Taverner: 56-44 to Coalition in NSW

Hot on the heels of a New South Wales state Newspoll headlined 52-48 in the Coalition’s favour (but which Antony Green says should have been 54-46), the Sun-Herald today carries an even worse result for Labor from Taverner. This has the Coalition surging to a 56-44 lead after trailing 51-49 in February. No sample size is given, but the February survey was 550. On the primary vote, Labor has dropped from 39 per cent to a disastrous 29 per cent, with the Coalition up from 37 per cent to 46 per cent (it’s possible the undecided have not been distributed). Hats off to Fairfax’s Lisa Carty for having noted Antony’s recent sermon on the increased importance of the primary vote under optional preferential voting. The accompanying article speaks of a looming leadership change, with Labor MPs “hardening in their resolve that Mr Iemma must be sacrificed to give them a chance of holding on to government in 2011”.

UPDATE: A scanned copy of the full results courtesy of James J in comments. The sample was 602; the undecided had indeed not been distributed, but there were only 3 per cent of them. Also featured are questions on privatisation, the Labor leadership and the Belinda Neal episode.

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.

60 comments on “Taverner: 56-44 to Coalition in NSW”

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  1. I predict the 2011 NSW State Election results to be:

    ALP- 12 seats

    Liberal Party- 64 seats

    National Party- 15 seats

    Independent- 2 seats

  2. Looks like NSW Labor have got a job getting the ship back on course. This is by no means impossible to do between now and 2011.

    But beyond psephology, there must be a strong “It’s time!” factor happening in NSW by now. They’ve been in since 1995, so they’ve outlasted the Howard government.

    I hear there’s a strong “It’s time!” factor happening in the UK atm as well. Maybe Parliamentary governments have a maximum life expectancy?

  3. “Maybe Parliamentary governments have a maximum life expectancy?” That’s not relevant here. The Iemma Government is doing an appalling job in many aspects and people are sick of it. If they were doing a decent job they’d still be popular as the Liberal Party of NSW don’t exactly shine.

  4. The old saying ‘a week is a long time in politics’ is apt here. However it does appear as though there is something rotten in the state of Iemma. Do they have the will to fix it, somehow I doubt it. It will probably be a good thing to have a change to sweep away some of the arrogance of power that seems to have crept into this administration (Costa being a prime example), however the Libs don’t exactly inspire at the moment.

  5. Pity Iemma’s going to lose it rather than the Tories winning it. Certainly a lot different than Rudd old boy — who won it.

  6. Michael I believe that’s your political bias speaking. In any case it certainly doesn’t make it any better that a party loses an election rather than the other one winning it.

  7. To be honest I think the financial administration of NSW has been so poor in the period since the Olympics that they (Iemma Labor) deserve to go. They are indeed arrogant but thats not only the only reason they deserve to lose; take a look at the NSW economy and ask yourself: why?

    This govenment has a huge problem with recurrent spending being too high meaning that they couldn’t invest in the future even when revenues were well ahead of forecasts. They have assiduously avoided facing that problem. The privatisations proposed have been a very expensive form of industrial relations reform when you lack the courage to reform the organisations from within. And beyond the lack of administrative competence, the cronyism stretching from Woolongong to Newcastle, and many Councils in between, needs to be cleaned out. There are too many in the NSW Labor gravy-train enriching themselves at public expense IMO. They are so bad that (as with Neal recently) I think they are hurting Labor nationaly. For Labor’ sake, I hope they are swept out soon. Having an incompetent opposition shouldn’t entitle you to a job for life.

  8. Though not a good result, I am worried that the small sample size could have skewed the results. At 550 you have to ask where the samples were taken. To me there is a general trend down, but this is aberrant.

  9. “Mr Iemma must be sacrificed”

    Yes, but how?

    Tie him to the train tracks, but may be waiting a while for a train.
    Gas him in one of the smoke stack ventilators, but with traffic delays may not be any traffic to generate the emissions.
    Quarter him using the Spit Bridge, unless it jams.

    Looks like will have to strap him to a electricity transformer and zap him.

  10. The scenario for the 2011 NSW state election is this:

    There are 93 seats in the parliament.

    47 are needed for a majority.

    The Liberal/Nationals currently have 35, and so will need to gain 12 more.

    I see them increasing by about 8, as follows:

    Miranda & Menai (2 southern suburban commuter seats).
    Wollondilly, Camden & Monaro (3 white, semi-rural, redneck seats).
    Gosford, The Entrance, Wyong (all central coast, if 1 goes, the other 2 will follow).

    So the Lib/Nats will still in all probability fall short by about 4.

    Thus the 6 independents will wield a lot of power.

    I say this because the coalition will STRUGGLE to win in the *next few seats up the pendulum*. They would need to win 4 of the below (and none look very good for the coalition):

    – Londonderry (too bogan to vote Liberal)
    – Coogee (green preferences will save Labor)
    – Drummoyne (going upmarket, but NOT in a Liberal way)
    – Heathcote (still too blue collar to vote Liberal)
    – Penrith (lineball, pork barrelling on infrastructure will save Labor)
    – Maitland (hard to see it happening)
    – Riverstone (McMansion territory, Liberals have underdeveloped party machinery here)
    – Ryde (John Watkins personal vote will carry the seat for Labor)
    – Rockdale (too ethnic to vote Liberal)
    – Swansea (too close to Newcastle for the Liberals to win)
    – Blue Mountains (too many old fogeys, they will vote Liberal)
    – Granville (too ethnic)
    – Mulgoa (no chance, unless labor decides to build an airport here)
    – Macquarie Fields (Centrelink recipients ain’t voting Liberal)
    – Kiama (still too working class)
    – Sydney (queers, druggies, homeless bag people will stay with Clover).
    – Cessnock & Bathurst (no incentive to switch to the National party)
    – Parramatta (the large Indian community won’t vote Liberal)
    – East Hills (contains Bankstown in it, so no)
    – Oatley (again, too ethnic)
    – Toongabbie (pigs will fly before the Liberals win Blacktown)
    – Charlestown (too depressing and bogan to vote Liberal)
    – Strathfield (same as Drummoyne, will get close – but no change)

  11. Iemma is safe however as long as the right wing powerbrokers prop him up!
    All Morris’s potential challengers are from the left of the party, the likes of Tripodi and Obeid don’t want Watkins or Tebbutt in the top job, Nathan Rees would be considered too inexperienced! My suspicion is that there’ll be an attempt to promote someone from the right as an alternative, Frank Sartor for instance. But, at the same time, if things deteriorate even more, you’ll find Watkins challenging.

  12. They have to dump Iemma and Costa to at least protect the party for a train wreck. And perhaps the rail system from a train wreck too.

  13. Of (slightly) more immediate interest is the issue of what damage NSW Labor inflicts on the Rudd Government at the next federal election – which is almost certain to pre-date the March 2011 NSW poll. And if you think voters are smart enough (and disciplined enough) not to mix-up state and federal issues, just take a look at what happened in Queensland in 1987,1990 and 1995 and Victoria in 1990. Going to be interesting

  14. I’m a Liberal voter and I think it will be a disaster if Iemma & Costa are replaced by Watkins and another Treasurer. Seriously, Costa is the only one in the Labor party capable of steering NSW out of the financial mess it is in.

    Watkins may look good in front of the camera but a he’s a poor Minister who thinks the solution to every problem is to throw money at it.

  15. 14 Chris from Edgecliff, and yet Howard managed to win elections while his state counterparts were being demolished in state polls.

  16. Gary

    You miss the point and trying to twist the issue to you own subjective beliefs. Voters when voting at one level (federal, say) will punish a sitting government at the other level (at the state, say). As Glen from Edgecliff says, there are lots of examples (Victoria in 1990, NSW in 1996 being two examples where the federal libs benefited from voters punishing state governments). John Howard could win as it was state liberal oppositions who were getting slaughtered for possibly the actions of his government.

    On Friday night lateline, Rod Cameron described the NSW Labor brand as ‘damaged’. The way they are going they could bring down Rudd by themselves, and of course any federal election has to be held before the next NSW State election.

    NSW Labor is in dire trouble and they don’t have much room for manouvre. The opinion poll figures are similar to those in Victoria in 1990 and 1991, And as we all know, the stench of rotting flesh only hets stronger!

  17. Gary, the next Fed election could coincide with a passionately anti-Labor feeling in NSW. There wasn’t a passionate anti-Lib feeling in elections Howard won; they respected state Labor and thought the opposition was hopeless.

  18. To be making scenarios about two elections 2 and a half to three years hence is folly at best. A week is a long time in politics. Besides the fear of Workchoices will still be alive and well. That fear campaign is not over by any means.
    By the way, what happened to the talk of the Liberal brand being damaged? People will say things that fit the situation at the moment and be proven badly wrong in time. That’s politics.

  19. Blackburnpseph @ 18

    While I agree with the essence of your post, it is worth noting that the next NSW election is due end of March 2011. The current federal parliament does not expire until 12 February 2011, meaning the election could well be held in March (or April for that matter)

    Of course, that’s highly unlikely – for one, the media will pronounce 2010 as the ‘election year’ and Rudd will get pounded if he drags it on until early ’11, for another Rudd isn’t suicidal and know full well NSW will drag him down if he waits until then, and for a third, I highly suspect we will see a DD long before then anyway.

    But the point remains, the two elections could potentially coincide.

    Anybody else think it’s about time we re-addressed fixed parliamentary terms for out federal representatives?

  20. Max,

    I think it is time to deal with fixed terms for the federal parliament, but it won’t happen until Labor gets over 1975. A fixed three-year term is no gain in my opinion. A fixed four-year term is the way to go, which means eight-year terms for the Senate. This is not a problem for me or for the SA and NSW Legislative Councils, but it is a problem for some. A fixed term also has to have an “out” for a government that has lost the confidence of parliament before the term expires. That immediately runs into the question of the Senate’s power to block supply. I have no problem with the Senate’s having that power, but Labor still does. If Labor would give up its hostility to the Senate’s power to block supply and come up with a mechanism for dealing with its admittedly unlikely use of that power, then we might have a way to get the bipartisan support essential to the constitutional amendment for four-year fixed terms.

  21. Amazing result for the Democrats when you think about it, although it would take much more than a single poll of this size to indicate a comeback.

  22. Fixed terms are not going to happen. Either side wants to hang themselves with it. Some will be able to suggest that it is a power grab by greedy pollies and it will die.
    How does a vote of no confidence work with fixed terms? If neither side has a majority and can govern in minority then what happens?

  23. I agree with the analysis by old_guard at 12 at least in part.

    There are a clear 8 or so seats but the real issue is the country independents. The Libs need to take out some of the pro-Labor country independents to win. Otherwise you will have a minority Labor or Liberal Government which will just be a disaster for the state.

    At the moment I just cant see the Libs doing it, however 3 more years of this could produce a Kirner style melt-down in 2011

  24. edward is spot on the money – the regional seats will be the ones to watch in 2011. But i can’t see the nats (if they are still the nats by then!) moving the independents in dubbo, tamworth and definitely not northern tablelands. The only one that could be risky is port mac – if oakeshott decides to move federally – but I think the good folk on the hastings would think twice before going back to the white shoe brigade Nats there.
    Can’t see nats moving any more of the country labor seats – except maybe maitland.
    Problem for the coaltion is that the average age of their MP’s is arond sixty – alot of them have been there for 20 years – and the idea of regaining government and getting their snouts back in the trough will be irresistable for many. Thye need generation change – comething there tired head offices should have accomplished last election – but we all know the problems there. On the other hand labor did manage some generation change – alot more needed but they clearly have more talent – look at MP’s for maroubra, monaro, granville, newcastle etc.
    My tip is Iemma to come home with a wet sail – there’s alot of infratsructure announcements in the pipeline, he’ll stare down the left on the partial privatisation (and when everyone realises it’s not a full sale they’ll wonder what on earth the unions were on about.)
    Labor by a comfortable whisker – with the country independents as a bit of insurance.

  25. True adorno,

    For example the Libs have Malcolm Kerr in Cronulla and Wayne Merton in the Hills who have been there forever. Presumably if the Libs actually do want to govern they need to move people like that on.

    Come home with a wet sail? Not sure about that. The problem for the ALP is the demands of government essentially require them to do down their public sector union base. You have a union movement with approximately 600,000 members in NSW of whom more than half are public servants. For the unions giving in on electricity etc means well and truly the beginning of the end given the unions have 20,000 members alone in public sector – the real reform in the public sector will probably cost the unions about 100,000 members – for some of the unions that means insolvency particularly in circumstances of a continuing bleed of private sector union members. Hence the difficulties of the State government.

  26. Hence robbo’s vitriol towards iemma.
    Who’d want to be in state government anyway – health budget is spiralling out of control – and in nsw you’re stuck between the smh ( a rock) and the telegraph ( a hard place)

  27. There is no way a Labor Government will survive the 2011 election in NSW.

    Electors will at last recognise they cannot continue voting for a party of corrupt members.

    Iemma either cleans up the act or falls on his sword now.

    In the end it does not matter, much the Labor party across the country is corrupt from power and needs to be booted from power for the good of the country.

  28. Is there a point when we say THE TEAM LABOR is not what we want? Have we seen enough corruption across all Labor Governments to break the team allegiance? Whilst there is no way I will vote coalition there is no way I will vote Labor in State politics.
    The problem with our system is two choices is inadequate.
    We need to be active in change not status quo support.

  29. Libs should win NSW in 2011. The issue is not just looking at the seats where there might be a preferences boilover, but as Antony green has pointed out previously here, where the ALP falls behind on primaries. While the Green vote may be up, there’ll also be plenty of Green voters who will not wish to preference the ALP, and a rather significant number of local Green branches making the same decision on HTV’s. This could cost the ALP both votes and seats. So, deal Coogee in, and maybe the Blue Mountains. Consider the ALP may yet lose Marrickville and Balmain to the Greens, although this will also depend on whether the Lib vote rises in these two electorates. Heathcote and Kiama are both seats in demographic flux, with sea-changers and retiree’s (as well as commuters in Heathcote resenting the ever-inconsistent rail service). And I wouldn’t put it past voters in Rockdale giving Sartor a shock.

    Now these might not seem like low hanging fuit, but if the quite genuine anger towards the ALP continues then it will become harder and harder to retain these seats. And then there is seats like Londonderry & Riverstone where mortgage issues are biting. Penrith should have already fallen when these two come into play.

    So I think its there for the Coalition to lose. Electorate seem comfortable to now deliver up big swings – think Mal Brough (who lost) and Pat Farmer (to squeeked back in).

  30. Conventional wisdom about what seats will fall lose all meaning when we’re talking about a sub-30 primary vote. I think the marginals in the Central Coast, Macarthur and Sutherland are basically gone. I can’t see them being held in any reasonable scenario, and that is enough to deprive Labor of a majority.

    Beyond that, all bets are off. Seats will likely see all sorts of massive swings.

    Also remember that there are more seats where Labor held on against independents, particularly in the Hunter (Maitland, Newcastle, Charlton).

  31. Could be – but 1. the Liberals are pretty hopeless and 2. there will need to be enormous Queensland style swings for Labor to lose – seats like Drummoyne, Oatley etc which are +10%. I believe the independent vote will narrow as the election gets closer in time.

  32. I think apart from the ones identified by old_guard above, the Liberals have a very good chance of picking up Coogee and that Balmain (NOT Marrickville for a variety of reasons) is a definite prospect for the Greens if Rochelle Porteous contests again. Her recognition in the Leichhardt part of the electorate is enormous.

  33. Disagree edward o – the old school Italians in Haberfield etc is what will (ironically) save Verity Firth.

  34. Yeah, that demographic is strong Labor, but they already voted for her last time, so their impact is already factored into the margin – and I bet if Iemma goes some of the support will go too (albeit not much). When Morris turned up to polling booths in the area, there was swooning and cooing.

    I think VF is one of the better Ministers in the government, but in regards to representing the electorate, she’s followed through on nothing in particlar, certainly none of the things on the back of her campaign shirts because she thinks all she needs to do is be better than an unknown Liberal bogeyman to be returned. I still think she’s in a lot of trouble. If voters can get it into their heads that the best way of stopping Frank Sartor is to vote out Verity Firth, then I think it’ll be very close indeed, even with an increased Liberal vote.

  35. Interesting list of seats up there, from old_guard.

    If the Libs can’t win 4 out of:

    Blue Mountains

    then they don’t deserve to form government.

    Plus seats like Bathurst, Maitland and Cessnock have had “the libs will privatise the electricity industry” factor in the past. Hard to see that one being revived by the ALP in 2011 to any great effect.

    Finally, I know it’s intellectually empty, but many of the areas comprising the above seats were held by Howard.

  36. None of that will matter in an election. The way a person votes in an election is based on their religion these days. What party you vote for will depend if you are Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, Muslim, etc, etc, etc.

  37. #44

    Charlestown might go to an Independent but I doubt the Liberals could win there.

    The problem with reading alot of these seats is that the margin has blown out so much since 1999, it’s hard to know if they are still swinging marginals or have been transformed into solid Labor seats (eg Strathfield, Oatley, Ryde, Kogarah, Blue Mtns, Coogee).

  38. I can guarantee after the 2011 NSW State Election, the Nationals will outnumber Labor in the Lower House (15 Nationals, 12 ALP). Thats how bad Iemma/Watkins loss will be. The Coalition will have a majority as big as Malcolm Fraser’s in 1975 or John Howard’s in 1996.

  39. From an email just to screen……

    “The federal government is sending each and every one of us a $600 rebate.
    If we spend that money at K-Mart, the money will go to China.
    If we spend it on petrol it will go to the Arabs.
    If we purchase a computer it will go to Taiwan.
    If we purchase fruit and vegetables it will go to Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala,
    If we purchase a good car it will go to Japan.
    If we purchase useless crap it will go to Korea.
    None of it will help the Australian economy. The only way to keep that
    money here at home is to spend it on prostitutes and beer,
    since these are the only products still produced in Australia.

    Thank you for your help. Kevin Rudd & Wayne
    Swan. Australian Prime Minister & Australian Treasurer.”

    And a Happy Financial New Year to one & all.

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