election: with voters abandoning polling day voting en masse for postal and pre-poll voting, I’ve had to shift results around for purposes of booth-matching in a rather arbitrary fashion.

6.05pm. Welcome to live coverage of the count for Queensland’s Bundamba and Currumbin state by-elections, and to a lesser extent for the Brisbane lord mayoralty and council. I am hoping to have my live results facility in operation for the first two shortly, provided I’m able to iron a few last teething problems.

Queensland elections: Currumbin, Bundamba and Brisbane City Council

Two polls find the Liberal National Party opposition struggling in Queensland’s two state by-elections. Also: a quick look at the lord mayoral and council elections in Brisbane.

In spite of everything, elections will proceed on Saturday in Queensland’s state by-elections for Currumbin and Bundama, together with its local government elections. It appears pre-poll voting has more than doubled since 2016, and postal voting has doubled almost exactly, though I’m hearing anecdotal evidence of applicants who struggled with a floundering website before the deadline last Monday failing to receive their ballots. By my rough reckoning, the proportions in 2016 were 63% ordinary, 23% pre-poll and 14% postal, but should now be at around 18%, 54% and 28%. I will have live results pages in action for the by-elections, but the radical changes in voter behaviour just noted will make it unusually difficult to get an accurate read on the swing.

The Courier-Mail had polls for Currumbin and Bundamba that paint a bleak picture for the Liberal National Party, showing Labor at level pegging in their bid to snare Currumbin, and the LNP crashing to fourth place in Bundamba, where Labor is credited with a 62-38 lead over One Nation. The polls were conducted by uComms last weekend from samples of 700 in each seat — I’m unclear if they were commissioned by the newspaper. Both Currumbin, which covers the Gold Coast at the New South Wales border and has an LNP margin of 3.3%, and Bundamba, covering eastern Ipswich and with a Labor margin of 21.6%, are straightforward four-cornered contests involving Labor, the LNP, the Greens and One Nation. One Nation are directing preferences to the LNP, the Greens to Labor, and the LNP to One Nation. However, the impact of this will be limited as parties are not allowed to distribute how-to-vote cards at polling booths.

The other big story on Saturday is the election for Brisbane City Council, Australia’s biggest, most powerful and most conventionally partisan local government. There will be a direct election for the lord mayoralty and elections for the 26 single-member wards of the council, conducted with optional preferential voting. The Liberal National Party achieved crushing victories in 2016, when Graham Quirk was re-elected as mayor over Labor’s Rod Harding with 59.3% of the two-candidate preferred vote. Quirk retired in March 2019 and was succeeded by Adrian Schrinner, as chosen by the council from among its own number. He had previously been deputy mayor, a prize of the majority party. His Labor opponent is Patrick Condren, a journalist with a high profile as former state political editor for the Seven Network. Reflecting a general impression that current circumstances will favour incumbency, Ladbrokes has Schrinner a clear favourite at $1.22 to Condren’s $3.

The LNP won 19 of the 26 council seats in 2016, with Labor winning only five and the Greens and an independent scoring one apiece. One of the LNP wards, Pullenvale, will be contested by incumbent Kate Richards as an independent after being referred to the Crime and Corruption Commission and dumped as LNP candidate. Another ward, Doboy, was won by the LNP on a 4.3% margin but now credited with a post-redistribution notional margin of 0.3% by Ben Raue at the Tally Room, although Antony Green gives it a tiny LNP margin of 0.03%.

There are nine wards with margins of under 10%, including two, Coorparoo and Paddington, for which the Greens are at least partly hopeful. These wards respectively neighbour the Greens’ existing seat of The Gabba to the north-west and east, the three collectively covering inner-city territory immediately west and south of the central business district. Jonathan Sri holds a solid 7.0% margin over the LNP in The Gabba, but Labor could threaten him if voters defect to them from the LNP.

Labor’s potential gains are further afield: Northgate (1.7%), The Gap (4.5%), Enoggera (5.6%) and Marchant (7.6%) in the north of Brisbane, and Holland Park (4.1%) and Runcorn (8.7%) in the south. A roughie might be the CBD ward of Central, which the LNP holds with a margin of 8.2% over Labor, but the Greens were within striking distance of second place last time. Former LNP independent Nicole Johnston looks secure in Tennyson, but it’s anyone’s guess how Richard might go in Pullenvale.

The state’s other councils do not have declared party alignments, but they are often present if you know where to look. Outer Brisbane and the coastal sprawl to its north and south are covered by (in descending order of population) the cities of Gold Coast, Moreton Bay (think Dickson, Longman, northern Petrie), Sunshine Coast, Logan (most of Moreton and northern Forde, plus some low-density hinterland from Wright), Ipswich and Redland (which perfectly corresponds with Bowman), with Toowoomba, Townsville and Cairns being the largest municipalities regionally. The first five of these are usefully explained by Ben Raue and guest Alexis Pink at The Tally Room.

Essential Research and Morgan: coronavirus, superannuation and trust in business leaders

Generally favourable reaction to the government’s handling of coronavirus, a big thumbs up to access to superannuation, and yah boo sucks to Murdoch, Palmer, Rinehart and Harvey.

The fortnightly Essential Research poll focuses, naturally enough, on coronavirus, with 45% rating the federal government’s response good or very good, and 29% poor or very poor. According to The Guardian’s report, it would seem the latter tend to be those most worried about the virus, as measured by a question on whether respondents felt the situation was being overblown, with which “one third” agreed while 28% thought the opposite.

Over the course of three fortnightly polls, the proportion rating themselves very concerned has escalated from 25% to 27% to 39%, while the results for quite concerned have gone from 43% to 36% and back again. The Guardian’s report does not relate the latest results for “not that concerned” and “not at all concerned”, which were actually up in the last poll, from 26% to 28% and 6% to 9% respectively. Further questions relate to trust in various sources of information, notably the government and the media, but we will have to wait for the publication of the full report later today to get a clear handle on them. Suffice to say that Essential still has nothing to tell us on voting intention.

In other findings, 49% said they wanted the opposition to fall in behind the government’s decisions while 33% preferred that it review and challenge them, and 42% now consider themselves likely to catch the virus, up from 31% on a fortnight ago. Seventy-two per cent reported washing their hands more often, 60% said they were avoiding social gatherings, and 33% reported stocking up on groceries.

We also have a Roy Morgan SMS survey of 723 respondents, which was both conducted and published yesterday, showing 79% support for the government’s decision to allow those in financial difficulty to access $20,000 of their superannuation. As noted in the previous post, an earlier such poll of 974 respondents from Wednesday and Thursday recorded levels of trust in various Australian politicians (plus Jacinda Ardern, who fared best of all); a further set of results from the same poll finds Dick Smith, Mike Cannon-Brookes, Andrew Forrest and Alan Joyce rating best out of designated list of business leaders, with Rupert Murdoch, Clive Palmer, Gina Rinehart and Gerry Harvey performed worst. We are yet to receive hard numbers from either set of questions, but they are apparently forthcoming.

UPDATE: Full report from Essential Research here.