Essential Research: 51-49 to Coalition

The latest Essential Research survey is out, but they’ve sent it as a Word document rather than a PDF and for some reason WordPress won’t let me upload it (UPDATE: The good people at Essential have sent through a PDF). It has the Coalition maintaining its 51-49 lead for a third week running, though down a point on the primary vote to 44 per cent with Labor steady on 38 per cent and the Greens up one to 11 per cent. Other questions relate to gay marriage, which 50 per cent support but only 37 per cent consider important, and the National Broadband Network, with 69 per cent agreeing it is important that it be built.

Legal matters:

• The New South Wales government last week passed significant campaign finance reforms through parliament with the support of the Greens in the upper house, including several measures new to Australian practice which could set trends for the federal and other parliaments. Imre Salusinszky of The Australian described the bill, no doubt correctly, as “an intriguing mix of progressive public policy and political rat cunning”. To deal with its major features in turn:

Spending caps. Salusinszky’s “rat cunning” lies in the government’s decision to impose limits on electoral communication expenditure just as corporate donors fall over themselves to curry favour with a soon-to-be-victorious Coalition. More predictably and still more contentiously, the bill defines trade unions as third parties whose campaigning will not be affected by caps on party spending, even if they are affiliated with Labor (Barry O’Farrell has peddled legal advice claiming this to be unconstitutional), and treats the Coalition as a single party. Party spending in the six months up to an election will be limited to $9.3 million centrally and $100,000, amounting to another $9.3 million given there are 93 electorates. It should be noted that “electoral communication expenditure” excludes such expensive party operations as polling and other research, and there is a view abroad that this means it is not as restrictive as it should be.

Donation caps. Apart from the largely symbolic $50,000 cap on donations from the gaming industry in Victoria, these have previously been unknown in Australia. The legislation caps donations at $5000 per financial year to parties, not counting party subscriptions of up to $2000, or $2000 a year to candidates or elected members. Furthermore, donations have been banned altogether from the alcohol and gambling sectors (together with the tobacco industry at the suggestion of the Greens), which have done so much to fill NSW Labor’s coffers over the years. This move is particularly interesting in light of recent retirement announcements by Paul Gibson and Joe Tripodi, who are renowned for having built their influence as conduits for such funding. This will apply not only to hotels and the Australian Hotels Association, but also to Coles and Woolworths owing to their liquor retailing activities. However, a late agreement between Labor and the Greens saw the exemption of non-profit registered clubs.

Public funding. The parties have compensated themselves for donations caps with what will amount to a hefty increase in public funding, under new arrangements that rupture the traditional link between votes cast and funding received. Parties that score more than 4 per cent of the vote will instead be reimbursed for their electoral communication expenditure to a maximum of a bit under $10 million. Parties or candidates only running in the Council have been treated more generously at the insistence of the Greens – constitutional expert Anne Twomey says this might create legal problems as one type of political entity will be favoured over another, though George Williams says this is “arguable”.

Further north:

AAP reports Queensland Opposition Leader John-Paul Langbroek has committed to sweeping electoral reforms if elected to government, including truth-in-advertising laws, campaign spending caps, electronic voting and a referendum on fixed terms if elected to government. In contrast to the spending cap just introduced in New South Wales, Langbroek proposes that campaign spending by (presumably Labor-affiliated) unions would count as part of Labor expenditure. In addition to these largely laudable measures, Langbroek also proposes to require that voters provide photo identification at the polling booth, citing spurious concerns about voting fraud to justify an effective restriction on the franchise to his own party’s electoral advantage.

Jeremy Pierce of the Courier-Mail reports that a Gold Coast couple is challenging a fine for failure to vote in last year’s state election on the grounds that they did not know the election was on, having “never received one bit of information about it”. University of Queensland Law School academic Graeme Orr’s newly published The Law of Politics: Elections, parties and Money in Australia (available now from Federation Press) relates a number of unsuccessful challenges against fines brought by voters on the basis that they lacked a genuine preference between the candidates on offer, but nothing of this kind. UPDATE: Graeme Orr writes in comments: “There is case law rejecting a defense of ‘I had no information about the candidates’. They might win by arguing the general criminal law defense of honest mistake of fact.”

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.

4,251 comments on “Essential Research: 51-49 to Coalition”

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  1. [
    Johnson and Hilfenhaus has to go, they have done absolutely nothing in 5 days

    dovif, Johnson definitely. He is so out of form as to be beyond a joke. Of course having said that, he’ll probably go on to take a 10 for in Adelaide 😆

  2. So not much has changed in the polls, but the high rate of agreement of the NBN being important underlines what we all know, that the Coalition is on a hiding to nothing by opposing it.

    But why let the facts get in the way of a perfectly good blunder?

  3. Doherty is a dud too, so thats 3 out of our 4 front liners that are useless.
    Watson is pedestrian too for that matter.
    Sigh…gonna be a long summer.

  4. [he’ll probably go on to take a 10 for in Adelaide]
    I have not been to Adelaide Oval for a while, since before they ruined it with upgrades. We used to go watch the cricket with deckchairs, esky, picnic blanket and kids running around everywhere. Was great. I hate single plastic seats all in a row.

  5. Is Essential the poll which is the rolling average of 3 weeks polling?
    If so, it would be the slowest poll to pick up a trend right? Right?
    The 50% in support of gay marriage seems low too.

  6. “Gay marriage”
    I don’t have the poll questions to look at, but I would like to know whether the question is: do you support/agree with gay marriage or wtte would you support civil unions, or some other way of putting the question.
    That would affect my answer.

  7. yes had thought about on line polls being the future but may be not.
    as you have to join to be in it ,i suppose, is that correct William.
    One has to register as a willing participant each week for all sorts of questions.
    when they can send a on line poll out for example , people have their email addresses listed like a phone number it would be similar to polls at random

    will that day come i wonder when email address are listed i suppose you could now if you wished.

  8. 4519 on the previous thread

    I think this has something to do with atheists and agnostics being mainly from protestant backgrounds and I think this is because the Catholics tend to still call them selves Catholic but be lapsed Catholics or the like. There seems to be more of a Catholic group culture than a protestant one.

  9. Essential does a 2 week rolling average.

    8: That may be so, but it still has a margin of error and is not immune to the odd rogue poll. I suspect the last newspoll was one.

  10. [lizziePosted Monday, November 29, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Permalink“Gay marriage”
    I don’t have the poll questions to look at, but I would like to know whether the question is: do you support/agree with gay marriage or wtte would you support civil unions, or some other way of putting the question.
    That would affect my answer.

    From the pdf:

    [Same Sex Marriage

    Q.Do you think people of the
     same sex should or should not be allowed to marry? ]

  11. [It is the first time in Test history that a team has passed 450 for the loss of only one wicket against Australia ]

    So I take it that the cricket is not worth watching then!

    Thank goodness for Essential & PB! 😉

  12. may be we should ask essential do the same people do the poll every week
    I wouldnt think so but worth the question.
    do they just go click and out go their emails to who ever.

  13. “Mr Oakeshott lashed out at the Coalition’s tactics and Mr Abbott’s move was defeated.”

    The lead buried in the ABC story, one par from the bottom.

    This is the theme for the summer, once the MSM start to change tack. Watch out for the white-antng to begin, with plenty of references to “senior Liberal sources” worried about how Abboott’s tactics over the NBN actually managed to cement the government’s position with the vital independents.

    Along with the issue of how Abbott couldn’t win in Victoria but Baillieu could, this will be the unravelling that follows the unhinging.

  14. Laocoön is strolling through this month’s Harvard Business Review, which dedicates 20+ pages to “Leadership lessons from the military”, leading with this choice quote:
    [Military work is risky, pressured, and fast-changing. It calls for seemingly contradictory capabilities: absolute clarity about the mission at a high level, extraordinary adaptability on the ground, and a knack for managing complex, technically precise systems. These are the same skills that companies today need to prevail in a climate of intense economic uncertainty.]
    And so it goes on, blah, blah, blah.

    Now excuse me for being cynical, but on a day of wiki-leaks and a week after revelations that the US military has been conducting peace negotiations in Afghanistan with an imposter, for a year, I think this all rings a bit hollow to me. “Absolute clarity”?? “Adaptability on the ground”?? Managing complexity?? I don’t think HBR has a tendency to irony.

    Funny how a war-footing mentality reaches into the most obscure of corners. At least HBR is doing the patriotic thing…dulce et decorum est…

  15. Essential isn’t showing us anything we didn’t really expect, I suppose.

    If, as was the case early on, more Labor voters were registered for the poll, the figures on 2PP would probably be reversed.

    If I am reading the situation correctly, now there are probably more conservative voters registered at Essential. I mean, the Young Libs could not and would not allow any polling organisation favour the ALP, could they?

  16. On the gay marriage question, I’m a little confused, firstly the christians seem to think there is some sacred meaning in the word ‘marriage’ which is clearly just stupid, there have been civil weddings for decades. On the other hand assuming that all other legal rights are 100% equal regardless of gender makeups of legally sanctioned ‘partnerships’ what is with the interest in the marriage word?

  17. The ER question on gay marriage is “Should people of the same sex be allowed or not allowed to marry?”

    The elderly (65+) oppose it 68%.

    Catholics (58%) and atheists (63%) support it.

    They don’t have a table of religion vs support for some reason.

  18. Whateverpedia

    it is called diversification, all the bank have some exposure to other market, to ensure if the Australian residential market collapses, it does not take the bank with it

    So it is perfectly fine for NAB to have overseas investment, except for their inability to figure out what is going on with their transfer system, but they are still making money …. way too much from Australians

  19. [Do you think people of the same sex should or should not be allowed to marry?]

    Of course NOT!

    Marriage is a union between a MAN and a women.

    Unless only one of the two partners has got one of those, then two people CANNOT get married. 😛

    And it won’t get up in a referendum!

  20. 41% of those supporting same sex marriage think it’s important and 36% of those opposed think it’s important.

    That makes it a vote winner.

  21. [CentrePosted Monday, November 29, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Permalink58% of catholics support gay marriage?
    Put them in a voting booth and see how many of ‘em support it.

    Especially after attending Mass and hearing the sermon from the priest – oh and a letter from the Archbishop 🙂

  22. [but they are still making money … way too much for Australians]

    This from a conservative?

    dovif has switched from the Libs to the Greens.

  23. [CentrePosted Monday, November 29, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Permalinkbut they are still making money … way too much for Australians
    This from a conservative?
    dovif has switched from the Libs to the Greens.

    Nah, more like son of Truthy – see the victorian thread 🙂

  24. [Of course NOT!

    Marriage is a union between a MAN and a women.

    Unless only one of the two partners has got one of those, then two people CANNOT get married.]

    Sorry Centre, but I disagree.

    Any human being no matter what their race, religion or sexual preference should have the same rights. To me, it’d be like not giving Aboriginal aussies the vote — just because there is something different about them.

    Marriage is an artificial contract that allows for legal binding between two people. A person’s sex should not be an issue if people seek to be legally bound.

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