The latest Morgan poll combines the last two weekends’ face-to-face surveying, and shows a slight increase to the Coalition’s lead from the previous poll. Their primary vote is up a point to 46.5 per cent, with Labor steady on 36.5 per cent and the Greens down two to 10 per cent. The headline two-party figure has the Coalition leading 55.5-44.5, up from 54.5-45.5. The usual caveats should be added: Morgan’s face-to-face polls have showed a consistent bias to Labor over the years, but in the case of the two-party vote this is more than cancelled out by the highly idiosyncratic tendency of Morgan’s respondent-allocated preferences to split about 50-50 between the two major parties. Applying the more reliable method of allocating preferences according to the result of the previous election, the Coalition lead has gone from 51.5-48.5 to 53-47.
Other poll news:
The latest seat-level Queensland state automated phone poll by ReachTEL targets 369 respondents in Lytton, to be vacated at the election by the retirement of former Deputy Premier Paul Lucas. It shows Labor’s 12.0 per cent margin set to be erased by a swing of 23 per cent, following polls indicating swings of 27 per cent in Stretton, 15 per cent in Ferny Grove, 26 per cent in Ipswich and 20 per cent in Bundamba. The poll for Lytton has the primary votes at 26 per cent for Labor, 48 per cent for the LNP, 13 per cent for Katter’s Australian Party and 9 per cent for the Greens. ReachTEL’s imperfect two-party measure (if you were forced to make a choice between the two following candidates who would you choose?) has the LNP leading at 62-38. Standard caveat: ReachTel is a new outfit using a methodology which is yet to prove its worth, and all the swings indicated are well over the 13 per cent indicated by recent Newspoll and Galaxy polling. Labor will preselect its candidate for Lytton tomorrow, the contenders being Peter Cumming, a Wynnum-Manly ward councillor and Left faction member, and Daniel Cheverton, described in the Wynnum Herald as a former policy adviser to Rachel Nolan who now works for an engineering company.
A poll conducted for Australian Marriage Equality as part of Galaxy’s online omnibus surveying finds 80 per cent support for a Coalition conscience vote on same-sex marriage, with only 14 per cent opposed. It also has only 25 per cent nominating Labor as the party that best represents its views on same-sex marriage, compared with 32 per cent Liberal, 3 per cent Nationals and 13 per cent Greens, with 17 per cent for none/don’t know. The poll was conducted from November 25-27 from a sample of 1051; see here for delightfully detailed tables. This follows a similar poll in August which had 29 per cent strongly agreeing that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, 31 per cent agreeing, 14 per cent disagreeing and 18 per cent strongly disagreeing. A striking gender divide was evident, with women twice as likely as men to strongly support same-sex marriage and men twice as likely as men to strongly oppose it, along with effects in the expected direction according to age and religion.
Despatches from last weekend’s ALP National Conference:
The recommendations made in the post-election review conducted by Steve Bracks, John Faulkner and Bob Carr were mostly scotched, wih largely cosmetic exceptions. Most importantly, a plan to have a component of the National Conference be directly elected by the rank-and-filed has been referred to an implementation committee which the Left complains is unlikely to seriously progress it. Most of the 400 conference delegates are at present chosen by the state branches, which are responsible to state conferences which consist of 50 per cent union and 50 per cent constituency party representatives. NSW general secretary and Right faction figure Sam Dastyari had proposed the direct election of an extra 150 delegates one from each of the 150 federal electorates but the Left favoured a model in which half would be directly elected by party members and the other half directly appointed by trade unions (a presentation of the Right’s proposals is available from The Age). The resulting strengthening of the unions’ arm was widely criticised, although the Right was accused of using this as a pretext to scotch reforms which, in the view of a Right source quoted by Phillip Coorey of the Sydney Morning Herald, would have diminished the faction’s influence by diluting the factional balance among delegates. Alternatively, VexNews presumably speaks for the Right in complaining that the postal voting proposed for election of Conference delegates would confer an advantage on the Left, while Graham Richardson in The Australian expresses alarm at the near-success of Left policy measures that would have finished Julia Gillard, and cautions against the practical effects of electing conference delegates directly by the rank and file.
Also rejected were proposals to give the elected national president and vice-presidents voting rights on the 20-member national executive; for state and territory presidents and vice-presidents to be elected by the rank-and-file; for the party’s national appeals tribunal to be given greater independence of the national executive; and for national executive and state administrative committee interventions into preselections to occur only as a last resort. It will be left to state branches to decide whether to implement a proposal to have 20 per cent of the preselection vote in some seats to be determined by primaries open to those willing to register as Labor supporters. A Left’s-eye-view of the fate of the Bracks-Faulkner-Carr recommendations has been obtained by Andrew Crook of Crikey.
A solitary preselection nugget:
The Weekend Courier Community newspaper reports the Liberals have again endorsed Rockingham real estate agent Donna Gordin as their candidate for the southern Perth seat of Brand, held for Labor by Gary Gray on a margin of 3.3 per cent.
Last but not least, the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters has published its report on the funding of political parties and election campaigns, the conduct of which was part of the minority government agreements reached between Labor, the Greens and the independents after the 2010 election. It reiterates a number of measures which featured both in the government’s reform attempts in the previous term, which were thwarted in the Senate by the Coalition and Steve Fielding, and in the terms of the minority government agreement:
The threshold for public disclosure of donations to political parties and third parties to be cut from $11,900 and $1000, reversing a radical change made in 2006 by the Howard government, with different state branches of the same party to be treated as the same entity to prevent multiple undisclosed donations;
Disclosures of donations to be reported six-monthly rather than yearly, with the new report further suggesting donations over $100,000 be disclosed within two weeks;
Public funding of parties and candidates who poll over 4 per cent of the vote to be limited to reimbursement of proved spending;
Foreign donations and anonymous donations of over $50 to be banned, and harsher penalties imposed for various offences.
The new report also recommends that:
Money from fund-raising events be treated as donations and disclosed accordingly;
Administrative penalties rather than rarely pursued criminal prosecutions apply for straightforward offences;
Options be explored to cap spending by third parties for a period before an election;
Registered political parties receive public funding to cope with the administrative burden of the changes (which I would be seizing on right now were I a tabloid hack).
What the report doesn’t recommend is donation and expenditure caps such as those which have been introduced at state level in New South Wales and Queensland, or the Greens-backed proposal for a ban on donations from tobacco companies (which the Greens successfully lobbied for in NSW). The terms of reference also did not require consideration of the truth-in-advertising requirement provided for by the minority government agreement. A dissenting report from the Coalition members again disapproved of higher disclosure thresholds on the unconvincing grounds that it would significantly impact the ability of individuals to give donations to political parties without the potential for intimidation and harassment. It also called for a dedicated electoral fraud squad in the Australian Electoral Commission, to deal with an issue the AEC itself does not recognise as a serious problem.