Galaxy: Anna Bligh approval up 35 per cent

UPDATE (21/2/11): Today’s Courier-Mail brings the voting intention part of the poll, and it shows that in spite of everything the LNP still leads 55-45 on two party preferred, narrowing from 60-40 in Galaxy’s November poll. The LNP leads 46 per cent (down two) to 35 per cent (up seven) on the primary vote, with most of Labor’s gain apparently coming at the expense of the Greens – although I can’t see precise figures for them. Anna Bligh however has shot to the lead as preferred premier, turning a 49-35 deficit at the November poll into a 58-33 advantage.

UPDATE 2: GhostWhoVotes in comments: “The Greens are on 12 percent (-4) and Langbroek’s approval ratings are approve 40 (-1) disapprove 44 (+5).”

Brisbane’s Sunday Mail has brought us a second instalment from the Galaxy poll of 800 Queensland respondents which yesterday showed the Coalition maintaining its 55-45 lead on federal voting intention. Today we are informed that the poll also covered approval of Premier Anna Bligh and assessment of various leaders’ responses to the flood and cyclone crises – but not it seems of state voting intention (UPDATE: GhostWhoVotes reports this will follow in tomorrow’s Courier-Mail). As anticipated, the results show an entirely unprecedented improvement in the fortunes of Anna Bligh, whose approval rating was at 25 per cent in a Galaxy poll in November and 24 per cent in the quarterly Newspoll conducted between October and December. Now it’s at 60 per cent, which is almost certainly a record-shattering turnaround.

Investigation of the Newspoll archives shows the best improvement recorded by a Premier or Prime Minister from one poll to the next was achieved in April-July 1988 by Western Australian Premier Peter Dowding, who in his second poll as Premier enjoyed an 18 per cent increase to 55 per cent. This came off a 20 per cent fall in the “uncommitted” response, which was at 49 per cent on his debut. The next best result was when John Howard’s approval rating lifted from 50 per cent to 67 per cent in his fourth poll as Prime Minister in May 1996, which was conducted in the wake of the Port Arthur massacre (and proved to be the highest approval rating he would ever record). This was accompanied by a 7 per cent drop in disapproval to 14 per cent and a 10 per cent drop in uncommitted to 19 per cent. By contrast, Bligh’s uncommitted rating was just 9 per cent in the most recent Newspoll, so the hike in her approval rating would have come entirely off her disapproval rating.

By all accounts, the electoral opportunity presented by a perishable reversal in Bligh’s fortunes will prove too tempting for an ageing government to pass up. The resignation of three cabinet ministers on Friday, together with a decision to delay the introduction of the budget a week to May 14, had the Courier-Mail reporting “speculation the Government could seek to take advantage of Ms Bligh’s positively-received performance during the disasters for an election as early as late April”. The more widely cited scenario has involved an August election triggered by the release that month of the initial findings of the flood inquiry.

The other published findings of the Galaxy poll are that 93 per cent rated Bligh’s handling of the natural disasters as good, compared with 82 per cent for lord mayor Campbell Newman and 61 per cent for Julia Gillard. Eight-four per cent rated the state government’s handling of clean-up of the floods and cyclone as good.

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.

47 comments on “Galaxy: Anna Bligh approval up 35 per cent”

  1. I wonder how her approval rating will appear when the flood inquiry reports that the Wivenhoe Dam authority’s actions were very questionable, to say the least (I am being very careful not to be defamatory).

    I am not saying this is her fault, or that of the government’s per se, but with whom will the buck stop?

  2. New US Folly in M East.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2011-02/19/c_13739945.htm
    ……………………………………………………………..
    The US seems incapable of learning anything in the Mid east.

    A resolution from over 100 countries,debated in the UN Security Council ,condemning Israel’s continued building of settlements on Palestinian land on the West Bank,was carried 14-1 in the UN Security Council…..but was then vetoed by the USA.

    This was after US Jewish Lobby groups ran an extensive Lobby campaign in Washington.
    There is much anger across the Arab world at this display if the power of Israel and the Zionist Lobby to control US policy in the M .East.
    This comes at a time when the US is under fire all across the Arab world for it’s support of dictators like Mubarek.
    When will they ever learn ? When will they ever learn ?…as the song says .

  3. So at least we now have a rough guide as to the difference when a Labor Premier is able to act as a Premier minus the poisonous media filter she is normally subjected to in the normal course of her work.

    It was a sharp contrast being able to see the Premier consistently explaining choices in front of the cameras when normally anything about Bligh is preceeded by “the state Opposition says…”, The “beseiged Premier…” or some cheap shot followed by a line about losing a AAA credit rating or lying about assett sales prior to the last election.

  4. Independently thinking
    [I wonder how her approval rating will appear when the flood inquiry reports that the Wivenhoe Dam authority’s actions were very questionable, to say the least (I am being very careful not to be defamatory).]
    Perhaps you know more hydraulic engineers that live in Brisbane than I do, but nobody I regard as knowing what they talk about thinks that will happen. Everyone I know familiar with the Brisbane River hydrology thinks that the managers of Wivenhoe Dam did an excellent job. Where there will be embarrassment is for those responsible for past land-use planning decisions that put development into flood-prone land post the 1974 floods. But that was not Bligh’s decision, which she would already know. Both Bligh and Newman will come out of any inquiry looking very good. Some of their predecessors, on both sides, may not.

    As for the poll, I am pleased that Newman got a large bounce too. The cooperation between BCC and the State was exceptionally good, and he deserves credit for that.

    I think it would be a mistake to rush too quickly to an early election. It is not just the inquiry. The budget for reconstruction still needs to be passed, and I would expect that voters would react badly for any attempt to go political before that is sorted out.

  5. [(I am being very careful not to be defamatory).]
    No, you are trying to insinuate with every keystroke. The waffle written about the Wivenhoe Dam on the basis of a few speculative claims from people who have never had any direct role in its management or analysis of the catchment was defamatory.

  6. Socrates,
    hear hear,
    The management of both Somerset and Wivenhoe Dams was outstanding.
    The rainfall over the week of the floods was greater than 1974. There was much more water in the Lockyer catchment than 74.
    If you look at it all calmly the volume of water in the Lockyer has caused enormous impacts.
    The Dam had to be opened when it was or we would have had an uncontrolled release which would have seen an even worse outcome for the Brisbane flood plains. All of the industries at Fishermans Is, Lytton, Pinkenba and the airport would have gone under.

  7. Thanks paddy2.

    Yes the advice I was given (from hydrologists in Brisbane) was that the peak inflow in the catchment for this flood was 12000 cubic metres per second, compared with 9000 in 1974. The Wivenhoe people did a great job to then keep flood levels more than a metre below 1974 levels. And as you say, the water coming down the Lockyer valley couldn’t be stopped, because it merges with the Brisbane River downstream of the dam.

    For a poster who calls themselves “Independently Thinking”, there is a remarkable tendency for their posts to match conservative political talking points.

  8. Nonsense about dam management aside, Bligh has deserved her bounce, and her recent style of no-nonsense communication with the electorate, followed by decisive action, is a breath of fresh air. I hope she sticks to this manner in the reconstruction, and doesn’t waste time staring at polls to decide election timing.

    I think there is an ironic lesson for politicians, that in over-focusing on polls and election timing, you are more likely to send your polls down. People elect politicians to govern, and I think few do so on the basis of a single poll. Over-analysis of polls and political messaging can be self-defeating. If Bligh keeps focusing on governing, and ignoring the rest, her polls will continue to do better.

    I think it was the same for Labor during the GFC. When Rudd and Swan focused on the stimulus and keeping people employed, their polls were great. As soon as that was over and a bunch of “master strategists” started saying what to do about climate change and other issues based on polls and focus groups, their polls went south fast.

  9. Even from waaaay over here in the west, Anna’s performance was impressive.

    She was totally across all the issues, and information that needed to be disseminated.

    I would be interested in understanding the the behind-the-scenes structure that allowed her to be across all of this, and if it was just part of the disaster management scenario planning, or was something new.

  10. Re Bligh and bailleau
    <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
    Even in Melbourne Bligh's virtuoso performances at the time of the disasters was a subject of much favourable comment…conversely Bailleau"s rather unimpressive apperances during the Victorian floods have been criticised.

    He seems a bit remote and almost too casual,and lacking the sense of urgency that Bligh gave to the events.in Q'Land.
    It's hard to put a finger on his failings,but Bailleau is unimpressive in a number of ways…surprising in a man so"big" who in one way dominates in a group,but I suspect some in Victoria are starting to wonder about Ted,who seems to lack some qualities that a leader requires.
    Ted is the absolute "small l Melbourne Liberal " (think Hamer!) but he has some very reactionary people in his cabinet,and a small fringe of right-wingers whose views will cause some angst in Melbourne as time goes by..they have a mad Sydney flavour to them…His AG is on past record with some very anti-gay comments which will do the Libs no good.at all….in Prahran which they won this time,there is a large gay community…dangerous ground there.
    .
    Several new Libs are fundamentalist Christians too ,while Bernie Finn ,is a hard-line Catholic Right-to-Lifer who wouldn't be out of place in Opus Dei….and Ted has a margin of just two seats 45-43…one by-election away from a new election.

    .Now he has said that the police,to who he promised a big pay-rise will have to do with a very modest rise,and they are talking of industrial actions,of the sort they took against Kennet in his last days…likewise with teachers…

  11. It is amazing when one has a real neutral media and it just reports the facts and presents them to the electorate instead of spin. Just imagine where labor would be nationally if the same standards applied accross the country.

    I hope Anna Bligh builds on this and does not rush into an early election remember WA and NT, and even VIC where a fairly good government was outed.

  12. Socrates
    My info is coming from someone who has just moved to Queensland to work in the engineering field, specialising in this very area. He is a strong Labor voter, for what it is worth.
    I was not aware that the conservatives were bagging the dam operators (not consciously anyway, I may have seen them on a news broadcast but forgotten now as not important). I do not parrot uncritically whatever one major side or the other says (or anyone else for that matter).
    You are mistaking my viewpoint as being conservative because it is does not match your uncritical cheering for whatever the ALP says/does. Again, my engineering mate laughed his head off when Yabbott during the floods said there should have been more dams built. Even I know that is not a reasoned approach to flood mitigation and Yabbott’s comments were pathetic political opportunism.
    I wholeheartedly agree with your post #11 – it shows you can understand how a government should govern (and all credit to Bligh too).
    Anyway, I have been around long enough to know the Labor Party cheer squad members (and their Liberal counterparts) won’t bother listening to what I have to say.
    Finally, I hope my engineer is wrong and the Wivenhoe ops are proven to have done the right thing and I will be happy to post an apology.

  13. I’m absolutely sick to death of everyone praising Anna Bligh so much. She fronted a news camera every few hours and just had to repeat herself, “this areas’ flooded, that areas’ flooded and emergency personnel are in place etc etc”. Everyone has put her up on a pedestal like she is a god.
    All hail her highness Anna Bligh, for she has acheived the miracle of breath and speech.

  14. Preferred Premier

    Anna Bligh 58%

    John-Paul Langbroek 33%

    Things just keep getting worse for the LNP. I heard there are rumblings going on in LNP circles about leadership challenges in a matter of weeks. Even talk of Can Do Campbell or Mal Brough getting a safe seat and then replacing JPL. The rumblings shall only get louder!

  15. IT 17

    Fair enough and I’m sorry if I misinterpreted your motives. The comments you raised have been made as a political attack by othes, hence my reaction. As others have said though, I am not a Labor stooge; I am not a member of any party, and my views on NSW State Labor for example, are quite caustic.

    As for the dam, I am myself a civil engineer and other engineers who work in Brisbane in the firm I work for are the source of my information. Also, there have been public statements from the dam’s designers and eminent engineers from UQ, notably Neal Ashkanasy, the dam’s designer, and Trevor Gregg, the dam’s economic analyst. Neither thinks this flood could have been avoided, because it was bigger than 1974, and more than half the water entered the river downstream of the dam. See:
    http://www.theage.com.au/environment/water-issues/dont-blame-dam-operator-says-designer-20110220-1b13o.html
    http://www.crikey.com.au/2011/02/16/wivenhoe-release-couldve-prevented-floods-nonsense-say-experts/

  16. [I’m absolutely sick to death of everyone praising Anna Bligh so much. She fronted a news camera every few hours and just had to repeat herself, “this areas’ flooded, that areas’ flooded and emergency personnel are in place etc etc”.]

    Looked to me like she was doing way more than that, senior, though I can understand conservatives wanting to try to create a theme that was the case after the event. Funny none of them actually seemed to be suggesting it at the time.

    She had the look of someone who was actually working her butt off. You don’t get that level of obvious fatigue by just doing a few pressers and judging from both the official announcements and the tweets from her and her office etc she was involved in way more behind the scenes. Throughout she kept up a demeanour and a focus for the public that was just what the doctor ordered. Certainly looked from afar as if the authorities struck just the right balance between making people take the situation very seriously but without creating panic, too.

    No doubt the waters will get muddied by the political process after the event, but I reckon she would have every right to feel proud of her Governmental and administrative responses during a time of real crisis.

  17. [Things just keep getting worse for the LNP. I heard there are rumblings going on in LNP circles about leadership challenges in a matter of weeks. Even talk of Can Do Campbell or Mal Brough getting a safe seat and then replacing JPL. The rumblings shall only get louder!]

    Actually, that wouldn’t be that bad of an idea. If JPL is the weak link in the chain but the LNP are otherwise polling well, getting a good leader up now will get them into a strong, virtually unassailable position. (Think Rudd replacing Beazley in 2006)

  18. [Things just keep getting worse for the LNP. I heard there are rumblings going on in LNP circles about leadership challenges in a matter of weeks. Even talk of Can Do Campbell or Mal Brough getting a safe seat and then replacing JPL. The rumblings shall only get louder!]

    Actually, that wouldn’t be that bad of an idea. If JPL is the weak link in the chain but the LNP are otherwise polling well, getting a good leader up now will get them into a strong, virtually unassailable position. (Think Rudd replacing Beazley in 2006)

  19. [Things just keep getting worse for the LNP. I heard there are rumblings going on in LNP circles about leadership challenges in a matter of weeks. Even talk of Can Do Campbell or Mal Brough getting a safe seat and then replacing JPL. The rumblings shall only get louder!]

    Actually, that wouldn’t be that bad of an idea. If JPL is the weak link in the chain but the LNP are otherwise polling well, getting a good leader up now will get them into a strong, virtually unassailable position. (Think Rudd replacing Beazley in 2006)

  20. I recall that John Brumby was praised for his efforts during the bushfires in Victoria.

    It didn’t save him.

    I think its possible to think a Premier has done a good job in a crisis and still not want her in power for the non-crisis period.

    Even the UK kicked out Churchill at the end of WWII

  21. This surely would put paid to the hints of Bligh calling an early election – she’d be better off serving out a full term, and beginning the reconstruction process.

  22. [At the end of the day, she is still the leader of an aging government.]

    It’s still better the the other RABBLE!. all criticism and NO policy, just like the Federal opposition.

  23. [It is amazing when one has a real neutral media and it just reports the facts and presents them to the electorate instead of spin. Just imagine where labor would be nationally if the same standards applied accross the country.]

    A good lesson for ALL Aussie media would be the SKY UK coverage of the uprisings in the Arab world.

    I just watch a completely unbiased series of reports. Not one inflammatory term was voiced. Every word was sober, to the point, and without any attempt to ‘bend’ the viewer’s viewpoint.

    refreshing

  24. [I think its possible to think a Premier has done a good job in a crisis and still not want her in power for the non-crisis period.]

    Same as the Rudd govt after the GFC.

    The Aussie media aids and abets the electorate’s policy amnesia.

  25. [It’s still better the the other RABBLE!. all criticism and NO policy, just like the Federal opposition.]

    Actually, the fed opp leader used the identical lines against the NSW govt that he used during th fed election. (and if he is still in power, he’ll use against the qld govt when the time comes).

    The quote didn’t say Coalition good, coalition policies good — no, it was, predictably, govt BAD.

  26. [I’m absolutely sick to death of everyone praising Anna Bligh so much. She fronted a news camera every few hours and just had to repeat herself, “this areas’ flooded, that areas’ flooded and emergency personnel are in place etc etc”. Everyone has put her up on a pedestal like she is a god.
    All hail her highness Anna Bligh, for she has acheived the miracle of breath and speech.]
    I think the bounce in popularity was due to a lot more than Bligh’s speeches. I thought the State acted very quickly to respond to the floods and cyclone. People (even pets) were evacuated, cleanups were organised, and property protected as far as possible, all very quickly. As I commented before, there was also a remarkably good level of cooperation with Brisbane City Council, which also explains Newman’s bounce. The point is the govenment reponded; Bligh communicated what they DID.

  27. The Bligh government has been deeply unpopular since just after their reelection. The residue of this unpopularity is still clear in the polls despite Anna Blighs new found popularity. Her performance during the floods was a class act – she was authoratative without being a know it all, she was cool without being cold. It was very direct without any spin. Senior’s comment is just churlish.

    If Anna Bligh did rush to an election, it would all however be for nought, as she would be shown up as a cynical, self seeking politician -it would not be a good look – and may lose votes than would be gained. Best waiting for when the term is up and take whatever is dished up by the electorate.

  28. Agree blackburnpseph
    Anna would be crazy to call an election now.

    Off topic for a sec. Anyone know why it would cost $300,000 to install solar panels at parliament house for a saving of just $9500 a year? See http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/climate/cost-shadow-falls-on-solar-savings-plan-for-federal-parliament/comments-e6frg6xf-1226009394260

    Comment 71 on that site says: “We do large solar installs. A $100,000 install would generate $25,000 pa of electricity at the FIT in QLD, or $11,500 at Tariff 11. Of course, large electricity users are probably only paying 7c/kWh, or $4000 pa. So are the numbers believable? Only if the government is paying 7c/kWh. That would make $3m worth of electricity 42,850 MWh per annum, or 520 kWh per MP per day. Hmmm.

    Can anyone explains the comment to me. Friends of mine spent $24,000 and save about a $1000 a year, so the cost/saving doesn’t make sense or have I got it all ar$e about?

  29. Socrates 22
    Thanks for the apology. I also apologise for misnaming you a Laborite.
    Thanks for the links, the results of the enquiry will be interesting, but maybe this is simply a classic case of the power of nature and shit happens.
    Oh, can I get into trouble for saying that?

  30. IT
    [but maybe this is simply a classic case of the power of nature and shit happens.]
    Yes I think that is a fair comment. The simple fact is Brisbane sits on a flood plain and has a sub-tropical climate i.e. high risk of flooding. In terms of dam construction they have pretty much done all they can already. Daming the Bremmer and Lockyer Valleys is costly and pointless because they are so flat the inundated area of the dam would be almost as big as the area protected. The real solution is flood defences (levy banks) in some places downstream, building height requirements (i.e. min.level for ground floor) and preventing construction on obviously flood prone sites.

    However as I said I do think a few people will be embarrassed in the inquiry. Not Bligh or Newman, but some who came before them on both sides. Former mayors Soorley and Atkinson may need to explain development approvals, as will a few former State planning ministers, going right back to the days of Borbidge, Goss and perhaps even Joh or Bill Gunn. There were detailed engineering studies done through the 80s on the Brisbane River, so they had no excuse of lack of information.

  31. Voters in Qld–I am one–face the proverbial choice between a rock and a hard place. The current opposition leader–a dentist who took his teddy bear to Uni–seems unlikely to last, the LNP–READ:Pineapple Party–may yet split and party is a definite policy-free zone.
    The ALP have been in government too long, are poor performers with crooks in the ranks–former Minister now prisoner Nuttall.
    Its an election neither deserve to win. Bligh could pull off a John Howard Lazarus if she does well enough in rebuilding the State such that enough voters forget a long list of grievances and cock-ups.And what the interim Flood Levy Commission says, especially about the release of water from the Wivenhoe during a heavy rain period may well be critical to the ALPs fortunes.If the aura of Storm Surge Anna fades it will be the aforesaid Pineapple Party, elected on that old principle that oppositions don’t win elections governments lose them.

  32. You can imagine how we feel in NSW then…

    I noted comments on the SMH site seemed incredulous that any of the polls could even register ANYONE voting for Labor…the part these simpletons seem to forget is that the Opposition have been an opposition this long because they are a bumbling squad of born-again loons and incompetents..

    It’s the most glaring and painful choice of rock and a hard place..whoever wins, we lose.

  33. bob

    I may not appreciate the local feeling from here in SA but I don’t perceive Qld Labor being as bad as NSW Labor, either in terms of the politicians or the govt performance. Qld has had to grapple with huge population increases that have placed a great burden on services but in my area at least (transport) they are trying to fix the problems. In Sydney they have given up trying. Likewise with crooks in the ranks – in Qld they are not just being sacked but going to court (Nuttal). In Sydney they just change premiers again and hope everybody forgets. Of course it would be better that there were no crooks in either.

    I think Bligh has had two things against her – the privatisation of State assetts was NOT canvased in the last election campaign, so she had no mandate for it. Plus I think economically Qld has been one of the biggest losers in the GFC, because it cut back tourism, which I expect woudl hurt the Qld coastal cities.

    So I think the advantage is still with the Pinneapple Party, but if Bligh handles the recovery as well as the flods, victory is not impossible.

  34. The Queensland Opposition Parties are an incoherent rabble that operate something like this:

    [No doubt there will be a few LNP types rubbing there hands with glee today then that the Beaudesert MP is having problems and Jessica Christmas and her husband Tim have quit the Queensland Party.

    Of course, the Christmas duo have form for good exits.

    You can read Jessica’s letter of departure from John-Paul Langbroek’s office here after she pulled the pin in support of McLindon following his departure from the LNP last year.

    Both McLindon and his Queensland Party state secretary Bernie Gaynor declined to comment, with the MP somewhat hamstrung given he cannot comment on staffing issues.

    Someone has also slipped into the rough end of The Pineapple an email written by Gaynor, saying people wanting the decriminalisation of abortion don’t deserve a reply from Mr McLindon.]

    http://blogs.news.com.au/couriermail/pineapplepolitics/index.php/couriermail/comments/merry_christmas_the_queensland_party_gets_less_festive/

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