Newspoll: 59-41 to Coalition in NSW

The latest bi-monthly New South Wales state Newspoll result is about what you’d expect. Conducted through November and the first half of December, it has Labor’s primary vote down four points to 26 per cent, the Coalition up two to 44 per cent and the Greens vaulting five to an unprecedented 17 per cent. Labor’s primary vote equals the record low set in November-December last year, which is three points lower than the next worst ever major party result (as I illustrated at the time with this chart). The Coalition is up from 55-45 to 59-41 on a two-party measure that tells you less than the primary vote, due to optional preferential voting and a combined minor party and independent vote that exceeds Labor’s.

For all that, Kristina Keneally’s personal ratings are better than she might have feared. From a sample of the 637 most recent respondents, she leads Barry O’Farrell as preferred premier 35 per cent to 34 per cent, and more say she will be a better leader than Nathan Rees (24 per cent) than worse (16 per cent). The former ratings are about the same as Nathan Rees’s towards the end, but they have been achieved against an O’Farrell whose approval rating has improved six points to 44 per cent, with disapproval down seven to 30 per cent. Approval and disapproval ratings for Keneally are not provided.

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.

222 comments on “Newspoll: 59-41 to Coalition in NSW”

  1. For those not familiar with NSW Labor politics, I want to offer an insight into why the NSW government is in such a dire situation in the polls at present. With Labor polling comfortably in most states, and in some extraordinarily well, one can’t help but notice the differential performance in NSW.

    This is not meant to be an explanation of the reason why NSW is performing so badly. Rather it is an explanation of one of the reasons why. Further it is a thumb nail sketch – and not a learned academic article. To examine the causes of NSW Labor’s present woes in such a manner would take up the space of a very large book.

    Up until the 1990’s Young Labor was controlled by the Left. Along comes Joe Tripodi and Reba Meagher, from the Right. They share an almost a pathological contempt for the Left, and anyone who has views differing to the Right. They set about taking control of YL for the Right. They succeed. They crush the Left. At the same time Tripodi is mentored by Eddie Obeid. Both Obeid and Tripodi serve Labor well. They do the hard yards. They recruit many new members to the ALP.

    As a result of a tragic set of circumstances, Reba Meagher is given an opportunity and seizes it, to enter parliament at the age of 26. It is a safe Labor seat. (In 2008 she leaves parliament and at the subsequent by-election Labor suffers a 22% swing against it, but still retains the seat with a 8% margin). Shortly afterwards, Tripodi is elected to the parliament at the 1995 general election. Tripodi and Obeid are able to work hard to encourage like minded people into the parliament, whilst at the same time keeping at bay the Left. They are dismissive of anyone with views contrary to theirs. They are particularly supporters of business and are pro development. Bob Carr, the Premier at the time exerts a tight rein on Labor. As a result Obeid and Tripodi are marginalised. Indeed Carr had little time for Obeid. After the 2003 election he sacked Obeid from the ministry. Carr wrote in his diary: I took on the Obeid faction, the Terrigals, and forced their leader out. Squalls and turbulence but I won, breaking Obeid’s power. Now he flutters around me, desperately reasserting his relevance by managing and massaging backbenchers.

    Carr retired in 2005. At that stage everyone expected Carl Scully to be elected as the new Labor leader, although Morris Iemma (who actually became leader) was highly respected. Scully himself understood Obeid was supporting him. However, when Obeid told him he did not have his support, Scully withdrew and Iemma was elected unopposed.

    In 2008, Tripodi and Obeid withdrew support from Iemma (as a result of the disastrous plan to sell off NSW electricity, which they supported) and Rees was elected unopposed as Leader. Rees, from the Left was in an unusual position. He was reliant on continued support from the Right (the numbers in caucus are about 50 Right – 20 Left). Frank Sartor was sacked from cabinet. Sartor claimed that he was sacked because he did not approve enough developments. Keneally was installed as Planning Minister.

    In November 2009, Rees with the blessing and support of PM Rudd was able to get the authority of state conference to appoint his own cabinet. He sacked Tripodi from the ministry.

    On 3rd December 2009 Rees lost a leadership ballot to Keneally, who became Premier.

    All these changes in personnel, whilst perhaps the grist of politics to some, and perhaps emanating from skills finely honed in YL, do not impress the electorate. The change from Iemma to Rees can be understood by the electorate. Iemma had staked his premiership on electricity privatisation. Electricity privatisation was hugely unpopular in the electorate. The change from Rees to Keneally is not understood. The most charitable explanation for it is personality politics. Simply put, the electorate detests the government being used as a private battlefield on which personality politics are to be carried out.

    Nathan Rees himself spoke of wanting government based on merit and integrity. He said:
    “I will not sacrifice the interests of the people of NSW to the vested interests of self appointed power brokers.”

    In those words, Rees seems to have accurately captured the thoughts of the electorate. Hence Labor’s standing in opinion polls.

  2. The cost to the NSW electorate of the recent Rees-Keneally change is yet to be fully tabulated. There are 2 periods of paralysis or partial paralysis of governance in NSW in 2009:-
    1. The period during which Rees was distracted from his job of governing by infighting (this dates back to September 2009 at least).
    2. The period following the assassination until Keneally is eventually able to catch up with where the government should have been.

    Another example of this leadership battle cost is the delay in implementation of the FOI laws. Had there been no distractions, and given the vital priority Rees had placed on FOI reform, one would expect a minister would be applying extreme pressure, suggesting alternative courses of action etc to ensure critical times were met, They have not been. FOI reform is now delayed considerably. An uncharitable person might suggest that there was a deliberate “go-slow” campaign. I do not.

  3. It will be interesting to see what consequences Keneally’s “preaching the Bible” has on the electorate.

    Keneally said at the launch of a ferry named Mary McKillop:

    “The Lord calmed the seas of Galilee and brought his disciples to safety, and we commend those who use this ferry to his care.”

    The vessel was blessed by Cardinal George Pell at the launch.

    For those who believe the story that Jesus Christ caused the seas to be calmed, is a gigantic fairy tale, I suspect will not be impressed by such statements by a secular leader.
    http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/a-blessing-come-hell-or-high-heeler/story-e6freuy9-1225813995017

    It would be interesting what the Secular Party’s views might be on the subject.

    http://www.secular.org.au/

  4. Hopefully the lead up to the 2011 election will not see another Law & Order bidding war, with each of the major parties attempting to show that “mine is bigger than yours”, by promising increased sentences.

    However, the administration of the criminal justice system may become an election issue, unless the government moves in 2010 to increase funding to the DPP to enable cases to be prosecuted in a timely manner (without undue pressure to take short-cuts).

    In Wollongong, there are concerns of a blow-out in listing times between charge and final hearing. The courts have offered to extend sitting hours available by making an additional judge available to hear cases, but the DPP has claimed it is insufficiently resourced to make available the necessary personnel to present the cases to the court.

    This is not a problem confined to Wollongong. Wollongong is merely an example of a problem occurring in many centres.

    http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/news/local/news/general/plan-for-second-wollongong-court-thwarted/1710114.aspx?storypage=1

  5. [ It would be interesting what the Secular Party’s views might be on the subject. ]

    Heh, I voted for them in 2007 (I’m one of these weirdos who researches every group on the upper house list, no matter how eeny weeny). The mighty Group Q Independents, who managed to finish dead last with 271 votes out of more than a million (compare to the 100,000+ the Greens got). They could probably get it together a little bit more for next time.

  6. Peter Young 203

    “Electricity privatisation was hugely unpopular in the electorate.”

    Try Electicity privatisation was hugely unpopular in the unions, most other states had privatised theie electricity, and not privatising it will means NSW will pay an estimated 60% more in the next 3 years.

    The only people who would benefit from not privatising is the unions. It tells you how NSW Labor works, they have no plans for the future and are just looking after their hangers on

  7. One of the conditions Nathan Rees imposed on becoming a member of Keneally’s cabinet was the continuation of campaign donation reform. Keneally did not agree to Rees’ conditions and he was not appointed to cabinet. One doesn’t know whether Keneally disagreed with all Rees’ conditions or just some of them. Time, and Keneally’s actions or inactions, will eventually provide the answer.

    Whether donation reform may have been a sticking point is a moot point. However, it would seem from past behaviour, that Keneally was involved in “donation games”.

    In 2007 Frank Sartor’s Rockdale campaign gave over $19,000 to Keneally. Days later Keneally gave $20,000 to Linda Scott, the ALP candidate for Sydney.
    Scott did not disclose the donation from Keneally to the EFA.
    This was said to have been an oversight. By August 2008, Labor was aware of the oversight, but at that time had not filed an amending disclosure return to correct it.
    http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/labor-election-funds-tangled-in-development/2008/08/24/1219516262700.html%20

  8. One of the problems with the EFA has been that up until August 2008 it had no legislated audit powers.
    In other words, it merely received disclosure returns, filed them away, published them and sent out the cheques for election funding entitlements. It was not pro-actively involved in checking returns etc, for example if candidate X disclosed a donation to candidate Y, it didn’t check if candidate Y had disclosed it. The EFA relied on reports being made to it by the public (that is it was reliant upon the public being the auditor). In it’s annual report it disclosed it’s modus operandi:-
    a. Complaints were required to be supported by evidence (in other words the public needed to be able to prove their complaint before any action would be taken
    b. Persons responsible for lodging disclosures might be asked to file amended returns where there was inadvertence.
    c. On a case by case basis a decision would be made if enforcement action for non-compliance would be taken if there is evidence that a person made a false disclosure.

    The August 2008 audit powers were inserted following a bill introduced by the Iemma government.

    The 2008-09 annual report dated 30 October 2009 stated:
    “The EFA plans to conduct regular compliance reviews of disclosures lodged by political parties, groups, candidates and elected members and investigate disclosure matters that come to notice.”

    The report also disclosed that following the Iemma amendments the budget allocation to the EFA was increased, allowing for 6 new positions to carry out the additional duties. However, by 30 June 2009, only 2 of the 6 positions had been filled. The report does not disclose any work done by the audit division, other than work on developing an audit policy.

    Up until 30 June 2008, the EFA had only 2 full time employees working in administrative capacities (to receive,file and publish returns and send out cheques and other duties). It can easily be understood the EFA was under resourced to do much more than ensure returns were lodged.

    Incidentally, I have searched the EFA website to the best of my ability. I am unable to find any reference to an amended return lodged by Linda Scott, to incorporate the $20,000 donation from Kristina Keneally (as stated in the SMH article #211, the original return only shows $1,320 donated by Keneally).
    see: http://www.efa.nsw.gov.au/disclosures_and_reports/state_elections_prior_to_2007/state_general_election_2007

    The EFA website lists amendments made to the original declarations – on 12 March 2008, 2 April 2008, 27 June 2008 and 29 January 2009. None relate to Linda Scott.

  9. Fresh from attempting to unsuccessfully ban the wearing of “annoying” t-shirts during the Popes pilgrimage to Sydney in 2008 (current High Court CJ French, then of the Federal Court ruled the law invalid), Kristina Keneally has called on clothing store Supre to withdraw from sale t-shirts bearing slogans such as ‘Santas Bitch’ and ‘North Pole Dancer’. Presumably she realises that legislating won’t be effective and is hoping ‘Catholic guilt’ might influence the store.
    http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/premier-kristina-keneally-gets-shirty-at-supre-t-shirt-slogans-santas-bitch-north-pole-dancer/story-e6freuy9-1225816054764

  10. Looks like John Della Bosca is ” keeping the dream alive “, by continuing to promote himself in the background to the media. It seems, he has accepted he will not be Premier in this term of Parliament, and is positioning himself for the position of Leader of the Opposition after 2011 and will use that position as a springboard into the Premier’s job.
    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/della-can-breathe-life-back-into-the-moribund-party/story-e6frg7eo-1225815257385

  11. KK has been spreading some Xmas cheer around some of her suffering colleagues.

    Tony Stewart got the gig after the NSW election in 2007, as Deputy Speaker (extra salary and expense allowance -$53,000), then dropped that gig for a spot as a Minister ( extras $81,000), but then had to make do without any extra pay for about 14 months after being sacked by Nathan Rees in November 2008. During this period he racked up huge legal bills mounting a doomed Supreme Court challenge to his sacking. So the extras of $26,000 a year he will now get as a Parliamentary Secretary will be a welcome relief.

    Likewise, for Noreen Hay. Although, she has never made the heady heights of a ministerial position, she has been in and out of a Parliamentary Secretary’s job like a proverbial jack in the box.
    http://www.smh.com.au/national/premier-promotes-stewart-20100106-ludp.html

  12. This peculiar letter appeared in the January 6 2010 edition of Central Magazine.
    I am a member of the ALP and secretary of the Darlington branch of the party and a member of a different faction to the Premier for the first time in years. I see a small ray of hope and if I was Barry (O’Farrell) I would be a very nervous . If I was the Greens I would not bother campaigning in Balmain or Marrickville. Kristina may work.
    TREVOR DAVIES, Darlington

    Mr Davies was placed No 4 on the ALP group ticket in the City of Sydney Council elections in September 2008. He scored 43 below the line votes. The ALP dropped from 3 councillors to just one (1) in the new council. The Greens doubled their representatives on the council, going from 1 to 2 councillors.

    Mr Davies is a regular columnist in and News Editor of the South Sydney Herald, a free monthly newspaper.

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