Newspoll: 56-44 to Coalition in NSW

The first bi-monthly NSW state Newspoll since Nathan Rees replaced Morris Iemma as Premier shows Labor support plunging to new lows, down four points on both the primary vote (to a record low of 29 per cent) and two-party preferred (to 44 per cent). The Coalition primary vote is up two points to 42 per cent. For all that, Nathan Rees has established a surprising lead over Opposition Leader Barry O’Farrell as preferred premier, of 35 per cent to 28 per cent. Rees’ debut satisfaction rating is 39 per cent against 26 per cent dissatisfied, compared with 41 per cent and 30 per cent for O’Farrell.

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.

84 comments on “Newspoll: 56-44 to Coalition in NSW”

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  1. Don’t blow your load all at once, GP… the election’s over two years away yet, and Rees is still doing OK for himself by the look of it. Anyway, O’Farrell could get Brogdened by his own party yet… if the Libs stuffed up 2007, they can’t be a dead cert for 2011 just yet.

    Seconded for that Greens vote, by the way. Bearing in mind how well they’re done in WA, the ACT, and the bits of the NT where they gave it a shot, and that Vic poll in the other thread, and how very, very unpopular Labor is in NSW, that could be interesting.

    As for this:

    [ Its 29 per cent has just managed to scrape in equal to the combined support for the Independents and Greens. ]

    Here’s a hypothetical which may just happen. Imagine if Labor take such a pummeling that (1) the Lib/Nat coalition forms government, and (2) Labor are a minority within the non-government MP’s, a la Canada 1993. Sounds crazy, but if all the rural independents plus Clover Moore hold their seats, a few more win in Newcastle and Wollongong like in 1988 (or even 2007, Lake Macquarie), and the Greens take Balmain, Marrickville and maybe one or two more, it’s an outside possibility if Labor get really thumped. Who would be opposition leader then… Richard Torbay?

  2. I can’t see how Labor could win the next election from here. It’ll be interesting to see whether the Greens can take this opportunity and turn it into a few seats. They’d want to look at getting to strong candidates into possible seats who could set them up for the future.

  3. Um, Labor would still remain the largest part of the opposition, even if they are a minority of the opposition, so Labor would retain the Leader of the Opposition. Only if they were overtaken by the Greens (still a long long way away) would the position go to someone else.

  4. Yes, it goes to the leader of the party with the most seats who is not in government. It’s hard to imagine a non-government party getting more than Labor.

    In the ACT, however, the Leader of the Opposition is elected, so technically it could be anyone who has majority support of the chamber.

  5. Brodgen “Brodgened” himself.

    As much as I hate to say it, if you go all sleazy and racist in front of journalists, it is only a matter of time before it catches up to you.

    As for NSW Labor, they are working hard to protect seats like Riverstone and Londonderry with all their cancelled public transport projects in the North West. I’m also sure the kind voters of Wollondilly also love being forced to pay for their kids to catch a bus to and from the local high schools (sometimes up to 10km away) as well.

  6. I suppsed I’m biased as an engineer but the latest rail project cancellation in NW Sydney really is indefensible:

    This project was not some grandiose Metro – just duplicating a current single track rail line with inadequate capacity. This is basic work needed to make the system function. It has already been planned in combination with other engineering studies of the Sydney rail network. If they can’t find money for this then they clearly have no intention to do anything with public transport. I could understand politically if they had decided to write off the NW Sydney seats and invest in improvements elsewhere, but they are not doing that either.

    How do these guys get re-elected?

  7. Another 29 months to go. Yes some hopeful Australian Labor Party barrackers will say, a week is a long time in politics, that Nathan Rees can turn it around, and that the Liberal Party will ‘implode’ or find another way to stuff it up. All of those are (remote) possibilities but I suspect most people now just want their State back. They want to feel proud again of being a citizen of what was once considered the ‘Premier State’ and to feel secure in the knowledge that they are being well governed. Inevitably, they will work out come 26 March 2011 that the only way forward is to change the party in government.

    In my opinion, it could get even worse for the ALP (that is, worse than 29% as its primary vote). There is still plenty of time for people to become even more fed up with NSW Labor than they are now, and just as Barry O’Farrell may not be the Liberals leader at the next election so also Rees may be gone. Morrie Iemma was likable and decent even though he was an inept administrator and politician. Albo’s wife could be asked to step up and that might just save Marrickville for the ALP (sorry, Greens’ supporters).

  8. Surely Labor couldn’t change leaders again. I agree Rees looks like an obvious mistake but surely changing leaders again would only damage them.

    I also imagine 29% would be very close to the floor of the ALP vote.

  9. In its heart of hearts, I don’t think NSW Labor is really expecting to win in 2011. They just want to staunch the bleeding and avert an electoral wipeout. If Baird starts whiteanting O’Farrell, it will make Labor’s task just that little less difficult.

  10. LTEP @ 11 I agree with you to some extent or to put it another way, I know there is a point where the non-Labor vote in NSW cannot get any higher. I accept that in normal circumstances NSW is a ‘natural’ Labor state. However, my guess is that more of the ALP primary vote, could go to the Greens and with OPV in NSW, the ALP will not be able to claw it all back on a notional 2PP vote (to the extent there is any point in having a 2PP at the next NSW election). I suggested Carmel Tebutt to take the leadership as she might be able to stem some of the leakage of votes to the Greens.

  11. I cannot wait to get rid of this useless government, but the lack of talent in the ALP is staggering atm, as well as the incompetancy of its parliamentary wing. I cannot remember a time when there is so much inept scandals in one year

    From Iguana, Iemma blackstabded, Costa’s hole in budget, electricity privatisation, dancing police minister, distress staff, lack of infrastructure unless Carr is on the Mac Bank board.

    But we are going to need an effective opposition once Labor is kicked out. And if the Coalition get control of the upper house, it might not be a very good scenario for the Coalition (and Greens might become the defacto opposition)

    An ineffective opposition is bad, only slightly worse than ineffective government

  12. William

    Is there any way to sack a government for gross incompetence, if there is, we reached that point yesterday.

    The biggest surprise about the poll is that 29% still would vote Labor. Is that every member of the public sector union.

  13. The NSW Labor Party should be thrown out in a landslide in 2011 – I’m a Labor-preferencing Democrat but in 2011, I’m exhausting my preference. There surely can’t be anyway BOF could be worse than the present mob…

  14. [I can’t do it, Dovif, if that’s what you’re asking.]

    You can banish nay sayers to the ethernet and just as easily bring them back, you can also see far into the future predicting the outcomes of the will of the people.

    Yet, you cannot do this one simple little thing?

  15. Only 60% of Australian wants the Bali bomber dead in one poll, but 90% of Australian wan the NSW ALP to die in another poll.

    If Osama (not Obama) was leading the NSW Lib, they would probably still win

  16. [If Osama (not Obama) was leading the NSW Lib, they would probably still win]

    Which, as I’m fond of saying, is pathetic.

    Ask NSW voters why they hate the government and then ask them what policies the Libs have to remedy those problems.

    I don’t look at a Liberal victory and say “Yay, finally we’re going to have better public transport, schools, hospitals, planning regulations…” because we aren’t. The advantage when the Libs win is that Labor has an opportunity to clean itself out and actually refresh its lineup.

  17. This is a bit of a strange article. Some guy in Kellyville (been there once, never trying that again) has this idea:

    [ “We should all band together and vote Labor, so we might get a say. That’s the only way to get anything,” he said during the two-hour drive to work in Glebe.

    “It’s a safe Liberal seat, so Labor just ignore it. They make policy to ramp up population but don’t plan any infrastructure.” ]

    This is so broken-headed I’m not sure what to make of it. He’s got a point about safe and marginal seats, but there’s no parallel universe where Labor would do anything any better. Sounds like Stockholm syndrome or something.

    There’s a bundle of articles about the ‘mini-budget’ on the SMH site. One of them, about the Harbour Bridge congestion toll and cancellation of the Manly ferry, makes me think the North Shore seats could end up Lib/Green or Lib/Ind, with Labor becoming as irrelevant as the Liberals are in Balmain or Marrickville. Or has that already happened?

  18. [Or has that already happened?]


    In North Shore for example, The Greens outpolled Labor 17.9 to 17.8.

    In Willoughby, Labor for 15.2% and it was a Lib/Ind race.

    Pittwater, Labor again outpolled by The Greens (they only got 7.4%!).

    Manly, same thing.

    You get the idea.

  19. Oz

    You are trying to defend the indefensible.

    Lets take a look at the failures

    Despite having record revenue from Stamp duties (a tax Carr promised he would scrap) despite getting record revenue from GST, 20% over estimate, NSW is in a $1 billion budget blackhole.

    So what had this incompetent State Government done

    Cross Tunnel – a fiasco, being sue by the developer, taxpayers will pay for this projects for years to come
    Rail – trains not on time, government maintenance department (25%) causes 50% of faults, government employees ripped off the system for $1 million, was not caught for 10 year. Rail services cancelled, Milemon train disaster. (not enough electricity to run the trains)
    Roads – lack of planning and lack of public transport caused major conjestion
    Sydney Ferry – horrible maintenance record, record losses, regular cancellations

    North West Rail link – promised for 4 election, scrapped after 4 election
    E-tickets, because of union opposition, plans scrapped, NSW government is being sued.

    Falling apart
    Not enough doctors
    Dubbo hospital planned by government with consultants was unsafe.
    Lack of funding despite higher contribution from the federal government and private health insurance
    Regular cases of people giving birth in toilets

    Maintenance 3 years behind schedule
    Had to go to federal government to ask for money for software

    Salination plant the only infrastructure project undertaken, because Bob Carr wanted to join Macquarie Bank.

    Could not see generators to save its bacon, despite all other states selling theirs at least 5 years ago
    Lack of planning means the Sydney grid won’t supply enough energy for Sydney by 2013

    Oz – Labor had spend money like drunken sailors, but they have not spend any of it on Infrastructure, health, education, police or transport. They have run the state bankrupt. It will take 20 years to fix, the problem is so big that it is hard to figure out where to start.

  20. Oz @ 28 The real advantage in changing the party in government is not in giving Labor an opportunity for renewal (that is a second or third order issue), rather it is in bringing a fresh set of perspectives to governance in NSW. A prevailing group think that states the party which has been out of government for 4 terms has no policies and (even if it does) such policies if carried into effect will not remedy deep seated problems in NSW, is lazy and inaccurate shorthand for saying only one side of politics (centre/left) is capable of rectifying the problems. In this respect, it is very interesting to note that a much hackneyed expression on PB threads is ‘born to rule mentality’ and that it is usually directed, with characteristic partisan rancour, at supporters of one side of politics only.

  21. Oz the ALP had been given 12 years of good economic time to plan for the future, they had spend the 12 years being incompetant in everything they have touched. The only thing that the NSW ALP had done well is provide comedy relief for people who runs betting on which NSW ALP minister will get kicked out next.

    If an audit was down, they will probably find a blackhole somewhere in NSW.

    Howard keep saying the following

    ALP cannot be trusted on the Economy – ticked
    ALP is controlled by the Union – ticked

    The more the NSW ALP does, the more it blacken the ALP brand

    I think Kevin Rudd’s Xmas wish would be for the NSW ALP to be kicked out of Government

  22. david
    without wishing to condone or condemn either side in nsw (btw i have v good friends in both state lib and lab)
    1rees is the new broom or get out of jail free card-he is hoping to bring about the “systemic” change but if he fails I agree the labs are out (though not for 4 terms)
    2ofarrell has a lot of will to change “systemic” stuff in the libs as well-and with howard gone he has much clearer air in which to operate
    3from labs side it is more pragmatic post Carr and most decisions will be about defending the “base” .
    4from libs side the reality is to sort out the factional nutters(who would gladly sell everything) and present their “vision” for NSW.

    The elector is ultimately the one who will determine which party has changed.

  23. What part of my #34 did you not understand? I dislike the NSW Government more than you. That’s been in pretty much every post I’ve made on this topic. You can stop pretending that I’m defending them, because I’m not.

    The NSW Libs aren’t going to fix any of the things that the people of NSW are upset about.

  24. To Gary Bruce from the other thread:

    Iemma was the equivalent of Kirner. The problem was Iemma got Debnam who was even more unelectable than him. Had Brogden shut up and behaved himself rather than making it easy for the far right nutjobs in his party to get him we would already have a Liberal government. Good thing too. The Labor Party would have been able to clean out the stable and might have only been looking at 8 years and could even have been pretty competitive after 4 if the Libs were left to carry the can for what’s going on today.

    If ever there was an election a party should have wanted to lose for it’s own sake it was the last NSW election. They are now many times worse than Kirner, and thanks to fixed terms we’re going to have another 2 and half years to suffer. The people of NSW want to change government now, and being forced to wait while these clowns cut services and raise taxes as if trying to bring on a recession isn’t going to improve their mood. They are heading for Qld Liberals under Beattie territory. The Greens are going to take seats off them to left and the Libs to the right.

  25. Gusface @ 36 I agree with your 4 points. I add that with 28 and a bit months to go before the election things might get a lot worse for Labor. I now have real doubts that Rees will still be parliamentary leader of the ALP when the election is held. If the ALP are reduced to a cricket team after the election (and that will depend on whether the Greens snare some inner city seats), Labor will struggle to get back in 4 or even 8 years which would be amazing because NSW has been a ‘natural’ Labor state over the last century. Rees himself is from the Left faction. The (once powerful) Right faction have a dearth of talent at the moment so it will take a little while to replenish the stocks. Of course it can and will be done but I don’t expect it will happen anytime soon. In the meantime, and as I said in an earlier post, I think most people in NSW just want their State back. I expect the next 28 months to be very trying and difficult times for the people of NSW.

  26. David
    The team rees will take to the next election will have a 60/40 chance to win.The current disconfort is akin to a newborn feeling its way but rees has a mandate from the base to reform.
    The team ofarrell takes to the next election are still nonentites and face the battle of the indies in some of the heartland.
    The outside chance is the greens having a BOP but aside from getting a seat ot two highly unlikely.
    the electors in the west are the key to the election and so far the liberals have not cultivated that area.

  27. In one sense I agree with posters on both sides of this one – NSW Labor doesn’t deserve government, but neither does the opposition show signs of being good enough either. However, I don’t think that is a justification for keeping the status quo. There are two problems in NSW government – incompetence and corruption. Changing government may not eliminate the incompetence. But it will reduce the corruption. The latter thrives in an environment of entrenched power where people believe they can abuse their position without fear of losing it. The solution to that is to turf them out. If the new lot fail too they can be turfed out too.

    I’m afraid I have already changed from hopeful to skeptical of Rees. He is either a puppet or more of the same. I see no sign of any change of direction in this mini budget. The real problem is some bloated departments that need to be either cleaned out or forced to do more. That is why they can’t afford to fund hospitals properly or build adequate infrastructure. It is not any lack of planning skill in NSW. The RTA have people who are very competent; they just aren’t allowed to do their job.

    I think the failures of NSW labor are actually worse than isted by Dovif. Even when things were going well, it was due to two massive financial free-kicks that were not of their own making – the Sydney olympics and then the boom in house prices. The underlying weakness in recurrent spending has been bad and getting worse for over ten years.

  28. Soc
    How would you reform the various depts?
    How do you generate revenue from a basically artifical housing market (thank you mr howard-not) that is being dragged back into the real world.

    would you slash and burn eg jobcuts holus bolus or
    draw a line in the sand and restart from the top down eg trim the senior exexcs

  29. [The RTA have people who are very competent; they just aren’t allowed to do their job.]

    Depends which part of the RTA you’re talking about. 😉

    No offense, if

  30. Gusface

    They (problematic departments) have all been studied to death and solutions proposed, but the solutions are never implemented by NSW labor. Often the repors don’t even see the light of day. The solutions vary – in some cases it would mean job losses, but in most it would mean making people do more for the same money; in other cases people could be retrained to do something useful. I am not suggesting we throw peopel on the scrap heap. But conversely, I don’t see it as virtuous or an act of social justice for people to be in jobs on up to double the average wage for doing tasks than are either poorly done or even useless or obsolete.

    I am most familiar with transport and will give some examples. In the case of Sydney rail, nobody would suggest they should sack train drivers (they need more), but they might retrain a lot of redundant station staff to do maintenance, or drive a few more trains. In fact, more train drivers would actually reduce costs, because the (deliberatly induced and maintained) driver shortage means they all make a fortune in overtime, despite having base salaries higher than a starting doctor. Ben Chifley would turn in his grave.

    I have heard of other examples all over government. Meanwhile some front line service providers like nurses, doctors and teachers are worked to the bone with no overtime. Its the inconsistency that makes it so unjust, as well as inefficient.

  31. Oz

    I don’t work for the RTA, nor ever have. However I am an engineer and know professional colleagues who do. Many are extremely frustrated by years of bad decisions, often taken contrary to technical advice. Hence I do sympathise with them.

  32. Soc
    rees stated that 20% of the SES was gorn.

    I believe this is the start of reforms which rees stated had been swept under the carpet- as I said this the premier that nsw needed a while ago

    but geez lousie the guy has inherited a shambles so cutting him a bit of slack is fair .

    next july we should revisit rees and then deliver a report card on his performance

  33. Soc
    on 702 he was nailed a few times by glover but held his ground-this bodes well in terms of making the hard decisions.
    he indicated that institutional rot and rorts were high on the hitlist and that a lot had to be done.

    perhaps the step by step approach starting from the top is the most prudent -regardless of who was running the show

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