Idle speculation: 59-41 Newspoll edition

Noteworthy developments of the past however-long-it’s-been:

• For the second time in as many months, Newspoll has defied conventional wisdom that Kevin Rudd’s political difficulties were set to take the shine off his opinion poll dominance. Despite bad press over the Sunrise/Anzac Day affair, today’s poll has Labor’s two-party lead widening to 59-41 from 57-43 a fortnight ago, with Rudd’s lead over John Howard as preferred prime minister up from 48-38 to 48-36.

• The NSW ALP’s decision to delay opening preselection nominations in Charlton, Fowler, Blaxland and Chifley is reckoned by Michelle Grattan to spell trouble for their respective members, Kelly Hoare, Julia Irwin, Michael Hatton and Roger Price. The decision was reportedly made so that turf wars over these seats would not interrupt this month’s national conference. Andrew Landeryou talks of a deal in which Charlton will go to the Left (Greg Combet, if he wants it, which it seems he might), with the others used to accommodate aspirants from the Right, possibly including Warren Mundine and Mark Arbib. Grattan, Landeryou and Adam Carr all concur that Price, an early Rudd leadership backer, is unlikely to be toppled. Carr writes in comments: “I can only guess that he is intending to retire, and the preselection is being held over so the right has time to find a candidate”.

• Bruce Baird, factional moderate, Peter Costello backer and one-time NSW government minister, has announced his decision to retire after nine years as member for Cook. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Baird’s decision was partly motivated by “the possibility he would have been challenged for preselection”, after branch stacking by the Right reportedly swelled numbers at the Miranda branch from 200 to 600. However, the widely rated front-runner for preselection is Scott Morrison, former Tourism Australia boss and state party director, with whom Baird appears to have been on good terms. Morrison has also been mentioned as a possible successor to Alan Cadman in Mitchell. Potential rivals to Morrison reportedly include PBL Media executive David Coleman, Optus executive Paul Fletcher, “consultant” Peter Tynan and barrister Mark Speakman. The Liberals hold Cook with a margin of 13.8 per cent.

• The Queensland Liberal Party has preselected Sue Boyce to replace outgoing Senator Santo Santoro, in what The Australian described as a “comfortable” win over former state party leader Bob Quinn after the “third round of voting”. Boyce has also been promoted from number four to number two on the ticket for the imminent half-Senate election, over the head of number three candidate Mark Powell. This would appear to be a double victory for state party leader Bruce Flegg over the Santoro faction, which switched its backing from Powell to Quinn in its determination to thwart Boyce. Powell will most likely have to compete with the Nationals for a third Coalition seat.

• Laura Anderson of The Advertiser reports that South Australian Senator Linda Kirk has rejected Kevin Rudd’s offer of preselection support for the lower house seat of Boothby, offered as a consolation prize after she lost Right faction support for Senate re-nomination. The Right is reportedly backing Adelaide lawyer Tim Stanley to take the factionally reserved second position at the expense of Kirk, who “broke ranks” with the faction in supporting Rudd’s leadership bid in December. The top position will remain with rising star of the Left, Penny Wong.

• Comments thread barfly Adam Carr has turned his hand to the federal election guide caper, in typically fine style. All the electorate links above lead to the relevant entries in his guide, which I will continue to do until my own effort is up and running (which won’t be for a while).

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

333 comments on “Idle speculation: 59-41 Newspoll edition”

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  1. Don’t read too much into the preferred economy handling answer in the Galaxy poll.

    If a prime minister with unemployment at 30 year lows, with overall wages on the climb, in an area that is traditionally the Coalition’s, can’t get more than 50 per cent – let alone the usual two-thirds – then he is in trouble. The fact 34 p/c of punters thought Rudd could do it better suggests the Ruddernaut is continuing strongly.

  2. Actually, there are three definintes for Greenway – all said they’re going at Friday’s FEC. There are another two who should come out of the woodwork in the next couple of days. Stephen Bali as at Friday had neither confirmed nor denied that he’s standing. However, I have it on good authority that he doesn’t live in the electorate – although he does live close. Only one of the five is a woman.

  3. I don’t think it really matters if they don’t live in the electorate, does it? Surely serving on Blacktown City Council should be enough.

  4. The Australian
    Labor’s unfair dismissal plan was Howard’s in 1997

    * Patricia Karvelas
    * April 21, 2007

    JOHN Howard devised the same unfair dismissal policy Kevin Rudd wants to
    take to the next election in his first term of Government.

    Although Mr Howard advocated for a workplace with 15 workers and under to
    be exempted from unfair dismissal laws for the first year of
    employment, this
    week he lambasted Mr Rudd for the same policy, describing the 15-employee
    definition as “absurdly low”.

    The Weekend Australian can reveal that Mr Howard called for the same
    model in 1997, well before he had control of the Senate and the ability to
    deliver more radical reform.

    Labor has seized on the revelation to argue that Work Choices is
    saying Mr Howard clearly believed 10 years ago that the one-year amnesty
    on unfair dismissal was a fair compromise.

    Labor also denied stealing the Prime Minister’s previous policy,
    arguing it was
    nothing more than a coincidence.

    In 1997, the Howard government made a commitment to cut red tape for
    small business by 50 per cent. Mr Howard’s response to the
    recommendations of a deregulation taskforce included allowing workplaces
    with fewer than 15 employees one-year unfair dismissal exemptions.

    On March 24, 1997 in a statement he said: “I announce today that
    businesses with 15 or fewer employees will be exempt from the federal
    dismissal provisions for new employees until they have been continuously
    employed for a period of 12 months … This will give small business every
    encouragement to hire new staff confidently, particularly younger, less
    experienced employees. Safeguards will remain.”

    Labor’s small business spokesman Craig Emerson said this confirmed that
    Mr Howard had abandoned all pretence of fairness when he won control of
    the Senate. “In 1997, he said it was fair to give people 12 months in
    a job and
    then apply an unfair dismissal system,” Dr Emerson said. “He was kidding
    the Australian people then. Now that he’s got control of the Senate he
    reckons it’s fair to take away all protection for 3.6 million working

  5. Hi Bill,
    Members of my extended family did not speak to each other for 16 years after the great schism. Hatred is a weasle word for the relationship that existed between the DLP and ALP, particularly as it had religious overtones. Arthur Calwell’s autobiography, “Be Just and Fear Not” sums it up pretty well. The Catholic Church’s mean spirited rejection of him for staying loyal to the ALP was not an isolated case.

    Of course these people who call themselves the DLP now are just show ponies, more to be pitied and ignored than hated. Christ knows why they still exist when State Communism is dead and the rest of Australian society has moved on. BTW it is a very Victorian thing, it has not existed in NSW (and as far as I know anywhere else) since it lost its first and only seat in parliament in 1976 (that in itself was an amusing story).

  6. for the record, the Democrats GST debacle stopped me voting my preferences to them, and then when they killed off Natasha’s career that was it. 4eva.

  7. Baker looks like he’s on the right-end of the Nationals. Presuming he gets publicity, he’ll appeal to regional Queensland, and might have a chance. IF he gets publicity.

  8. Bill,

    Members of the ALP disliked the DLP much much more than they dislike the Greens. They saw the DLP as the force which, rather than Doctor Evatt, split the Labor Party and kept it out of office for a generation. Some ALP members still think of the Greens as natural allies of the Labor Party, while others see them as rivals. Certainly, the Victorian Greens had voted against Labor on every vote as of the last release of Legislatve Council voting that I have seen.

  9. oakeshott country Says:
    April 23rd, 2007 at 7:28 pm

    BTW it is a very Victorian thing, it has not existed in NSW (and as far as I know anywhere else) since it lost its first and only seat in parliament in 1976 (that in itself was an amusing story).

    tell us the story please oakeshott

  10. Monday, 23 April 2007
    Australia Rising

    In a major address to the Queensland Media Club today, the Prime Minister set out the Government’s key objectives to ensure Australia rises to the challenges of the next decade and beyond.

    The Prime Minister said:

    “Consistent with the last 11 years, the Government’s core objective, in the Budget, will be to keep the economy strong and the nation secure so that Australians can plan for the future with great confidence.

    …Despite the challenges we face, there’s no reason why Australia should not be even more prosperous by the year 2020. But it means becoming even more competitive through economic reform. It means keeping the size of government and our tax burden down on workers and risk takers. It means keeping downward pressure on inflation and interest rates through budget discipline and a flexible workplace system. It means creating the conditions for growth so business will continue to invest and create jobs. It means ensuring that our schools, our tech colleges and our universities are institutions of excellence. And it means investing in our people so they have the skills required in the 21st Century.

    …there is a battle of ideas going on here at home over Australia’s future. One side – we in the Coalition – aims to build on what’s been achieved over the last decade, to build on policies that have helped sustain the longest economic expansion in our modern history, created two million new jobs, slashed unemployment to a 32 year low, cut welfare dependency and given more Australians a direct stake in the economy.

    The other side wants to tear down this achievement. It wants to go back to government by a few mates for a few mates – where favoured groups get a special say in our workplaces, in education policy, in environment policy and in welfare policy. Where the national interest gets squeezed out in favour of noisy sectional interests and where the quiet voices of those who work hard, pay their taxes, take risks and contribute to their communities get drowned out.

    …Eleven years ago, we inherited a country where that great social achievement, of having the largest middle class in the world seemed to have slipped from our reach. And while we still have a way to go, Australia is on the road back. Today, with effectively full employment and the strongest economy in decades, Australia is again in the top tier of the world’s economies. My commitment to the people of Australia is to work as hard as possible to keep us at the top, to ensure greater social mobility for as many of our fellow citizens as possible in the 21st Century, to build towards a new era of growth, prosperity and opportunity – a rising Australia, an Australia within reach.”

  11. Hey Bill, maybe you could just post links and maybe a couple of sentences of quotes when you find articles? It’s a bit annoying to trawl through lots of news stories to actually find original blog posts.

  12. With James Baker, so now we have very well-credentialed independents running for the Senate in both NSW and Queensland, both of whom candidates who can take votes away from the Coalition. I reckon if Howard is to lose a majority in the Senate, it’s this way.

    Not that I expect Baker to be particularly progressive, but it’s still an improvement.

  13. The basic story. The Queen opened the opera house in October 1973. To capitalise on the euphoria Robin Askin called a snap election for 17/11/73. Traditionally nominations closed on a Friday but the schedule was so rushed that for this election nominations closed at midday on the Thursday.

    The Member for Gordon (the safest of Liberal seats) and Minister for Health, Harry Jago, was quietly minding his own business on the Thursday when a colleague asked him who his opponents were. He replied that he would not know until the next day. His colleague explained that he had missed the deadline for nomination.

    The electors of Gordon had a choice between the ALP and the DLP. The DLP’s Kevin Harrold won but was defeated in 1976 when he had to face a Liberal. Surprisingly, for a senior minister, Jago was not given a seat in the Legislative Council – which at that time was elected by an electoral college of the Assembly and remnant Council after the new house had met. A position of Legislative Councillor was thus in the gift of the party leader, but Askin is supposed to have said, “not even the Legislative Council deserves someone that stupid”.

    This has had long term consequences: 1) In the ALP at least and I presume in other major parties, nominations are now done through the central office.
    2) When Robert Dean, the shadow treasurer in Victoria in 2002, was unsuccessful in nominating because he was not enrolled, various of the commentariat suggested that he had ‘done a Jago’.

  14. Stephen L (April 21st, 2007 at 4:59 pm)

    I beg to differ the Greens were 3168 votes short of quota (ie. 0.93) on the initial count in the last election. Read all about it here

    If all votes had been ticket votes Family First would have a Tas Senator.
    BTL leakage was sufficient to elect Christine Milne. Because of the fewer parties contending Tasmanians have a greater propensity to vote BTL (19% in fact).

  15. “Labor’s unfair dismissal plan was Howard’s in 1997” is a really fascinating observation on Labor today I think. I notice on Bartlett’s webblog he notes a similar thing about how radical Labor’s proposals really are for that party:

    “On the other hand, having repeatedly voted in the Senate to defeat measures such as a secret ballot and legalising unfair dismissal a number of times over many years, I know I would have been publicly ripped to shreds by any number of unions if I had supported either of these things, so it does grate a little bit to see them meekly accepting what are very significant shifts.”

    Unions supporting Big Business (circa 1997)? What next cats getting along with dogs???

  16. Mr Speaker,

    The argument against unions’ being required to conduct secret ballots before industrial action are very simple. Note that secret ballots for union elections have been required since the Chifley Government’s clean ballot legislation, if not earlier.

    First, gooses and ganders: neither party has suggested requiring a secret ballot of shareholders before a company’s management takes industrial action by locking out or standing down workers, yet company managers are not even elected by shareholders, but appointed by higher managers all the way up to the CEO who is appointed by the Board of Directors, itself elected on an archaic yes/no electoral system that should have joined parliamentary first past the post block voting in the garbage bin sometime in the nineteenth century.

    Secondly, unionists elect union officials, executives, councils and the like and delegate certain decisions to them. This is called representative democracy. It is how the whole nation decides on legislation: we elect a parliament; we do not have a referendum on every bill put forward.

    Thirdly, industrial action is now defined to include following the rules required in your employment; i.e., if you stop doing something that is not in fact even required of you but which you have been doing on a voluntary basis, this can be called industrial action. So a secret ballot would be required before workers stopped doing things that legally they are not even required to do.

    Fourthly, the delay in responding to an industrial situation caused by the secret ballot requirement would undermine the unions’ campaign on behalf of working people.

    Kevin Rudd has been winning the IR argument hands down. Even this cave-in to the Masters and Servants Act attitude of the business world and The Australian has not diminished their hilarious campaign against Labor, so I can see no political reason for him to have acted as he has. I expect he will win at the national conference. He would have taken a few soundings beforehand to make sure of this, so nothing can be done. It may help the Greens, of course, who ought to preference Labor in every seat because a Labor win means a double dissolution and a double dissolution means a lower quota and a lower quota means more Greens senators and more Greens senators means the Greens with the balance of power.

  17. # The Speaker Says:
    April 24th, 2007 at 11:31 am


    Good to see you back.

    How’s the campaign going?

    Good thank you. I cant keep away.

  18. Sometime in the 90s an acquitance, representing the Legalise Marijuana or something or another party, changed his name to “Marijuana Legalise” via deed poll for obvious reasons re ballot card. He never got his seat (obviously), but have any candidates considered a similar change to Workplacearrangements No, or Liberal Vote?

    Anyway, Legalise, as he became known, had some old portable Apple Mac thingy in the tally room whilst all other pundits had the latest laptops etc, in the early days of the internet etc (Must have been a while ago! I think they were dial up Pentium Ones). Legalise had nothing except for the (at the time even) old Mac. Still, at the end of the night all pundits were after him for the number crunch in every seat, booth by booth. He did a great job. Either poll analysis is an inexact art, or one mastered by the technoginally gifted or paranoid schizophenic, or either/both. Possibly both.

    Anyway, my thoughts. . . and I’ve often (even usually) been right. Rudd is the next Prime Minister. Landslide.

    Told ya so Anna, now I can prove it.

    PS thanx heaps for the site, always a good read and suitably bookmarked.

  19. Oh, and good luck Bill in Kingston. I only voted Dems in last state election coz i actually knew the candidate. Good thing he never touched me to help for his deposit. Unlike the ALP types I know (no names mentioned) who got up anyway. Even if they needed it (not likely), their credit’s worth shite with me. Liberals. . . don’t even ask!

  20. Ray – true but irrelevant (you must be a programmer)

    You claimed “The Greens barely managed a single quota with preferences, pipping Family Firsts Jackie Petrusma by a mere 350 votes. Saved by BTLs.”

    I did not dispute the part about saved by BTLs – its totally true. I did dispute the part about “a mere 350 votes” because it is false. After Murphy was distributed Milne had 45707 votes, putting her 325 over quota. Petrusma was on 26102. There were 18602 with the 3rd Labor candidate.

    Since many of the votes with the Labor candidate were BTLs, and these flowed solidly to Milne ahead of Petrusma if a full distribution had come out Milne would have won by several thousand votes, rather than the 350 you stated.

    As I said, all this is a bit of a side issue. What I see as your key point – that Senate polls are rubbish and in 2004 drastically overestimated the Green vote and are probably doing so again – is quite correct. The idea that we are on 28% in the Tasmanian Senate is beyond fantasy.

  21. The ALP has preselected Sharon Thiel for Kalgoorlie. The preselection of Thiel, who hails from Newman in the Pilbara, defied a widely held belief that only a candidate based in Kalgoorlie itself could win this massive seat. Well known former Kalgoorlie mayor, pharmacist and small business owner Paul Robson had been thought by more than a few people to be a shoe in.

    The preselection of Thiel, with her experience of the working conditions endured by mining workers suggests that the ALP is intending to fight for votes in this area consistent with their nationwide policy to restore fairness to terms of employment. This is a very transient workforce and would now include very few of those workers who might have been spooked by Latham’s policy fiasco in Tasmania in the last few days before the 2004 election. Someone who could mix with the current workforce might be able to influence policy enough to bring a few of these votes back to Labor.

    Kalgoorlie is a seat that Federal Labor has treated fairly shabbily since Graeme Campbell turned feral on Paul Keating. As if to punish everyone again, Latham’s Labor made zero attempts to help the local candidate in 2004. If Rudd and his advisors are smarter than that then they should be having a good look at this seat and including it in their itineraries.

    The types that the ALP needs to win over in this seat would find commonalities with similar groups in other semi-marginal seats around Australia.

    A real concern here is the apparently greater than ever active disenfranchisement of Aboriginal people, now compounded by the new re-enrolment and enrolment requirements. Based on expressed voter sentiment one might suspect that this lost vote would be conservatively 75% Labor. It is very difficult to gauge what the swing would be if these people all actually got a vote. I’d guess at about 6% of the overall vote which would mean at least a 4.5% swing to the ALP which would make Kalgoorlie very marginal. Sadly many of this group of Australians will be denied their voice thanks to the government’s new electoral rules.

    Really, Kalgoorlie is one of the provincial / rural seats that the Howard government has badly neglected. It is ripe for the picking for Labor in 2007 if they go about it seriously.

  22. If the ALP don’t win Kalgoolie they wont win Government for its the sort of seat that should be won on IR and if that issue doesn’t deliver this seat then it doesn’t go well for the ALP in other Industrial based seats.

  23. I don’t think Australia’s Business community has a Master and Servant attitude from what I understand the Government came up with these laws without much time given to talking to Business.

    This in part explains the Business communities apathy towards Howard wanting them to commit to campaigning for these Laws.

    I have ad slogan for the ALP

    HOWARD’S LAW the Law is an ass so give him a kick in the ass

  24. Toobee said: Either poll analysis is an inexact art, or one mastered by the technoginally gifted or paranoid schizophenic, or either/both. Possibly both.

    Who on this site is willing to confess to either or both of these things? 🙂

  25. Greetings from Berlin, comrades, no doubt you have missed me. Well we were all wrong about the French election, non? Both Sarko and Sego did better than expected. It looks like Sarko will win, mais deux semaines sont un tres long temp dans les politiques, as they say. One good outcome is that the PCF can finally be pronounced completement foutred.

    On Kalgoorlie, I disagree with bmwofoz. Labor probably won´t it and doesn´t need to win it. As I think I noted before, the seat is 16% indigenous and a lot of them will be disfranchised by the new electoral law, as was its intent. Also I can´t see the very well paid mining workers giving up their lucrative AWAs – they are new aristocracy of labour and they like being so. If WA Labor can win Stirling, Hasluck and Canning they will have done their duty.

    Guten nacht

  26. What the ALP should do is run both Sharon Thiel and Paul Robson as candidates in Kalgoorlie, thereby garnering a personal vote in both the Pilbara and Kalgoorlie areas of a gargantuan electorate. But that’s a bit of lateral thinking which is beyond them, sadly.

  27. Hi Phil,
    That was an old Country Party trick – but as far as I know it rarely contributed. I can’t think of any instances of the Nationals doing it. The risk of leakage is great.

  28. The CLP in the Northern Territory sometimes runs two candidates in the one seat, usually one white and one Aboriginal. This takes advantage of the fact that candidate photos appear on NT ballot papers due to high levels of illiteracy in remote communities. In the Sturt by-election last year they ran two Aboriginal candidates from different communities/linguistic groups, though a fat lot of good it did them.

  29. An odd choice for Kalgoorlie I’d say. Personal vote is fairly irrelevant in the Pilbara – there are only two regions with notable populations, Karratha (and the surrounding Shire of Roebourne – about 20,000) and Port Hedland (about 18,000). Both are fairly transient areas at the best of times apart from the indigenous sector of the community. A personal vote in Newman is almost useless – there just aren’t enough voters there to make a difference.

    In reality, the ALP doesn’t need Kalgoorlie – or if it does, then they’ve done badly in the election in other states. It is at 6.4% after all, and the reality is that WA resources would be better spent ensuring Labor holds Cowan and Swan, and wins Hasluck and Stirling. They’re the four relevant seats in WA and any spare effort would be better off spent seeing what can be done with Canning, which should be marginal even though its not.

    I’d guess the problem both parties have with Kalgoorlie is that it’s so damn big and diverse it’s really hard to produce a campaign that works for it. What works in Karratha likely won’t work in Esperance or in the Aboriginal townships.

  30. Come to think of it, why not choose four of five candidates, each the favourite son or daughter of a major population centre. What you’d lose on the swings you’d more than pick up on the roundabouts.

  31. I think Adam said:

    I am in Europe for six weeks. I am back in June, just before Kevin’s blitzkreig.

    My response:

    SpaB haben. Du bist punktlich, eine Wiederholung von 1998 zu sehen.

  32. The Budget coming up:

    Will it have an impact or is there a swing so badly against Howard that it’s unlikely to work?


    I am predicting Labor to benefit from it more than the Liberals. From a non-biased equal viewpoint, if the Liberals don’t improve by Mid-June, what should the Liberals do?

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