ReachTel: 50.7-49.3 to Labor in Ashgrove

The Queensland election is now less than three weeks away, which marks the point where I usually start to take state election campaigns seriously. In that spirit, here’s an overdue new post.

• The latest of ReachTel’s seven automated phone polls for Ashgrove, conducted last night from a sample of 742, has Kate Jones leading Campbell Newman for the first time, albeit with a lead well within the margin of error: 50.7-49.3 using the preference distribution from the 2009 election. On the primary vote, Campbell Newman leads 45.4 per cent to 44.4 per cent. Results for the other six Ashgrove polls conducted by ReachTel are outlined here. More on ReachTel polling from Antony Green here.

• Two big pieces of news from the Gold Coast electorate of Broadwater, which Labor’s Peta-Kaye Croft holds on a margin of 2.0 per cent. Firstly, the 75-year-old mayor of Gold Coast, Ron Clarke, has confirmed he will run as an independent. Paul Weston of the Gold Coast Bulletin reports that “senior Liberal (sic) sources” said Clarke’s entry meant it was “game over” for them, as they expected Clarke to “gather enough votes from older residents in the electorate” to win. Secondly, the LNP is now on to its third candidate in the electorate after the second, solicitor Cameron Caldwell, was disendorsed when photos emerged (innocuous of themselves) of him and his wife at a party staged by a swingers’ club. Caldwell was given the nod at the end of last year after the first candidate, Richard Towson, allegedly returned 0.07 at a random breath test. The new candidate is 26-year-old Verity Barton who, according to Henry Tuttiett of the Gold Coast Bulletin, is “still lives at home with her mum” (“saving to enter the property market”, Barton responds), “doesn’t have a university degree” (she has partly completed a law degree at Bond University), and “the two jobs she’s had were as a retail assistant and LNP electoral officer” (the latter gig is with George Brandis). That Barton is a woman is one bright spot for Campbell Newman, who was defied by the local party on this count when it preselected Caldwell. The LNP now has 16 female candidates from a total of 89.

• Another LNP casualty has been their candidate for Logan, police sergeant Peter Anderson-Barr, who withdrew a fortnight ago after media reports from 2004 were circulated concerning an incident in which he allegedly struck an offender who had spat at him. The LNP’s assertion that Anderson-Barr was the victim of a “Labor Party smear campaign” was rubbished by Matt Condon of the Courier-Mail. Anderson-Barr’s wife, Joanna Lindgren, is running for the LNP in Inala. The party’s new candidate is American emigrant Michael Pucci, who served with the United States Marine Corps and met his wife during a posting in Brisbane.

• Campbell Newman’s decision to denounce Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s government as corrupt while campaigning on his home turf of Kingaroy was seized upon by Bob Katter, who accused Newman of “spitting on the grave” of Bjelke-Petersen and insulting his elderly widow. Kingaroy is located in the electorate of Nanango, which former test cricketer Carl Rackemann hopes to win for Katter’s Australian Party in succession to retiring One Nation-turned-independent member Dorothy Pratt. As VexNews sees it, Newman erred in stating to Kingaroy voters what was “probably the correct view for St Lucia dinner parties”. Newman immediately went on to tell such a party – or at any rate, an LNP fundraising dinner attended primarily by prospective business donors – that Bjelke-Petersen had nonetheless run the state’ s last decent government. Among the ministers in that government was Bob Katter, who served during the last four years of Bjelke-Petersen’s premiership. In another curious link, the party’s campaign director is Luke Shaw, who secured a place on the jury in Bjelke-Petersen’s 1991 perjury trial despite his involvement in the Young Nationals, and was one of its two members who held out against his conviction.

• Katter’s Australian Party has initiated legal action seeking to have all ballot papers reprinted, after it dawned upon them that they would be identified merely as The Australian Party. This threatens to make life complicated for the Electoral Commission of Queensland, as pre-poll voting has already commenced: as Antony Green says, “the ECQ may have to make some provision to isolate pre-poll votes completed before the court hearing just in case the court grants an injunction”. However, Antony further explains that the KAP appears not to have a leg to stand on, with the Electoral Act clearly stipulating that parties are to be identified according to their registered abbreviation. Rosanne Barrett of The Australian reports that lawyers for the party argued before the Supreme Court that its own application for the abbreviation to be registered should never have been accepted, for reasons presiding judge Roslyn Atkinson found “bizarre” – so much so that in one case she had “difficulty understanding how anybody could make that argument with a straight face”. The party is also pleading that the difference between the federal and state acts is an “operational inconsistency” which somehow amounts to an “unpermissable burden on freedom of political communication”. Atkinson retorted she was “not satisfied that there is a prima facie case of any argument of direct or indirect consistency under the Commonwealth electoral act and the state electoral act”, while Antony Green, writing on this site, rated the argument as “crazy”. The application, it seems safe to say, will be formally rejected when the matter is determined in the coming days.

• Nominations closed on Tuesday and the ballot paper orders have been drawn. Antony Green relates that the 430 candidates comes second only to the 438 from the 1998 election as the highest number ever. No doubt the long lead-in time between the announcement of the election and the issue of the writs helps explain this.

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.

219 comments on “ReachTel: 50.7-49.3 to Labor in Ashgrove”

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  1. Copying from other thread what belonged here:

    That ought to cause a few feathers to fly up there. People won’t be sure which premier they’ll get if they vote LNP. If it would just tip a little further Labor’s way Newman has huge problems ahead for the rest of the campaign. The press might demand that the alternative LNP premier be more prominent, or Newman might have to admit that he’ll get someone to resign a safe seat after all.

  2. Triton

    Plan B has been raised – there are lots of newbies coming in this term. It is proposed that one of them will give up the spot to let Newman in if he does not win Ashgrove.

  3. [Newman immediately went on to tell such a party – or at any rate, an LNP fundraising dinner attended primarily by prospective business donors – that Bjelke-Petersen had nonetheless run the state’ s last decent government. ]

    Didnt rate Borbidge then? LOL.

    [Campbell Newman’s decision to denounce Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s government as corrupt while campaigning on his home turf of Kingaroy]

    Note that Beattie scrupulously avoided doing this at all times. That’ll play well in rural QLD, not.

    [the party’s campaign director is Luke Shaw, ]

    I can see an QLD ALP ad with his grinning “eff-you” face from the 1991 front page of the Curious-Snail. Thatll play well in Brisbane, n’t. Welcome back to the Joh era!

    Like I always say, never underestimate the capacity of the QLD LNP to screw the pooch.

  4. Have any other polling companies released polls for Ashgrove? Antony Green, in his very measured diplomatic way, basically said take RealTec with a grain of salt.

    For the record, I reckon Newman will win Ashgrove pretty comfortably; the underlying Liberal vote looks too strong to withstand what is looking to be a big swing to the LNP. But this is definitely an unwelcome public distraction for him.

  5. MDMC

    Because Reachtel is a phone poll only and does not have “quotas” it will be over represented with older people. Not sure what effect this will have

  6. Plan B has been raised – there are lots of newbies coming in this term. It is proposed that one of them will give up the spot to let Newman in if he does not win Ashgrove.

    One of those scenarios that could lead to large amounts of egg on the face. Voters don’t like being asked to vote twice, just for the sake of fixing up a political party’s own stuff up. With the current cynical voter mood they’d want to make sure the newby had scored a bloody big win to provide enough margin to absorb the inevitable backlash.

  7. DTT
    [It is proposed that one of them will give up the spot to let Newman in if he does not win Ashgrove.]

    I haven’t been following it closely, but I thought Newman was forced to rule out that he would seek to enter parliament through a byelection. However, he can’t stop someone resigning, claiming it was their own decison, and then saying, well, the member is resigning, the LNP needs someone to stand, so I’ll do it. At this stage all that matters is whether voters believe that’s what will happen, not whether it actually does. I’m not sure how best Labor should deal with it. LNP voters maybe would like the reassurance that Newman would get into parliament somehow, so maybe they should just keep quiet.

  8. @6

    I don’t really buy into any of that tbh…supporters of both sides of politics constructs all sorts of scenarios about why the polls inflate their opponents’ vote and how the “real story” is much better for them. I think Antony’s beef was more with the methodology.

    The statewide polls continue to show a strong LNP lead and as long as they maintain this, Newman’s Premiership will be seen as “inevitable”, and the residents of Ashgrove won’t deny him a seat. For this reason, I reckon Newman’s only real danger is if the polls tighten up big time and Labor look like they might squeak back in.

  9. This poll indicates a 3% swing to Jones on Primaries since the previous survey. If such momentum continues then LNP starts to look shaky as the winner outright not only in this seat, but across the board.

    The LNP must be starting to worry given Cando’s appalling campaigning thus far.

  10. I must admit, talk of some newbie quitting in favour of Newman if he loses Ashgrove but the LNP wins confuses me – who would do that? They couldn’t find anyone to quit for him before the election, so why should anyone throw themselves away once they win.

    You’ve just won government for the first time in two decades. Is your first act going to be resigning in favour of some blow-in who couldn’t win his own seat despite a massive media presence? No, you’re going to hope for a nice job for yourself and a long period in government…

  11. Labor are betting on a ‘house of cards’ approach. Get Kate in front in Ashgrove and the whole LNP campaign falls apart.

    As Dennis Atkins said on Insiders last Sunday, if the government can keep painting Newman as a dodgy candidate into next weekend the LNP will have serious problems.

  12. MDM,

    Looks like the momentum has already shifted and it’s a matter of how quickly the tide goes out for the LNP.

    If a week out it looks like the LNP won’t secure Government in it’s own right, the voters may switch back to safe and secure Labor.

    My recollection is that Labor came with a late surge last electon as well.

  13. My ‘beef’ with the Reachtel polls was that the forced choice method of getting 2-party preferred does not match the first preference votes yet people were running off and quoting the forced choice answer as the best measure of the poll.

    Reachtel have accepted that argument and are now also producing an estimated 2PP based on past preferences, the method everyone else uses. The forced choice continues to show a higher Labor ‘2PP’ than the method based on estimating from first preferences.

    Reachtel asks voters their age and weights the sample accordingly. That is a different methodolgy than manually conducted phone polls which quota-sample by age and over-sample younger age groups who are harder to get in a sample. They are two methods of dealing with the same problem. Over-sampling is the better method but is much more expensive as you have to make more calls because you end up ringing many people who you reject from surveying because of the quota-sampling.

    Reachtel have used the same method for months and are now measuring change in voter intention with the campaign underway. That is the interesting aspect of the survey.

    I suspect Reachtel have as much riding on the Ashgrove result as Campbell Newman. If their polls turn out to be way off the mark, it won’t be good for the method’s reputation.

    I’m always interested that people only ever raise questions of margin of error or sample size with polls they don’t like the result of.

  14. Well I’m definitely calling shenanigans on ReachTel.

    Their last poll before this one (late Feb) had the LNP winning Ferny Grove with what looks like a TPP of 70-30!!

    So the LNP are gonna lose Ashgrove but win FG with 63% of the primary vote?

    Yeah, nah…..

  15. If ReachTel’s reported 2PP is now based on preferences at the 2009 election then I guess the numbers are as reliable as any other pollster’s would be.

    P.S. Is it really valid to use a past election’s preferences? If there’s a swing in primaries maybe there would be one in preferences too. E.g., Greens voters might have swung their next preference towards the LNP in line with everyone who’s changed primaries.

  16. Anthony,

    Not just polls where they don’t like the results. I don’t like polls full stop. Pseudo science and trivial… shoehorning complex issues like preferences into past patterns, massaging samples, samples drawn from god-knows where…. Polls are exerting far too much influence on our political process and on inferior politicians who like to lead from behind.

    More suited to selling cornflakes than selling ideas and policies… “Brand” Labor is bad enough … “Brand” Gillard even worse.

    If you want a real hoot have a look at the way Essential conducts its “polls”… the methodology – if that’s the right word – is buried in Essential’s reports as a short appendix usually on page 11. You won’t find it discussed on Crikey or here. Utterly useless. Still they have finally admitted that their self selecting on-line respondents are actually paid for playing along.

    At least the TV show Mad Men has some politics in it. These things don’t. They are hostile to politics. And the lack of rigor is symptomatic of a much deeper problem – a fundamental misunderstanding of the political process. They should stick to selling cornflakes.

  17. I’m not surprised there has been a tightening however I am surprised and a little concerned by the size. Newman has poorly addressed issues about his business dealings and Jones has been running a separate and very effective local campaign. There are two key issues arising from this. Firstly can Newman reverse a trend away from the LNP in Ashgrove in the last three weeks of the campaign when it really counts and finally is this a consistent trend across the state.

    I honestly don’t know the answer to the first issue but suspect the answer to the second issue is no.

    If Newman doesn’t win Ashgrove then I hope they elect Nicholls the leader with a minimum of in-fighting.

  18. The problem for the LNP will be that if other polls confirm that Newman’s lead is narrowing or lost in Ashgrove in the coming days/weeks, the focus for the remainder of the campaign will be on the ensuring power struggle within the LNP.

    Discipline will play an important part here and based on past evidence this discipline is not an LNP strong point.

    If the LNP deal with the in-fighting poorly I would expect a strong trend away from the LNP statewide. Voters would opt for the devil they know.

    But none of this would play out if Newman can regain some momentum in Ashgrove.

    Are any other pollsters doing the rounds in Ashgrove at the moment?

  19. @19 it would appear you have come to entirely the wrong site.

    Good to see a faint hope the good people of Queensland aren’t as stupid as those in NSW and Vic who changed to a much worse govt because they were ‘bored’ with the good govts they had.

  20. Newman and Ashgrove has some resonance with the strange affair of Patrick Gordon Walker in Britain nearly 50 years ago.

    Gordon Walker was a distinguished Labour MP, having won Smethwick in a by-election after the Labour member was killed in a motor accident one day after the 1945 general election.

    Smethwick was a safe Labour seat until Gordon Walker was tipped out in 1965 as the result of a blatantly racist campaign in which the victorious Conservative Peter Griffiths ran on the slogan “If you want a nigger for a neighbour vote Liberal or Labour.”

    Labour won the general election, however, and Harold Wilson named Gordon Walker Foreign Secretary while they were finding a safe seat for him to re-enter parliament at a by-election. Unfortunately for Gordon Walker, he then lost the Leyton by-election and did not get back into parliament until he eventually took Leyton at the 1966 general election.

    The best laid plans of mice and men ….

  21. WWP

    I am pretty sure that the rejection of the NSW government in March 2011 has never been described as being the result of stupid people being bored with a good government.

  22. Shellbell and the same applies in QLD.

    QLD’ers know we have to vote Labor out and it’s up to the Ashgrove residents to decide who the next premier will be. I agree that the LNP need to show a united front regardless of what happens in Ashgrove. Newman may be the best option but he isn’t the only option.

  23. Like all governments, Labor in NSW was a mixture of the good and the bad. No-one doubted that in the end it had been there too long but its near-wipeout at the polls, though understandable, was not such a good result for a competitive democratic process.

  24. If newman does not win Ashgrove and the lieberals Nats get up then Mr Springborg will be the new Premier of Qld. He has been flying round in Clive Palmers Planes and helicopters for ever and Clive will make sure Lawrence gets it as he will Owe Him Bigtime.

  25. As a long time follower of QLD politics, I think the LNPs problem here is potentially a very big one: they’re running the type of campaign which is exposing their internal contradictions, will scare horses in both city and country, and could easily (think 1998) see votes swing late to Katter in the bush, and ALP in the cities.

    Dont forget one quarter of the voting population of the state was happy to go One Nation a mere 14 years ago. Thats a lot of non-rusted-to-majors voters. More than anywhere else in the country.

    In fact, Im going on record, out on a limb: I think the most likely result at this point is an LNP minority govt reliant on Katter and some independents. And probably without Newman.

    If Im wrong, nyaah-nyaahing rights copped gracefully on the chin – but only from those who raise a prediction. No fence sitters!

  26. Smethwick Labor won it back in 1966 with a Coronation Street star. From outside it looks like Labor has had better of campaign but making zero impact on voters (as I suspect campaigns mostly do). Will any voters drift back to Labor? Ashgrove; Jones has donkey vote, KAP might divide conservative vote & Labor could squeeze the Greens, but Newman is popular himself as Antony reminds us. You could cite NSW Labor’s success in Balmain & Marrickville in holding up their vote by personality-based campaigns but a Labor/Greens battle is rather different from a Labor/LNP battle.

  27. TT

    NSW was mostly bad hence the wipeout which has left us a legacy of a non competitive lower house – things are close, in a way, in the upper house.

    I think there is little to compare elections state to state over the last few years.

  28. [QLD’ers know we have to vote Labor out]

    Speak for yourself DavidWH.

    At the moment about 48% of Qlders know that to vote the Mining Magnates Myrmidons spells disaster.
    There are a couple of percent of Qlders who have been dumbed down by the relentless negativity and propaganda of the National media.

    These are the ones who will be whinging like you have never heard when they get their big dose of buyers remorse when LNP and Newman/whoever becomes premier/government and proceed to trash the state and people by helping their big donor developer and mining mates.

    Johs brown paper bag brigade are nothing compared to this lot.

    Just like the vic and NSW premiers have lied to their constituents so will the LNP in QLD

  29. Labor’s success in Balmain was only relative. Verity Firth suffered a 9.1% swing on primaries, compared to 16% statewide.

    Firth finished third on the primary vote.

  30. TT
    [Who has the donkey vote in Ashgrove?]

    Assuming that the tally room candidates list is in ballot paper order, Kate Jones is no. 1 and Newman no. 2. If it’s close that’s gold for Jones. However, there is a Trevor Jones at no. 5.

  31. DavidWH@37

    Gaffhook the last major poll on QLD showed around 70 percent of QLD’ers want Labor gone so I have plenty of company.

    Last major poll seems to be the Newspoll that was 58-42. 58 is a little way from 70.

  32. Verity Firth in Balmain was just pipped into third place after the penultimate preference distribution (Lib 1st, Grn 2nd) by 206 votes.

  33. My guess is any narrowing in Ashgrove (if indeed there is) will reflect a broader trend in Brisbane – though not necessarily the rest of the state.

    Fact is Ashgrove is not the easiest to win seat at 7% margin. Doesnt mean other Brisbane seats wont fall to LNP.

  34. Would I be right in saying that historically Ashgrove is a bit of bellweather seat which historically has gone to the LNP when they have formed government.

    Even though the polls show that the LNP are well in front but due to the fragmented Queensland electorate and the inclusion of the Australia Party could see this election being somewhat closer than the polls indicate.

    It appears that the LNP still has a problem with the Brisbane area at state level.

  35. I think we need to clear up some misinformation here:

    MDMConnell – I’m not sure Antony said anything like that. His latest commentary on this is up on the ABC website and clearly addresses the pros and cons of our technology.

    I think the most powerful comment is the one about the trend seven months of polling has shown.

    In relation to your second comment about state wide polls and this local poll – I think you need to appreciate that Ashgrove is very different. There are massive resources being poured into this electorate by both parties. This seat has every chance of bucking whatever trend we see state wide. The best example of this was our poll of the Ferny Grove electorate (also mentioned by Antony) that is practically next door to Ashgrove but shows a very different result.

    daretotread – Whilst we do only use telephone polling (like most of the other big players), we do certainly have quotas and we weight according to age and gender profiles from the ABS. Whilst the raw figures do have a slight bias to older people and women as opposed to men, this is corrected when we weight the results.

    Happy to discuss any other questions people have.


    Nick Adams
    Services Manager
    ReachTEL Pty Ltd.

  36. DavidWH from the other thread:

    [Labor’s total strategy is to destroy Newman regardless of the consequences. Hell they would even prefer Katter to hold the balance of power of it means Newman is destroyed in the process.

    Hard to have any respect for that kind of thinking.]

    Bollocks, David. It is not the job of the ALP to save their opponents from the stupidity of their own strategy. The onus was on the LNP not to shoot themselves in the foot.

  37. [The outcome could be very messy indeed and would be further complicated if they have to rely on Mad Katters or independents to form government.]

    Where does the assumption that Katter will back an LNP minority Govt come from?

    Speaking of Katter it seems he has found a scapegoat if he has a shocker of an election result. Its all the electoral commissions fault.

  38. That slow crumpling sound is the QLD LNP imploding. I’d rather be Kate than Campbell, and that’s not just on these poll numbers!

  39. [It is not the job of the ALP to save their opponents from the stupidity of their own strategy.]

    Absolutely. Not giving Newman a safe seat always had “HALF-ARSED” tattooed on its chest.

    The question was whether they’d get away with this species of idiocy.

  40. lefty e@48

    It is not the job of the ALP to save their opponents from the stupidity of their own strategy.

    Absolutely. Not giving Newman a safe seat always had “HALF-ARSED” tattooed on its chest.

    The question was whether they’d get away with this species of idiocy.

    At the time, I think they thought every seat was a safe seat.


    [Support crumbles for Newman in Ashgrove
    Bridie Jabour
    March 6, 2012 – 11:46AM

    LNP leader Campbell Newman has refused to say if he will change his campaign strategy in the seat of Ashgrove after a new poll shows he is slipping behind the Labor incumbent Kate Jones.

    And he said the LNP still did not have a contingency plan if the LNP won government at this month’s state election but he failed to win the seat of Ashgrove.]
    more in the article

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