ACNielsen: 51-49 to Labor in NSW

ACNielsen has followed yesterday’s Victorian state poll with the one we’ve all been waiting for: the first New South Wales poll to follow the series of disasters that befell Morris Iemma’s 12-year-old Labor government last week. Unfortunately, the poll was conducted “from February 15 to 19 – significantly, before the worst of the Wollongong corruption scandal”. Labor is still in front, leading 51-49 compared with 52.3-47.7 at the March 2007 election, but this reduces to 50-50 following “analysis of the figures based on the allocation of preferences at the last election, under the optional preferential system”. Iemma’s approval rating has slumped to 34 per cent from 52 per cent at the time of the election, which was presumably the last time ACNielsen conducted a state poll.

In other poll news, things aren’t looking good for Helen Clark. Note the recent parallels between Australian and New Zealand poll trends in this chart covering the year up to last September.

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.

155 comments on “ACNielsen: 51-49 to Labor in NSW”

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  1. Well, slight head spin, Ron. Is this the sort of stuff from which people such as Iemma derive their rationale? In fact, I have no reason to think that either Iemma, Rann or Olsen are smarter than I. Which does not necessarily mean that I am all that smart. Will look at Kenneth Davidson.

  2. Antonio #80, I’m sure you are correct in a wider sense and you make a very good point about rental housing (Christ, don’t I know it). In a narrower sense, however, to those who live here, privatisation of the lecky supply is just a final nail in the coffin of the Iemma Govt. If they would actually come out and say that the estimated $15b they expect from the sale would go directly towards solving the problem of transport in the greater Sydney region (trains, roads and buses in that order); hospitals and healthcare in the outer suburbs, the regional cities and the far west; and at least air conditioning our public schools, then a lot more people might support it. Then again, they tried this tactic with the proposed sale of the Snowy Hydro scheme and that fell flat on its face.

    I have no ideological opposition to privatisation of this particular public asset – although I’d draw the line at others, as did many over the Snowy sale – but if there is one area that the Iemma Govt is significantly worse at than the Carr Govt, it is selling a story properly.

    The reason that Labor is doing so poorly in the polls is not due to a single issue, and certainly not due to recent issues such as privatisation of electricity or corruption allegations (the latter just raises a great big yawn – I think Cartman’s rendition of the term ‘like, whatever’ is most fitting). It’s not even due to perceptions of incompetence. It is partly due to boredom, but it is mainly due to the fact that the government of our state is not actually doing anything constructive at all, despite our manifest problems. As a life-long Labor voter, it is terribly disappointing for me and I cannot see a way out of it. If a rusted-on Labor voter like me is despairing, what hope does the swinging voter have?

  3. Ron @ 100,
    You are not quite right there – a number of companies have AAA ratings. Berkshire Hathaway being the most famous example.
    I don’t think any of these AAA-rated companies are going to buy part of the NSW electricity system, though. Agree with your point about the typical private company paying more to borrow than a government – therefore a company needs to find a lot of savings in running the power business, to make up for the greater cost of debt.
    Seems to me that the threat of privatisation is probably a good way of keeping public sector unions/employees honest. The threat is a good thing, but we just don’t want too many actual privatisations to happen.

  4. Reasons for the NSW government’s unpopularity are simple to find:
    – transport is shocking (and getting worse – my area’s train service has got measurably worse in the 10 years I’ve lived here)
    – hospitals are shocking
    – state taxes are high
    By contrast, corruption is treated by most NSW citizens as a joke. (I don’t condone this, but I think it’s an accurate statement of people’s outlook).

  5. Dyno
    therefore a company needs to find a lot of savings in running the power business, to make up for the greater cost of debt.

    and that is where the ‘culture wars’ over capitalism vs socialism was lost because socialism was a flawed economic concept but in correctly throwing it out , Labor ALSO threw out keeping keeping public utilities in government ownership (which had NOTHING to do with the concept of socialism at all)

  6. Not, Dyno. I think the triple A thing is a furphy.

    Luckily, stats reveal that young people are deserting Sydney. Population depletion may yet work.

    By the way, the question you asked me on a previous thread, that you had never mentioned the term ‘ on the ropes’ re Kev, you are quite correct. I do apologise for taking up Bushfire Bill’s terminology, failing to check the reference.

  7. well Crikey , leave aside economics

    Private owners will always run a Public utility for their ‘owners’ benefit and that may & usually does conflict with the publics interwts of ‘service’.

    because the Private owners principal focus is Profit (irrespective of so called efficiency benefits) whereas a Government runs them as a social justice service
    as the principal purpose rather than for profit

  8. ‘young people are deserting Sydney’ Where are they going? thats not happening in Melb, where all trying to get as close as possible to stay away from the barbarous lands of the outer suburbs.

  9. Ron @ 105/106,
    I’m sort of with you, I think.
    I agree that the govt getting debt off its balance sheet by just outsourcing the stuff that’s “too hard” is unlikely to give the people the best outcomes. Why not leverage the biggest balance sheet in town (the government’s) where really big investment is needed?
    The only problem is how to keep the public sector workers accountable if they know they have an unassailable monopoly. That’s why I’m not necessarily anti the threat of privatisation, but I acknowledge that in practice a lot of privatisations have been disasters, and the higher cost of borrowing is a needless additional cost.
    Overall I’d like to see privatisations be few and far between from now on.

  10. nath, apparently they are leaving for the closest and furthest available inland sites.

    For those who cannot meet the unaffordable coast.

    Many K’s away from even the outerest of suburbs.

    Melbourne is different, of course it is still ‘little’ in Sydney terms. That is, it has transport, is as yet negotiable. I love, love Melbourne. Always have. Family comes from there.

    It is like a bigger Adelaide. Exciting, diverse. Great to come back here, always, though. As long as the water keeps up.

  11. OoooH. Willliam. Not to be thought State istic.

    I spent a lovely year in my early twenties in beautiful Perth and reasonably closer environs, and have since returned several times to WA. To explore the bits I missed, such as the Margaret River.

    Love it, Love it. You are still fortunate.

  12. Dyno , we are on the same page.
    Gonernment ownership of a Public Utility is cheaper for the tax payer than the acquisition costs of Private ownership irrespective of alleged efficiency savings

    You then raised a query re Public Ownership:
    “The only problem is how to keep the public sector workers accountable if they know they have an unassailable monopoly.

    and this is a valid point. Guess there are many options to explore in this area.

    My sense is Labor should have explored your point issue RATHER than concede to the ‘right’ and throw the whole concept of Public ownership out just because “politically Government debt’ is a dirty word the Libs have successfully sold to the voter ??

  13. No probs, William.

    And may I point out, to nath, that Perth and WA are the vanguard of public transport.

    Melbourne will choke, Adelaide is dismally regressive, but small enough to manage.

    WA gets it.

  14. I am a little dew-eyed. I listened the other day, on Radio Nat to a poet/prose person’s account of the Swan River. I spent my year at Circe Circle, and well recalled her description of the way it was. My travelling brother visits Perth often, and discusses transport. Believe me, it is better.

  15. If you are referring to Perth/WA, Ron at 131, I am aware that the rail has been extended to far flung areas, William will know.

    Unlike any paltry unmade move here, to extend the network to say, beyond Noarlunga.

    And I understand that travel within and perhaps beyond the Perth city circuit is free, in an effort to encourage the use of public transport.

  16. thx Crikey , Wayne Swan is correctly talking about Infrastucture spending needed as the economy is at full capcity causing inflationary pressures , so you well see some needed long term funding in transport in all States particularly rail ?

  17. Whot? Ron? I don’t think it is called the Wayne Swan River. But if needs be.

    I am going to bed, funeral duties call, till then, goodnight and thanks for all the fish.

  18. An earlier post referred to ‘Private Equity’ firms, notice how things have gone very quiet on that front? Hopefully that will be one of the few benefits to flow from the melt-down in financial markets, we may see the end of those parasites.

  19. CW135

    While rail extensions here in Adelaide would be nice, I have to say that I agree with the current governments strategy – they must fix the current network, which is in terrible condition, before any extensions. Then they must order more rolling stock, probably electrify, and improve service frequency from Gawler to Noarlunga before I would consider extensions. In an ideal world they would drop trains to Belair, Grange and Tonsley and replace them with more frequent buses. This would free up slots in the timebtale to run more frequent trains to Gawler, Noarlunga and Outer Harbour. The latter might ultimately be better served by an extended tram line with frequent services.

    The current rail network is slow, not that frequent, and suffers from temporary speed restrictions due to track condition. There is no point extending it till those problems are fixed, as the extra longer distance trains would make it worse.

    The recent train extension in Perth was south to Mandurah. It is one of the largest rail projects done by any State government in Australia in the past decade or so, with fast frequent services. However there are still major problems elsewhere in Perth due to the high cost of housing forcing people a long way out to places where PT services are almost non-existant.

  20. Standard and Poors latest ratings give the Brisbane City Council a nice old slap across the face telling them that it is only the performance of the State and Federal Governments that allows them to keep its rating where it is. Tunnels are so good for a city budget apparently.

  21. I’m generally an opponent of privatisation, but think it should be viewed on a case-by-case basis.
    However, there are a couple of side issues, which I think are worth noting (drawn from the Victorian context, and impressionistically-based).
    The negative dimension of public ownership in public transport and electricity generation and supply in Victoria was that the sectors were often seen as hostage to union power, when that was a meaningful concept. It meant that at its worst costs of provision were hostage to unions and the particular impact on Labor Governments.
    There was a flip side advantage in that Victorian Railways and the State Electricity Commission were major employers of apprentices, and therefore a significant source of skilled tradesmen, with significantly transferable skills. Privatised operators are unwilling to subsidise the whole work-force needs for tradespeople.
    On balance, I think that electricity privatisation in Victoria has been successful, public transport clearly less so. It’s arguable that’s the nature of public transport which inevitably requires public subsidy irrespective of ownership. Right now, Melbourne transport is in strife, due to lack of investment over decades, and the stresses of growth, which are also having a massive impact on the road network.

  22. When I was recently in Adelaide, I was amazed at how primitive their rail system is.

    The trains looked antique and were diesel for goodness sakes and many of the sleepers, or ties as they are sometimes referred to, looked as though they had been purchased second hand from NSW, some time prior to WW2.

    I can’t believe that a piece of timber could have so many holes in it and still be able to hold up a rail in the ballast.

    Haven’t they heard about cement sleepers?

  23. This post seems to have become a bit of a bash-Iemma forum, and I think some of the criticism is a little simplistic.

    There is no doubt that the Iemma Government is perceived by many as scandal prone, and vulnerable in areas like public transport, health and links to developers.

    I would agree that there has been underinvestment in public transport going back many, many years. I would agree that NSW, on a strictly economic view, could have afforded to take on more debt during the 1990s to fund return-generating infrastructure. Does this make me want to vote Liberal? No way. Does anyone seriously think a Liberal Government would have been out there making the argument for budget deficits and responsible debt? Of course not. They, and both the SMH and the Telegraph, argued relentlessly at the time that Carr should have been running bigger surpluses and further trimming the role of Government. They’ve changed their tune now, but does anyone really trust them, particularly when the hard right now has the numbers in their party room? Not me.

    It is also true that many of the problems that developed in Sydney’s public transport system were not of the Labor Government’s making. The late-running train scandal a couple of years ago was at least in part the result of measures taken, after public inquiries, to slow down the train system and make is safer after the tragedies of the 1990s. The problems that occur when an issue in Sutherland ends up clogging lines at Richmond is a result of bad planning when the lines were laid decades ago – instead of separate lines that confine problems, they are all interlinked, causing problems to cascade.

    On health, public spending per head has increased sharply under this Labor Government. Prior to the election last year, health was regarded by many journalists as a Labor strength, and this was reflected in the opinion polls when people were asked whether they thought a good job was being done. If that is not the case now, I think it has more to do with the Telegraph’s attempts to poach advertiser-and-revenue-friendly upscale SMH readers on the North Shore than anything else. The same goes for the Cross City Tunnel campaign and upscale readers in the Eastern Suburbs. What next for the Tele, the Spit Bridge? Some crisis on the Northern Beaches?

    On corruption, well, all I can say is that ICAC, a totally independent body, keeps exonerating Tripodi and the others who go before it. And I think our judicial system, and semi-judicial bodies like ICAC, usually do a good job getting to the truth. A better job then the Telegraph, that’s for sure.

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