Newspoll: 51-49 to Coalition in Victoria

Another worrying opinion poll for Ted Baillieu, whose honeymoon period appeared to conk out barely a year after his government took office in late November 2010. This poll gives the Coalition a delicate two-party lead of 51-49, which compares with the 51.6-48.4 result that delivered the narrowest of victories at the election. It’s also a return to the November-December result, before the Coalition improved to 53-47 in January-February. Their primary vote in the current poll is 42%, compared with 45% in the previous poll and 44.8% at the election, but Labor is also down a point to an unimpressive 32% (36.2% at the election). Most of the slack has been taken up by the Greens, whose three-point gain to 17% returns them to the peaks they enjoyed in mid-2010, before they went on to a relatively modest 11.2% at the election.

Baillieu is also suffering rapidly deteriorating personal ratings, such as have been known to give rise to the proverbial “speculation” from time to time. Whereas he remained in net positive territory in the previous poll, at 41% approval and 38% disapproval, this time he’s respectively at 38% and 45%. Labor leader Daniel Andrews has improved off a low base, his approval up five to 28% and disapproval down one to 35%, with many still undecided. Baillieu still has a commanding lead as preferred premier, but this too has diminished, from 51-19 to 46-23.

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.

27 comments on “Newspoll: 51-49 to Coalition in Victoria”

  1. On this result the Legislative Council will almost certainly not have a coalition majority because the Government does not seem to realise/care that it needs its 2 2nd MLCs in Northern and Western Metro. Any decent “the Liberals neglect the West/North” should be enough to cost the Coalition the Legislative Council unless the Coalition gets a big swing to it that the polls are not showing so far.

    There is also the matter of the redistribution that may well give the ALP a nominal majority of seats going into the, probably close, election.

  2. There is a potential constitutional crisis looming if the Libs or Nats were to lose a by-election in a marginal seat

    Nick Economu at Monash has stated that the Governor’s power to dissolve parliament only applies to a situation in which the House has rejected supply
    If Bailleau lost a by-election he would be 43-44 in the House with a Lib as Speaker(as now)

    Would that be sufficient to allow the Governor to dissolve P’Ment or would they have to submit a S. Bill to meet the requirements
    Economu thinks it is a potential crisis point…uforseen by the drafters of the amendment for a 4 year term

  3. The Baillieu government is not travelling well, but it is early days, and it will be allowed to get away with things that the previous Labor government was not. Thus, we have Mary Wooldridge rewriting history in The Age and my reply not published:.


    Mary Wooldridge asks (Differences? You bet there are, 28/4), “who can think of substantial reforms left by Labor”? I can. Labor brought proportional representation to the Legislative Council, making it the most democratic it has been in its entire history, constitutionally protected the auditor-general, re-introduced the academic disciplines of history and geography to our schools, re-established a professional registration system for teachers, left our primary schools the best staffed they had been in the state’s history and invested more than $3 billion in its plan to rebuild every school in the state. Basically, it rebuilt Victoria after the Coalition’s previous destructive term in office, and it will rebuild again when the current rather inadequate government is replaced.

    Yours sincerely,

    Chris Curtis

    Emailed to
    As The record is obvious

    I made some comments along the same lines on the last Victorian election on After the blast: page 11 and page 20
    and on Victorian election live.

    Those who want to know how bad the Coalition was last time in education can read Don’t Give Up – the Eternal Battle.

    Tomorrow’s budget should be fun.

  4. If Nick Economou said that he is wrong. The Governor can dissolve Parliament any time he likes, for any reason or no reason. Section 8A of the Victorian Constitution says that the Governor may dissolve Parliament after a vote of no confidence, but does not preclude the right of the Governor to dissolve Parliament at any other time. In any case, the Victorian Constitution (unlike the Commonwealth Constitution) is only an Act of Parliament, and a state Parliament cannot prescribe the rights of the Crown.

    What would happen if the Coalition lost a by-election to Labor? The numbers in the Assembly would then be 44/44. The Speaker does not have a deliberative vote, so if Ken Smith stayed in the Chair, the Government would lose a confidence vote 44/43 and there would be an immediate election. If Smith resigned, the Assembly would have to elect a new Speaker before any vote. It’s the Government’s responsibility to provide a Speaker, so another Coalition member would have to be nominated, unless a Labor member could be persuaded to defect, which is highly unlikely.

  5. Baillieu and his mates are drifting alarmingly in the polls and I’d say Ted has about six months to get his act together or the rumbling for leadership change will start to dog the Government.

    Andrews and Labor have done well not to descend in to the usual indiscipline, blame sharing and policy disputes. However, being an invisible target does not mean the voters are ready to jump ship to the Labor Party yet.

    The libs have had open slather to be examined for their poor performance and evidence to date indicates they are not up to the job.

    Still a long way to go. But, encouraging for Labor.

  6. As a Victorian I,m surprised at how bad the Ballyhoo government has been . The introduction of cattle to the national parks is a good example of poor PR and bungling . No test prior to the cattle moving in and the plan so poor no respected scientist will be involved in it . No wind turbines within two kilometres of a residence but particularly a small area practically unknown to most except libs such as the Wooldridge family . In my area , Gippsland , a tv ad showing Nats basking as Anzacs in the guise of supporting our troops but instead being a tacky political promo . That really upset quite a few and Ryan the great spokesman for the coalition pre election going from chocolates to boiled lollies after the police fiasco making his presence on the ad confirming his lack of judgement . Guy the planning minister doing a deal for a lib backer but backing down when the heat went on via twitter from a pop star . Its jobs for the boys and backers to be rewarded but with indecent haste and poor judgement . Kim Wells as treasurer claiming he has inherited a ” black hole ” but treasury figures showing otherwise . Talk about going to the liberal script ! Trouble is the script needs to have a solid story line as in some credence as in being factual . It looks like Wells budget 18 months after taking office will in fact be in the red after pre election promises of 100 million plus surplus every year .
    If Ballyhoo was getting the treatment the PM cops about breaking a promise he would be batting off four or five broken promises not one . Even with the Newscorp backing he is looking as a turn off . I must admit I,m quite surprised at how poorly they have managed so far with so little or no good results to compensate for the bungles .

  7. It has not been noted that the lost Liberal primary votes in the Vic poll have not gone to the ALP but to the Greens. The ALP are actually down on their PV by 1%.

  8. Daniel Andrews as ALP leader is almost invisible and presents badly. He was on the ABC news last night being interviewed wearing a daggy old cardigan looking like a punter doing a vox pop in the street. There will be leadership rumblings in the ALP before they happen in the Libs – Tim Holding has raised his public profile considerably lately.

  9. Please forgive a displaced (by choice) Queenslander – but is it customary for the state opposition leader in Victoria to have no presence in the media? I am not suggesting media bias – but I have never seen or heard much of Daniel Andrews. I think the poll results could improve for the ALP, however Andrews has little impact. Baillieu should be a sitting duck with a paper-thin majority, a floundering state economy, rising unemployment and an apt tag as a ‘do-nothing’ premier. If the Victorian ALP had an effective leader with a bit of charisma (as well as being a competent leader – but this is the ALP so let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves) then Baillieu might actually be on the ropes a bit. As it stands he’ll likely win re-election despite not doing much at all because there is no-one opposing him with any gusto.

    Just had a peak at Andrews’ profile online – elected to parliament at 30 and prior to that was “Before his election to Parliament, Daniel was Assistant State Secretary and Deputy Campaign Director of the Victorian Branch of the Australian Labor Party” according to his website. Another Labor identity with no real world experience. That’d explain the poll results – people will elect the ‘do-nothing’ over the ‘has never done anything’.

  10. It is interesting that there have never been any suggestions about rolling Ballieu.

    Seriously, who is there?

    They’re either clapped out Ministers who were discreditted under Kennett, or total newcomers who don’t have the necessary experience (in a way, Ted’s sort of both).

  11. GG.

    It’s only a guess, but I think the ALP hasn’t gone down that path as they are so close in the polls and in seats.

    At the moment, the ALP can afford to sit back and be invisible. A lot of the problems being encountered by Ted were minor problems at least during the last few years under Brumby. Not attacking means it is harer to land a return blow, and this could be one of the current strategies. Although it’s very risky, it is currently working to some extent.

    But if both leaders don’t start performing better by christmas, they will probably be in big trouble, although I think Ted is in a lot more trouble then Daniel.

  12. 4

    Why can`t the Victorian Constitution bind the Victorian Crown? Also the relevant section of the Victorian Constitution is referendum entrenched.

  13. 11

    I remember reading somewhere that there are at the moment, National Party-room meetings and Coalition party-room meetings but no Liberal Party-room meetings and this makes it harder to topple Ballieu.

  14. Part of Baillieu’s problem is that he has a cabinet that is not very strong. He brought in his shadow cabinet in entirety when a wiser head would have put some out to pasture. Louise Asher as deputy liberal leader and Kim Wells as treasurer are particularly weak considering their senior status. A cool, calm reshuffle would assist.

  15. There needs to be a redistribution in this parliament. Due to the conversion to proportional representation in the Upper House, there has not been a redistribution since before the 2002 election – a long time when especially when some parts of Victoria have been the fastest growing in the nation. With a majority of only one, it may be possible that this redistribution may actually put the Baillieu government into the minority leaving the government fighting uphill to survive.

  16. 15

    Technically it was not the switch to proportional representation itself but the switch to having the whole Legislative Council up for election and fixed term changes. With these, redistributions were fixed at every 2 General Elections (unless certain criteria are met when it can happen after 1) and a General election was defined as being an Election where all seats in Parliament where up. This meant that 2002 did not count as a General Election for the purposes of redistributions. It also means that Victoria did not have a General Election (under the current meaning) for 150 years!

    The redistribution is likely abolish at least 1 rural safe Coalition seat and create at least 1 seat in the heavily ALP Northern and Western Suburbs. Unless this tips Essendon, Ivanhoe and/or Eltham into the Liberal column, it is bad news for the Coalition. The Liberals chances of picking up seats in the Western and Northern Suburbs in hampered by their obvious tendency to favour the other side of the Yarra. This tendency makes it likely that, whatever the outcome in the Legislative Assembly, the Coalition will loose its majority in the Legislative Council by loosing a seat in each of Western and Northern Metro. It may also create tension with the Nats if they are the ones to loose a seat.

  17. The Victorian voters have woken up to do nothing lazy Ted and will turf him out at the nexy election.
    Interestingly the HUN have waged an anti Baillieu campgain along the lines of big brother the OZ vicious campgain against the ALP federally – it just goes to show the power of the Murdoch press once again.
    Its also time for Daniel Andrews to act more like Abbott and rip the guts out of this weak Premier and his talentless cabinet..

  18. Tom,
    I agree that we’ll see one rural seat abolished and transferred to either the north of the west of the city but the seats most likley to go (Swan Hill or Rodney) but could cost the ALP Bendigo East and put Seymour out of range. A zero sum gain.

    The bigger issue is what is going to happen in the SE. Of the six seats statewide with the lowest enrollments four are help by the ALP (Clayton 17% below Vic average enrollment; Mulgrave 14% below; Dandenong and Oakleigh 13% below. The East has Bulleen, Doncaster and Forest Hill all significantly below quota. How the VEC deals with these seats (and suspect we’ll see one seat also abolished here) and the spillover on the seats surrounding them I suspect will be more important. BTW I used 2010 VEC enrollment figures in making these calculations.

  19. To those worrying Daniel Andrews has been quiet – its suposedly been done delibertly by the ALP and they will start to ramp up the pressure from now on.

    Dont forget its over 2 years to the next election and in the first two years of any new government its hard to land any blows on them during the honeymoon period.

    The biggest asset the ALP has is Baillieu and his nasty sidekick Ryan who promised the earth before the election and havent be able to deliver.Memo to Baillieu check how Julia is travelling and she only broke ONE “promise”

    Interestingly all the major infrastructure projects that Baillieu has overseen the completion of IE: RCH,new train stations, Westgate Bridge works and the underconstruction Hamer Hall/ Arts Centre upgrade,the massive irrigation works in the north of the state, Western Freeway upgrade and Peninisular Freeway were all projects started by the Brumby government.

    In the near two years since the LNP government was elected not one new big infrastructure project has been started!

  20. Further to Louise comments there are a number of seats well over quota.

    I recall In 2002 something like 15 seats were abolished or renamed.

  21. Mexican

    This redistribution is probably likely to have a similar number of major changes.

    Louis, Tom

    The area around Geelong and the Surf Coast is also likely to have a major change as all of the seats in the area – Polwarth, South Barwon and Bellarine are well over quota. This could get interesting as these seats – as well as Geelong all have strong liberal or labor voting areas so the final boundaries may tip seats in one direction or the other.

    Besides Bendigo and or Seymour, Ripon could be the seat that gets pushed over to the libs should there be an abolition in Northern Victoria (my bet is more on Swan Hill).

  22. People might be yellin and screemin at Gillard for actually doing something, but I think Baillieu has shown that doin notin isn’t a winner either.

  23. Big Ted’s problem is that he is caught between a rock and a hard place

    Part of the Liberal voters want him to be like Kennett and smash though and do things, while the Liberal hacks in Ted’s ear remember what happened to Kennett

    The ALP tried to paint Ted as Kennett Mk2 before the election whereas he’s turning himself into a do nothing Fraser/Hamer type

    The faultering economy hasn’t help him either with no surplus money to spend

  24. Rupert Hamer couldn’t be classed as a do nothing government.

    He did introduce a number of important reforms

  25. Interesting that after all the Jobs were taken down off the website they are all back up again. And the word is that the government doesn’t have the money to pay for the redundancy packages for all those “lazy” public servants it wants to get rid of. My bet for the budget – they will sell off CenITex, probably with a guaranteed contract and the state will be stuck with a now privatized lemon for all their IT services.

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