Newspoll: 54-46 to Labor in Victoria

The latest bi-monthly Newspoll survey of Victorian state voting intention shows Labor’s two-party lead on 54-46, down from 55-45 at the previous survey. Both leaders’ approval ratings are down sharply: John Brumby’s from 48 per cent to 41 per cent, Ted Baillieu’s from 42 per cent to 36 per cent. Labor’s primary vote is steady on 41 per cent, the Liberals are down one point to 34 per cent and the Nationals up one to 4 per cent, and the Greens are down two points to 12 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.

100 comments on “Newspoll: 54-46 to Labor in Victoria”

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  1. The mainstream media (spin) has it wrong again!

    The headlines, ‘Vic Libs close gap’ & ‘Conservatives recover in Victoria’, appear to me to not be reflected in the primary vote!!!

    This is not a bad result for Labor in Victoria

  2. I agree with Oldtimer. That’s actually a good result given some of the unpopular decisions that have been made in recent times. On those figures, and things can change of course, Labor would be returned with a comfortable majority.

  3. On the same ‘things can change’ mentality you could argue Labor could be defeated. It seems unlikely at this stage, however and the media certainly seems to have less of a problem with the Vic Government than the NSW one.

  4. “On the same ‘things can change’ mentality you could argue Labor could be defeated.” That’s exactly why I put that in. Of course it could go the other way too given that we’re two years away from an election but I’m not really expecting that.

  5. Brumby better start pulling some punches or he will be sunk at the next election. He has 2 years to sort out the water, transport and school refurbs. Poll shmol, there is another 10 seats up for grabs if the libs put up credible candidates.

  6. There’s certainly not the hate for Brumby that there is for Iemma in NSW. Probably the combination of local factors and electoral gravity will deliver some seats here and there to the Liberals, but there’s nothing to suggest- at present- a major groundswell of opposition to Labor.

  7. Okay I make it about 8 seats. The greens after their abysmal performance in the senate will lose support at the election and will not pose a threat as they did last time in Melbourne

  8. A solid result for Labor. No sign that it’s in any real trouble. There are certainly provblems with public transport and water supplies, and a few unpopular government decisions, but no sense that the opposition has the solutions.

    The sleeper issue in unemployment. There are signs of companies laying off staff, particularly in the car parts and food processing industries.

  9. Bad news for Ted the Toff. After nine years in government and after the departure of the very popular Bracks, Vic Labor is still well on top. Remember where Cain-Kirner were by this time in the cycle: down the toilet. Brumby may not have Bracks’s style but he is seen as sincere and hardworking. There’s no inclination at the moment to chuck him out, although I would expect Labor to lose a few country seats.

  10. I doubt Labor would bother contesting Higgins. If they did there would be a swing to the Opposition, as there nearly always is at by-elections. State politics only affect federal voting when a state government is deeply on the nose (eg the 1990 federal vote in Vic), which this one isn’t.

  11. There has only ever been one federal by-election in 107 years at which Labor has gained a swing towards it when there has been an incumbent Labor government. That was in Fremantle in 1994 when Carmen Lawrence, the former premier, was the candidate. This reflected her personal popularity among Labor voters in a hard-core Labor seat. It’s hard to see that situation being replicated in Higgins, a safe Liberal seat where the Libs will have a top-flight candidate.

  12. If it was 51-49 or even 52-48, Libs closing gap might have been a valid headline but 54 -46?

    The Brumby government mightn’t be perfect and may annor people with some issues but compared to NSW they are a model of governance. People may grumble (especially about trains) but overall things have been managed well politically as education and especially health stay out of the front pages. Trains might be a problem but politically they are neutralised as the government pays a lot more attention to the long distance commuter from Geelong, Ballarat or towards Bendigo. These were the seats that delivered office in 1999 and there are about 8 seats that could turf them out if they neglect the issue. The libs probably can’t win office until they win a large proportion (5 or 6 of 8) of Geelong, Bellarine, South Barwon, Ballarat x 2, Macedon, Seymour and whichever Bendigo seat Jacinta Allen holds (East or West – can’ recall).

    2 years out, it is hard to see the ALP being seriously worried unless some major scandal or meltdown comes along.

    By the way, is there a Victorian redistribution due before the next election? If so that will make them harder to shift as the ALP has big majorities in the high enrolment seats.

  13. Centaur has a point re the last Greens Senate campaign, however, there was still an increase in the Green vote and the State election will favour them as the ALP disenfrancished and annoyed quite enjoy whacking the ALP by voting for the Greens then giving the preferences back to the ALP. The trouble with the State Coalition (the Nats and the Libs are in coalition) is that they just don’t have an abundance of talent.

    Swing to the cons but only in the 2-3% margin. ALP in office until 2014. Robert Doyle’s loss two years ago was a shocker. There was simply no ground caught up.

  14. It’s pretty idle speculating about what will happen at an election more than two years away. All that can be said for now is the Brumby government is travelling fairly well and that Baillieu has not made any real progress since 2006. But a lot can happen in two years.

  15. Any word on how the Greens are doing in the 3-4 seats they’re second to Labor in? (Northcote, Brunswick, couple of other inner Melbourne seats.) Or was this just a general state-wide vote?

  16. “By the way, is there a Victorian redistribution due before the next election?”

    A state redistribution was last held around 2000-2001 from memory, so would probably be due for the next one before 2010. A federal redistribution is also due in 2010 but might get pushed back until after the election.

  17. #15 Blackburnpseph I agree with your analysis. Jacinta Allan holds Bendigo East and Bob Cameron holds Bendigo West, and both should be safe.

    One country seat at risk for Labor might be Seymour, when the north-south pipeline is an issue. Bellarine, Macedon and Ripon are all country seats winnable for the Libs, but there’s no real sign of a swing yet.

    For the coalition to win in Victoria, they’d need a big swing in the mortgage belt of outer eastern Melbourne. Not much sign of that really. In its first election, the Bracks team got the big swing in country Victoria, but in the second election it was Melbourne that swung.

  18. Re Victoria:

    The Labor Government is travelling well, very well for one in its ninth year in office and it has made real progress that Victorians can see when they take their dogs for a walk, as I do mine here in the wonderful top place to live Shire of Nillumbik, protected by the urban growth boundary and the Green Wedge. The Australian headlines are a hoot, but, as Adam says, almost nobody reads The Australian.

  19. Frankston, mitcham,prahran, forest hill, gembrook to go next election from Melb. Don’t know about the country seats but I susupect there might be a few. it all depends on decent candidates of course. Maybe that’s wishful thinking. Come to think of it, there is no decent candidates left on the cons side. no change then

  20. The Libs thought Prahran was a dead cert for them last time but Tony Lupton beat the “Two Toffs from Toorak”, Ted and Clem, easily. The Lib campaign was gimmicky and patronising. It may have gone over well in South Yarra but down in East St Kilda where I was it offended people. Inner city seats are getting steadily better for Labor and I don’t tbhink the Libs will win Prahran again. Gembrook is an unlikely Labor seat so I guess it will be a struggle in 2010.

  21. Re the seats where the Greens are second to the ALP, one of the points that seems to be missed here is that it would still take nearly 100% of the Libs giving their preferences to the Greens for them to beat the ALP and thats just not going to happen. Its fundamentally different if the Greens are second to the Libs, but even then the ALP preferences are far from 100%.

  22. Ballieu is probably the worst state opposition leader in history. He introverted, factionally-inclined and politically out of touch with a significant portion of the electorate. I can’t even remember the last time I saw this moron on a network TV news bulletin or even a newspaper article. He is completely invisible.

    The parliamentary party should role this idiot before he does anymore damage.

  23. A-C ‘Ballieu is probably the worst state opposition leader in history’

    thought Doyle was not very good either , excellent poll for Labor Party and well deserved as State is well run , big contrast to Kennett’s conservatism Would be intersting to see Country figures as John Brumby apparently has upset many there with plan to pipe water from irrigators to Melbourne

  24. The situation with Brumby and the country is quite ironic – he was the one who swung the country seats prior to 1999 and he himself is a genuine country boy, with a farm at Harcourt.

    The effect of the N-S on votes will be interesting. Certainly there is very vocal opposition to it but it didn’t seem to translate into votes in the Federal election. I know it is a State issue, but the Federal Libs made it a major plank of their campaign (and interestingly, those who did so the most had the biggest swings against them – Indi, McEwen, Murray).

    I would expect to see Brumby refocus a bit on the country over the next two years to shore up the vote there. Again, there is plenty of evidence for country people that Labor has not neglected them – most country towns have had major refurbishments, there has been plenty of support for drought, fire and flood affected communities and major improvements in services.

    The current mob of Coalition country MPs are not inspiring – they seem to run purely on preventing things happening rather than driving the interests of their communities. A ‘smart’ NS pipeline stance, for example, would recognise its inevitability and see the local MP negotiating sweeteners.

    The sort of blanket opposition for opposition’s sake seen in rural Victorian seats isn’t good politics – why would a government listen to someone they know is simply going to be negative, especially in an unwinnable seat? Better to simply ignore them and just get on with it.

  25. Chris at 25

    You should thank Henry Bolte for the Green Wedges as they were incorporated into the planning regime in 1970. No doubt they were under threat during the Kennett years but that threat has not abated in recent years as the wedges have been nibbled away at.

    But back to the main point, Poor Ted was never made to be Opposition Leader, he was meant to go straight into the ministry, and Rob Knowles was anointed as Jeff’s successor (but couldn’t transfer to the lower house in 1999). The alternatives to Ted are pretty thin on the ground.

    Agree with Adam on Prahran, it will be like Melbourne Ports, the Libs outpolling the ALP on primaries, and then the ALP winning on a hefty Green prefernce flow.

    The libs result last time was a double edged sword – Narracan and Morwell were probably unexpected – but they went backwards in seats like Bentleigh and Eltham that they have to win, and in other seats that they need to win some of the incumbents like James Merlino in Monbulk have built up big majorities.

    The best hope for the libs will be when some of the 1999 and 2002 members start to retire especially in Ripon, Ballarat and the outer suburbs. Try as I may, I can’t think of any areas in Melbourne that are trending to the Libs, compared to say parts of the Northern Beaches or Cronulla in Sydney where the ALP held them during the Wran years but the ALP have not come close under Carr or Iemma. Any thoughts?

  26. Except for Seymour, there are no ALP seats north of the divide except in Bendigo. The proportion of votes in the affaected area of Seymour – the East is small, and every other seat is held (mainly by the Nats) by enormous margins.

    Frankly, I think the pipe and the desal plant are just boneheaded when recycling, third pipes and water tanks would save as much. These are issues that will influence my vote … and I live in a marginal seat!!

  27. OK, a little bit of history about water and the thinking of the Victorian government.

    A couple of years ago, Wangaratta nearly ran out of water. It shouldn’t have. It ran out because water was released from storage when it shouldn’t have been. Wangaratta went from having the most secure water supply in the area to nothing.

    In 2006, fires threatened the Thompson catchment. If fire had burnt out this area, one of Melbourne’s major water supplies would have been out of commission for months.

    Over the last ten years or so, rainfall has been at historically low levels – in some cases, 60% or more below the worst ever previously recorded. This was totally unpredictable. The traditional rain cycle has been for (at most) a couple of years of below average followed by deluges. Our whole water supply system is built on these assumptions.

    These incidents – and other similar ones – made the government realise the following:
    i. You can’t assume that any particular water supply is foolproof. You have to have a back up of some kind. You might never have to use it, but it has to be there.
    ii. You have to have some way of supplying water if it doesn’t rain.

    i. The solution to this for Melbourne is a combination of the N-S pipeline and desal. If a major water supply becomes unusable, the N-S kicks in.

    ii. The desal plant is in case it doesn’t rain for extended periods of time. In that scenario, water tanks are useless (they buy you perhaps a month of extra water, at great expense and with health risks), so is stormwater capture. There’s also a limit to how much you can recycle in that scenario.

    Rule of thumb: if a government does something that seems mad (unless they have a history of making mad decisions) then there’s probably something going on you don’t know about.

    The Victorian government is generally regarded (not just by Laborites such as myself) as being fairly level headed decision makers, so in this instance you should be asking what the reasoning is rather than deciding they’ve made a bad decision because they wanted to.

  28. zoom @ 35

    Concur on the Thompson catchment disaster scenario. The water ends up toxic and either needs to be treated or just left alone for a long, long time. One way of treating this is a standing investment in de-toxification arrangements. It will be needed sooner or later anyway. Was this alternative considered, and if so, why was it discarded? Concur also with having a disaster back-up supply. Sound planning. I would also like to see a far greater investment in water use minimization, including some fairly drastic planning and construction rules up front, and whatever retro-fitting makes sense.

    The problem I may have with what you say is: Is just another example of the Big Smoke sucking in and wasting an ever greater proportion of the state’s natural resources? Ironically, the Thompson is already an example of same and, in the Thompson case, the big smoke is helping to kill the Gippsland Lakes through increased salinity levels because of low fresh water inflows. The Big Smoke is OK but the lakes are going down the tube.

    Will the north-south pipeline help divert desperately need environmental flows from the Murray? Come election time the pressure on the pollies to keep the water up to Melbourne lawn growers will be unbearable.

    A reasonable test of the fairness of the pipeline might be:
    Is water from the Melbourne catchments to be pumped north during times when the Melbourne dams are fullish and catchments inland of the divide have had lower than average rainfall? Or is the pipe one-way?

  29. The issue of abortion will have a big impact on the next election if it is introduced in Victoria.
    Those opposed will extract revenge on those who vote for it, whichever side of politics they are on.
    Abortion is the single most important single issue in politics.
    Prolifers have conviction and long memories and will be likely to target people on both sides of politics who vote for the Bill, as they have done in the past.
    It will not be an issue across the board, but MP with small margins will be vunerable.
    A campain targeting those seats could creat a swin of up to 5%, enough to cause some seats to fall.
    I would expect most of those seats to be on the Labour side, but all sides will be affected to some degree, depending on how they vote, and the size of their majority.

  30. “Frankly, I think the pipe and the desal plant are just boneheaded when recycling, third pipes and water tanks would save as much.”

    Pre CC fine to rely on it raining , post CC we can not rely on it raining so abov alternitives just ar not viable , unless we wish any State Govt responsible for leaving 3 million people dry

    People come first , so N-S pipeline and desal post CC were prudent long term water planning Perhaps Seymour may be th Electoral casuality of that decision , and that seat is not worth abandoning Brumby’s wise policy

  31. Ron @ 38

    About desal plants:

    To take all relevant significant considerations into account you would have to:

    1. Do the sums on the amount of carbon dioxide desal plants will pump into the atmosphere, both in construction and operation. If it is a sensible policy for one city, is it a sensible policy for all the cities around the world that may run short of water? Would stop-gap fixing of a symptom actually be accelerating a cause?

    2. Do the sums for the additional cost pressure on the large energy inputs that all the world’s desal plants will generate.

    3. Look at the marginal additional impact of increased ocean salinity generated by desal plants.

    4. Are desal plants the belated poor policy panic reactions of governments that should really have managed water more responsibly in the first place? They have clearly ignored ample warnings to get themselves into this state.

  32. The North-South pipeline is only going to take 2% of the total capacity of Lake Eildon. The problem lies in that Lake Eildon only has 20% of its capacity. If there was a good year of rain, there would be no issue. Of course, if it got a good year, it is likely Melbourne would also have a good year and there is no likely to be the need either.

  33. B.S. Fairman @ 40

    Eildon has good-sized gum saplings and wattles growing over most of its lake bed, so it must have been below capacity for quite a few years. As you say, 2% is 2% of the lake when it is full. When it is taken out of 20%, you are taking about diverting 10% of the available water.

    I just hope that all those water-hungry McMansions, nice green lawns, european-water loving gardens, and shiny cars appreciate it that people come first.

    I am not sure, but I would have thought that there would have been different rainfall patterns in the Goulburn catchment than on the southern side of the Great Divide? If the pipe went both ways, could advantage be taken of this differential?

    If Eildon ever does fill again, it will grow the fattest trout in Australia for a while. But then again, those saplings will catch a few lures too. Just have to face up to the fact that we can’t maximise all our variables.

  34. Vic Govt has had numerous reports on water supply – 5/10/20 year plans.

    The answer is quite clear but it is an issue of political will.

    Solutions such as 3rd pipe, recycled stormwater and desal are the most expensive and impractical options.

    The most practical (and cheapest) option is to recycle sewage – which is actually much easier than recycling stormwater.

    However, it is the least acceptable option to the community. Most people are repulsed by the prospect of drinking recycled sewage – although it is happening O/S and although few realise it, it is currently being done in Australia. There is treated sewage being put into northern Victorian rivers and then extracted downstream for domestic consumption.

  35. Winston @ 42

    During various holidays the Goulburn catchment is alive with tens of thousands of mainly Melbourne-based tourists. The pipeline will suck up their exudates and feed it back to them via Melbourne Water. lol. Poetic justice.

  36. goanna says

    Abortion is the single most important single issue in politics.
    Prolifers have conviction and long memories and will be likely to target people on both sides of politics who vote for the Bill, as they have done in the past.
    It will not be an issue across the board, but MP with small margins will be vunerable.
    A campain targeting those seats could creat a swin of up to 5%, enough to cause some seats to fall.

    Abortion is a nothing issue. It will not have any effect upon the election result.
    The Victorian government will only be beaten if their is a scandal or aN economic collapse. The latter may be likely.
    In regards to water, what is planned is crazy stuff. To me Tim Holding is operating like he did when he was a councillor, this guy simply has no idea and is dangerous, people like him cause scandals.

  37. Marky – as I said, when governments do ‘crazy stuff’ there is a reason for it.

    Brumby has been – and still is – the driver of these water initiatives.

    Anyway, instead of simply saying something is crazy, please explain what you would do to ensure that Melbourne has water if:

    (a) there are below average rainfalls in the catchment areas for more than three years in a row (given that all our storages predicate two years supply of water);


    (b) one or more of these storages is put out of commission for a period of time.

    Boerwar, I’m not that sold on desal myself, but have become convinced that it is the only practical solution to a long period with below average rainfall.

    The only other solution people offer me is Melbournians not bathing as much – which I really can’t see as a realistic option.

    I agree that recycling is worth considering and therefore assume that it has been considered.

  38. Ron the desal plant will use so much energy and will be operated by a multi national wanting to make a profit and recoup its costs . Yet let see here, will prices rise significantly as a result? And why is an overseas multinational running this plant and taking our money overseas?
    i hear many in the water industry including the water association itself are totally confused with what is planned regarding the pipeline and the plant. Thus hardly any applauded Tim Holding’s speech at the Water Association dinner last week.
    The Murray and its lower lakes need water and Government wants to take it away for domestic use. Also doesn’t Bendigo and Ballarat need water to, so where is it to come from for their use. What is planned seems like illogical madnesss. To me Tim Holding could ? be heading us towards a future scandal.

  39. Zoom @ 46

    I agree that governments simply will not survive if they don’t provide shelter, food and water to the overwhelming majority of their voters.

    I am not particularly either a supporter or non-supporter of Brumby. He strikes me as reasonably competent and honest, and streets ahead of his budgie smuggling opponent.

    Someone complained to me the other day that he is showing a bit of a propensity to borrow, which would be a worry, if it were true. I don’t know. Some of his predecessors certainly smashed up the public purse.

    I would be curious to know why you don’t support recycling sewerage as the first way to go apart from the unwillingness of the electorate?

    How far do you think the government can go in reducing demand for water use per capita?

    BTW, I think rainwater tanks are an expensive response to water management.

  40. Lets continue to log our catchments Zoom or continue to log them so we get less rainfall runoffs as young trees soak up the rain. Yep what a great policy this is.
    The north south pipeline is an expensive flop Zoom simple.
    Put simply it is time we looked at reducing our comsumption, and that includes business use. Businesses use so much of our water and waste it as well.
    Time for greater stormwater harvesting and for the recycling of water. Instead we want to take the easy option and as a result we cause more problems.
    Time we faced up to it and started forcing people to reduce their consumption and to stop taking it for granted. We should be using the money to provide people with water tanks and other water saving devices.
    Zoom i know you are a government bureaucrat and this no doubt clouds your views.
    Holding is a prominent member of the right faction and so is Brumby so no doubt both men are pushing an certain agenda, and i feel it is about the pricing of water and ensuring we can make money out of it and allow the government to more revenue in its coffers as a result. And not forgetting that these companies who will own and run it will provide big donations to contribute to the coffers or maybe special deals for MP’s in some overseas hotel or sporting event.

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