Newspoll: 52-48 to Coalition in NSW

The latest bi-monthly Newspoll survey of New South Wales state voting intention has the Coalition pulling ahead to a 52-48 lead on two-party preferred, after they trailed 51-49 in March-April. Morris Iemma’s ratings have worsened still further since the sobering results last time: his satisfaction rating is down two points to 26 per cent and his dissatisfaction is up seven to 63 per cent, while Liberal leader Barry O’Farrell has opened up a 39-32 lead as preferred premier – the first such lead for a New South Wales Opposition Leader since 1992. On the primary vote, the Coalition leads Labor 41 per cent to 32 per cent.

UPDATE: In comments, Antony Green says the headline of this post would read 54-46, but for the fact that Newspoll has “stuffed up the 2PP”:

In 2004 using gross 2PP preferences, of the 24% minor party and Independent vote, 26.9% flowed to Labor as preferences, 18.6% to the Coalition and 54.6% exhausted. Use those numbers then round the percentages up for the exhausted votes, you get a Liberal 2PP of 54%. However, say you excluded the exhausted votes. Then of those minor party and independent votes that had preferences, 59% flowed to Labor and 41% to the Coaltion. Apply those percentages to the minor party vote and you get a Coalition 2PP% of 52%. But that’s the wrong calculation method!!!

However, he also warns that two-party determinations in the context of a New South Wales state election are “meaningless”:

There were 22 of the 93 seats that did not finish as 2PP contests in 2007. On this poll’s primary figures, 27% with other parties and Independents, you can bank on 30 seats not being 2PP contests. On those primary results, Labor losing votes to the Greens would deliver the Liberals seats like Coogee on exhausted preferences even if the Liberal primary vote is unchanged. With optional preferential voting and a very low Labor primary vote, the Liberals get the advantage from exhausted preferences for the first time in two-party contests, and like 1988, you’ll see Labor lose votes in safe seats to Independents. And Labor losing votes to Independents in safe seats does nothing to aid the Liberal 2PP vote but hammers the Labor Party’s ability to campaign or end up with more seats than the Coalition.

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.

88 comments on “Newspoll: 52-48 to Coalition in NSW”

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  1. I think the NSW “fix” is alreay well and truly on. My money is on Iemma resigning after electricity privatization is done and dusted and the current factional control of the political wing destroyed.

    Didn’t anyone notice that Iemma just ignored the 7 to 1 conference vote against the privatization. And that one of the right faction heavy weights has been sidelined over eating arrangements (there was no need for Rudd to comment and then comment again).

    No if I was still a Liberal party supporter I wouldn’t be getting to excited. As an outsider looking in I can only but admire how politically savvy the current labor crowd are; heck they even have the Liberals and the press doing their dirty work when it comes to politically destoying the factional bosses.

    As for Jilian Gillard, boy I’d hate to be on the wrong side of a fight with her.

  2. Charles, don’t bet on the Liberals backing the sale once all the financial numbers have been crunched. The numbers quoted to me are that if they get less then $15b, it ain’t worth selling as you would make more from the present value of the current stream of profits. If you don’t get the right price, the financially prudent thing to do is keep the asset and run it down over time, but grant licences for the private sector to build any new plants. The current plants have good long term and cheap coal costs which means they operate happily as base load, won’t be a financial risk, and the private sector get the finanacially riskier newer plants that sell into the national grid at variable price. As carbon trading comes in, the state government can eventually trade credits with newer cleaner suppliers to turn off the old state owned plants. NSW is not a distressed seller, and while the current government might be happy to sell at a lower price, the Opposition can play responsible and populist politics at the same time by not allowing the government to sell at any price.

  3. Re 52
    Yes, it always pays to be first, and to do it at the right time, hats of to Kennett. If Iemma doesn’t get privatization then I think labor has a serious problem, they are not united enough to deal with the fallout.

    Will the markets settle in time? Perhaps Iemma should swap hints with bankers on how to deal with sleepness nights.

    Unfortunately it will also mean the Liberals will limp on in their current state, power in the party will gravitate to NSW; god what a mess.

  4. According to tonight’s ABC Sydney News, senior figures in the Labor Party are very worried, but there is as yet no viable alternative to Iemma.
    Della Bosca fancied himself as Premier, but Iguanagate has finished off his chances of career advancement.
    Iemma is perhaps fortunate all his rivals are in the Left(Watkins, Rees, Tebbutt), it’s the right wing powerbrokers(Tripodi, Obeid) who pull the strings.

  5. Antony, do you know who the new President of the Senate will be after the change over? Has it already been decided, or is it something the Labor caucus is yet to vote on?

  6. I heard the same rumour about a deal over the gun laws to get the Shooters Party guys to vote for privatisation. I reckon it has legs.
    If Nile votes for it too and even a handful of Coalition members do too, it gets up in the Legislative Council. Of course none of this matters if the Coalition votes en bloc for privatisation in both houses, which is why we will have an Auditor-General’s Inquiry on the sale and why.
    It’ll be fascinating to see if the Coalition split on electricity privatisation, given Debnam’s ‘green’ defection. I wouldn’t expect many Coalition MP’s to follow his example. Just about everything in NSW politics has now to be seen through the privatisation prism right now – especially the shenanigans between Della Bosca’s office and Iemma’s staffers over Iguanagate ( as the MSM terms it).

    But back to poll numbers – the exhaustion of Greens prefs should see the end for ALP next election in NSW, unless of course Farrie O’Barrell can’t control the Right wing religious nuts led by Clarke and Alex Hawke, but it really is looking terminal with Morris at the helm, unless Costa is replaced by Watkins as Treasurer, with Firth and Rees given more responsibility. Please find somewhere to hide Linda Burney, as she looked like she enjoyed herself too much with the starlets at Cannes, whilst the Beechwood fiasco was boiling for a lot of poor unfortunate home builders back home – a bit like Marie Antoinette saying ‘let them eat cake’.
    Morris should always put Watkins in front of the cameras, as he’s a clever media performer. There are some real Terrigal duds in the NSW Ministry, like Matt Brown, the Property Developing Housing Minister – that’s why Della was only ‘stood down’ and could easily make a comeback if the DPP doesn’t recommend charges against Belinda ‘the Demon Namer’.
    And what about the lovely Sophie Mirabella ( nee Panopoulos) she gives as good as she gets – if anyone could produce a ‘demon’, she could.
    Belinda and Della should not have even touched a declaration, let alone have any of them released from/by their respective offices – perhaps they couldn’t find a Labor Lawyer they could trust?
    Sleep Tight Dears and please feel sorry for Mr & Mrs Della – they can’t have been getting much sleep lately.
    But to the really big news – isn’t A. Green a star? I say he is – worth his weight in Gold Hansards I say. The taxpayers are well served by his sterling psephological prognostications for the ABC and on this site – and courage to in participate in Bill Bowe’s great poll tragics site!
    Finally – Will anyone ‘out’ the Possum? (No – PB) Or have I missed the revelation of his/her identity?

  7. As much as I hate conservatives, especially JWH, I’m warming more and more towards Fatty O’Barrel, I think Labour needs a good term or two in Opposition
    to get its House in Order, and to Purge itself of the right wing wankers like costa
    and iemma. So when I vote in the ’11 state elections I shall give my
    highest pref after my first choice (non two major party) for liberal in the lower house, and labour in the upper (after my first choice)…

  8. New QLD and VIC Newspolls are out

    The Oz claims Labors grip on the states is shaky, funny given that both states have Labor on 55 2PP

  9. [The Oz claims Labors grip on the states is shaky, funny given that both states have Labor on 55 2PP]

    Labor could be on 110% 2PP and they would stil be saying it :-0)

  10. While NSW is a very bad case.we also are moving into a time of great problems for all incumbents,,,The worldwide inflation in food and petrol prices..the problems of global warming,and all the related issues will make governments unpopular everywhere.

    .Watch as Bush. Brown and many other are toppled in the coming years
    In Australia all governments elected in the period 1928-30 were swept away by 1933!!
    In the USA the 1932 election saw Hoover swept away at the end of 12 years of Republican rule…and usher in a twenty year Democrat regime under Roosevelt, and Truman

    When Rudd won power I wondered then if he was going to be like Scullin…..Elected on the eve of the great depression,,,in an election which saw PM Bruce lose his own seat(!!)and then confronted with a host of problems which overwhelmed his Labor government.
    Scullin arrived in Canberra to be sworn in in the week of the Wall Street Crash
    Is Rudd going to be like Scullin ????

  11. Brian McKinlay

    I doubt very much that this downturn will be followed by fiscal tightening and tariff barriers being increased around the world. Thats what is required to repeat the great depression.

  12. Post 1 Barry said:

    Barry Says:
    June 25th, 2008 at 2:30 am
    That’s scary! Shutdown Turnoff O’Farrell leading in an opinion poll.
    It took over a decade to the fix the train services after O’Farrell got hold of them in the Greiner era.
    Fortunately, there is plenty of time for the voters to get to know him before the next election and ensure he doesn’t become Premier.”

    Barry O’Farrell was elected to state parliament in 1995 and was not part of the Greiner (or Fahey) government.

    If you think the trains are “fixed” now then you are sadly mistaken.

  13. With a sample of 1273 I take it this poll is unambiguously bad news for NSW Labor and Iemma. Thanks to Antony for the clarification – 54/46 makes it very clear. We can hardly be surprised. While I generally sympathise with the progressive/pro-Labor posters on this blog, I have found some of the continuous harpign about media bias in relation to the coverage of the Iguana incident hard to accept. Just because the media is biased, doesn’t mean Dellabosca and Neal did nothing wrong.

    Moreover, regardless of whether any offence was committed regarding Iguana or not, the behaviour clearly smacked of a very arrogant attitude to the use of power for personal purposes which is both unethical and politically poisonous. I don’t really understand why “progressive” posters have tried to defend it. Unless the facts as reported are false, it is not defensible, and harms Labor badly. The mere fact that some people think “merely” unethical conduct is not sufficient to justify sacking unless an offence was committed, illustrates the problem. For everyone else besides politicians, it is more than enough reason.

  14. Isn’t it great to know that all we have to do is vote in the opposition and all of the train problems will be fixed? Does anyone really believe that?
    Don;t you think if there was a magic cure, to remain inpower, the government would “fix” the hospitals, trains etc. It will be worth seeing the Libs in government tring to “fix” these things. That’s what they’ll be promising going to the next election. Watch when they have to explain why they haven’t after a period of time.

  15. Gary,

    However, Mike Steketee provides room for thought in today’s piece.

    “But there is far more involved than that, such as Labor’s relationship with trade unions. Just before he stood down as NSW Industrial Relations Minister, John Della Bosca explained what an in-principle agreement by governments meant to him: he would oppose any attempt to reduce safety standards and abandon the strong NSW law.

    The trouble with this is that states like Victoria will not accept the NSW approach, which puts the onus of proof on employers, gives unions the right to initiate prosecutions and does not produce as good results as the Victorian legislation.

    Della Bosca also did not see harmonisation as requiring a single national law, saying it was important to keep “distinctions that are effective for each jurisdiction”. ”,25197,23922963-7583,00.html

  16. I can’t see how changing one law will “fix” the NSW rail system but, hey, what would I know? I live in Victoria where complaining about our railways is a daily ritual.

  17. Gary,

    The point is that the reform of the rail system in NSW is being stymied by the unions there. Della Bosca seems to be the captive of the unions by what he is saying. I’d say this would be fertile ground for the Libs if they decided to push it.

    Same with the Electricity reforms.

  18. GG – My point is that even with those “reforms” our system is no better. If the Libs think that is a cure all they are in for a big surprise.
    Do the Libs up there know where they stand on the electricity issue? Why would anyone being against the privatisation of electricity bother to vote for another party supporting the same policy?

  19. I think that’s an important point GB (73). Surely a lot of the loss for support in Labor’s primary in the last few months has come from core Labor supporters not happy about Iemma’s privatisation plans.

    This would suggest a stronger flowback to Labor of preferences than in 2007. Maybe Newspoll’s 2PP miscalculation ended up closer to the truth anyway.

  20. Maybe Piping Shrike, but it may also be irrelevant. If the loss of core Labor support ends up with an Independent who finishes second, then the preferences don’t come back. The Liberals may end up third and help elect an Independent. And if they end up with an Independent who finishes third, then that’s usually a Labor vote lost. NSW Independents who get more than 15% of the vote almost always have a rate of exhausted preferences greater than 75%.

    That was how Labor lost Balmain, Newcastle, Swansea and Wollongong in 1988, how they lost Lake Macquarie in 2007, and how they ended up being run a closer than expected race in Charlestown, Maitland and Newcastle in 2007.

    That’s why I say I’m more interested in the primary vote. Coalition on 41%, Labor 32% and Greens plus Independents on 27% makes it very hard for Labor to win because there will be so many Labor seats they are struggling to hold against Greens or Independents.

    It’s like Queensland in 1998. Labor got 38.9% of the primary vote, One Nation 22.7%, Liberal 16.1% and National 15.2%. On that result Labor got 44 seats and got an Independent on side to form government. That election became three different elections, the seats that were Labor-Coalition contests with a 4.5% 2PP swing to Labor, but Labor-One Nation contest caused massive swings against Labor, and National-One Nation contests even bigger swings against National.

    The lower Labor’s primary vote in NSW, the more that Labor will face massive swings in its own seats that are two-candidate swings rather than two-party, and the more that optional preferential voting will help the Coalition because it has the highest primary vote.

    OPV is very different compulsory preferences. You can’t assume preferences will flow back to the party of voter origin. If voters are pissed off with their traditional party, they don’t direct preferences back. Under compulsory preferential voting, they usually will because they won’t give preferences to the other side. But under OPV, they cast a protest vote and that’s it.

  21. Antony, I think you have a point on the Independents which I believe pose more of an electoral threat than the Greens. The Greens have tended to position themselves relative to (and believe are dependent on) the ALP, and so there is an argument that preferences will eventually run back to the ALP if Labor can still pose the threat of the right getting in. The Independents on the other hand pose a drop out of the political system altogether and so I am not surprised with your observation that preferences to them are more likely to exhaust.

    Having said that though, we also seem to be finding that this generation of Independents, once elected, tended to work much more comfortable with Labor’s more technocrat agenda (so in effect preferential voting works in another way!). That technocrat agenda is where Iemma is heading. He is in the middle of a process, some not of his control, but some of it is, and this poll is taken when the political negative effects of it have been felt but not the positives. We shall have to see where it ends up, but I wouldn’t write the government off yet.

  22. Neither would I, but if you ask me for the mood of the NSW electorate at the moment, I’d rate it above the Cain/Kirner period and above Bannon post State bank collapse, but not much else.

    If Iemma’s heading in a technocratic agenda direction, he better do something about getting basic services to work. I don’t think you are in NSW, but if you were, you’d understand the extra-ordinary anger that’s currently developing in Sydney about chronic road and public transport congestion. And in the current mood, everything is the government’s fault.

    This week, a motor failed leaving the Spit Bridge open for 2 hours. Radio and papers scream Iemma government fault. Same with M5 tunnel emergency closure yesterday, F3 truck jack-knife today, brief harbour tunnel closure due to over size truck. This sort of anger feeds on itself eventually. And the government and the party and the unions are at each others throat at the same time, and every disgruntled backbencher whose been passed over cabinet is currently happy to brief the media on what’s going wrong.

  23. Gary

    I agree that many things need to hange to fix Sydney rail, but workforce reform is a big part of it. The current labor practices waste hundreds of millions per year, which in turn are then not spent on upgrading or maintaining the infrastructure and so it falls further behind. The average train driver couldn’t afford the cut in pay to become a starting doctor in a public hospital, let alone a nurse. Yet driving a train is simpler and less stressful. Other positions in Sydney rail – notably guards, are even worse. Their working conditions are indefensible IMO. Its an embarrassment to anyone who cares about principles of justice and fair reward.

  24. Antony,

    Although NSW has fixed term elections, do you know if there is any provision for going to the polls earlier than the fixed date? I’m thinking that if things keep going the way they are, Rudd might lean very heavily on Iemma to get the inevitable over with and give him some clear air for 2010.

  25. Not by choice. It requires the moving of a vote of no confidence in the government with 8 days notice, debate on that motion leading to defeat of the government followed by a period in which a baton change to a new government is undertaken. If a new government cannot be formed, then an early election can be called. The process would take several weeks before the writ could be issued.

    And I mean a real vote of no confidence, a specific motion, not defeat on legislation like electricity privatisation. So to get an early election, either the Labor Party would have to split on a permanent basis, or it would have to engineer its own defeat. Neither is likely.

    The NSW Legislative Council cannot block supply or major tax bills, so it can’t be forced to the polls by the upper house either.

  26. Hmm, interesting. I thought there was just no way to call an early election. Didn’t Gerhard Schroder get his parliamentarians to abstain on a vote of no confidence to trigger an early election (which he lost)?

    But even if Iemma could manufacture an election, why the hell would he? If you were Iemma, you’d have to think that you’re very unlikely to win in 2011 and going early will only bring on the inevitable earlier. You might as well enjoy the power as long as you can.

  27. Ben, there have been two early elections in Germany. Schroder did it after a string of Lander (state) election defeats for his party had changed the composition of the state-appointed upper house of Parliament. The government was no longer in the position to implement any legislation, and with the consent of the opposition, went through the time consuming process to initiate and early election.

    The other early election was in 1982. The Free Democrats had switched side mid-term, meaning that Helmut Kohl had replaced Helmut Schmidt as Chancellor. The consensus was after that change, an early election should be held.

    From memory, the political instability in the Weimar Republic means that the German Constitution and parliamentary rules mean that you can’t have a no-confidence motion without also specifying an alternative government. It’s often called a positive vote of no confidence. So any coalition united enough to bring down an existing government must also be united to support a new government. The process of getting an early election was deliberately made time consuming.

    An early election in NSW would take time, would require the government to vote itself out of office, and would require the consent of the Opposition. Can you imagine a month of ‘Iemma gives up’ headlines before the Premier could even formally request an election. Even worse, what if Iemma supported a vote of no-confidence in his own government, and O’Farrell said ‘Well I’ll form government’. Precident means the Governor would give him that right. It might only last a week or two until another vote of no-confidence was passed, but it would put the Labor Party in the position of going into an election saying we don’t want to be in government.

  28. Roads and public transport are the two biggest issues hurting this state government. There was another problem on the city rail network this morning, delaying trains by 30 minutes on some major routes! Motorists and commuters will sheet the blame home to Iemma, however fair or unfair that might be!

  29. Progressive (83) I must have been travelling on the same train line as you were this morning (Friday) The 30 minute delay meant my Year 10 son was late handing in an assignment at school, his penalty: automatic deduction of 10% of the assessment mark for the assignment. He is not a happy chap, even more so after his father delivered a ‘lecture’ on being ‘better organised’.

    It should not be said that my son’s circumstances are, at least directly, Morrie’s fault. However, transport delays or instances like the (recent) Spit bridge and M5 tunnel fiascos are really a symptom of government inaction (incompetence, negligence, whatever you want to call it) on basic service delivery issues. Any apologies from the Premier and/or his colleagues which are then coupled with self serving statements to the effect that the Opposition would do no better, are empty, unhelpful and desperate.

    As for Gary Bruce (73) I suggest a useful starting point for understanding electricity privatisation issues in NSW, could be Antony’s post @52.

  30. “Any apologies from the Premier and/or his colleagues which are then coupled with self serving statements to the effect that the Opposition would do no better, are empty, unhelpful and desperate.” Ahh, but true.
    We have the same problems in Victoria and we ARE privatised.
    I read Antony’s posting. Labor will either have the power privatised well before the next election or the policy will stall and the idea will crash and burn, enabling Labor to go to the next election promising then not to privatise. That will leave a Liberal Party promising to privatise at sometime into the future.
    Channel 7 news recently showed documents proving how the private electricity companiews were ripping us off at the expense of their shareholders. Not a good look.

  31. The unfortunate thing about Iemma is that he is a very compenent premier in the managerial sense, far better than Carr (think of Greiner without the extreme right wing economic agenda). His problem is the inability to purge the party of duds, and importantly a right wing media that is simply unbelievable in its antipathy towards labor – just look at clennell and benson. Clennell is a card carrying lib, and benson just wants to out flank penberthy from the right. Another problem is that the msm detests politics and politicians – they are leading this descent to the bottom.
    Yet those thinking about voting Liberals in 2011 best think again – these right wing jerks will send NSW into complete chaos. Barrie is a puppet of the right, a nice guy, but completely useless.

  32. Problem is, adorno, that i don’t think those arguments cut it for a 16 year old government. “It’s not our fault, you’re all biased against us, and anyway the other mob is worse” didn’t work for Howard last year (nor Keating before him) so why would it work for Morris?

    Going for your fifth term in office you need to have a popular leader with a visionary agenda, or for the opposition to completely fall apart. While the latter is not out of the question, I think even the most diehard Laborite would concede there’s not much evidence of the former.

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