Essential Research: 54-46 to Coalition

Essential Research’s rolling fortnightly average continues to swing between 54-46 and 55-45, this week’s move of the pendulum being in Labor’s favour. Labor is up a point on the primary vote to 35 per cent, with the Coalition down one to 47 per cent and the Greens down one to 9 per cent. Also featured are questions on the outlook for 2012 for the economy, the parties (good for Liberal, very poor for Labor and the Greens), political leaders (poor for Tony Abbott, very poor for Julia Gillard, about neutral for Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull) and respondents personally. Most interestingly, only 26 per cent expect Julia Gillard will still lead the ALP in 12 months’ time against 55 per cent who think she won’t. The respective figures for Tony Abbott are 41 per cent and 34 per cent. Thirty-two per cent expect a federal election in the coming year, against 42 per cent who don’t.


• Newspoll reports that supplementary questions in its December 2-4 poll had 14 per cent expecting their financial position to improve over the next year (up two from last year), 57 per cent expected it to stay the same (up six) and 28 per cent thought it would get worse (down seven). Coalition voters were solidly more pessimistic than Labor supporters.

• A Liberal Party preselection vote on Saturday for Craig Thomson’s central coast NSW seat of Dobell was won by Gary Whitaker, former Hornsby Shire councillor and managing director of a local educational services company. The Sydney Morning Herald’s Diary reports this as a defeat for Chris Hartcher, state government minister, Terrigal MP and local powerbroker, as his preferred candidate had been WorkCover public servant Karen McNamara. Also reportedly in the field was Matthew Lusted, managing director of a Central Coast construction company.

Michelle Grattan of The Age reports Russell Broadbent, the Liberal member for the western Gippsland seat of McMillan, is likely to pay for his ideological moderation with a preselection challenge. However, Broadbent is thought likely to prevail, as the conservative forces being marshalled against him (“local Catholic members” apparently featuring prominently) will largely be ineligible to participate in the preselection because they have not been party members for two years. Any preselection vote is likely to take place in February and involve 300 local branch members.

• Brett Worthington of the Bendigo Advertiser reports Greg Westbrook, director of legal firm Petersen Westbrook Cameron, has nominated for Labor preselection in Bendigo, to be vacated at the next election by the retirement of Steve Gibbons. Lisa Chesters, a Kyneton-based official with United Voice (formerly the Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union), is also rated a possible starter.

• There is mounting talk that Lara Giddings’ tenure as Tasmanian Premier is in jeopardy just a year after she replaced David Bartlett. Matt Smith of The Mercury has reported that David O’Byrne, who entered parliament at the March 2010 election, fancies himself as the apple isle’s answer to Kristina Keneally, and has secured backing from party room colleagues Michelle O’Byrne (his sister), Scott Bacon, Graeme Sturges, Brian Wightman, Craig Farrell and Brenton Best. This leaves only Michael Polley and Doug Parkinson in Giddings’ corner, while Bryan Green and Rebecca White remain on the fence. Bruce Montgomery, a former state political reporter for The Australian, writes in Crikey that public sector unions have been angered by Giddings’ pursuit of job cuts to balance the budget, and are hopeful of a more sympathetic hearing from O’Byrne, a former state secretary of the LHMWU. Kevin Harkins of Unions Tasmania, Chris Brown of the Health and Community Services Union and Tom Lynch of the Community and Public Sector Union are identified as critics of Giddings by The Mercury. However, O’Byrne has more recently denied any plans for a challenge.

• With former SA Treasurer Kevin Foley officially resigning from parliament, a by-election in his seat of Port Adelaide has been set for February 11. There is an expectation that Mike Rann’s resignation will follow shortly so that a by-election can be held for his seat of Ramsay on the same day.

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.

2,596 comments on “Essential Research: 54-46 to Coalition”

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  1. [Both Morgan ansd Essential have Labor’s PV at about 36% yet we keep hearing of 29 -30% whenever polls are discussed. Shows you how Newspoll dominates the MSM.]

    Makes for a more dramatic story, and easier to spin millions of LABOR DOOOMED! stories.

  2. Connie @ 2516, what a pack of hypocrites!

    Nauru was not signatory to the UN Refugee Convention, yet it did not stop the NOalition from sending people over there no problems!

    Now, that Labor Policy was to send people to Malaysia, the NOalition insists that a country must be signatory to the Convention.

    Opportunistic HYPOCRITES!

  3. Laocoon,

    It has been interesting to me, as a small business consultant, to see the stance by Westfield and their continued attitude to the current economic conditions. They are going on to build ever more locations and it is same old, same old business wise. That is one company heading for financial oblivion. Five to ten years they will be history unless they adapt. They have shown no signs of changing.

    Also they refuse to negotiate down their contracts in anyway to assist the small busines or themselves.

    Our local Westfield has lost over 25 small businesses in the last two years. Of those that have replaced them, most of them have gone within six months and been replaced again.

  4. I would not be too dismissive of reports of coming job loses.

    I know from my own conversations that many sectors of the economy are flat or are moving slowly.

    I know job loses within the white collar professions are happening or are expected to happen which is partly why retail sales are down.

    Interestingly the Daily Telegraph article claimed that the Finance sector was not facing job loses. I think this may be off the money.

    I have seen several recent news stories confirming that in the U.S and U.K on-line retail is booming which goes to show that the likes of Gerry Harvey need to pull their heads out of the sand.

  5. Mick77 – They are not in ‘coalition’ like the Liberals/Nationals are …

    The Greens are not bound by any agreement or convention to vote with the Govt.

    The use of the word ‘coalition’ has a meaning in Australian politics that means a fully compliant ‘sub-party’ ie a marketing ‘brand’. The relationship between the Labor Party and the mad Greens is not this.

  6. [Steve K
    Posted Thursday, December 22, 2011 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Coulson has been hung out to dry my the Murdochs. Before long he will end up financially bankrupt to match his moral bankruptcy. ]

    Wow! That brings back memories. Jame McCord, I think it was, on the Watergate break-in and cover-up, sung like a bird once he was left high and dry (and in the slammer).

    If Coulson goes a similar way, look out Murdochs.

  7. Thefinnigans TheFinnigans天地有道人无道
    There are only 2 things that keep Abbott in job as LOTO. 1 STOP THE BOATS 2 Newspoll PV. When they crumble, so will Abbott #auspol
    4 seconds ago

  8. GG:

    The advantage the Greens have over the major parties is they are seen to be a party of principle. We know differently, but that is the perception.

    I cannot see how the Greens can about-face on all the teary SHY proclamations, and carry on from Brown and co about how awful the Malaysia deal was only to change tack now and back it, whatever inducements are secured for their votes.

  9. Mick 77 and Leone are correct.

    The Greens should get real, wake up to themselves and support the Malaysian Solution.

    Screw the :mrgreen: b 4 the :mrgreen: screws u 😎

  10. Ctar1

    Ok understand your point now and “coalition’ of Greens and Labor not technically correct so who/what represents “the Government”. Without partners there isn’t a majority. It seems that the “arrangement” between Greens & Labor enable the loonies to have their cake and eat it, they’re both “in” and “out”, and Labor has to eat hay.

  11. fess,

    I am not disagreeing with you.

    However, the Greens need to consider whether they want to be in the business of politics or the business of purity. Sure they can stand on their dig and blather on. However, as I pointed out earlier, they are clearly a minority view and they run the risk of ending up with a far worse situation.

    I’ve said before,if you play all or nothing, be prepared to receive nothing.

    That said, maybe Abbott is trying to flush out the Greens in order to be able to avoid coming to any agreement with the Government. However, I think the time will come when adults in his own Party are going to demand a deal.

  12. [Expect Coulson to sing like a canary, anytime soon.]

    The beauty is that Murdoch would love to pay him hush money (as he had been doing until it was exposed) so he has had to withdraw that support. Coulson has nowhere to hide and no one big and powerful to defend him. It is in his best interests to tell all in the hope of (once charged) he is treated leniently by the courts due to his cooperation. There will come a day when he can make some big money for his tell-all story and the film rights. 😉

  13. The Greens suit having the Liberals in Government for they then can just go into oppose mode, the reality is that the Greens are the party of NO

    Maybe Tone is a Green at heart 😉

  14. [If the Greens compromised on onshore processing it would make a mockery out of everything they’ve said and done for the last 10 years.]

    It would certainly also make a mockery of extraordinary vitriol directed at them by many here over the last week or two.

  15. Mick77 – OK agreed. Minority govt is not clean! ‘Coalition’ as a spin word has been used before.

    Me, I don’t think that any of them are talking more than very temp solutions. Not even 12 months worth.

  16. The Greens can make a public announcement that after further consideration to the issue of AS they now support the governments Malaysian solution.

    They give 2 reasons:
    – The journey to Australia by leaky boats is far too dangerous and should not be attempted.
    – That the business of people smuggling should end.

    Silly loons: Screw the :mrgreen: b 4 the :mrgreen: screws u. And he will, believe me 😎

  17. Where are the Liberal moderates in the AS debate? Apart from a brief intervention from Ruddock – nothing. No argument, no dissent, no principle, no guts, just acceptance. Come back Petro -the rotten, miserable, conservative excuse for an alternative Govt needs you.

  18. [However, the Greens need to consider whether they want to be in the business of politics or the business of purity]

    I think they’ve amply demonstrated what business they consider themselves to be in. For that reason I think it would be madness for the govt to try to negotiate with them over an issue they are intrinsically opposed to: offshore processing.

    I’m hoping you’re right about the adults in the Liberal party. Although Abbott seems to be enjoying his moment in the sun, so why should he compromise?

  19. [What fall in boat arrivals when the Malaysia solution was a goer?]
    Having one boat arrive a week during the time the Malaysian solution was considered to be a goer is a lot better surely than the 3 or 4 a week we’re seeing now with greater numbers on board.

  20. Centre I agree with you and that was the bases of my questions (unanswered) to Horsey for if the Greens really do care for AS then they should be on their side in terms of wanting to protect their lives rather than in effect backing the People Smugglers.

    Regards to Bowen saying Nauru was on the table is a slight bending of his words for what he has said is that he is willing to discuss the AS with anyone that is serious about a solution and is wiling to have everything on the table.

    I think it was GG or BB but I agree that maybe several options need to be accepted with the Government implementing its preferred option

  21. There’s another reason the Greens could use to support the Malaysian solution – the 4000 already processed AS Australia will take if/when the plan gets up. This part of the deal seems to be forgotten. Surely getting 4000 people out of Malaysia and safely to Australia would be some good spin for the Greens.

  22. I think an agreement will come about between Labor and LNP and it won’t do either any harm. Abbott beats his chest and proclaims they were right all along, Gillard explains how she was prepared for many compromises to save lives. But Labor MUST then turn the spotlight on the Greens as the party of lunacy who refused to compromise and provoked tragedy. If Gillard does so (but unfortunately she won’t IMO) then watch some of that Greens PV coming back to Labor. I doubt that an agreement will change LNP PV by much, may even reduce it. In summary win-win for Gillard, lose-lose for Greens, the real enemy.

  23. Minority governments need to negotiate with all parties. It is precisely because of that skill Julia Gillard has managed to last this long. If she preferred to take easy pot shots, like many here, the great track record of legislation would never been achieved.

  24. Leone – Correct and if the Malaysian solution was working then potentially the Australian Government could expand its intake from Malaysia.

    I think there are 90,000 Burmese sitting in Malaysia and I think they may find moving to Australia easier than a person that as grown up in a deeply conservative country like Afghanistan or Iran.

  25. [Having one boat arrive a week during the time the Malaysian solution was considered to be a goer is a lot better surely than the 3 or 4 a week we’re seeing now with greater numbers on board.]

    That doesn’t give the picture. Did you see the graph of 2010 and 2011 compared?
    The period May to August was similar in shape in both years, with a drop, so it’s hard to discern any impact due to the Malaysia deal when it was under way. We still ended up with several hundred, and in proportion to 2010.

    As long as we are a signatory to the Convention we will be a destination and the boats will continue, however draconian we want to get.

  26. JV
    [Link to the comparative graph 2010 and 2011 (in Keane article in Crikey the other day):

    Did you like this bit?

    [Insistence on onshore processing is a non-policy. It substitutes personal morality for public morality, and fails to recognise that when governments act, there are impacts far beyond those immediately advantaged or disadvantaged in a way that is never the case with individual actions.


  27. Hi guys, just back from being at Chadstone shopping centre – I actually had to go in for a replacement to one of my apple wifi devices, and persuaded the wife/son to come along. They thought I was completely nuts heading in to Chadstone at this time of the year, but I assured them things would be quite. And they were.

    Half the car spaces (near David Jones) empty. Looked quieter inside than on a Saturday. Hardly anyone in shops (except the Apple store which was packed). Most people walking around with empty hands. The food court was packed. Most food places were (except Capital Kitchen).

    Went passed some of the more upmarket stores (Tiffanys, Prada, etc) – very few people inside, mainly looked like they were browsing.

    Walked into Ted’s Camera store – a few people in there. Someone was asking whether they were prepared to “meet the Amazon price”. Toys R Us was a ghost town. David Jones/Myer, not busy.

    Retailers are gonna have a sad X-mas this year. Although this is all anecdotal, can’t wait to see the official figures.

  28. gough1

    I agree with Keane on that point to the extent that ‘insistence’ on onshore processing should extend only to those who arrive on our shores by boat or plane. What all those concerned for asylum seeekers want to see is a genuine regional solution – not a tawdry bilateral agreement for a dumping ground in Malaysia; Nauru; or Manus Island. That means a processing centre or centres run by the UN set up for all SE Asian asylum seekers, and from which we take our fair share. In the meantime though we have an obligation to asylum seekers who get here by boat. That obligation is contravened if we punish them cruelly because others, later, might take a risk themselves.

  29. George @ 2586

    I think I remember going to Chadstone to shop in the early 70’s. Better memories are of the Foresters nearby on the way to the football, and on the way back, with a ‘mad uncle’ in the late 80’s!

    You can have the mall …

  30. Shopping Malls are boring. I get sore feet tramping around on the hard floors. Whenever I go in to get a specific item they never have it. Every mall has nearly the same franchises in it as the others.

    The colworths are so clean and clinical with a lack of variety that I hate being in them, and the sight of families with trolleys full of flavoured flour, sugar, fat and water pastes loaded with chemicals in various highly priced disguises instead of real food is disheartening.

    The clothes for sale look like rubbish I wouldn’t put in a dogs bed. Nothing is ironed or presented well. They are hung up like used sacks in a farmer’s shed. The shoe stores and footwear sections in variety stores stink of chemicals. I wouldn’t let my kid work in them.

    ‘The coffee is over-priced, put a sandwich with it and that’s over $10.00. There are few places to sit other than cafes. I pity the poor staff who have to put up with six weeks of Xmas carols slowed down to a beat so depressing I would like to see the topped-’emselves stats for that group at that time of year.

    The shopping mall is about as much fun as a salt mine.

  31. George I was in Chadstone on Mon & Tues, it was easy to park and was quiet except for the queue out the door of Tiffany and people shoulder to shoulder in the Apple store.
    Returned today to get emergency presents of iTunes cards.

    Australian spending habits have changed, its Apple electronics and download books onto eBook. Demise of bricks and mortar book store is a matter of time, especially if chain is burdened with the massive debt incurred to buy the chain.

  32. George Interestingly this arvo I took a walk up a suburban shopping strip and it had a fair bit of traffic.

    I suspect that most people are either shopping local or online.

    In recent months the Bourke Street mall has been a lot quieter than it was this time during 2008

  33. Guy Rundle in todays’s subscription Crikey has a terrific piece which puts the narrowness and moral turpitude of the two majors’ policy of offshore processing of one nuance or another back into a proper ethical perspective, following all the recent hysteria in political circles (including PB). He discusses the “utilitarian” reactions of Rob Manne and Bernard Keane, among others; and the insidious and reprehensible concept of “deterrents” in this context. I’m sure Rundle won’t mind me giving an extract here:
    [So both Manne and Keane put the emphasis on a utilitarian argument — the need to dissuade people from lethal voyages outweighs honouring the rights of others to claim asylum. They are appealing implicitly to the process by which general rights are curtailed for specific good — a compulsory seat-belt law would be one mundane example.

    Yet such an example gives the reasons why overseas mandatory detention can’t be advanced in that way. We make such trade-offs in situations like the seat-belt one, of clear knowledge and limited impact on rights.

    The boat-borne refugee situation is the reverse — we are being asked to wholly negate someone’s rights (that we have explicitly promised them), in a situation where their life and freedom will be wholly annihilated indefinitely, all as a strategy for dissuading unknown future persons from making a possibly perilous journey.

    By that definition we are using the “deterrent” — the people locked up for years on Manus, Nauru, in Malaysia, or god knows where — as a means to a utilitarian end. It is a clear use of human beings in their totality, as means to other ends, and cannot in any sense ground a moral policy.

    Such a negation of the humanity of the present refugee in favour of the welfare of a possible future one thus makes the ultility calculus impossible. The old challenge to utilitarianism was the question as to whether one can torture a small number of people to make a larger number happy.

    Since we know that prolonged mandatory detention has many of the effects of torture, on adults and children alike, the solution that Rob Manne proposes — overseas detention in Australian de facto dependencies for “lengthy” periods that would deter others — would seem to elevate that philosophical conundrum to the policy level.

    How have these two commentators got themselves to this position — negating the irreducible moral base with a utilitarian argument based on unknowable contingencies and outcomes that cannot be guaranteed? Such an over-ride usually occurs when an obligation is honoured partially, and the resulting situation is blamed not on the partiality of the response but on the obligation itself.

    Put simply, our specific obligation to refugees under the Convention, and our general obligation to fellow human beings means, not a curtailing of the former but an expansion of the latter — in the form of increased sea patrols to the north to make possible the rescue of people in unsafe vessels. Any other activity — harsh prosecution of users of unsafe boats, warnings in third country — may be a good idea, but they are not central to the moral obligation.

    Both Keane and Manne would respond, I suspect, that there is no chance of that being a realistic policy option — and in the absence of one, the current half-cut muddle will continue to see human disasters occur. But that then becomes a question as to what one is actually doing in voicing an opinion and arguing a case. Is it really, as both seem to argue, to provide the government of the day with a policy?

    Or is the role to stand up for what we believe to be irreducibly right — right not by emotion, but by well-argued reason from fundamental principles, capable of debate — and seek to repeatedly make those issues clear as they are ceaselessly covered over by, well by notions like “offshore processing”.]

  34. Bushfire Bill @ 2540

    “As it stands at the moment, if Osama bin Laden was still alive, or Hambali, and they could get on a boat in Indonesia to come here, we would have to accept them as refugees and give them the full protection of our legal system, for years, if necessary.. F—k THAT!”

    This actually beats out an earlier poster who likens the Greens to hard line Stalinist dictators as the dumbest thing I’ve read in… okay well a while at least. If you actually believe this then… just wow. I mean, just for starters, given both Liberal and Labor are willing to sell Aussie citizens out to the yanks, what on earth makes you think we wouldn’t have tied a shiny Christmas bow around Osama’s evil bloody knob end and hand delivered him to face “justice” (e.g. extra judicial killing)? Secondly can you show us where anyone has even suggested that asylum seekers are immune to prosecution for crimes or extradition to face prosecution for crimes?

    “The only thing to do is to process off-shore, or else half the world will be beating a path to our doors once the word gets fully out that we’re a soft touch, thanks to the High Court’s screwy and contradictory judgements.”

    What a load of nonsense – the ONLY time boats stopped for any real length of time was 1982-1988 (pre-mandatory detention and certainly pre offshore processing). Further since we don’t have offshore processing now and half the world hasn’t beaten a path to our doors how long, in your opinion, will it take for ‘word to fully get out’ – at what point exactly should we expect 3.5 billion people on our doorstep? How is the High Courts judgement screwy and contradictory? The judgement seems perfectly in line with their other rulings on the matter – Gillard just badly misjudged it while in her rush to sell out on ALP ideals.

    You use terms like ‘our refugee crisis’ – which crisis is that? Oh right a tiny number of people coming here under conditions we’ve agreed to for decades but which suddenly don’t suit dog whistling tactics of major parties who seem more and more alike every day? Or does the MSM’s ceaseless harping make something a crisis?

    How about instead we just suck it up, stop being a nation of whining bloody princesses and just take our fair share of refugees in – especially since we’ve done very bloody well out of refugees in the past. Cause frankly this is making Australia look ridiculous to the rest of the world – particularly to that whole Asia place that we’re so very desperate to appeal to. It really does harken back to people like Hanson and Howard’s comments about us being swamped by Asians, sentiments not entirely forgotten by keen observers no doubt. There is the real crisis, Australian’s thinking this is a major issue or problem at a time when we do have real problems looming. Let’s deal with them first before the imaginary ones, ‘kay?

    Oh and if these hardline policies have suddenly become a cynical exercise that purportedly is aimed at preventing boats sinking (most twisted ‘humanitarian’ reasoning ever presented) – got you an answer @ 2537. If it’s about ‘queue jumpers’ and people getting left behind then that’s easily fixed, increase the numbers allowed in – it’d still be tiny compared to much of the rest of the world.

    In summary, 1982-1988 ZERO boats with no mandatory detention and no off shore processing – better than bloody Howard ever achieved for all his nonsense. Let’s just fulfill our obligations, stop using vulnerable people as political footballs and move on to actual problems like dealing with the fallout from the financial turmoil in Europe and America.

    PS Just my 2 cents worth, whether you agree or not have a happy holidays and all that jazz.

  35. I am just about to watch a movie with my beautiful grandsons,so I don’t have any time to address you post line by line.


    [How about instead we just suck it up, stop being a nation of whining bloody princesses and just take our fair share of refugees in ]

    Please define “our fair share of refugees”.

    That is where the bleeding hearts always fall over, because they have no answer to it. “Our fair share” sounds fine and dandy, but the World Wonders what it actually means.

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