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. I mention the war as often as I like. Today I saw the Room With the Meat Hooks, so I´m in fairly militant mood on this subject. The Germans will have to go on hearing about the war for a long time yet. I think in any case it´s a myth that they are offended by foreigners mentioning it. They are as obsessed by it as anyone else. You can´t move in Berlin without stumbling on yet another denkmal to the victims of fascismus and militarismus or the site of some atrocity or other. They´ve also made something of an industry out of it.

    When are we due for another poll? It´s nice not reading Australian newspapers for a while but I´m a bit out of the flow of events.

  2. A side observation on how much impact the various state and territory opposition leaders are (not) having. Last night I ran an ALP quiz night (in Victoria) and one of the questions was to name any five of the state and territory opposition leaders other than Ted Baillieu. In a more-than-usually politically aware audience, nobody got more than two.

  3. If it looks like the Liberals aren’t improving by June, I expect:

    – more pressure on the QLD Nats to run a joint ticket
    – complete withdrawal of resources from Victoria to focus on marginals in other states
    – Howard moving from Sydney to somewhere around Tweed’s Head and not leaving QLD until November.
    – the Liberals calling for the deportation of all ethnic-types for some trumped up reasons

    If things were dire, would Howard push the red button and move the election to January?

  4. Hi Guys

    Can I say that Rudd’s performance on TV at this weekends
    State Conference was less the impressive. The Crowd
    was hardly ecstatic.
    And what is with the abuse against Howard? All that will do is
    highlight it is the same old Labor, with the same old
    I think the libs will get a boost from the budget with a public
    performance as shallow as the one Rudd delivered C-Woo

  5. I don’t think so, it would appear desperate at best and undemocratic at worst. It will become an issue during the campaign.

    That said, Rob Kerin didn’t call an election in SA till Feb 2002, some 4 years and 4 months after the last election in SA (with election cycles being 4 years – supposedly).

  6. Adam,

    I’m with you. I read the speech and thought it too long, very repetitive and lacking in oomph. More significantly, my elderly mother expressed an opinion on it that was unflatterring to Kevin Rudd. (I can say “elderly” – she will never read this.) In essence she said, “I am disappointed in Mr Rudd. I don’t like Mr Howard, but I expected better of Mr Rudd. I don’t like personal attacks. They are all the same.” Note the use of “Mr”, even in referring to a politician she does not like at all. She represents millions of Australians of all ages who can’t stand the personal attacks that almost all politicians go on with. I think Kevin Rudd should lift his game and get back to focusing on his approach, his philosophy, his policies, not those of the Liberals. We can allow the “black and white TV” joke, but the more the language of the Howard haters dominates the airwaves, the more likely John Howard will be snatch victory from he jaws of defeat. Phillip Adams can still lose the election for Labor. As someone wrote somewhere, “I’m old and I vote.”

  7. HOT TIP from SA: Nicole Cornes, wife of ex-footballer Graham and Sunday back-pages columnist in Adelaide, set to stand as ALP candidate for Boothby.

    Expect an Adelaide Sunday Mail front page announcement tomorrow.

  8. Strange Graham has always been tied ( so i have heard) to the Libs If this happens it shows its a easy jump from one major party to another.

  9. I thought the “My name is Kevin Rudd. I’m from Queensland. I’m here to help” was corny and lame. It made me want to throw up. ugh.

    It was even worse than Latham’s “putting the rungs back in the ladder”.

    Have the ALP hired an american speech writer where the audiences eat that sort of stuff up ?

  10. Bill, if you listen to Graham during his sports show on the rare occassions that politics gets mentioned he seems to have a liberal/socialist view rather than a conservative one.

    Now that Nicole has been announced as the ALP candidate, makes Boothby another one to watch on election night. Possible for 4 seats to fall in SA.

  11. Richardson has released his latest glossy community newsletter for Kingston with the headings ‘ Our local Tech College,’ ‘Making local roads safer,’ Creating more local jobs’, Building a safer community,’ ‘improving health services’ and ‘Strong Direction. Mainstream values’ There is a Senate report by Grant Chapman about climate change, a group of bar graphs on Government debt, Real wages growth, working days lost to industrial action, unemployment, Interest rates and waterfront crane rates. These graphs compare Lib gov 2006 to the ALP gov 1996. There is a very small section which points to 241,300 jobs created since workchoices . The best part is the tear of ” Have your say” asking 1. personal details 2. choosing four important initiatives out of ten listed and 3. what party if any do i/ we support. Interesting out of 8 photos in this large newsletter only one very small picture has Howard in it pointing to the beginning of distancing from Howard. Richardson from what i am hearing on the ground by community activists is that hes the first MP that has got his hands dirty helping the community and wish he would run as an independent

  12. What i dislike about landslide victories by either party is that weak candidates win without doing anything and good MPs loose their seats when they don’t deserve to

  13. The extreems of most landslides, are a problem with single member electorates, that are only fixed by proportional representation.

    With STV and Robson Rotation, cadidates with popular suport are at an advantage over those without because they will get a personal vote.


    It could either way.

    If I can name one problem Howard has had since Rudd got in, it’s momentum. He has not had momentum of more than two or three days at a time. If Howard and co. continue the way they are till the election, they may claw Rudd back a bit, but they will get defeated. That is the feeling out there. He (and fellow conservatives) are just going too over the top at the moment to be in a winning position.

  15. AKP, perhaps. Australian Kevinist Party. 😀

    Michael Kelly looks like an impressive candidate. Yet another contender for a ministerial position:

    The prospective list of stand-out recruits now includes Mark Dreyfus, Melissa Parke, Maxine McKew, Greg Combet, Bill Shorten, Michael Kelly, Ross Daniels, Gary Gray and Peter Tinley. I wonder – if this group had followed the 1998 intake (Rudd, Gillard, Emerson, Roxon, Plibersek) by entering parliament in 2001 would Simon Crean have won the 2004 election?

  16. Further to that, an ABC article from a couple of days ago suggests a different route for Arbib. Directly replacing Michael Forshaw; which means he would go straight into the Senate and wouldn’t face the electorate in 2004.

    The same article and another in today’s Tele name Blaxland, rather than Fowler, as the seat for Mundine. (Much of a muchness I suppose.)

    Also, it seems the SMH’s Mark Davis is a lurker here. (Or perhaps at Oz Politics?)

    The anti-Work Choices parties would need to win four of the six spots in at least two states to put the Coalition into a minority in the Senate. That is not impossible. But under the proportional representation voting system for electing senators, it is highly unlikely.

    The psephologist Adam Carr reckons the the Coalition will win three Senate positions in five states and two, at worst, in South Australia.

  17. correction to previous post:

    Arbib wouldn’t have to face the electorate in 2007. (Not 2004, that being the year Forshaw was last re-elected.)

  18. * OMFG I am famous. No doubt that prediction will turn out to be wrong and I will be discredited for ever.
    * Everything I have said recently about ALP internal affairs is based on guesswork – well-informed guesswork to be sure. I have been in Germany for a week and haven´t spoken to anyone about preselections for several weeks. I thought it was obvious all along that the Nat Exec would take over the NSW preselections and ged rid of the Three Logs
    * Simon Crean would not have won an election if his candidates had included the Australian Olympic team, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Academie Francaise, the College of Cardinals, the Elders of Zion, the AFL Hall of Fame and the last ten Miss Universes (have I missed anyone?).

  19. More on NSW:

    If Mr Rudd got his way, the likely candidate in Blaxland would be the University of NSW constitutional lawyer George Williams. But speculation is that the contest will be between Tania Mihailuk, the Mayor of Bankstown, and Bernie Riordan, the Electrical Trades Union boss.

    The favourite in Fowler, Warren Mundine, the former ALP president, may be overlooked because of demands to strengthen the number of women candidates.


    Foreshadowing rank and file resentment, Mr Rudd said of the deferral to the party’s premier body: “It’s probably pretty effective; I don’t know how democratic it is.”

    But he made no apology and said “the buck stops with me”. He is understood to have been angry at what he saw as lacklustre candidates emerging in NSW.

  20. Oh! how I wish Linda Kirk had taken the offer of Boothby. The party’s nominee is now none other than Nicole Cornes, whose claim to fame is being the wife of Graham Cornes of football fame.

    She is obviously a conviction politician NOT.
    She is not a member of the Labor party.
    She has to date voted Liberal!
    She is about as articulate as Pauline Hansen.
    She is drop dead gorgeous.
    She is blonde by every sense of the word.

    What an insult to the people of Boothby, and what a missed opportunity for the ALP. Surely there was somebody from within the party ranks that could have taken the game up to Southcott and argued the Labor cause with conviction.

    Politics is not about glamour stakes. Howard would not even have made it to parliament if that were the case.

    “What ever it takes”! Give me a break, and execute a pre-selection process that has some integrity. This sort of shallow posturing can only work to the detriment of the party, and not just in Boothby.

  21. Nicole Cornes – she’s got a lot of work to do.

    Impression thus far: lacks any confidence to express opinions, diction and articulation of a teenager, absolute confusion as to her future party’s policies. Pales in comparison with new female candidates in other seats, who demonstrate the ability to express themselves and the fortitude to withstand criticism.

    There have been two high profile female Labor candidates in the immediate past in Boothby – their ‘looks’ and celebrity couldn’t save them from the steamroller.

    Mrs Cornes will be roasted over the forthcoming several months until the election – it will be interesting to see if she can stand the heat.

  22. I agree, Ray.

    I understand that the central party needs to have a say in pre-selections. The good of the party is served by getting people like Maxine McKew into the Party.

    However, I will not support them having complete control. I am a *prospective* grass roots ALP member, but the events of the past 24 hours give me no reason to want to join up. The ALP has done well to get McKew, Parke, Gray, Tinley, Kelly, Dreyfus and Daniels from outside the usual Labor recruiting grounds. Cornes, however, looks like a serious misstep.

    I would like to see the executives of each state branch get 25% of the votes in any preselection. They can give those votes to the national executive if they wish. 25% would give them a strong say in each ballot, but strongly supported local contenders would still be able to win the day with 67% of the local vote. That to me is a fair balance of the party hierarchy’s input and the membership’s input.

  23. Charlie, it’s always a tough one. But don’t give up on the entire party. In a number of the seats under consideration it’s extremely unclear as to whether the rank and file would ever be able to produce decent local candidates. The sitting members who look set to step down have had around a decade to prove themselves in the Parliament and in arenas beyond their own seats – they also have their pensions. They’ve generally been good local members, but a party fighting for government has to make some tough decisions, based on what they know about the local area and the available talent. There are some really, really good people shut out of safe seats all together and this decision only affects 21 of the 49 seats in NSW (not all the 21 are winnable) (rank and file preselections have occurred in the remaining 28).

    In my experience, rank and file members are usually OK with such decisions if the candidate is likeable and looks set to win the seat for them – they can even want it, if the only candidates are poorly functioning councillors. Remember, in there is no harsher critic of a poorly functioning MP than the local branches – in Fowler it is said that the local member required head office support for every single election she has faced, even though she supposedly dominates the numbers there.

  24. I was listening to Nicole on the radio this morning.
    I conclude that she will do fine, so long as she doesn’t open her mouth!
    If she takes the seat it will just prove the adage that sex sells.
    It would add to Rudd’s harem, but will not contribute one ounce to the quality of parliamentary debate.

  25. ALP preselection for some NSW federal seats have been referred to the nat exec. The word is that wentworth is one of them and that george newhouse (mayor of waverley) can have it if he wants it.

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