Newspoll: 55-45 to Coalition in WA

Thanks to Possum for alerting me to more strange behaviour from Newspoll, in this case the first set of state results since last September’s state election which they have snuck on to their polling archive without telling anyone. It shows the Coalition with a relatively mild honeymoon lead of 55-45 on two-party preferred, although the primary vote lead of 47 per cent to 33 per cent looks rather more impressive. The Greens are on 13 per cent, which is about what they polled at the state election. The Greens of course have been given something more exciting to dwell on with their win in Saturday’s Fremantle by-election, which puts the numbers in the Legislative Assembly at 27 Labor, 24 Liberal, four Nationals, three independents of varying political backgrounds and one Greens. This also gives the Greens the fifth seat needed for official party status, with the extra parliamentary resources this entails.

In other Western Australian news, the result of September election finally takes effect in the Legislative Council tomorrow, May 22 being the changeover date for its fixed term. This will produce an increase in the chamber’s numbers from 34 to 36, as the electoral reforms which introduced one-vote one-value for the lower house also remodelled the upper house from a combination of seven- and five- member regions to six regions of six members, half-Senate style. The rural malapportionment which gave the metropolitan and non-metropolitan regions equal numbers despite a 78-22 population imbalance remains, with the more remote Agricultural and Mining and Pastoral regions being still more over-represented than the South West region. Most importantly, the Liberal and National parties will have a combined majority of 21 seats out of 36, with Labor on 11 and the Greens on four. Previously the numbers were Labor 15, Liberal 15, Nationals one, Greens two and one independent, the latter being former Labor MP Shelley Archer who was expelled from the party as it sought to distance itself from links with Brian Burke in the lead-up to the federal election. A useful report on the changeover was featured on Stateline last month.

UPDATE: Final score from the Fremantle by-election: Carles 10,664, Tagliaferri 9,100. Margin: 3.96 per cent. I expected Labor would rein it in a little on late counting, but no.

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.

49 comments on “Newspoll: 55-45 to Coalition in WA”

  1. Wilfully off topic here. Do all WA bludgers still have their roofs and nobody else’s in their backyard?

    Also, silly question time. How do they stick an extra two chairs into the Legislative Council overnight without it looking all tacked on? Or do they have an oversupply of chairs in there already?

  2. William, on the Coalition side I thought it was 24 Liberal plus 4 (not 3) Nats (Wagin, Blackwood, Centrel Wheatbelt and Moore). Or I am missing something?

  3. The Legislative Council reform was bad. Probably the worst decision taken by a Greens MP in Australia. But not as bad a when the ALP introduced the zone system in Queensland in 1948.

  4. I wonder if the Greens will elect a leader and if so who?

    My advice would be Carles because she is in the Legislative Assembly and would be able to take on the other party leaders there.

  5. Bob,

    How appropriate: The Word Web online Dictioonary defines convenor as “The member of a group whose duty it is to convene meetings”.

    So the highest Leadership role in the Greens is someone invested in the responsibility to plan to think about doing something at some undefined time in the future.

  6. Actually, the Vic, Tas, ACT and Federal Greens have parliamentary leaders.

    And GG, they dont just convene the meeting. They are the chair, making sure everyone gets their say, keeps the meeting going and not degenerating into a brawl (unlike some ALP branches), and so on.

  7. [Actually, the Vic, Tas, ACT and Federal Greens have parliamentary leaders.]

    [The ACT Greens have elected a leader – but don’t call her that.

    Meredith Hunter says she is the “parliamentary convenor” of the Greens, which won an unprecedented four seats in last weekend’s ACT election, giving the party the balance of power.

    Ms Hunter conceded she would have “a leadership role”, but said the Greens would act as a team and that she should be called the convenor, not the leader.

    “We’re the Greens and we do politics differently,” Ms Hunter said as she announced her new position.

    “We’re not the old parties, we don’t do things the old way.”

    When told by journalists that she would be called the leader, Ms Hunter replied: “I can’t control that, can I?”]

  8. Dave,

    Just responding to the definitions by the font of all things Green, Bob.

    So, they are a chair? Is this some modernist version of Kubuki Theatre running the show. How very enlightening.

  9. Ok so the ACT dont. I thought they had.

    GG, you know very well that I meant chairman, chairperson, whatever. So dont try acting the idiot, it demeans you.

  10. Dave,

    It’s you guys who can’t get your story straight!

    Typical Greens, resort to personal abuse as soon as you are questioned?

  11. [Wilfully off topic here. Do all WA bludgers still have their roofs and nobody else’s in their backyard?]

    We still have our roof, but lost power between 12.30pm and 9.20pm.

    Bloody annoying.

  12. Greg is generally considered to be the leader by the media, and consequently by a lot of Vic Greens members, but the MPs have tried to divide up the roles usually taken by leaders amongst themselves. Only Tas and federally is there an official parliamentary leader.

    In most overseas Green parties there are co-leaders (usually one male, one female). I suspect we we will move to this as we have a larger number of parliamentarians. When you’ve got 4-5 MPs co-leaders is pretty silly, but its worked well for New Zealand who have varied between 6 and 9 over the last four elections.

  13. [ It is very hard to see Adele Carles winning at the next general election. To do so she would have to build up one hell of a presence – not just in the electorate but in Western Australia generally. She would have to become ‘famous’ like, say, Graeme Campbell from Kalgoorlie and be seen as an ‘independent’, someone synonymous with the area.

    Campbell earned capital by regularly bagging his party, something a Green is not likely to do. ]

    What the hell’s he talking about here? Campbell was an Labor member who quit the party and lost the seat to the Liberals; Carles is a Green who won her seat from Labor. They’re not comparable at all.

  14. And quoting Wiliam:

    [Labor didn’t back Tagliaferri because they were inept, they backed him because they had done polling which showed support from Liberals would make him competitive, and they had no chance without him. However, they hadn’t reckoned on the force of the campaign waged against him by his local enemies. Perhaps they should have, but that still leaves unanswered the question of what they should have done instead. Under any of the other scenarios, we’d still be hearing Labor’s ineptitude, but for slightly different reasons.]

    Labor was faced with a Catch 22 situation, either pre-select a union hack to please the Branch Members and risk being criticised by the Greens for treating the electorate as mugs or pre-selecting a high profile local like Tags and getting the same reaction.

    I think william’s earlier assessment of the Greens “sub-contracting the dirt campaign to 3rd parties obviously worked.

  15. Bird, his point would be that Campbell retained a seat Labor would otherwise have lost in part because he’d distanced himself from the party. I don’t agree with him about Fremantle, of course – I think he might not be aware that Carles very nearly won the seat last year.

  16. Hmm. Very harsh words by Norman Moore about Kierath’s third wave IR reforms in a Ten News report on the Legislative Council changeover, and over-my-dead-body talk about a fourth wave. They seem to have learned an obvious lesson from WorkChoices.

  17. [Hmm. Very harsh words by Norman Moore about Kierath’s third wave IR reforms in a Ten News report on the Legislative Council changeover, and over-my-dead-body talk about a fourth wave. They seem to have learned an obvious lesson from WorkChoices.]

    Indeed, and interesting about Adele introducing a Privare Members Bill to ban Uranium Mining which may pass in the Lower House with Labor, and possible support from at least one of the Independents (Woolard), but would be stalled in the Upper House, unless the Nats oppose it.

  18. [They seem to have learned an obvious lesson from WorkChoices.]

    And one hopes Malcolm Turnbull and the Federal Libs take note 🙂

  19. Don’t particularly remember that being on the table – which is not to say it didn’t happen – but I’m a sucker for this kind of thing, so I worked it out. Liberal 16 (they’d have won four in North Metro, but missed their third in South West); Nationals 4 (two rather than three seats in Agricultural; Labor 13 (extra seats in South and East Metro); Greens 3 (one in each of the metros, but would have missed out in Mining and Pastoral). Grist for Adam’s mill perhaps, if he’s reading. Still a clear Lib/Nat majority though, bearing in mind that we’re still talking about a malapportioned system.

  20. I thought that the 3×7 + 3×5 system was what Labor were proposing (I read that somewhere but I can`t remember where). What was the original Labor proposal?

  21. Re Adele Carles (and I know I’m late to the party) – I don’t agree that any other Labor candidate would necessarily have lost. Labor members that I know as far away as Wanneroo received a curious piece of mail (I ended up with a copy of it) practically begging for them to support Tagliaferri. Plenty chucked that in the bin as they had personal misgivings about Tagliaferri – some even privately wanted the Greens to win to send Labor head office a message. I remember at the byelection I competed in, Labor had people such as Kim Wilkie (Park Rec), Kim Young (Gibbs St) and other big names as booth captains. I’d be curious to see what level they pulled in for this one.

  22. Oh and I could be entirely wrong, but a number of my friends down there reckon a significant % of the Liberal vote actually went to Labor but almost exactly the same number of Labor voters switched to voting Green (the primary vote stayed about the same). It would probably have varied by area – I’d expect the upper East Fremantle area to behave differently (i.e. more homeless Lib voters going Green) to the rest of the electorate, much as Wilson did in Vic Park and the Singleton-Golden Bay and Baldivis areas sometimes did in the now-abolished Peel, although that is purely speculation on my part. With an unknown 2pp Green vs Labor at the 2008 election (anyone have an entirely academic figure from WAEC for this?) I don’t know whether this is even likely from the figures, but I’ll throw it out there anyway for debunking or thought stimulation 🙂

  23. I’m still yet to see a critic of the Tagliaferri preselection say who they should have picked instead. However, the booth results suggest your assessment at #37 is correct. I’d have thought though that that would have meant the East Freo/Bicton type voters were going to switch to the Greens in any case because their interest was to damage Labor, while fewer of the Liberal voters elsewhere would have backed Labor if they didn’t have a candidate they were comfortable with. That would tend to negate any anti-Tagliaferri vote. Evidently that’s what Labor’s research showed. Antony Green guesstimates that the the 2008 result had a Greens margin over Labor of 4.3 per cent, so Tagliaferri in fact picked up a 0.4 per cent swing.

  24. The changeover to the new Legislative Council also appears to be creating an opportunity for further sinking of the boot about the last election. The Sunday Times and Western Patriot both have articles about Batong Pham, now former MLC for East Metro.

    The Western Patriot suggests that had Pham been endorsed at number 3 the ALP may have won the position which leads me to wonder, William, if there is a big difference between the general swing and that for the Upper House regions? Or would it be fair to say that the aggregate swing in the Lower House electorates covered by an Upper House region be pretty much replicated?

    In short, do candidates matter in the Legislative Council?

  25. The answer to your concluding question is almost certainly “not much”, as far as voter support is concerned. However, the Western Patriot article argues, rightly or wrongly, that Batong Pham would have secured preferences from Family First or the CDP. So in that sense, quite possibly.

  26. [However, the Western Patriot article argues, rightly or wrongly, that Batong Pham would have secured preferences from Family First or the CDP. So in that sense, quite possibly.]

    Batong Pham was a member of the former New Right Faction which included John D’Orazio and there was speculation that Batong may have been part of certaqin Branch Stacking activities, which Carpenter was trying to reform the Party from.

  27. [However, the Western Patriot article argues, rightly or wrongly, that Batong Pham would have secured preferences from Family First or the CDP.]

    Ahead of the Libs??

    The WP must be dreaming, why would CDP or FF do that?

  28. And we all know how that event has come back to haunt the ALP. For example, the Alcopops was blocked by Fielding. If the ALP had followed normal practice of preferncing the Greens, Alcopops would have passed.

    And the ALP wouldn’t have to please as many groups to pass the Carbon Reduction Sceme.

    Funny how stupid decisions come back to haunt you.

    Lets hope that mistake is never repeated.

  29. The Perth Voice (NOR version of the Freo Herald) has had a couple of interesting articles about local govt lately. Last week they had one about first past the post voting; apparently the head of the WA Local Govt Association likes it, because:

    [ Under the FPTP system candidates need only to win the support of their local community whereas under (preferential) there is a greater focus on running mates and backroom deals that suit the organised, larger political parties. ]

    Eh? Anyway, the mayors of Perth and Stirling agree. Lisa Scaffidi gives a similar argument against preferences I’ve seen used by the English lately; candidates running against each other shouldn’t have to strike deals with each other. (Bird solution: don’t do preference deals then, and/or have OPV, but then that’d be too easy, wouldn’t it.) John Hyde (Perth MLA) points out it gets a bit weird with multi-member wards, like Perth (4 members) and Vincent (2).

    This week, there’s a bit of a grump about councillors being in political parties without being upfront about it; example being Nick Catania, mayor of Vincent (and also father of Vincent 😛 ) – he’s obviously a Labor man, used to be a state MP, but is a bit shy about it apparently. The Voice rang up a whole bunch of councillors in Perth, Vincent, Bayswater and Stirling to ask them if they were members of any party; most were either ‘no affiliation’ or didn’t respond. Family First have one in Stirling. the Greens and Libs one each in Bayswater, and there’s several Labor ones around the place. One of the ‘no affiliation’ fellas is Lou Magro, mayor of Bayswater, who went for Labor preselection in Morley against Reece Whitby but apparently ain’t in the party any more (probably followed D’Orazio out). Peter van Onselen weighs in… he reckons parties should endorse candidates, so people know who’s in which party. I’m not so sure about that… I like the idea of local councils being non-partisan, even if half of them are party members.

    Also, Bayswater was the only council where everybody responded to the Voice. They go 1 Grn, 3 ALP, 1 Lib, 6 no affiliation.

  30. [Peter van Onselen weighs in… he reckons parties should endorse candidates, so people know who’s in which party. I’m not so sure about that… I like the idea of local councils being non-partisan, even if half of them are party members.]

    As evidenced by Generic Heffalump’s outburst against the Fairfield Council in a previous thread.

  31. Bird of Paradox, @46, the reality is that in multimember wards even FPTP operates to force ‘teams’ to be created. If, say, two positions are available, two candidates can work together in order to cover more of the electorate with a shared HTV.

    On the other hand, FPTP can operate as an optional system, if candidates are able to advocate a ‘tick one box only’ HTV, with voters electing not to select a second candidate.

    As for declaring affiliations, I think it is reasonable for the electorate to expect to know about such affiliations prior to voting. This is a different matter from official party campaigning. It surely cannot be an issue of candidates’ privacy (should any candidate be fool enough to make that claim). Clearly political affiliations have a direct connection to seeking elected office, and should be declared.

    However, if Western Australians are serious about this all they need do is ensure that their local media outlets ask the question. To date, the media hasn’t really pursued this issue, leaving everyone with the unrealistic and incorrect belief that local government is above party politics. True, there may be greater opportunity for intra-party rivalry where affiliations are not declared: it’s much easier to disagree with your fellow party members if no-one knows and are thus unable to make mileage of it. But if anyone thinks that party political machines aren’t involved at least at a branch level in local government elections, they’re fooling themselves.

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