Hello Newman

An eventful weekend bequeaths Queensland a by-election result and an unexpected new Senate election candidate.

I had a piece yesterday on Campbell Newman’s break with the Liberal National Party and plans to run for the Senate in Crikey, which I believe has its paywall down for a limited time only. The upshot is that Newman’s anti-lockdown message may struggle to gain traction in a state that hasn’t had many of them; that he is unlikely to benefit the conservative cause even if he wins; and that his presence on the ballot paper could even contribute to a seat currently held by the Liberal National Party (specifically Amanda Stoker) or Pauline Hanson instead going to Labor or the Greens.

The article includes a reference to a poll conducted by Ipsos in June from a sample of 500 Queensland respondents for conservative podcast host Damian Coory, who published approval ratings for state political figures among its small sample of 173 LNP voters. Newman was credited with an approval rating of nearly 60%, substantially higher than any of his four successors as party leader, which may have encouraged him in his present course. Newman has also maintained high name recognition, with only around 20% of respondents uncommitted, compared with around 40% for Lawrence Springborg and Deb Frecklington and 60% for David Crisafulli, who replaced Frecklington after the election defeat in October.

Rightly or wrongly, some media accounts have tied Newman’s abandonment of the LNP to a crisis in the party that was laid bare by Saturday’s Stretton by-election, which delivered it an unimpressive swing of 1.6%. My live results display for the by-election continues to be updated here, if on a somewhat irregular basis. The Electoral Commission of Queensland helpfully publishes preference flows by candidate, which may be of some interest: these show that preferences of the Informed Medical Options Party broke 60-40 to the LNP, while the Greens went 82-18 to Labor and Animal Justice went 56-44.

Elsewhere, Antony Green offers his estimated new margins for the finalised federal redistribution of Victoria.

Morgan: 52.5-47.5 to Labor

Another poll showing federal Labor with a lead fuelled by big swings in Queensland and Western Australia.

Roy Morgan maintained its erratic ways on Friday by publishing results from its regularly conducted federal polling for the first time in a month, which is likely to be the last federal voting intention poll for over a fortnight. The results are broadly in line with polling elsewhere in showing Labor with a lead of 52.5-47.5, from primary votes of Coalition 39%, Labor 37%, Greens 11.5% and One Nation 3%.

The state breakdowns are also fairly similar to the last Newspoll quarterly aggregate, showing Labor with leads of 50.5-49.5 in New South Wales (a swing of a bit over 2% from the 2019 election, half a point more than Newspoll), 56-44 in Victoria (a swing of nearly 3%, compared with next to no change in Newspoll), 52.5-47.5 in Western Australia (an 8% swing, half a point less than Newspoll), 51-49 in South Australia (next to no swing, compared with around 3% in Newspoll) and 58-42 from the small Tasmanian sample (a 2% swing), while the Coalition leads 51.5-48.5 in Queensland (a 7% swing, 1.5% more than Newspoll).

The poll was conducted by phone and online from a sample of 2737 over the last two weekends.

Stretton by-election live

Live coverage of the count for today’s state by-election in Queensland.

Click here for full display of latest results.

Live commentary

10.04pm. The pre-polls are now in on two-party preferred, and the LNP ends the night with a 1.6% two-party swing. Diminishing batches of postals will be added over the coming week or so, together with a small number of provisional votes, but I’d say that’s it for this evening.

9.14pm. The main source of pre-polls has reported on the primary vote, accounting for 7507 votes with very little swing.

8.06pm. The addition of the postal votes on two-party preferred has pushed the LNP swing back over 2%.

7.52pm. The only outstanding results on the primary vote are a big set of pre-polls (maybe 6000) plus late postals; no TCP yet from the 5402 postals counted so far plus the Stretton polling booth. My two separate projections are now in close alignment, one crediting the LNP with a 1.6% swing, the other (which makes use of the booths that have so far only recorded primary votes) with 1.1%.

7.47pm. 5402 postal votes have been added on the primary vote — they have swung to the LNP by about 5%, though this may reflect a tendency of early arriving postal votes to be more conservative than later ones. In any case, it hasn’t changed by final projection too radically, which continues to show very little swing.

7.38pm. Four election day booths are now in on the primary vote, including three that are in on two-party preferred. My vanilla projection of the swing is 2.1% to the LNP, but after factoring in the booth that’s yet to report the TPP and crediting Labor with a higher share of preferences than last time, I’ve actually got a very slight swing to Labor on the overall projection. Maybe that won’t stick, but it’s clear that the LNP has picked up a small swing at best.

7.21pm. Small primary vote swing to the LNP at Runcorn East booth, where 1293 votes were cast.

7.18pm. The Kuraby booth, with 2076 primary votes, is better for the LNP — they’re up by 7.1%. My projection hasn’t changed much though, which I think is because another of the minor booths has reported on TPP and it’s given them a less good preference flow. This projection leans heavily on a preference estimate based on, at this stage, not enough minor party TPP votes (76 in all). The primary votes suggest an LNP swing of 3%-4%.

7.14pm. And with that, my projection is definitively calling it for Labor.

7.13pm. The first major result in is 2344 primary votes from the Sunnybank Hills booth, which record very little swing.

7.11pm. Still no election day results, which could well prove very different — but the three booths we have so far, of which two have TPP as well as primary vote results, suggest a swing to the LNP of insufficient size to put the result in doubt.

7.01pm. Actually, I think my primary vote projections are okay — Antony Green’s are identical.

6.59pm. ECQ booth now in on TPP, which I make to be a 2.1% swing there to the LNP, keeping in mind that this is their strongest result of the three sets of primary vote numbers so far. So it seems pretty clear that Labor aren’t in trouble. I believe there’s a problem with my primary vote projections, which I’m looking into.

6.49pm. The ECQ headquarters booth is in now on the primary vote: 154 votes, swinging slightly to the LNP. Still nothing on two-party preferred.

6.35pm. Now we’ve got “Telephone voting – early voting” as well. The distinction between this and the other telephone voting is unclear to me, but there’s 250 votes’ worth of these and they record a 6.4% drop on the primary vote.

6.15pm. “Telephone voting” is in: only 79 primary votes, little change since the election.

6pm. Polls have closed. I’m not sure when we will be seeing the first results — presumably the five election day polling booths will take a while, and the pre-poll booths still longer. However, the ECQ Headquarters booth in Brisbane will only account for a few hundred votes and shouldn’t take long to knock off if those votes are indeed being counted right away. There’s also telephone votes, which I can’t tell you about; a space for “mobile polling” results is listed, but I suspect there won’t actually be any.


Welcome to the live count thread for today’s by-election in the Queensland state seat of Stretton, which you can read all about here. The action will as ever commence with the close of booths at 6pm, with the first results presumably to follow an hour or so later.

The displays at the top of this post offer a glimpse of my full live results facility, which neatly lay out booth results and the swing calculations being used to project the result. It should be noted that the COVID-19 situation is making booth-matching an ever more fraught exercise: the number of election day polling booths has been cut from an already modest eight to an unheard-of low of five. For this purpose I have folded results from the decommissioned Calamvale booth into Stretton, Eight Miles Plains West into Runcorn East and Runcorn into Sunnybank Hills. We can presumably also expect to see a repeat of the state election when over third of the votes cast were postals.

By-elections of the XXXIV Olympiad

’Tis the night before a Queensland state by-election; we may not have seen the last of Nick Xenophon; Labor picks candidates for key Melbourne seats; plus further matters for those with a professional interest in our nation’s electoral affairs.

Election news:

• The Palaszczuk government faces what it may now think a fortuitously timed by-election tomorrow in the southern Brisbane seat of Stretton. The seat was vacated by the late Duncan Pegg, who retained it for Labor by a margin of 14.8% at the state election last October. The intimidating margin has not stopped Liberal National Party taking the field, together with the Greens, Animal Justice and the Informed Medical Options Party. My guide to the by-election can be found here; tune in tomorrow for live results, my page for which awaits the numbers here.

Jack Morphet of the Sunday Mail reports Nick Xenophon is “seriously considering another tilt at federal politics”, ostensibly because the federal government has failed to protect the rights of Australian producers to market sheepskin boots as ugg boots, the name of which is trademarked by an American company.

• The Herald Sun reports Labor’s Victorian preselection process, which has been commandeered by the party’s national executive after a branch-stacking scandal, has confirmed candidates in four marginal Liberal seats. Gladys Liu will defend her negligible margin in Chisholm against Carina Garland, former assistant secretary at Victorian Trades Hall Council, who was chosen ahead of Monash mayor Rebecca Paterson. In Higgins, the once safe Liberal seat that is developing into a three-cornered contest between Liberal, Labor and the Greens, Katie Allen will face Michelle Ananda-Rajah, consultant physician in general medicine and infectious diseases at Alfred Health. In Casey, where the Liberals will defend a 4.6% margin in the absence of retiring incumbent Tony Smith, Labor has again chosen its candidate from 2019, engineer and small business owner Bill Brindle. In Deakin, which Michael Sukkar holds for the Liberals by 4.7%, the Labor candidate is Matthew Gregg, a teacher.

From the world of academia (Queensland chapter):

• In the Australian Journal of Politics and History, Paul Williams of Griffith University offers Queensland’s role in the 2019 Australian federal election: a case study of regional difference (paywalled, naturally). Williams argues the Coalition’s strong federal performance in Queensland can be understood in terms of its six diverse regions and five elements of its political culture. The former reflect the state’s decentralisation and reliance on primary industries, which show up demographically in low educational attainment, high religious observance and a paucity of migrants. The political culture elements are “a predilection for strong, masculine political leadership; a zealotry for state development; a disproportionate focus on regional and rural districts in budgetary allocations; a pragmatically flexible approach to policy-making” (the Humphrey Appleby-esque note struck by the latter would seem to be deliberate) and “a parochial chauvinism celebrating a Queensland difference, and drawing a moral superiority from it”.

• In the Australian Journal of Political Science, Graeme Orr of the University of Queensland and Tracey Arklay of Griffith University are rethinking voter identification: its rationale impact. This includes an analysis of Queensland’s one-off experiment with a soft voter identification regime in 2015, which reaches the unsurprising conclusion that migrant and especially indigenous areas had the greatest number of voters needing to lodge a provisional vote for want of acceptable identification on the day. For this reason, and despite the measure’s clearly modest impact on the voting returns, the paper concludes “there is no real case for voter ID in Australia”, which it deems “a solution in search of a problem”.

Psephological arcana:

• In keeping with its code of conduct obligations as a member of the recently launched Australian Polling Council, YouGov has published methodology statements for the last four Newspoll surveys. Among other things, these fully detail the questionnaires that were presented to the respondents.

• David Barry has developed a tool for exploring Senate preference flows at the 2019 election using the ballot paper data files, which is immensely nifty if you can work out how to use it.

• A Tasmanian Electoral Commission report into the recent state election, which unusually coupled a statewide lower house election with one of the state’s periodic upper house elections for two of the chamber’s 15 seats, finds over 6% of those who ought to have lodged an upper house vote did not do so because they attended a booth in the wrong part of the electorate, and a further 1% were not issued with a ballot due to staff error. It argues against the contention that this should invalidate the election, since the errors in the former case were committed by the voters rather than the commission, and the latter were too few in number to affect the results.

Resolve Strategic: Coalition 43, Labor 28, Greens 12 in NSW

A new poll brings an encouraging set of numbers for the Berejiklian government, all things considered.

The Sydney Morning Herald today brings us the bi-monthly reading of state voting intention in New South Wales from Resolve Strategic, which combines results for the state from its two monthly national surveys to produce a sample of 1100. Keeping in mind that this means half the poll was conducted before the recent COVID-19 outbreak and lockdown, the results suggest support for the Berejiklian government is holding up: its primary vote is down only one point to 43%, while Labor and the Greens are both unchanged on 28% and 12% respectively. The poll has Shooters Fishers and Farmers down from 4% and 1%, with most of the slack taken up by independents and others, although this may not be all that meaningful.

Despite the fact that Labor has traded in Jodi McKay for Chris Minns since the last poll, Gladys Berejiklian’s lead as preferred premier is all but unchanged at 55-16, compared with 57-17 against McKay two months ago. The 550 respondents of last week’s survey were asked various questions of the rollout, which found 56% believed Sydney had been too slow to go into lockdown, but that 46% nonetheless agreed or strongly agreed that the outbreak had been well handled.

The two survey periods for the poll were June 8 to 12 and July 13 to 17, i.e. last Tuesday to Saturday.

Resolve Strategic, Essential Research and more

A new federal poll from Resolve Strategic plus a data dump from Essential Research equals a lot to discuss.

First up, the Age/Herald bring us the forth instalment in its monthly Resolve Strategic poll series, which has so far come along reliably in the small hours of the third Wednesday each month, with either New South Wales or Victorian state numbers following the next day (this month is the turn of New South Wales – note that half the surveying in the poll due tomorrow will have been conducted pre-lockdown). The voting intention numbers have not changed significantly on last month, with the Coalition down two to 38%, Labor down one to 35%, the Greens up two to 12% and One Nation up one to 4%. This series seeks to make a virtue out of not publishing two-party preferred results, but applying 2019 election flows gives Labor a lead of around 51.5-48.5, out from 50.5-49.5 last time.

There seems to be a fair bit of noise in the state sub-samples, with Queensland recording no improvement for Labor on the 2019 election along with an unlikely surge for One Nation, which is at odds with both the recent Newspoll quarterly breakdowns and the previous two Resolve Strategic results. From slightly more robust sub-sample sizes, New South Wales and Victoria both record swings to Labor of around 2.5%; at the other end of the reliability scale, the swing to Labor in Western Australia is in double digits for the second month in a row, whereas Newspoll had it approaching 9%.

Scott Morrison records net neutral personal ratings, with approval and disapproval both at 46%, which is his worst result from any pollster since March last year. Anthony Albanese is down one on approval to 30% and up two on disapproval to 46%. Both leaders consistently perform worse in this series than they do in Newspoll and Essential Research, perhaps because respondents are asked to rate the leaders’ performances “in recent weeks”. Morrison’s lead as preferred prime minister is at 45-24, little changed from 46-23 last time. Labor’s weakness in the Queensland voting intention result is reflected in Albanese’s ratings from that state (in which he happened to spend most of last week) of 22% approval and 53% disapproval.

The poll continues to find only modest gender gaps on voting intention and prime ministerial approval, but suddenly has rather a wide one for Albanese’s personal ratings, with Albanese down five on approval among men to 28% and up six on disapproval to 51%, while respectively increasing by two to 31% and falling by two to 41% among women. The full display of results is available here; it includes 12 hand-picked qualitative assessments from respondents to the poll, of which four mention the vaccine rollout and two mention Barnaby Joyce. The poll was conducted last Tuesday to Saturday from a sample of 1607.

Also out today was the usual fortnightly Essential Research poll, which less usually included one of its occasional dumps of voting intention data, in this case for 12 polls going back to February. Its “2PP+” measure, which includes an undecided component that consistently comes in at 7% or 8%, has credited Labor with leads of two to four points for the last six fortnights. The most recent result has it at 47-45, from primary votes that come in at Coalition 40%, Labor 39%, Greens 11% and One Nation 4% if the 8% undecided are excluded. If previous election preferences are applied to these numbers, Labor’s two-party lead comes in at upwards of 52-48.

All of this provides a lot of new grist for the BludgerTrack poll aggregate, but it’s done very little to change either its recent trajectory or its current reading, which has Labor leading 52-48 on two-party preferred. The Resolve Strategic leadership ratings add further emphasis to established trends, which saw Morrison taking a hit when sexual misconduct stories hit the news in April, briefly recovering and then heading south again as the politics of the pandemic turned against him, while Albanese has maintained a slower and steadier decline.

The Essential poll also includes its occasional question on leaders attributes, although it seems to have dropped its practice of extending this to the Opposition Leader and has become less consistent in the attributes it includes. The biggest move since mid-March is a 15% drop in “good in a crisis” to 49%; on other measures, relating to honesty, vision, being in touch, accepting responsibility and being in control of his team, Morrison has deteriorated by six to nine points. A new result for “plays politics” yields an unflattering result of 73%, but there’s no way of knowing at this point how unusual this is for a political leader.

The poll also finds approval of the government’s handling of COVID-19 has not deteriorated further since the slump recorded a fortnight ago, with its good rating up two to 46% and poor up one to 31%. State government ratings are also fairly stable this time: over three surveys, the New South Wales government’s good rating has gone from 69% to 57% to 54%; Victoria’s has gone from 48% to 50% to 49%; and Queensland’s has gone from 65% to 61% to 62%. The poll was conducted Wednesday to Sunday from a sample of 1100.

In a similar vein, the Australia Institute has released polling tracking how the federal and state tiers are perceived to have handled COVID-19 since last August, which records a steadily growing gap in the states’ favour that has reached 42% to 24% in the latest survey. Breakdowns for the four largest states find Western Australia to be the big outlier at 61% to 11% in favour of the state government, with Victoria recording the narrowest gap at 34% to 25%. Fully 77% of respondents supported state border closures with only 18% opposed.

Newspoll: 53-47 to Labor

A trend of declining approval for Scott Morrison and the government’s management of COVID-19 starts to bite on voting intention, according to the latest Newspoll.

As reported by The Australian, the normally stable Newspoll series has recorded a solid bump in favour of Labor, who now lead 53-47 on two-party preferred, out from 51-49 at the previous poll three weeks ago. The Coalition and Labor are both on 39% of the primary vote, which is a two-point drop for the Coalition and a two-point gain for Labor, with the Greens down one to 10% and One Nation steady on 3%.

Scott Morrison is down four points on approval to 51% and up four on disapproval to 45%, while Anthony Albanese is respectively down two to 38% and up one to 46%. Morrison’s lead as preferred prime minister is at 51-33, narrowing from 53-33 last time. The Australian’s report also relates that approval of Morrison’s handling of the pandemic is down nine to 52% (UPDATE: disapproval is up nine to 45%), and that the government now records a net negative rating on handling of the vaccine rollout for the first time, with approval down 10 points to 40% and disapproval up 11 to 57%.

The poll was conducted Wednesday to Saturday from a sample of 1506.

Preselection latest

As the Victorian Liberals get candidates in place for target Labor seats, a new vacancy opens in a marginal of their own.

Recent developments relevant to the looming federal election, mostly involving the Liberals in Victoria:

• House of Representatives Speaker Tony Smith announced this week he would retire from politics at the election, after holding the seat of Casey on Melbourne’s eastern fringe since 2001. Phillip Coorey of the Financial Review reports “leading contenders” for the Liberal preselection are David Lau, a manager with medical supplies company Ebos Group, and Aaron Violi, a manager with a company that provides online ordering services to restaurants. Both have form as political staffers, Lau with Senator Sarah Henderson and Violi with Senator James Patterson. The “controversial comments on Facebook related to abortion” that caused Lau to quit his job with Henderson appear not to have done him any harm with the party membership. Smith retained Casey by a margin of 4.6% in 2019, which has not changed with the redistribution.

• The Victorian Liberals have preselected former Geelong mayor Stephanie Asher for Corangamite, where Labor’s Libby Coker unseated Sarah Henderson in 2019, and lawyer and one-time Survivor contestant Sharn Coombes for Dunkley in Melbourne’s south-east, which Labor gained after a favourable redistribution in 2019. Brodie Cowburn of Bayside News reports other candidates for Dunkley included Chris Crewther, who held the seat for the Liberals from 2016 until his defeat in 2019, and Donna Hope, who as Donna Bauer held the marginal local state seat of Carrum for a term from 2010 to 2014.

• Queensland’s Liberal National party has preselected Colin Boyce, who has held the state seat of Callide since 2017, as its new candidate for the central Queensland seat of Flynn, held for the party on a margin of 8.7% and to be vacated at the election with the retirement of Ken O’Dowd. Matthew Killoran of the Courier-Mail reports Boyce “convincingly” won a local party ballot over Mitchell Brownlie, Ron English and Tracie Newitt.