Newspoll minus three days

Some tidbits to tide you over through the middle of an agonising week-long federal poll drought.

• Chris Back, who narrowly failed to unseat independent Alfred Cove MP Janet Woollard at the September 6 state election, has been nicely compensated with the Western Australian Senate vacancy created by the retirement of Chris Ellison. It was initially expected that the position would go to Deidre Willmott, who stood aside as candidate for Cottesloe so Colin Barnett could cancel his retirement plans and lead his previously demoralised party to victory. However, Willmott withdrew from the race a few weeks ago when it became apparent she wouldn’t win, thereby continuing the state party’s sorry recent record on female representation. The West Australian reports that Back won the preselection vote “on preferences from party treasurer Dean Smith and the pre-contest favourite, senior vice-president Anthony Jarvis”. It also informs us that Back was “the veterinarian who controversially did not swab champion racehorse Rocket Racer after he won the 1987 Perth Cup by 10 lengths”. Back has more recently been “group managing executive of oil and gas company Equinox Energy”, but it’s “his role in the Rocket Racer affair which attracts the most attention”. Curious then that the paper didn’t say a single word about it prior to the state election.

• In case you missed it, George Megalogenis’s analysis of the grey vote in The Australian last week was essential reading like only Megalogenis number crunching can be.

• Courtesy of Possum comes a detailed breakdown of figures from Monday’s federal ACNielsen poll. Possum also weighs in on under-publicised Nielsen online polling.

• The recent Newspoll on issue perceptions inspired me to knock together the following chart based on its surveys going back to 1989. The chart averages the results for each year, in which time Newspoll usually publishes about three such surveys. Some issues are featured more frequently than others: immigration for instance is usually included once a year, so the spike to Labor in 2005 might not be all that meaningful. Note that “economy” wasn’t featured as a distinct category between 1991 and 2004.

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.

223 comments on “Newspoll minus three days”

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  1. Juliem,

    This article has a good wrap-up of the US automobile industry problems. Doesn’t look too good for your dad’s retirement & healthcare benefits though.

    [For instance, it is critical for General Motors to be able to break its contracts with both its unions and its dealers. It needs to dramatically reduce its legacy benefits, perhaps even eliminating health care benefits for union retirees.]

  2. We didnt throw money at Ansett but Rudd and Co thinks its ok to throw money at an industry that has been terminal for decades…

    Surely we could spend billions of dollars better?

  3. On cars, I’ll try to offer a non-ideological answer. As an engineer call me biased but this is a technical problem, which I have no faith in economists to come up with a sensibe answer on (as with so many aspects of transport and industry policy…)

    In terms of economies of scale, there is no reason Australia can’t have a viable auto industry – at one million new car sales per year, its easily big enough to justify a manufacturer (not four though). Sweden had two manufacturers on a smaller domestic demand (but with much bigger exports). There are two problems with the industry though – much of the plant is old and obsolete (eg former Mitsubisihi) and foreign owners would probably rather manufactuer in their home plants and import – so they only do the minimum necessary to obtain local subsidies. Its a long time since someone built a large, modern, highly automated (i.e. competitive) auto platn in Australia. So yes, we could have a viable auto industry, but the only reason we keep the one we’ve got is jobs in marginal electorates. We need a new auto industry. Fast.

    That being said, building “green” cars is a big opportunity market. Unlike the rest of the global car market, it is not an over-supplied market segment. But will Ford or GMH invest here to create it? I doubt it. I think we are better off being pragmatic – offer conditional assistance if Toyota (or someone else) if they actualy build one, but only on a matching basis. So Ford and GM shoudl get nothign unless they commit to building an advanced car. Most past assistance has been used for doign nothign more than retooling factories to build the latest Detroit tank here.

    As an aside, I think we exaggerate our techncal capability to do such thigns. Governments have run down funding for engineering and scientific research in both acadmeia and CSIRO for decades. Its an open question whether we still have an adequate skill base to build a genuine industry here. We’re flat out building electric trains.

  4. Glen the Liberals are just as guilty if not more so as Labor of throwing money at a failing car industry. And it’s not even in their ideology lol.

  5. Centre, I personally like this paragraph.

    [The profound challenge facing the local car and components industry presents a profound challenge to the government. The government has yet to display awareness of the urgency or the demands of this situation. The Industry Minister, Ian Macfarlane, is well-intentioned but of only moderate capacity. He has made rousing speeches on the need to do better, and has made trips to Tokyo and Detroit to urge head offices to maintain Australian-made componentry in Australian-made cars. Macfarlane has also reminded headquarters that the industry receives substantial subsidisies from the government (estimated at $8.3 billion for the 2000–15 car plans).]

  6. The AFR made noted in one of it’s articles today the wasted tens of billions of the Howard Costello era. I wonder if that is going to be made into an issue, it should.

    Given the strengthening personal data for Rudd and the weakening of Turnbull I would be guessing it to flow through as a TPP increase in the next Newspoll, all other things being equal I wouldn’t be that surprised to see a 57/43.

  7. Then you get an industry like “childcare” where just one operator, ABC were getting 44% of their annual income from the taxpayer and able to make an annual profit of $80m. Just goes to show that “close connections” to the Liberal/National Coalition pays off remarkably well. Corporatise the profits and socialise any losses.

    [A fortnight later, on March 28, 2006, Italian-born Jennie George, former ACTU president and now federal Labor MP for the NSW coastal seat of Throsby, south of Wollongong, nailed Groves and his “impeccable Coalition connections” in a speech to Parliament as the Howard government was pouring $1.7 billion a year of public money into its child-care benefit scheme, including $128 million a year in subsidies straight into the pockets of Fast Eddy’s booming company. Thirty-two months later and ABC Learning has collapsed under debt exceeding $1 billion, Groves has been forced to resign, his estranged wife is suing him for $40 million, and the Rudd Government is temporarily propping up ABC Learning’s 1100 child-care centres across Australia with a $22 million handout that ends on December 31.]

    [But clearly, back in March 2006, when the Groves corporate bandwagon was belting along, sweeping up admirers and investors as fast as it was piling up 44 per cent of its income from Howard government subsidies, nobody was listening to people like Jennie George, not even her own party. George’s parliamentary speech that March night came during debate on a piece of 2005 budget legislation the Labor Opposition was trying to amend. Six of the seven speakers were Labor MPs. George was last on the list. The relevant Howard minister, Queensland’s Mal Brough, ended debate after two hours and the Coalition voted down Labor’s amendments. The next day the Senate comfortably endorsed the bill.]

    [Not free, though, of taxpayers having to pick up the bill after the biggest, and greediest, child-care conglomerate in the country goes belly-up under one government’s policies and its successor has to fork out $22 million just to keep 1100 child-care centres operating, but only for a very limited time. Another plus for the dead Howard government.]

  8. Glen refer to steve’s post @ 206 of the substantial subsidies handed out by the Howard government.

    There was no doubt, if there was a vote in it, Howard would throw bucket loads of cash at it!

  9. Glen @ 100

    I agree that it is far more difficult to shine in Opposition than it is in Government. The latter has the money, the initiative, lots of ‘friends’, and all the skills, experience and intellectual support that public service departments bring with them. However, this means that the Opposition has to work harder, not less. Others have made comments about the current Opposition seeming to have the notion that they are the natural party of government. The corollary for many of them seems to be that there is no need to do any work until they get back in. It appears to be a bit of psychological trap, particularly for the old hands. If this leads to ratings of ‘C-‘ (struggling) for many in the Inner Shadow Cabinet, so be it.

    Looking at the three you specify. Keenan has the poisoned chalice. His Shadow Portfolio responsibilities have been one of the epicentres of Government v Opposition debates. His visibility is not the issue. The issue is that he has not cut it. His opposite number has used the portfolio to establish herself solidly as future prime ministerial material. Cobb has done nothing in relation to policy development. His party is disappearing around him. He has contributed nothing in parliament. The only thing he appears to have actually earned in 12 months is his rating of C-. Perhaps you would like to specify the contributions Ciobo has made in parliament, in committee, in party policy development or in party reform? I am willing to re-rate him if you come up with some positives. Until then, he must be counted as part of the very large core of dead weight of the Inner Shadow Ministery.

  10. Boerwar, thoroughly enjoyed the work you did in assessing the Shadow ministry. There is no doubt your writing and research skills have taken a quantum leap in the time you have been commenting here.

  11. Gillards performance is highly overated….

    Keenan hasnt done anything wrong vis a vis the debate on IR, he hasnt had to debate Gillard on IR yet he will next year i think…but at the time being the Coalition doesnt have an IR policy and Labor arent pushing hard on theirs so i hardly think it is fair to dismiss someone like Keenan this early…the mere fact he was put in the job means the party thinks he’s up to it…and granted he is against Gillard but IR is a dead issue right now and all Gillard has done is stand in for Rudd i havent seen her say or do anything on IR or Education…where is the Revolution???????

  12. [i havent seen her say or do anything on IR or Education…where is the Revolution???????]

    You clearly haven’t been watching TV for the past 12 months.

  13. Adam in Canberra @ 125

    I have noted your comments on Abetz’ performance and have upped his rating to B (Above average but short of a star). I hope I have not over-egged the cake on the basis of your comments. It does raise the technical issue about whether ‘average’ actually refers to the rest of the Opposition. If so, average is pretty average.

    With respect to Abbott, I believe that your comments add to our understanding of his personality, and possibly to the gender nature of portfolios (lol), but do not affect his rating, which remains at C (Average bordering on mediocre). I agree that he, along with most of his colleagues, is operating below his potential.

  14. Meanwhile, this is one way to chew up their “stimulus package” quickly.

    [Construction on a new nuclear power plant started Friday in east China’s Fujian Province, the first nuclear power plant to get into the saddle after the government announced its huge stimulus package to boost domestic demand.]

    [The project would require an investment of an estimated 100 billion yuan ($14.6 billion) for six sets of million kilowatt generating units.

    Two units would be built and put into operation in 2013 and 2014 for the first phase of the project.]

    They’re certainly not messing around and it won’t hurt their Co2 emissions reduction program any harm either.

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