Idle Speculation: annihilation edition

With the scent of the government’s blood in the water, the nation’s newspapers have gone mad with opinion polling. For reasons unexplained, The Australian published Newspoll results last Tuesday (57-43), on Saturday (55-45) and today (60-40). The Fairfax papers yesterday conjured a front page story by adding together the last six months’ worth of ACNielsen polling. Like Newspoll’s quarterly aggregates, these produced state-by-state figures from believable samples. The thrust of the South Australian and Western Australian figures is supported by two sets of local polls: in the Sunday Mail, a survey of 601 South Australian voters had Labor leading 59-41, while in last Saturday’s West Australian, a Westpoll survey of 409 voters had the Coalition leading 51-49. Also:

• Jackie Kelly has announced she will not contest the election, depriving the Liberals of her considerable personal vote in the outer western Sydney seat of Lindsay. The redistribution has cut the Liberal margin in the seat from 5.3 per cent to 2.9 per cent. Penrith councillor Mark Davies has been named as Kelly’s most likely successor as Liberal candidate, and reportedly has her backing. Labor has again nominated the twice-unsuccessful David Bradbury, former Penrith mayor.

• The South Australian Liberal party has selected Mary Jo Fisher to fill Amanda Vanstone’s Senate vacancy, the term of which will expire in 2011. In what would appear to be another win for the state party’s ascendant Right faction, Fisher was chosen ahead of the moderate-backed Maria Kourtesis, who earlier contentiously failed to secure a winnable position on this year’s Senate ticket.

• Labor provoked another round of debate over the merits of celebrity candidates last week when it preselected ABC weatherman Mike Bailey to run against Joe Hockey in North Sydney. Also widely noted was the number of ABC personnel turning up as Labor candidates.

• Labor’s Sharon Grierson has effortlessly survived a preselection challenge in Newcastle. The ABC reports that a rank-and-file ballot delivered her more than 80 per cent of the vote over her challenger, Merewether West branch secretary David March.

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.

375 comments on “Idle Speculation: annihilation edition”

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  1. Blacklight, I agree. It puts a question mark against the Galaxy Poll as far as I’m concerned. I await the other polls, the week after next, with much interest.

  2. New Morgan poll out. Shows small bump in ALP and Coalition primary vote. ALP increases lead on the 2PP to 58-42 (ALP up 0.5 p/centage points).

    Of much interest, jump in who do you think will win election. ALP up four points to 59 p/c. Coalition down to 28.5 p/c – lowest reading since the 2004 election.

  3. According to Paul Kelly in ‘The Unmaking of Gough’published in 1976. Gough Whitlams first choice for GG was to have Sir Paul Hasluck stay on, then Ken Myer, and then Kerr. Jim Spigelman -private secretary to EGW – suggested Cardinal Gilroy. Apparently it was discussed but ‘never considered as a real possibility’. Alan Reid makes no mention of Gilroy (at least he is not in the index).

  4. While we are meanderin: Cardinal Moran refused to take part in the Federation ceremony because he, even though a cardinal, a prince of the Church, was not to be given precedence over the Anglican archbishop. Making all Australian cardinals into GGs would permanently solve this problem.

  5. I think after the Hollingworth episode no cleric will ever again be appointed to a state post in Australia, and nor should they be. Davis McCaughey didn’t do a bad job as I recall, but even then I thought it was a bad idea. At least Protestants believe in the separation of church and state. Pell would see himself as Richelieu reincarnated.

  6. I was in Dr Con’s hole in the wall surgery this evening waiting my turn for the Wasserman test and a cover of a Reader’s Digest caught my bloodshot eye. Amazingly it was the latest, June 2007, edition. It wasn’t the fetching portrait of Our mary that grabbed my attention but the “headline”, “Who do you trust? Australia’s most trusted people 2007”.

    Now that’s a list that pollbludgers won’t have seen I thought to myself.

    Selected in top place by the 750 people polled was Dr Fiona Wood which is probably predictable but among the pollies the results amazed me.

    Peter Garrett was the highest ranked at 67. then came Kruddy at 73, followed by Julia Gillard at 79, Bob Brown (83), Lexie Downer (85), JWH (86), Barnaby Joyce (91) and the comedy litigation duo of the Mad Monk and the Souper (eq. 94).

    Dame Hyacinth Kirribilli did the best of them at 65 but really it was only marginally better.

    In the print article there is a promise of a discussion of the methodology etc used to gather the results on the website but I couldn’t find it at

  7. Leaving aside Adam’s (if that is his real name) scandalous lack of respect for Bindi Irwin and David Flint, whose combined charms could surely create the world’s first super-human, I note Sheik Hilaly is on that Readers Digest list of the most respected @#100. Does this mean he enjoys the lowest respect or of our 21 million souls that he is more trusted than everyone else bar 99.

    BTW, in my credible polls, I hear on the grapevine that both lots of party polling shows up Peter Garrett as having even higher “negatives” than Alexander Downer, once the undisputed champion of the loathed segment. Unlike Downer though, Garrett enjoys high “positives”, concentrated in seats that voted “Yes” in the republic referendum.

  8. It’s not clear whether the Readers Digest readers were given a list to choose from or were allowed to pick whomever they liked. I note at least one foreign ring-in (Elizabeth Saxe-Coburg-Gotha). What a pity you weren’t on the list, Andrew. I’m sure you would have outpolled David Hicks.

  9. Chris cardinals of the church do not make GGs because they don’t have a wife (to collect the flowers, etc.)-that was the joking reason for Norman Thomas Gilroy not getting the gig.

  10. Moran did not attend the ceremonies of federation because his princely status was not recognised but he stood for election to the 1897 A’asian Federal Convention with NSW Labor League support (I am not sure how official the support was or if it was an ‘endorsement’). In any case neither he nor any other LL candidates were elected.

    It raises the point that if Pell or Hilaly, for that matter, want to be in the political process then perhaps they should look for a seat in parliament.

    BTW I know that some of Fiona Wood’s colleagues dismiss her as a self-serving publicity seeker. An attempt to show her alleged dishonesty in one particular scientific matter is currently under review by one of her rivals.
    Who knows best about honesty? The readers of the press or her, no doubt, jealous colleagues?

  11. This is getting just a tad off-topic. If the Readers Digest poll has any significance at all it is that Garrett, Rudd and Gillard were the most trusted politicians. I’m starting to think that recruiting Garrett was the one really useful thing Laurie Brereton did for the Labor Party in his entire career.

  12. Oakeshott country,

    I wonder how many other cardinals in the whole world have ever contested an election, not counting the one to be pope of course.

  13. I doubt it has happened anywhere else. Before the reformation English cardinals (if there were any) were members of the House of Lords, but they weren’t elected. Does anyone know how the clergy elected their representatives to the French Estates-General in 1789?

    I recall that the Vatican banned clerics from holding political office in the 70s, mainly to get the left-wing Jesuit Drinan out of the US Congress. There was also a priest who was Foreign Minister in the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.

  14. Yes Paul VI did it, so it was some time before 1978.
    The latest and closest I can think of is Josef Tiso, Member of the Czeckoslavakian parliament and eventual President of the Slovak Republic (but he was only a monsignor and the Vatican tries very hard to forget him).

  15. Hm, according to Wikipedia’s article on Fr Robert Drinian, it was Pope John Paul II in 1980 who banned priests from electoral politics, and Drinian complied. He was a member of Congress until 1981.

  16. Drinan was a jesuit, and as such, had taken an additional vow of obedience to the pope, so staying on in opposition to the pope’s wishes would have presented additional values issues for him. I wonder if a priest could get through a Massachusetts democratic primary these days? Most likely not I would think.

  17. Pius IX and Cardinal Stepanic have both been beatified – one more miracle each and they will be saints.
    Hitler’s pope, Pius XII has only been venerated – I think he needs 2 miracles.

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