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. Boerwar

    [There has been a suggestion that science is ‘boring’.]
    I agree with your post but science as it is taught has too often become boring. Health and safety rules mean that alot of the stuff that hooked us in to chemistry are no more 🙂 Laboratory gear can be expensive so in tight budgets it is easier and cheaper to just hand out notes instead. As a bonus taking that path means you do not need someone with suitable expertise in the field either 🙁 I have dealt with a couple of newly minted chem grads in recent years and “read the book” rather than “do the experiment” is now the go. Now would be boring.

  2. [Steve if people dieing at sea and on rocks is not deterring desperate people from trying to get here I am not sure taking a chance that you wont be one of the unlucky 800 will be much of a long-term deterrent. It was very hear-breaking hearing one of the survivors of the latest tragedy saying they intended to try again as soon as possible.]
    David, how do you explain the fall in boat arrivals when it was believed the Malaysian solution was a goer?

  3. [God we can be a tough-hearted bunch at times.]

    So what is your solution Dave? It’s easy to say create a regional solution but if that takes 2 years (let’s just assume that’s the case) what do you propose we do in the meantime? Your argument is pitched closer to the greens solution which I included in my post as a way of showing how unacceptable their ideas really are

    [The only other alternative is the Greens solution which is for the Australian air force to run a daily shuttle service between any country where AS might originate and bring to the mainland anyone who wishes to come.]

  4. Tony Abbott seems oddly intent on giving Julia Gillard the best Christmas present she could have wished for.

    It is surprising to see somebody who has been in the game for so long working so diligently on scoring what will be the biggest own goal of his career, it goes a long way in reminding us that we are all fallible. I was surprised when Malcolm Turnbull did it, that whole Godwin Grech affair was simply too good to be true, but it was understandable, given his limited political experience, that he could be drawn into it. However, to witness Tony Abbott, so blinded by the opportunity to secure what will ultimately be a pyrrhic victory, missing the stark and obvious reality that he is effectively neutralising his one and only effective tool, the spearhead upon which the rest of his attack relies upon in its entirety, is in equal measure exhilarating and astonishing.

    Despite the elements having been in place for some time, the narcissistic belief in your own special brilliance, the marginalising of anyone who disagrees, the reliance on a single adviser, the obsequious support of a supine media encouraging a belief in your own ability to manifest reality, it is still surprising to see how quickly a strength can become a weakness.

    In being so engrossed by the politics of the whole affair Tony Abbott fails to realise, despite his own long-standing love affair with the vernacular of the simpleton, that in the process of achieving a compromise solution on the issue of asylum seekers he is taking a very straightforward “us against them” scenario and turning it into a argument over whether it is a 50-50, 60-40, 65-35, or some other permutation, split as to who agrees more strongly with whom.

    He seems strangely unaware that, by and large, the people who are in support of Tony Abbott are in support of him simply because he is against things, none more strongly than being against “illegals”. He offers voters of limited capacity the simplistic solutions they crave. Now, however, he is confronting them with nuance and complexity and they will not be pleased. He is adding rules to a very simple game, rules that for most will take the fun right out of it.

    By neutralising this issue Tony is throwing away his get out of jail free card. No longer will he be able to simply scream something about “the boats” whenever the heat in the kitchen starts getting a little uncomfortable. The public will simply not be exercised by the issue in the way it has previously.

    Tony has never been any good in the kitchen. Merry Christmas Julia.

  5. Victoria

    I agree except that it must be a place they can reach safely and not be sent back from.

    Sri Lankans for example need to get a boat out whatever they do. Not sure what India would do with thousands of refugees – possibly send them back

    Afghanis flee to Pakistan but I suspect have lots of pressure to move on (Hazaras are not welcome there)
    Iranians it is much less clear, however there are definitely no safe bordering countries so they need to fly somewhere if they can.
    Iraqis used to flee to Syria but that is hardly an option any more. Nor is Kuwait or Iran or Turkey. Jordan is really their only spot.
    As`I understand it Malaysia and Indonesia have open doors to all Muslims. Other than Turkey these are the only two Muslim countries which are close to developed nations. Hardly surprising that they attract AS.

  6. :mrgreen: continues to play political games on the issue of AS.

    He does not want to enter into any negotiation with the government in case an agreement is reached and the issue is neutralised. He wants to make as much political capital for himself on the issue as possible.

    Those in the main stream media continue to FAIL to report on it the way it is!

  7. I suspect there is real tension between Abbott and Morrison on this issue.

    I am expecting a Morrison Challenge for the LOTO position soonish – March probably.

  8. I see what Tone’s up to. He wants the option of being able to say he has forced the government’s hand but also the option of keeping his hands “clean”. Ie the government adopts the coalitiom policy but when it fails it’s because the coalition didn’t do it. If he negotiates with the government any failure of policy will also rest on his shoulders.

  9. Remember those cabinet leaks back in October? The ones that allegedly cost Kim Carr his cabinet position?

    The leaks were said to have embarassed Bowen because he had pushed for Labor to drop its opposition to using Nauru for processing AS in the hope that Abbott would then agree to sending AS to Manus Island and Malaysia. The leaks reported a serious rift in Labor ranks over AS policy. Bowen did not confirm or deny the story, simply saying that cabinet discussions should have remained confidential.

    Someone in the msm has dug up that old story, put two and two together and come up with fifteen. Reports this morning were saying ‘Bowen says’ when he had not said anything at all. It’s all speculation based on what soemone said someone else said a few months ago.

    I might be wrong on this bit here’s what I think will happen. Abbott will be outfoxed on this issue, although he won’t realise it for a while. The government will agree to whatever they want to agree to while allowing Abbott to think he’s had a win, they’ll get their amendment bill through both houses and then they will do whatever it was they wanted to do all along. Abbott will once again be left looking like a dill. As the ads say, it won’t happen overnight but it will happen. And everyone will get to have their Chrissie dinner with their families – if Abbott’s family will have him, that is.

  10. Last comment cos must go

    Abbot probably wants to get another gotcha on Gillard. If Nauru is given a tick by Labor, Gillard will be haunted by her previous statements in Howards time.

    i do not envy her this position. She can do it I think but needs very careful scripting

  11. There is absolutely no doubt that the number of boat arrivals had fallen since the announcement of the Malaysian solution.

    That’s why the NOalition are so adamantly opposed to the policy.

    Sending people to Malaysia is illegal. Sending people to Nauru is illegal. The Labor Party believes that Malaysia is the right option. The Noalition believes that Nauru is the right option.

    So compromise for both options of Malaysia and Nauru to be legalised. The government of the day can impelement its own option and stand to be either condemned or praised for its decision.

    It’s called COMPROMISE.

    But, no, the :mrgreen: won’t have a bar of it in case the Malaysian option works.

    Honestly they should take him round the back of the dunnies at Manly beach and give him a good belting that he’d would never forget!

  12. Centre:

    Coalition are insisting that the govt’s MA amendments specificually stipulate only countries which are signatory to the Refugee Convention should be utilised. That would rule out the govt honouring its deal with Malaysia, but would rule Nauru in.

  13. Voters understand the meaning of compromise.

    If the Labor Party explained it EXACTLY the way I have @ 2513 they would gain the upper hand on the issue.

    That’s how to do it 😎

  14. 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.

  15. Gary
    [David, how do you explain the fall in boat arrivals when it was believed the Malaysian solution was a goer?]
    What fall in boat arrivals when the Malaysia solution was a goer?

    The numbers arriving by boat in 2011 have been lower than in 2010, but the basic pattern of arrival numbers has been generally similar right through the year.

  16. Centre
    [There is absolutely no doubt that the number of boat arrivals had fallen since the announcement of the Malaysian solution.]
    See 2520.

  17. Thanks Bludgers for constant reporting on what’s happening. I haven’t had time over past few days to either watch the news or listen to radio properly so scanning here is great.

    Was really disappointed early\ier this morning to hear the news that Bowen was agreeing to Nauru so came here to check and found you all had the gist of it – he hasn’t said anything yet so I’ll calm down til he does.

    Not a bad Morgan poll altho I’d rather the 3+ had gone directly to the Labor PV.

  18. Centre @2518
    [Voters understand the meaning of compromise.]
    Well no wonder voters hate the Greens, well 90% of voters anyway. Aren’t these loonie lefties in coalition with Labor but won’t compromise one centimetre on policy. Point the finger at them for the impasse and refugee deaths not at Labor or Liberal who both have better policies than the loonies.

  19. daretotread@2497

    While Australia is strong, it’s a great pull factor.

    Sounds like a reason to elect Abbott. He stuffs up the economy and the pull factor weakens.

  20. From the Morgan Poll Narrative, 2011 was actually a waste of time.

    “The situation is not much changed from the final telephone Morgan Poll of 2010 conducted a year ago — December 8-12, 2010 which showed the L-NP (54%) with a clear Two-Party preferred lead over the ALP (46%). However, over the last 12 months the L-NP has enjoyed a decisive advantage in the Morgan Poll — especially after Prime Minister Julia Gillard introduced the prospect of a Carbon Tax onto the national agenda in late February. In mid July the L-NP (60.5%) held a record lead over the ALP (39.5%).

    “In recent weeks Gillard’s Cabinet reshuffle and a vigorous ALP National Conference early in December have given the ALP a renewed sense of direction. Today’s Two-Party preferred result is the best for the ALP since a telephone Morgan Poll conducted on November 2/3, 2011 — L-NP (51.5%) cf. ALP (48.5%)”.

  21. Labor should be negotiating with the Greens. If the Greens chose to support the MA amendments in the Senate then Abbott would be out of the picture completely. The bill was withdrawn from the reps not because it would have failed there but because the government knew it would not get past the Green senators.

    I’m sure Bob Brown has something on his Christmas list that Labor could offer in exchange for passage of the legislation. Both parties could then sit back and watch Abbott implode from lack of media oxygen, and don’t tell me they wouldn’t enjoy that immensely.

  22. Socrates 2366 I think you will find the reason the ECB is unable to bankroll Governments is because the Germans are refusing to support the ECB becoming the lender of last resort and refusing the creation of Eurobonds.

    The French have been pushing for the creation of Eurobonds

  23. I should add that the Greens would come out of such a deal looking good if they said they changed their policy to avoid any further loss of life.

  24. Laocoon,

    Retail is suffering from a double whammy. The first is that they are in the middle of an inflection period due to the impact of technology and the resultant change in consumer behaviour.

    Largely, business has ‘connected’ the technology but not embraced the impacts of changing consumer behaviour and until they do and adapt they will continue to do it hard and many will even go the way of the dinosaurs.

    The second is that the retail space market, mostly dominated by the westfields, centro’s, etc REFUSE to change their leasing policies which is crippling many businesses as their leasing arrangements are costing them far more than they are earning.

    As people embrace electronic retailing, I expect the retail space market to also go the way of the dinosaurs and courier companies to become the new kings.

  25. Laocoon

    The retail sector needs to do some serious overhauling. i know they are only interested in looking at labour costs in the main, but that is not where the issues lie

  26. Leone

    I’m sure Bob Brown has something on his Christmas list that Labor could offer in exchange for passage of the legislation.

    Relevance, perhaps?

  27. Leone @ 2528

    That’s the problem – the Greens are ideologues and would have a lot in common with Dear Leader and his Great Successor. Pragmatism and lack of compromise make them unfit to have any position of power, particularly the balance of power. Abbott gets bagged, quite rightly often, but the perfidious Greens ARE in government in coalition with Labor and they get a free pass, on this site anyway for the most part. Some of the more nutty posters even praise the Greens.

  28. Laocoon,

    The third issue affecting retail is the new move to household ‘saving’ which I see continuing for at least the next five, if not ten years. Credit given about like candy allowed the volume of businesses to increase but with the contraction of credit spending, the increase in savings, consumption will contract back to more normal demand levels and will contract the volume of retailers.

  29. ‘The only other alternative is the Greens solution which is for the Australian air force to run a daily shuttle service between any country where AS might originate and bring to the mainland anyone who wishes to come.’

    So why not just charge them over and above the costs of this shuttle service + extra if they’re not ruled as genuine refugees? We could do that and STILL undercut the ‘people smugglers’ + given the chance of jail time this would make it not worthwhile to run such a business. We’d make a profit from this provided we kept with largely community based detention instead of current silliness. It’d also provide business opportunities for a certain airline struggling with international flight costs. We’d also be putting less stress on the navy + lowering costs for constant patrols. Then once the business model is gone we could start to raise prices somewhat if we decide too many people are making use of this – market based signals and all that jazz. Combine this with a regional solution, when possible, in which Australia actually does it’s part for a change and this might be more effective and at a far lower cost than other solutions. It’d also be a good deal more humane than any of the fortress Australia solutions currently suggested and it’s practical.

  30. leonie:

    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.

  31. SK

    You have hit the nail on the head re Westfield etc. I have someone in management at Westfield, who advised me this week that the rental costs have risen. As far as this person was concerned, it is unsustainable. I agree.

  32. Something to consider is whether the people who arrive in Malaysia under any swap deal will just get the rellies here to support them or, if possible, send them back to where they came from after their holiday from hell.

    Another thing to think about is that the boaties don’t come here by plane because they would be very unlikely to get a tourist visa.

    I looked up the Immigration web site this morning.

    Other types of visa (e.g “visitor’s” visa) are out. Many of the countries they come from aren’t even on the list of “permitted” countries for visitor’s visas.

    So it’s a tourist visa or nothing, unless they can wangle a place on the All Iran National Circus Troupe or something like that, here on an official visit.

    Tourist visas from many of the “suspect” countries require lots of form filling and back up documentation, like declarations they’re not wanted by the cops in their home countries, haven’t been in jail recently, are of good character, have sufficient money to pay their way, are of good health etc. and, most importantly, a statutory declaration from someone here in Oz who knows them that they’re fair dinkum tourists may also be required. False declarations by either the sponsor or the “tourist” are treated seriously by the department here.

    So tourist visas are effectively “out” too. A few might get through trying them, but not the thousands who’d come here if it was as easy as having your passport rubber stamped.

    The only way boaties can get here is…by boat. This is simply because arriving at the airport is out (see above) and because we don’t have any land borders. If you want to come here and just arrive on the XI “doorstep” you have to get on a boat to come here.

    This is the fundamental problem with the Greens’ policy: the only way the “system” of people smuggling can work is if people come here by boat, with all its attendant risks. An alternative would be to charter planes, but that’s ridiculous, no matter how many bleeding heart QCs and SH-Ys hint that that’s what they would love to do. That way would be madness.

    We are left with a kind of artificial pantomime of having to get on a boat to make your case. Otherwise it’s no go.

    The Greens want the boats to be returned to the asylum seekers. What do we do, hand the crew back the keys and say, “See ya next week, mate?” Do we open the floodgates at our airports and just let anyone in… or, more correctly, not “in” but onto the planes in foreign countries like the UAE? Because that’s where the whole idea of facilitating refugees to come here falls over. We have to involve airline employees at check-in desks in solving or even exacerbating our refugee crisis. It’s just too stupid for words to even countenance it.

    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!

    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.

    My sister reckons that Abbott has a “pal” on the High Court who’s telling him what to say. Be that as it may, another try at the High Court might be chancy, but, if Nauru was knocked down at least we’d know that Abbott was as full of shite as he reckons Gillard is.

    One or two might get through

  33. My apologies if this has already been posted.

    Harvey Norman has been ordered by the Federal Court (on an action brought by the ACCC) to pay a $700,000 penalty and place public advertisements regarding misleading conduct. For over two and a half years the company’s catalogues misled consumers because the advertised goods and prices applied to only one store in each state and territory. Furthermore, the prices advertised by Harvey Norman online applied only to one store in Australia, at Auburn in Sydney! While this information was mentioned in the tiny fine print, the ACCC considered that consumers were misled.

    The corrective advertisement that I read was in the local throwaway paper this week, the Chronicle in Canberra on page 9. I looked at the Harvey Norman website but couldn’t find this notice.

  34. Space Kidette
    I agree with that – plus learned behaviour by cosumers (post Boxing Days, goods are markedly cheaper) and then add the impact of some softness in the revenue line, well, those structural weaknesses become very evident indeed

  35. Mick – ‘The Greens are in coalition’. Yeah right.

    Tell me the last time the National/Country Party didn’t vote with the Liberals while in government (or Opposition)?

  36. Leonie

    They are in government and politics is about pragmatism and the art of the possible, not ideology. Rudd/Labor policies were onshore processing – hullo, doesn’t work, rethink. Greens policies = refugee drownings; time to get real. They are true loonies.

  37. [2525
    Posted Thursday, December 22, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    I am surprised by the Morgan Poll to be honest!]

    Well, interest rates are coming down, inflation is low, unemployment is stable, the budget is moving to balance, the Government appear to be in control of events. Meanwhile, some of the stories that have generated such negative reflexes – especially asylum-seekers and the carbon tax – are having a more muted effect.

    As well, the public have clearly latched on to Abbott’s weakness – his relentless negativity. He is the political equivalent of an acid-attacker. While this is perhaps acceptable for a while when the game is about assault and battery, it is just plain toxic in a could-PM.

    Abbott does not have the mettle needed to unify and lead this country. He is starting to hurt the Liberal vote, in my opinion.

  38. Laocoon

    My mother made an observation a few years ago. She said that people had become immune to sales, because retail was in a permanent cycle of sales.

  39. The Greens could offer to allow the Malaysian solution subject to some face saving changes (like the ETS) to avoid the re introduction of TPV’s and using tow back as legislation.

    Once these are in place then the next Lib Government could use.

    The Greens fig leaf might be they have to come up with the least bad solution, etc…..

    This may a be a vote loser for the Greens. So, they need to stay relevant. Interesting to see if Greens can compromise.

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