Newspoll: 58-42

The first honeymoon Newspoll has Labor leading 46 per cent to 35 per cent on the primary vote and 58-42 on two-party preferred (hat tip to James J). Kevin Rudd has a predictably massive 68-11 lead as preferred prime minister, and personal ratings of 59 per cent satisfied, 11 per cent unsatisfied and 30 per cent undecided. However, Brendan Nelson has also started well with a surprisingly strong 36 per cent approval rating – although his 19 per cent disapproval is also high under the circumstances, as demonstrated by this table showing earlier opposition leaders’ ratings at their first Newspolls:

Satisfied Dissatisfied Undecided
Andrew Peacock (June 1989) 22 50 28
John Hewson (April 1990) 33 15 52
Alexander Downer (May 1994) 31 12 57
John Howard (February 1995) 45 23 32
Kim Beazley (April 1996) 39 15 46
Simon Crean (December 2001) 30 25 45
Mark Latham (December 2003) 32 17 51
Kim Beazley (February 2005) 40 22 38
Kevin Rudd (December 2006) 41 10 49
Brendan Nelson (January 2008) 36 19 45

The only point of comparison for an incoming government in Newspoll’s historical data (which goes back to 1985) is the Howard government’s debut entry of 52 per cent to 34 per cent on the primary vote, with no two-party figure available. Past incoming prime ministers’ ratings were Paul Keating’s 21 per cent satisfied, 42 per cent dissatisfied and 37 per cent uncommitted, and John Howard’s 45 per cent, 12 per cent and 43 per cent.

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.

374 comments on “Newspoll: 58-42”

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  1. I’m fascinated by how much flack John McCain is getting for opposing the Bush tax-cuts, McCain talks a lot about balancing the budget and cutting spending (of course this is always a lot easier said than done). This is the problem with the tax cuts of both Reagan and Bush, neither were able to offset government spending to put the budget in neutral, and yet McCain gets hammered for doing something your average voter can understand – trying to keep their budget in the black (if your can’t cut spending, you can’t finance tax-cuts), something anyone with a household budget can understand.

    Debt is a big problem in the US, the sub-prime crisis in the US just the latest manifestation. While big-bang tax-cuts might play to the GOP base, the Democrats will be able to play on the economic fears of pushing the budget even further in debt in an environment where the cost of debt is starting to become more worrysome. The Democrats will be able to paint the Republicans as fiscally irreponsbile for tax-cuts that will help only a small % of people, the Democrats can talk about the spiralling debt, and talk about them being the last administration to balance a budget, something Mr. Deficit Cheney didn’t think was very important. The Dems can even indulge in a little populist nationalism about the debt, talking about how it weakens America’s position in the world, which most of the voters will buy.

    Here’s a graph of the public debt in America, and the Bush proflicacy certainly hasn’t helped with tax cuts and more pork-barrelling making the chasm even larger. Even Paul Kelly is talking about US having to face reality about this issue.

  2. Like TW, I’m a bit nonplussed at some of the interpretations of my comments. All I can assume is that the thread is not being read continuously (or that some commentator have abysmal clear thinking skills).
    For the record:
    (i) Greens have every right to criticise Labor policy and should do so as vocally as possible.
    (ii) However, rights bring responsibilities. If Greens put the environment over political considerations, they should give credit where credit is due. (This is not being ‘desperate for credit’ – I personally don’t care a toss whether the Greens follow this advice or not. It’s called be consistent).
    As stated earlier, one of my gripes with the Greens is the idea pushed by many members that their party is above politics and somehow ‘holier than thou’. If this is true, standing up for environmental actions taken by other parties shouldn’t be a problem. If it isn’t, then let’s be real about this and stop treating the Greens as above criticism.
    So if the Libs come out with a brilliant policy position on the environment, or FF does, or the Nats do, the Greens should be prepared to acknowledge this.
    As it is, when there’s a real environmental stoush on – taking on the Japanese, the mountain cattlemen (which cost Labor a couple of rural seats), windfarms – the Greens are missing in action. (They’re quite happy to take up populist causes like the North South pipeline).
    (iii) My comments have had nothing to do with the ALP itself (other than that I’m peeved that when the Labor Govt brings in good environmental policy with no help from the Greens, the Greens get the credit). I was asked to explain why I have a grump against the Greens and did this. Since then, I’ve been responding to comments on these grumps.
    (iv) Yes, there is a shuffle system whereby the ALP picks up disaffected small libs and loses (at less than 1% in the election) disaffected ALP and lefty members. However, to assume that if there wasn’t a left of centre party (whether they’re called the Greens or not) most of that vote wouldn’t go to Labor is just ridiculous. It’s not politically naive, it simply shows no undertstaning of human nature – “Oh, I don’t have a far left Party to represent me, so I’ll vote Conservative” – WTF?
    Ron says splinter groups would arise. Maybe so. I premised my earlier comments on there being no left of centre party at all.
    (v) Where did I say that Australians are fundamentally conservative? Where did I suggest Kev wasn’t? Why put words in my mouth (or opinions to my name?)

  3. Spirit of Lenin????????????
    This is getting ridiculous.
    The greens want some changes to environmental and social policies that we have been lobbying for since year dot.
    WE supported labor with our preferences, and are delighted at the result.
    We attract support from voters who decide that they want some of the things we are advocating for to happen e anti- nukes, or anti-loggong or pro greater investment in sustainable energy or support for gay marriage or concern for traement of refugees asnd many many other positions that neither of the major parties endorse to our stisfaction as individual voters.
    In doing so we bring to bear pressure on the governmenty of the day to hopefully amend or change their policy and we raise awareness of issues i the political dis course of this country. At every level -local, state and federal politics.
    That is not being “holier than thou”. That is using the political process to effect.
    That is the role of the minor parties.
    Annd for those of you who do not agree (around 90%)who do not vote Green, then continue to not do so.
    And zoom: I’ll say it yet again. We do give Labor credit when we agree with their policies or decisions, desp[ite your repeated assertions that we do not. Simply incorrect.

  4. Zoom – When did the labour govt bring in good environmental policy?

    And if the Libs, FF or anyone else put forward “brilliant policy on the environment” be rest assured it will be judged on its merits and weighed up against their other policies come preference time. Untill that happens there is still only one party that is putting forward brilliant policy on the environment with daylight a clear second.

  5. Deano
    I refer again to the removal of cattle from the High Plains, the promotion of alternative energies such as wind farms, and taking on the Japanese regards whaling – let alone the black balloon campaign, very successful campaigns on water recycling, signing Kyoto etc.
    Removal of cattle from the High Plains was something that only a Labor government could have achieved. There was intense pressure from within the party to make this decision, despite the knowledge that it would hurt politically. At least two of the pollies on the parliamentary taskforce (Rob Mitchell, Ian Maxfield) suffered for this at the next election, with mountain cattlemen targetting their campaigns.
    Given the small number of mountain cattlemen involved (one protest, involving four mountain cattlemen, which included a local National pollie and his wife, got national coverage), it wouldn’t have taken many people pushing the other viewpoint to counteract their impact.
    The party’s decision on this issue was portrayed as being a sop to inner city Greens. It wasn’t (because if it was, surely some of those inner city Greens would have been involved in promoting the government’s decision). It was a recognition of the environmental imperative involved, given the weight of the scientific evidence.
    Greens should not just support good environmental policy proposals when considering preferences. Political decisions are made on a daily basis, not once every three years. Many of the important decisions are made outside of the election cycle, as a reaction to circumstances.
    I don’t sit back waiting for an election to bob up to make my political views known, so I don’t expect that Greens members do either. I would expect anyone who is passionate about the environment to have their say on important environmental issues, let alone a political party which sees them as their reason for existence.
    Jen, I don’t have a problem with you or your approach. However, you did agree with me that the Greens failed to support Labor on the cattle issue. I continue to be disappointed about the Greens lack of solidarity when it comes to wind farms – is it true that there is no Green policy supporting windfarms, or have those internal divisions been overcome since the Victorian State election?

  6. Jen @ 303,

    That all sounds very noble and pure except it comes unstuck when Greens start saying they hope Labor politicians rot in their catholic hell for giving ground on some issues in order to win the broader struggle. I will forever reserve the right to put the blowtorch to any party which uses that kind of language when describing the Labor party.

  7. fair enough. but that is the view of one individual not the party.
    And I take exception to you making those generalities, unless you apply them to all members of your own party who use hyperbole and say excessive things at times.

    And zoom, I’ll say it again. As a local candidate I absolutlely DID support the position on alpine grazing, representing my party. What i said was that we needed more resources to do it better at the time.
    I’m off to Mt Buffalo.
    Cheers, and Go obama.

  8. Zoom – Firstly, the Greens did support the banning of cattle in the high country.

    Banning cattle grazing, signing Kyoto, putting some pressure on japanese whaling are all good enviro initiatives by labour. But they pale into significance when you put it up against their support of increased uranium mining, pulp mills, desal plants, bay dredging, refusing to set emission targets, etc. Your on a hiding next to nothing if you think that Labour has any enviro cred whatsoever. In fact, anyone who voted Labour at the last election consolidated Australia’s position as the one of the worse countries in the world re global warming.

    I reiterate the Greens don’t just look at enviro policy when preferencing. Parties are weighed up on the sum of all of their policies. I find it hard to cop flak from a Labourite re preferences when you think back to the Fielding debacle. No way would you find the Greens ever doing such a deal. Call it political ignorance or niaviety but our voters expect nothing less as far as integrity goes. Meanwhile the 2 majors keep playing the game of spin, lies and backroom deals. Politicians will remain at the bottom of public perceptions as far as honesty and integrity goes. And we will keep getting the likes Conroy, Andrews, Mirabella, Kelly, Brumby, Vaille representing us. No-one trusts or respects them but apathy keeps on electing them.

  9. TurningWorm , you are so, so sensitive! What I verbalised in a previous post was a purely individual reaction, nothing to do with the bloody Greens at all! Also , a comment which I apologised for as well. I have voted Labor for God’s sake and I was blogging in relation to an issue that I am more than passionate about. As though Labor people dont react to issues and individuals from time to time and say heaps more than I did. From your reaction you OBVIOUSLY know Nicola Roxen personally and may even work for her????? But I can assure you on many blogs around the country the 2004 ‘Happening ‘ is still widely discussed and well remembered. Your attitude is be happy about what you are given and maybe in another 50 years we will do it for you!

  10. Deano
    you asked me to list some good enviro policies of Labor’s. I did. I didn’t say that Labor was brilliant in all areas of the environment.
    Yes, there was on paper support (I acknowledge Jen’s efforts) for the ban on cattle, but it didn’t translate to bodies on the ground, or the wearing of any of the political flack. As I said, the Nats mounted an effective demonstration with only 4 people – is it beyond the wit of the Greens to do the same? And – as I said repeatedly – the ultimate decision was not influenced by the Greens, but by the clear scientific imperative for action.
    The ALP decisions you criticise are an example of the ALP having to live in the real world politically.
    But –
    (i) increased uranium mining – an attempt to avoid a Liberal wedge. Firstly, it was a Federal policy which – even at the Conference at which it was passed – made it perfectly clear the ultimate decision was up to individual states. This in the knowledge that each of the individual states were against increased uranium mining.
    I’m also not sure about the benefits of banning uranium mining, given that so many countries do have nuclear power. If they abandon this because they can’t get uranium, I would expect that we would see MORE coal fired electricity plants. That said, I’m totally opposed to nuclear power in Australia -we simply don’t need it.
    (ii) pulp mills – world standard, state of the art, aiming to use plantation timber (a renewable resource), built in an area where an alert populace will ensure that the highest environmental standards are adhered to. Of course, we could have a pulp mill in some Third World country where we can’t see the damage it causes or compensate for it but it doesn’t seem a responsible attitude to me.
    Tell me you’ve given up using paper and I’ll let you tell me a pulp mill shouldn’t be built anywhere.
    (iii) desal plants – again, not desirable, I agree. But ‘dams are out, so what other suggestions do you have? I think almost any scheme you can come up with to ensure water supply for a growing Melbourne has environmental problems. Moving large contingents of the Melb population (my preferred option) has too.
    (iv) bay dredging – I’m not Melb based so don’t know how real some of the concerns are about this. My understanding is not very.
    (v) refusing to set emission targets – oh lordy lordy, isn’t is easy when you’re not responsible for the consequences? Labor has set emission targets, as you well know, and will set more when the Garnaut report is returned.
    Waiting for economic evidence to back these targets will ensure that it will be extremely hard for a future Governmetn to renege on them. If targets are based on sound economics as well as environmental concerns, the Libs will have to show that the economics are flawed – which neatly shifts the argument from squabbling over which scientist said what.
    It was the Labor states who goaded the Commonwealth into action to start with by making it clear that if the Feds weren’t going to act on climate change, they would.

    As I repeatedly say, Deano, you can’t pretend to be a party of political integrity and not back this with acknowledgement when the majors get it right. Your refusal to concede that Labor has some enviro cred – or that your own party has sometimes failed in the enviro cred area – demonstrates your own lack of political integrity.

    Still amused at the lack of response from any Green on my repeated questions on windfarms.

  11. Greensborough Growler 308, Thanks for the link. Interesting, but not surprising. John Howard must have a lot of ‘thinking’ time on those morning walks of his! I suppose the ‘entourage’ is much reduced.

  12. Brenton, I do not work for or know Nicola Roxon. You greatly overestimate me.

    In any case you just started the snowball rolling so to speak. These things tend to take on a life of their own once they start moving. Perhaps in future we can still disagree but try to be more respectful.

  13. TurningWorm, Thankyou for your reply. Yes, I did put my foot into it so to speak that is for sure! Comments in relation to individuals and ‘religion’ are something I need to avoid. I think you will find we are more on the ‘same side’ of things than not! We all have pet projects and often emotional reaction can get in the way of reasoned comment and debate.

  14. GG @ 308

    “John Howard,
    Building the future by controlling the past?”

    That story was sooooo sad, rejected by the people of Australia, rejected by his own electorate and now rejected by his own party.

    I feel so depressed that this has happened to him, I think I’ll go out and chainsaw a couple of trees to feel better.

  15. Zoom
    you missed the punchline
    “Motions including supporting nuclear energy development and use in Australia, recognising Mr Howard as the nation’s best ever prime minister, and supporting of the Liberal Party’s commitment to IR reform were passed on the first day of the conference.”
    boom tish

  16. Liberals are Liberals, get used to it! Would anything less be expected at such a gathering? Unfortunately, they are still lurking around!

  17. So we accept that we got booted out because of industrial relations, and we’re going to listen to Australians views about this and change our policy, but we’re totally commited to our original stance ?
    They’ve got a bit of work to do, I think.

  18. And what of Brendon Nelsons changes.

    Workplace relations: Gillard rewriting it as we speak
    Tax reform: One out of 5 isn’t good.
    education choices: ?
    border protection: The pacific solution has been dismantled
    national security: Whats this about, troops in iraq.

  19. Young Liberals , that sends a chill down my spine!

    zoom, relax, the Australian people will never except a man with a ‘hairdo’ like Brendon Nelson. A few votes from the hairdressing community that is all.

  20. I know…you can understand having one Slim Dusty album, which your aunt from Tamworth gave you as a Christmas present, but a favorite SD album??
    I spent an entertaining afternoon once, at a wedding reception in Sydney. We were downstairs and in the foyer outside the Young Libs had one of those felt boards with stick on letters directing people to the YL convention upstairs. We spent the whole arvo sneaking out and rearranging the letters…until they put a security guard out.
    Ah youth!!

  21. Good God GG

    I just came in from chainsawing a few pines to get over the party’s rejection of our bestest ever PM, nothing like the smell of petrol, oil and pine sap to pep one up, and you spring this Abbott stuff on me.

    What’s happened, Abbott with a heart, Abbott with feeling, and the article almost, almost implies a tactic, tactic concession, though I may be reading too much into it, that raising kids in a gay household could be OK if that was what was best for the kid(s).

    What is it, did the libs make new years resolutions to become more human or something.

  22. Abbott with a heart?…………No
    Abbott with feeling?………….No
    Abbott with a breakdown of the demographics they need to win back………Yep


    Howardism has killed the Conservatives for at least a decade, probably 2.

  23. But HattyH, he worked it out, he is a lot smarter than the combined wisdom of the young libs.

    Nuclear power plants ra ra ra.

  24. Arbie Jay @ 333 said:

    What is it, did the libs make new years resolutions to become more human or something.

    Probably, but NY resolutions rarely last into February. The Mad Monk will be back to pulling wings off blowies in no time, if he isn’t secretly doing it already.

  25. Charles,
    Abbott may have worked it out(or more accurately he was reading a prepared speech by crosby or textor lol), but the Libs need someone more “Pure of Heart” than Tony to deliver the spin.

    I’m sure Bernie Bantan is having a chuckle at Tony’s expense right now.

    Long may Abbott remain a figurehead of the Conservatives.

  26. by way of reference das papa is due on our shores soon and abbott surely wants to prove he has what it takes to kiss the papal ring

  27. Harry etal with apologies to Charles. Would rogue element suffice? Suppose the 1m odd that preceded him were just inconvenient elements. He was a butcher Charles get over it.

  28. BTW

    this from Mumble is worth some dwelling on

    “Quick comparison between 2004 and 2007: in 2004 the roll increased, from close of rolls to election-day, by 77, 231. In 2007 it was just 1, 466”

  29. gusface he may be the butcher, however he ( or as HarryH points out crosby or textor) has at least worked out where they have to go if they want to win.

    However; given that the party has been purged of moderates, and the brains of the new crop, will they have the ability to get there.

  30. Another sign of hope, Rudd’s maintaining emphasis on homelessness as a national issue: Note that Horatio supports the inquiry to be headed up by Brotherhood of St Laurence head Tony Nicholson. It seems that some NGOs very close to the previous government were more interested in getting grants and keeping close to Johnnie than in considering underlying causes of homelessness and poverty in this country. The Brotherhood of St L has to its credit been a tireless critic of government policies that prevent people from escaping from the poverty trap.

  31. Hang on – it’s no good for me to draw the obvious connection between some members of the ALP and the Catholic religion, but ok for others to do the same with Tony Abbott?

    When I did Health Policy at Uni back in the 90s, we had an emininent speaker who had been Health Dept head under Whitlam and of that leaning.

    He spoke about how in the late 80s, Victoria first started banning smoking indoors, advertising and so on. Half the ALP state cabinet were in favour, half against. But then the Catholic Archbishop sent them letters supporting the ban, and magically the resistance disappeared. And this guy was Catholic too which was how he knew.

    They can have their religion – fine – but understand that not all ALP hacks will be persuaded that a Green Party is OK just because it might have had a change of heart and starts working cooperatively with the ALP.

    The deep hatred of the Greens is coming from other issues than the environment and not all the dirt dug on the Greens comes from the conservative camp.

    Much of the demonising of the Greens has religious dimensions (hence Family First went after the Greens first) so why get so shirty when this is fired back?

  32. So it’s all the work of Opus Dei, TEV?
    You haven’t seen any albino monks lurking in the shadows at Spring Street have you? 😀

    My objections to your comments of the other day were based on your misrepresentations of my posts to suit your own arguments. By association you are trying to imply that my criticism of the Greens is based on reasons other than those expressed in my posts. I should tell you that I am an agnostic and support gay marriage.

    Whatever hobbyhorse you want to ride in relation to catholic control of the Labor party is yours to ride but please don’t hang your comments off mine.

    I will leave the comments about Tony Abbott for the people who made them to explain.

  33. TEV – where do you get ‘deep hatred of the Greens’ from?
    My concern is that – if they go Federally the way they appear to be going in the Vic State Parliament – they will make it harder, not easier, for Labor to implement environmental policies and in the long run help undermine the ALP government so that it’s easier for the Libs to get back into power.
    (It goes like this, children: if you implement good environmental policy and don’t get any support for doing so – I’ll apolgise in advance, Jen, I’m speaking in generalisations – and, in fact, the credit goes elsewhere – whilst at the same time, the party that gets the credit for the policy is busily attacking you, why do it? Altruism only goes so far…
    Whereas, if you implement good environmental policy with the support and applause of the party who’s going to get all the credit anyway, you are more likely to listen to them on other issues, flattery and appreciation being always in style – and therefore more likely to react positively to their criticisms…I admit this is a very simplistic way of putting it, but am not up to writing dissertations at present)
    I’m not advocating the Greens working cooperatively with the ALP to please ALP hacks but to ensure that the Right don’t get power a minute sooner than they absolutely have to, something I assume is a common goal shared by both parties.
    (And anyone who’s read my comments properly will also realise that I extend to the Greens the full right to critique the ALP, as long as this is coupled by a willingness to acknowledge what they have achieved – which, in the end, is far more than the Greens have or can).

  34. TW
    surely you must have heard of the act of obessiance whereby a subject vassal kisses the ring of their liege
    quite popoular still in the Catholic Church and various secret societies
    btw many years ago i attended a fabian meeting at the ANU where the minister for incredible ties (pun intended) actually held court and various people did in fact kiss his ring.I was later informed it is a sign of respect and loyalty.

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