Steady as she goes

Roy Morgan has released results from a face-to-face survey of 1723 respondents conducted over the past two weekends, which has Labor’s primary vote down from 51 per cent to 48 per cent from the previous such poll a fortnight ago (which had only 909 respondents) and the Coalition’s down from 38 per cent to 37 per cent. Labor’s two-party lead has increased from 58-42 to 58.5-41.5 based on how respondents said they would vote; on the basis of how preferences went in 2004, it has narrowed from 58-42 to 57.5-42.5. The face-to-face results are distinct from the two smaller-sample telephone surveys conducted by Morgan in the interim, both of which had Labor leading 55-45.

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.

154 comments on “Steady as she goes”

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  1. I don’t trust Morgan Polls(because of what happened in 2001), but this new survey would seem to be in line with the general trend of all the polls currently.
    Will Howard’s announcements on Aboriginal affairs have any impact on future polls?

  2. Morgan got their primary figure right at the last election. Look at their primary vote and do your own TPP, better than relying on Newspoll. Nielsen and Morgan primary vote are on a par at this stage.

  3. Evan possibly, but I doubt it’d be anything substantial, IMHO. The problem is: nobody is defying him, and thereby protracting the issue. Therefore, I bet within two weeks the issue will be past business, over, dealt with, yesterday’s news. And if Howard tries to blow his own trumpet about it, he’ll only provoke journalists to probe him as to why he’s waited until an election year to act.

  4. As much as it appeals to me, I just can’t see JWH spending the next few weeks wandering around the Tanami desert looking for photo ops. He may well get a short term bounce but this will only come into election calculations if a couple of Labor states play up – and I’d be surprised if they fell into that trap.

  5. Regarding the question from Evan about whether the Aboriginal affairs action will affect future polls, I’m inclined to agree with netvegetable. It’s unlikely to make much difference. There’s a good analysis in today’s Crikey about it. It comes to the rather depressing conclusion that most people don’t really care enough for it to be a big issue. It is not another Tampa.

    I am quite sure that John Howard is sincere in his horror and outrage, but it does smack of a knee-jerk reaction. He was asked some pretty searching questions on Lateline last night (transcript available on ABC website). There’s all sorts of hard detail that doesn’t seem to have been thought out – how will you police the prohibition, what will happen to parents who refuse to comply with the medical exams, where will you get the doctors from etc, etc…

    Speaking for myself, I am glad to see something that looks serious being done. I hope it bears some healthy fruit.

  6. On a slightly different topic, the proposed redistribution of Wards for the Brisbane City Council has been released on the Qld electoral commission’s website:

    The biggest change is that about 0.8 of a ward north of the river has been abolished and about 1.2 wards south of the river have been created.

    People can speculate about the redistribution’s impact as they wish!

  7. Paradoxically, as good as Labor’s run has been, plenty of people still think Labor will lose, according to the latest Morgan poll.
    That kinda makes Howard’s attempts to grab the underdog status a waste of time.

  8. Howard’s actions will appeal to many people, including me. He will appear strong and decisive, and I suspect the polls will react to this. Whether this will be sustained until the election is a different question. It certainly won’t do him any harm.

    I’m a bit sceptical, however. It is not as though this was an unknown issue. Again his government has sat on their backside for 11 years and allowed it the indigenous situation to deteriorate.

    When all else fails, use the race card. It’s in a different context to Tampa, and can be couched in a caring, humanist framework. But it also has a condescending flavour that will appeal to white supremacists.

    Like the Tampa, however, it leaves Labor in a no win situation. Political suicide to be wedged by opposing it, yet it leaves Howard looking strong.

  9. I can’t how see John Howards NT indigeneous intervention can be a vote winner or a vote loser – frankly are there votes in aborginal affairs? But something had to be done, the situation seems to be about as bad as it gets, and the NT government doesn’t have the resources or seemingly the will to do anything about it. It is the type of action that only governments can take. And can things get any worse? One of my Canberra sources (welded on lefty civil servant) speaks very highly of Mal Brough as a minister who will face challenges head and initiate action. Praise for any minister from this source is rare and I always take it seriously. Maybe, if Mal can make a tangible improvement, this will be his path to greatness.

    Now back to psephology, does anybody out there know why there were big swings 10 -12% to the libs in North Queensland indigenous communities at the 2004 election? Influence of Noel Pearson or was Warren Entsch tuned in?

  10. William, you’ve rightly noted that Morgan’s face-to-face result differs quite markedly from their last couple of phone results. But that’s not because the latter had smaller samples – it’s because Morgan’s face-to-face methodology is irreparably flawed. Sol Lebovic has said that Newspoll never did face-to-face political polling because it’s too unreliable and doesn’t record conservative support in rural and regional areas, and it’s about time Gary Morgan heeded his words.

  11. I have voted for Howard every election since 1996 but its wearing a bit thin. I agree with previous statements that it has taken an election year for him to action Aboriginal Affairs, he would have been better off leaving it off the agenda as everyone will, eventually, see through it. I share other concerns about the State of the Liberal Party internally and am happy that Rudd is simply a younger version of Howard. Even Martin Ferguson is starting to appear mainstream….. all of a sudden voting Labor doesn’t feel dirty. My only concern is if Labor can manage the economy as well as the Coalition but if they don’t, we get another chance in 2010.

  12. Indigenous affairs won’t hurt Labor as people don’t fear aborigines. With the Tampa, people greatly feared being swamped by illegal immigrants; this doesn’t apply in this case. As to Morgan, Aristotle commented once that he’s only been out in the Labor primary by 0.2% vs Newspoll and 0% vs AC Nielson since Dec ’06, but 2% when estimating the L-NP primary. That suggests Labor leads 48-39 on primary, in agreement with AC Nielson.

  13. I wasted a bit of time at work look at the redistrubutions. Given the number of boundary changes in Queensland (and the fact there had just been one in 2004), the value of being the sitting member is going to be decreased for many MPs.

  14. My impression of Mal Brough concurs with the comments above. I think he’s a serious and sincere fellow, and he’s got Howard moving on this (of course, the political opportunity here would have struck the great opportunist as well).

    Something can be both a) clever, pragmatic politics and b) well-intentioned policy. It is not necessarily the case that you must choose one or the other.

  15. John Howard is 68. He has been a MHR since 1974. Why is Aboriginal Affairs now such an important issue?

    It is insulting to think that these reactions are anything but those of a desperate man who knows the game is up but won’t admit it.

    Beaced Whale comes to mind

  16. I agree, I give Brough credit for both courage and good intentions, and there are not many Liberals I am willing to credit with anything these days. That does not necessary mean his prescriptions will work, but when the patient is near death (as the Indigenous community now is), heroic therapeutic approaches are ethically justified. My view is that the relevant states (Qld and WA) will fall into line pronto.

  17. As for “racism”: section 51 (xxvi) of the Constitution empowers the Parliament to “make laws with respect to the people of any race,” and in 1967 we voted to extend that power to “the Aboriginal race in any state.” For 40 years people have been complaining that the Commonwealth has not used the power it was given in 1967. Well now it is.

  18. Brough is a reasonable Minister that has improved over the past few years and stands out now as one of the more talented members of the class of 1996.

    There does though need to be a focus on the future. The following five backbench MPs for instance need to be promoted to the Ministry prior to the election:
    – Sophie Mirabella
    – Senator Mitch Fifield
    – Tony Smith MP
    – Steven Ciobo MP
    – Senator Connie Ferravanti-Wells

    The five of them would bring a terrific dose of enthusiasm and vitality to the frontbench. The five of them are also political warriors that would carve up the ex-Electorate Officers and trade union stamp lickers that populate the Labor ranks (ie Kate Ellis).

  19. Good call Isabella – except I don’t think Senator Ferravanti Wells has the intellectual capacity to be a Minister. She has struggled to make a presence in Canberra and her collegues have questioned her judgement over internal party matters which means she will not carry any weight in the Parliament. I would be surprised if she gets preselected again. Sophie is a bright asset to the Parliament and deserves to be promoted. Mitch should be in cabinet but has to serve his time.

  20. Ah, Kate Ellis. According to some of her constituents, she is quite the MP and very capable, but nonetheless it is worth noting that she spent five years at Flinders University without completing a degree. Working as a staffer, the oppourtunity for preselection came up, and she took it.

  21. Given that I have just given a character reference to a Liberal minister, Edward, and supported his policies, I think you might refrain from inciting Isabella to make further personal attacks on me.

  22. I consider myself a conservative but just can’t help feeling that successive government’s have failed indiginous Australia. Tomorrow we will no doubt see some headline about the Liberal Party trying to resolve the failings, whilst another section of the Liberal Party will be quoted as “denying” the stolen generation. Can we really believe John Howard is attempting to solve the problems facing Aboriginal Australia after 11 years in Government. I’m sorry, it’s just too convenient.

  23. Isn’t Howard playing a wild card?

    If the perception somehow develops that Howard is doing this purely for political gain, the public literally will be waiting for him with baseball bats, not just at the ballot box.

  24. Totally untrue, Isabella. I am too old, the wrong gender and notoriously lacking in ambition. Ellis is young, smart, talented, ambitious and hard-working. She will go far and deserves to.

    As to your promotion list: Ciobo and Smith both have ability and will doubtless get onto Costello’s front-bench. I have seen little of Fifield and nothing of Fierravanti-Wells, so I won’t comment. But I saw a lot of Mirabella during JSCEM hearings, and my view is that she is so consumed by personal hatreds and shallow partisanship that she is spoiling her own prospects. And she’s not out of the woods over the “Friends of Indi” matter yet, either.

  25. Steven Kaye, charitably, you are a self opinionated fool; Isabella, on any assessment, you are a vindictive, vicious and entirely deluded person, who will spend the next three years, and hopefully more, writing vindictive, vicious and deluded letters to the editor, any editor.

  26. Sacha,

    What do you reckon

    Tennyson, Karawatha and Parkinson lib gains

    Toowong ALP gain, potentially The Gap

    YOur thoughts?

  27. On JWHs recently announced ‘radical’ policy to address Indigenous issues in the NT, the component that says 50% of income support provided by the State (Centrelink payments) must be spent on food and other essentials is long overdue.

    I would apply the same ‘rule’ to all recipients of Parenting Payment Partnered, Parenting Payment Single (until it is fazed out in x years when all people currently eligible for PPS will be put on Newstart Allowance like any other ‘jobseeker’), Family Tax Benefit (Part A and B), along with people who receive child maintenance through CSA.

    How you would enforce this approach in practical terms is another issue, and raises a number of ethical questions, as demonstrated by the current Centrelink approach to some people who cop an 8 week non payment period for non compliance with Centrelinks ‘ participation’ requirements. Some people who cop this 8 week non payment period qualify for “Financial Case Management”.

    That is, the equivalent of what the person would normally be paid in cash into a bank account is doled out to the person in the form of (a) direct payments to real estate agents for rent {for example) or ‘gift card’ types of credit cards a person takes to the supermarket with restrictions on what can be bought with these cards (Cigarrettes and alcohol, for example, are not acceptable purchases using this system).

    Problems with this ‘alternative’ arrangement include (a) the significant cost to the State in outsourcing and administrating this policy (b) the question of who decides what is ‘appropriate’ or ‘inappropriate’ for the family head to spend the money on and on what grounds and (c) the fact that imposing an 8 week non payment period or a period during which you are subject to ‘Financial Case Management’ only serves to exacerbate the problems people on low income, subsistence poverty are already dealing with.

    Again, I see the ethical and practical goal is to ‘force’ welfare recipients among Indigenous communities to ensure that at least 50% of the money they receive from the State actually directly benefits their children and is spent on providing for their essential needs instead of, for example, spending the money on alcohol or cigarrettes or drugs or whatever. However, how it is going to be put into practice and by whom is going to be ‘intereresting’ – particularly in an context where demands for ‘self-determination’ still dominates the discourse of Indigenous rights activists.

    Regarding the banning of alcohol, pornography and other measures I hold my tongue- the stench of the “Stolen Generation” still wafts down from rural QLD to Brisbane and beyond. I hope Malcolm Brough is as fair dinkum about bringing about radical change as he appears to be in public; I am wary of his approach, but at least someone is rekindling debates about this vexing issue. Good for you, Mr. Brough.

  28. Arbie Jay Says:

    June 23rd, 2007 at 7:28 am
    If people are hell-bent on self-destruction, they will find ways of acting self-destructively, regardless

    True Arbie, but I think Brough is trying to get the children of such people into something close to a choice position instead of institutionalised entrapment

  29. I approve of many of the measures proposed, but I think forcing the community onto private land leases when they specifically rejected such a move just a few months ago is really dodgy. How can forcing Aboriginal people to give up their native title land rights stop pedeophilia??? The two are unrelated issue.

    That’s the problem with people in Canberra today, they can’t just help people, they have to force their ideology on other people no matter what.

  30. While I support Howard’s policy on Indigenous issues in the NT I don’t see it doing a “Tampa” for him. Tampa had a touch of fear to it. Fear is a very powerful vote changer and I’m yet to recognise the fear factor in this intitiative. Give it 4 or 5 days at best and other issues will take over, at which point all will be forgotten. Out of sight, out of mind.

  31. I dealt the changes in Aboriginal policy will change many votes except in seats like Solomon, unless Rudd reacts in a way which upsets the Latte vote, which at present is swinging towards the ALP.

  32. All the polls are showing the Coalition with around 40% primary support, if they went to an election soon, they would be beaten badly and Labor would win the highest post war two party vote. I am betting on an Late October/ November election, Howard is hoping the polls will improve for the Coalition to get it over the line.

  33. There’s no fear in Howard’s proposal. A lot of this indigenous (and indeed splitting of what parents on Centrelink can spend on their children and on their own indulgences.) is common sense, no matter what side of politics you are on.


    If by this time next month the poll difference if between 15-20 points as it is, you can come to the conclusion most people have made up their minds. Howard at the moment looks like being wiped out, even after a good political fortnight.

  34. IMHO, Australians do care about Aboriginal welfare. Their problem has been that past policies seemed not to work, but they were at a loss to know what would.

    Howard has now produced a credible plan to deal with the worst abuses, and most people will rightly congratulate him and especially Mal Brough for doing so. A little authoritarianism in Australian politics goes a long way.

    I doubt it will be over in 4 or 5 days. Wait, for example, until the doctors bring in their statistics, which could well shock the average person.

    JWH’s doubtless intended wedge for the ALP has drawn a few drops of blood, but not enough to do damage. He will be now looking around for another issue with a sharper edge, something to drive the hard Left truly berserk.

    What could it be? Multiculturalism comes to mind as one possibility – something perhaps to really get into separatist immigrants.

  35. [IMHO, Australians do care about Aboriginal welfare. Their problem has been that past policies seemed not to work, but they were at a loss to know what would. ]
    Sure, but isn’t won problem the result of bad government intervention? Howard’s policy means more governmetn intervention, and less accountability. It may solve problems in some areas, but it could cause problems in others. I don’t think a one size fits all approach will work.

  36. A one size fits all approach may not work in the short-term, but all that matters in an election year is votes. And this proposal has massive support amongst the silent majority. Another example of a Howard masterstroke while Krudd can only stare and languish.

  37. Nostradamus,

    Sure big support, but probably something that most people in the suburbs can sleep easy regardless of what is happening or not.

  38. I read in The Australian this morning that 2 of the 3 QLD MPs under investigation are now facing possible charges over the alleged misuse of tax payer funded allowances. Gary Hargraves who holds the seat of Moreton in QLD by a notional 2PP margin of 2.8 % and Andrew Laming who holds the seat Bowman in QLD by a notional 2PP margin of 8.9% have had their names listed in brief of evidence submitted to the Commonwealth Department of Public Prosecutions.

    Of course the DPP has to decide if charges will be laid, but this ‘mud’ is going to stick regardless. I note Mr. Speakers claims that none of these 3 MPs will be charged over the affair- You may have to good oil on this one Mr Speaker.

    Mr Vasta has not been included in the brief. His $24,000 “administrative error” could cost him his seat as the mud flies around QLD Coalition marginal seats. Looks like he has escaped prosecution, but his room for ‘error’ in his electorate is minute, holding the seat of Bonner by a notional 2PP margin of 00.6 [2PP notional margins are cited from Adam Carr’s excellent Psephos webpage]. .

    Then again, this is Queensland. Corruption, misappropriation of funding, branch stacking, attempts at blackmail, its all abit passé up here. Still, I would be willing to put my ‘hard earned’ on Vasta, and Hargraves losing their seats and Laming having his seat fall into the vulnerable ‘marginal’ category after the 2007 Federal election.

    Wouldn’t it be ironic that Vasta loses Bonner after escaping prosecution (assuming the other 2 are eventually charged) and the Coalition retain the seat of Bowman, despite the sitting member being prosecuted for misappropriation of tax-payers funds ?

  39. as a white person married to a beautiful aboriginal woman and with 3 children this is our colletive response.
    life on some of the missions is so bad it is 3rd world {not comparable 3rd world]
    alcohol is the no1 cause of the problems
    no2 is there are absolutly no prospects for people living on the missions
    more talking about the problems is a waste of time action is needed
    if howad is going to do someting about this disgrace great i dont care if it is political motivated lets help these kids’
    if the alp agrees great also this should be a non-political discussion but please lets not discuss for too long lets have action. thank you for reading

  40. Don’t you love the name callers? They think it adds to their argument when in fact it shows a lack of confidence in what they’re arguing. If the debating points are strong they will stand up by themselves, if they are weak it is wrongly assumed a good “name calling” will strengthen the case. Fortunately on this block the name callers are the exception to the rule.

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