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. “Rudd being chief of a Premiers department will register zilch anywhere. What a furphy.”

    Yes and no.

    The Liberals can’t simultaneously attack Rudd for being completely inexperienced *and* for being personally responsible for everything that happened in Qld between 1989 and 1995.

    At least not consistently.

  2. After hearing the head of Galaxy (Davig Brigg (?)) on the radio you would be excused for thinking he is a cheerleader for the coalition. Another reason to doubt this poll I believe.

  3. “The Australian people rarely change government.”

    It’s precisely because of the low numbers that one must be careful about drawing definitive conclusions. Just looking at the lists you could also conclude that an opposition *must* come from Vic or NSW to win. Or have at least two vowels in their surname.

    Mere demonstration of a pattern isn’t itself evidence that it is a significant one.

  4. “Unfortunately the Sloppy Left did away with such beliefs and it is they who produced the VCE.”

    I think it’s pretty irrelevant to this website 😉 but there are only so many times that I can here this before pointing out that instructional changes were implemented by educationalists for pedagogical reasons. These changes may or may not be sound but they weren’t foisted on an education system from outside by some politburo. Not all of the people involved in such decisions are leftists; nor are all leftists involved in this conspiracy.

    “You may notice at the beginning of every year there is complaint that more students from Victoria miss out on university than those from any other state. This is nothing but a demonstration of how easy it is to pass VCE compared with higher standard required elsewhere.”

    No; it is a demonstration that the participation rate is higher in Victoria than anywhere else. More students apply for about the same number of places, so more Victorians miss out.

  5. I normally avoid policy discussions, as I mainly care about strategy and numbers, however here are my two cents on the Medicare Gold debate.

    If you look at the opinion poll demographics throughout the 2004 campaign, Labor was ahead in most of the age groups but was taking a battering from elderly voters to such an extent (40-60?) that the grannies were almost single-handedly keeping JWH in the race.

    Medicare Gold was an attempt to separate JWH from this key support constituency.

    If I was a Labor strategist sitting in Campaign HQ, I would have thought it was a good idea.

    In the world of political analysis, if you don’t win, then your policies were bad. Afterall, the mug voter, 99% of whom have never read a policy document in their lives, thought so.

  6. No joke, this is in “The Australian” today in this order of presentation.

    ‘ “When parties start talking about their private polling publicly, they are spinning like fury,” Mr Howard said.

    “The whole idea of private polling is, as the adjective suggests, it’s private.”

    The Liberal polling, done by pollster Mark Textor and reported in The Australian today, shows support for Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd is “soft” despite his strong lead across multiple polls. ‘


  7. On the question of experience, I think in 1996 the only people to have had ministerial experience in the new coalition government were Howard and John Moore.

    What is it today in the ALP? Crean and McMullan?

    The real issue is credibility. There is not a necessary correlation with experience.

    Edward St.John observed earlier that Beazley had experience in spades. My point precisely.

  8. POlitics is all about agenda control.

    and Howard hasnt controlled the agenda for three months. But now hes coming up with answers, maybe people were only supporting Rudd because hes been the only one talking for the last couple of months.

    And the annihalation comment seems to have worked. Bringing libs flirting with Rudd home a bit.

  9. Martin B (June 4th, 2007 at 11:13 am),

    Website discussions tend to stray from the original point in small steps, and thus we arrive at the VCE and wonder what it has to with the next federal election. In this case, I used the VCE to illustrate a political point, which is that Kevin Rudd has dumped the trendy left in education – a decision I support, but which, whether you support it or not, shows a move to the “middle ground” by the Labor Party.

    I did not suggest a conspiracy, but I stand by my statements that the VCE is the child of the Sloppy Left and that its low standard produces large numbers of students formally eligible for university, which is why more apply, which in turn is why more miss out.

    The key feature of Kevin Rudd’s education revolution is the way he has tied it to the economy. If you read the policy documents, you will see that they are very down-to-earth. This pragmatic approach is one reason that Labor is in front.


    The Galaxy Poll is an aberration, just as the Newspoll before last was. I believe all polls have a margin for error of 2-3 per cent, so there is no point in excitement or despondency with the minor ups and downs, which will continue until the election.

  10. Chris – you also have the 95% confidence thang (I’m assuming this for the Galaxy Poll) in which case 1 in 20 polls on average would not give you the actual result plus/minus 3% (say). This might/might not be one of those 5% of opinion poll results.

  11. “It’s precisely because of the low numbers that one must be careful about drawing definitive conclusions.”

    Yes – the amount of data to support any statement is miniscule.

  12. “But he was chief of the Premiers department when they knocked back wolfdene dam.”

    Didn’t the Liberal Party also support the Wolfdene dam not going ahead? From memory (and I could stand corrected on this), the Wolfdene dam was one of the 1989 election issues on which the ALP took a particular stand.

  13. Non-Qld’s wouldn’t know of the National Party Govt’s apparent practise of naming various bits and pieces after its ministers – thus we have the Hinze dam and the Ivan Gibbs wetlands south of Helensvale (I think). If nothing else it was amusing.

  14. Andrew, it’s one poll that may or may not be right on the money. Let’s see if the others concur then start the detailed why and why not analysis.

  15. MMM. This weekend’s (June 2/3 07) Galaxy poll looks all too much like the sort of result that one regrettably sees suspiciously arrive on the scene when a major contributor or two to pollster funds needs a particular result to avoid “bandwagon” effects.

    Does anyone have details of the full poll question list and the sampling process used for this one? Unusually this sort of information doesn’t seem to be available on the relevant newspaper websites this time around.



  16. The following are cut and pastes from the June political briefing for NSWALP members:

    Senate Ticket
    1. Mark Arbib
    2. Doug Cameron
    3. Ursula Stephens

    Greenway Pre-selection

    Michael Vassili 23
    Jason Olbourne 1
    Shane Smithers 19
    Sue Kealy 3

    Michael Vassili 26
    Shane Smithers 20
    Michael Vassili – Declared Elected.

    Mackellar Preselection
    Christopher Sharpe 18
    Patricio Chavez 8
    Christopher Sharpe – Declared Elected.

    Michael Colnan

    Margaret Patriarca

    John Fitzroy

    Neil Reilly

    Sharon Grierson 161 (affirmative action loading)193.2 Declared Elected
    David March 33

  17. Adam, I think you will find there is no Liberal for Cook or Mitchell either… something about party members getting a choice.

    In a month it will be different.

  18. It doesn’t matter about Cook and Mitchell, but to have no candidate for Parramatta at this stage is seriously helping Labor retain the seat.

  19. i have a solution for those ALP members who are unable to vote in local preselections– stay as members and do nothing for the party come election time.. let these fools fight their own elections.. more so if you are unimpressed with policy.

  20. Perhaps the Liberal have a “star” of their own in mind for Parramatta. Tracy Grimshaw from Channel 9 anyone?

  21. Thanks for the gratuitous advice, mark. We joined the ALP with our eyes open, aware of its many unlovely characteristics, and we will deal with its internal problems ourselves. Helping the Rodent to get re-elected will not be our strategy, I think.

  22. Perhaps the Libs should have kept Pru Goward in reserve for Parramatta. It would have been a better use of her talents, and she would have had her husband working in the same building (if she won).

  23. Top 5 potential Liberal recruits (following on from the celebrity any celebrity model will do)

    1. Nick Greiner
    2. Yet another Hillsong member
    3. NRL Footy player
    4. Weather Girl from commercial TV
    5. Somebody from the Liberal parties wife or girlfriend

    Oops sorry number 5 should have been a reference to the ALP.

  24. Ah Adam,

    We all have a little Bukharin in us dont we? Stay in and fight, we’ll take our party back! hey?

    It is irretrievable Adam and you know it. It is in the grip of oligarchy and those who dissent are purged or marginalised.

    I rate the possibility of a Labor split 35% by 2010 if they lose because of the oligarchs not being able to reconcile the pressure for reform in opposition.

    Reading between the lines Beazley as much as predicted it.

  25. At least we are not being taken over by religious crazies. We dealt with them in 1955. I wish you luck with yours.

  26. I am the type who gets shot come the revolution, I tend not to believe in them (revolutions) – there’s always an angle for somebody.

    I think Arthur Calwell said in relation to the Democrats and Republicans that you could take two empty beer bottles and swap the labels on them as a metaphor for the difference between those 2 parties, with slightly more difference (maybe 10%) the same applies here now.

    Besides why not watch the cockroaches fight? Why be one of them?

  27. Adam,

    The dealing with the so-called “religious crazies” in 1955 handed control of the Victorian party to the mad left, cast Labor into the wilderness for a generation and deprived the eventual Whitlam Government of experienced ministers, who might have been able to keep it in office longer than three years.

    Edward StJohn,

    I well remember one VSTA strike meeting at the Myer Music Bowl (back in the days when teachers really were militant) when an ex-LaTrobe C-list lefty told me as he passed by that I would be shot when the revolution came. It said more about his character than reality. He may still be waiting for the revolution, but he is just as likely to be a stockbroker. If Labor does lose this year, there will be intense moaning, groaning and blaming, but I rate the chances of a split as zero. I think the past three of those have got the message through by now.

  28. Beg to differ Chris,

    Splits happen about patronage and power, WorkChoices is going to mean a big decline in union membership across the board over the next three years. (assuming a triumphant rodent – which is a big call)

    In that case with potentially a big decline in union membership (as already happened last year) you are going to see some unions go under (a number already disclose they are insolvent) and unable to financial bankroll/call the shots in the ALP. Its just fundamentally undemocratic that 15% control 50% of the ALP. What happens if it gets to 10% AND if Labor loses pressure will be on Rudd big time to ditch the unions for 2010.

    If this scenario comes to pass the Rodent will be the 2nd Menzies. I rate it 35% chance hence my earlier odds.

    After all the Groups were established because the comms controlled the ACTU in 1945.

  29. What was the name of the well known thugby player who was being interviewed and didn’t get past the first question, walking out of the interview saying he was buggered and what party was he representing?

  30. Gary.

    The Rugby League great you are referring to is Mal Meninga – the most capped player in Australian Test history.

    He was going to run as an independent for the ACT Legislative Assembly.

  31. Mal Maninga, ex-captain of the Kangaroos. He was to be third on the list of conservativeindependent Paul Osborne, who was his team mate in the Canberra Raiders and was in the LA from 1995 to 2001.
    I appreciate that you are almost certainly a Mexican but please note that Thugby refers to Rugby Union, a game developed so that English Public School Boys could fsll on esch other in public. Maninga and Osborne played Rugby League which was the working class and professional off-shoot.

  32. adam, Labor dealt with the religious crazies in 1955- yep that is right give pref deals with DLP last Vic State Election and allow the Shoppies back into the fold.. of which some are now becoming quite powerful… religious crazies they are beginning to get some influence again

  33. Furthermore Adam please explain to me what the differences between the two parties at the moment.. I am struggling Labor if Rudd wins will have its’ most conservative leader ever.. perhaps a little on IR but that is about all at present.. Rudd keeps back pedalling and Labors’ ministers keep back pedalling the party is a disgrace it cannot show leadership, direction or a willingness to fight over issues…. and don’t get me started on the unions for years they have been quiet until the last and they operate not as a unit but as little groups interested in their own memberships.. CFMEU last federal election in tassie case in point.. and they get 50% of delegates on the floor when most of the members are not in unions.. Adam you need to start having a look at the party and asking what is it actually doing and where is it going?

  34. Yes the Labor Party is in such a terrible state that we are in power in every state and territory, have won 20-something state elections in a row, and are running at 56-60% in the federal polls. May we always be in such a terminal state.

  35. Still no National for Richmond?

    It’s Sue Page who earlier lost preselection for the seat of Page.

    AAP describes her as “a general practitioner at both Ballina and Lismore, a senior lecturer and director of education at the Northern Rivers University and a former president of the Rural Doctors’ Association.”

    I note that both Ballina and Lismore are in Page, not Richmond.

  36. According to Mr Bowe, no:

    Page (NSW, Nationals 4.2%): Sitting member Ian Causley is retiring. Nominees for Nationals preselection originally included former cabinet minister Larry Anthony, who lost his seat of Richmond in 2004. However, he announced his withdrawal on March 22, saying “the ambition’s there but the impact it would have had on the family would have been just too much for them”. Others mentioned have included Clarence Valley councillor Chris Gulaptis, Kyogle Mayor Ernie Bennett and Lennox Head GP Sue Page (apparently not part of the Earle and Don Page clan).

    That makes a neat little triangle of towns. And Lennox Head IS in the seat of Richmond.

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