Morgan face-to-face: 59-41 to Coalition; Seat of the week: Bass

Morgan’s face-to-face polling from last weekend, which has been published a day earlier than usual, shows Labor up slightly off a record low the week before, with their primary vote up a point to 30.5%. The Coalition is also up slightly, by half a point to 46%, with the Greens steady on 12%. A narrowing in the headline respondent-allocated two-party figure, from 60.5-39.5 to 59-41, is mostly down to a slight increase in the preference flow to Labor. With regard to the ongoing disparity between this result and the two-party figure derived from preference flows at the last election, which is steady at 55.5-44.5, Morgan has taken to adding the following footnote: “An increasing proportion of Greens voters are indicating a preference for the L-NP ahead of the ALP. At the 2010 Federal Election only 20% of Greens voters preferenced the L-NP, but recent Morgan Polls have this figure closer to 40%”.

The latest instalment of Seat of the Week, like the last two, is brought to you by the letter B.

Seat of the week: Bass

Still famous for the by-election that provided a catalyst for the Coalition’s decision to block supply in 1975, Bass has been an arm wrestle between Labor and Liberal ever since, changing hands at five out of the six elections between 1993 and 2007. The electorate has been little changed since it was created with the state’s division into five single-member electorates in 1903, at all times covering Launceston and the state’s north-eastern corner. Launceston accounts for slightly less than three-quarters of its voters, and has been trending to Labor over the past two elections: between 2004 and 2010, Labor’s two-party vote in Launceston progressed from 47.6% to 58.3%, compared with 46.4% to 54.0% in the remainder of the electorate.

Labor first won Bass when it secured its first ever parliamentary majority at the 1910 election, and lost it six years later when its member Jens Jensen followed Billy Hughes into the Nationalist Party. Jensen retained the seat as a Nationalist at the 1917 election, and it remained with the party after he lost its endorsement in 1919. Labor’s next win came with the election of Jim Scullin’s government in 1929, but it was again lost to a party split when Allan Guy followed Joseph Lyons into the United Australia Party in 1931. Guy was re-elected as the UAP candidate at that year’s election, before being unseated by Labor’s Claude Barnard in 1934.

The next change came when Liberal candidate Bruce Kekwick defeated Barnard when the Menzies government came to power in 1949. The seat returned to the Barnard family fold in 1954 when Kekwick was defeated by Claude’s son Lance, who went on to serve as deputy prime minister in the Whitlam government from 1972 to 1974. The famed 1975 by-election followed Barnard’s mid-term resignation, ostensibly on grounds of ill health, but following a year after he lost the deputy leadership to Jim Cairns. A plunge in the Labor primary vote from 54.0% to 36.5% delivered the seat to Liberal candidate Kevin Newman (the late father of Campbell Newman and husband of Howard government minister Senator Jocelyn Newman), encouraging the Coalition to pursue an early election at all costs.

Bass remained in the Liberal fold for 18 years, with Tasmania bucking the national trend during the Hawke years in the wake of the Franklin dam controversy. Kevin Newman was succeeded in 1990 by Warwick Smith, whose promising career progress was twice stymied by the vagaries of electoral fortune. In 1993 he lost to Labor’s Sylvia Smith by just 40 votes, part of a statewide swing that gave the first indication that election night that things were not going according to script. Warwick Smith recovered the seat in 1996 and served as Family Services Minister in the first term of the Howard government, before the 1998 election produced a second GST backlash and another painfully narrow defeat, this time by 78 votes at the hands of Michelle O’Byrne, a 30-year-old official with the Miscellaneous Workers Union.

O’Byrne held the seat until 2004, when Mark Latham’s restrictive policy on old-growth logging provoked the wrath of Tasmanian unions and Labor politicians, and resulted in John Howard receiving a hero’s reception from timber workers in Launceston in the final week of the campaign. Michael Ferguson gained the seat for the Liberals with a 4.5% swing, but he was defeated after a single term by a 3.6% swing in 2007, and has since pursued a career in state politics. The successful Labor candidate, Jodie Campbell, would likewise serve only one term, announcing she would not stand for re-election as reports emerged her preselection was under threat. Campbell was succeeded by Geoff Lyons, a staffer to Right faction Senator Helen Polley and former manager at Launceston General Hospital. Lyons’ endorsement was determined by the intervention of the party’s national executive, an arrangement which had reportedly been smoothed by the Left not contesting the preselection for Denison. He performed strongly at the election, consolidating Labor’s hold on the seat with a 5.7% swing.

The Liberal candidate at the next election will be Brigadier Andrew Nikolic, whose military service has included postings in Iraq and Afghanistan, and has more recently worked with the Defence Department’s international policy division. Nikolic had been rated a favourite for preselection in 2010, but he withdrew citing work and family reasons. He made the news in May 2012 when he threatened to send “formal letters of complaint” to the employers of those responsible for a satirical blog post about him, and of anyone who had “liked” the post on Facebook.

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.

1,598 comments on “Morgan face-to-face: 59-41 to Coalition; Seat of the week: Bass”

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  1. You hear that people: according to Morgan, 40% of Greens voters would give their preference to the Coalition

    This is why it’s dangerous for the ALP to have a splinter party to their left. This would be devestating if it was reflected at an election. My Father in 2007 voted Greens as a protest vote thinking it was harmless as it would go back to the ALP in preferences. My brother did the same thing in 2010. They regret doing it now

  2. [At the 2010 Federal Election only 20% of Greens voters preferenced the L-NP, but recent Morgan Polls have this figure closer to 40%]


    That seems very surprising

  3. Plus who sends an email with no body text.

    The only thing I can think of for that is that you are telling the other party your address.

  4. Danny Lewis – The conversion of resolved e-mail addresses within the single exchange mail domain to the standard naming convention in that domain ? Yes – Seems likely.

  5. Spur212

    [My Father in 2007 voted Greens as a protest vote thinking it was harmless as it would go back to the ALP in preferences. My brother did the same thing in 2010.]

    If your father and brother gave their second preference to the ALP candidate their votes would have flowed on to the ALP. If they followed the HTV cards and their second and possibly subsequent preferences went to minor parties/independents, then yes, the ALP candidate might not have been the ultimate beneficiary.

    Which is a perfect illustration why we voters should make own decisions about preferencing.

  6. When the first email exchange popped up wasn’t their an hour time difference due to daylight saving, this made it look like Pyne got his reply an hour before he sent it.

    Why is there no time difference in Ashby’s email?

  7. Spur212, I should have been more precise: that’s what would have happened with respect to HoR votes. If your relations voted above the line and “Greens 1” in the Senate, then their votes would have been distributed in accordance with the Greens’ preferences. Again, another excellent reason why careful voting below the line is advisable – otherwise, as one of my rusted-on Labor friends discovered, her vote helped elect Steve Fielding.

  8. Dedalus

    [Hold on a minute. The Grech email didn’t exactly help Turnbull. The Jackie Kelly fake flyer didn’t help Howard. Utegate didn’t do any damage to Rudd.

    On the other hand the fake letter was a disaster for Ralph Willis. The night of the long prawns was a kick in the guts for Whitlam. The conniving with Kerr was a “doity trick” which had its intended effect.]

    good point

    You can never tell in advance which liberal “new trick” will work and which will backfire.

  9. [Plus who sends an email with no body text]

    I often send a simple message like an SMS to OH using only the ‘title’.

    The question on these e-mails is did they have ‘body text’ – the ability to reveal the ‘to’ and ‘from’ and the ‘header’ line might tell something about the source …

  10. Rua:

    I am sticking to Pyne’s email being a reply. Plus who sends an email with no body text.

    I get them all the time from my business partner. Though we’re on pretty good terms. It’s pretty standard between us if the only info being communicated can be summarised in a sentence. I don’t get them from anyone else.

    I think there’s a lot that’s not being told, but I’m not sure there’s much to be gained down that particular line of enquiry.

  11. Oops

    My comment “good point”. Should have been at the end


    Now you are confusing me. What are you implying???

  12. rua
    [I am sticking to Pyne’s email being a reply. Plus who sends an email with no body text.]
    A dickhead who doesn’t know how to send an email?
    (One of my male friends does this constantly)

  13. Fiona

    What happens with splinter parties is they seem like a harmless vehicle to lodge a protest vote with and then they grow and start making their own decisions.

    The Greens target isn’t the Coalition, it’s the ALP. The sooner the ALP realises this, the better off they’ll be

  14. When the first email exchange popped up wasn’t their an hour time difference due to daylight saving, this made it look like Pyne got his reply an hour before he sent it.

    Why is there no time difference in Ashby’s email?

    Those first emails were between QLD and Canberra. The Ashby-Pyne ones were within Canberra. It was an hour earlier in Qld, so an email from there shows the time an hour earlier. No mystery there.

  15. Reposted from the previous thread:

    [Rua: that is why I said before that I think the email has been edited.

    There is a chunk missing for a reason, though. I suspect Jessica is waiting for further denials from Pyne before she lets rip with what she’s been holding back.

    If you look at the timeframe, it is highly doubtful it is a reply, because 2 minutes isn’t long enough for Pyne’s original email, the response from Slipper’s staffer, then an email from Ashby to Pyne AND a response from Pyne.]

  16. William
    That Green preference stuff is what I was hinting about awhile ago. Seems to me that IF there is a big swing that 2nd preferences may not follow the last election pattern.

    In Qld council elections MOST green voters opted to exhaust ballot

  17. Shellbell and William I would put money on the 55.5/44.5 which is consistent with Newspoll. I can’t imagine 40% of Green preferences flowing to the coalition.

  18. If one remembers back to the staffer email it had a time stamp of 10.00 pm replying to an 11.00 email form Pyne – based on some daylight savings time differences /computer set on different time zone stuff.

    Is Ashby’s reply at 11.30 or 12.30 am?

  19. Posted Thursday, May 17, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Permalink


    Surley there has to some type of out come closure. Isnt there a speaker, waiting to return to the chair

  20. [Those first emails were between QLD and Canberra. ]

    No – the story was Slippery’s office was synchned to his Qld office. There would have been nobody in his Qld office.

  21. Spur

    The Labor parties were once splinter parties of the left. Most die off quickly, some live to replace the old ones – as Labor did to the UK Liberals and to an extend in Australia

  22. The thing that kills me in regards to Green voters is how they think they’re getting the pure stand against people like Abbott when in reality, he’s trying to use them to split the left (as a creature from the National Civic Council, he makes it his purpose in life to do this sort of thing)

    The fact that Abbott says if you’re left wing, join/vote for the Greens should set off alarm bells

  23. I should clarify that most staffers – and some pollies – have an email “signature” that is automatically generated.

    Depending on who your pollie is and how scrupulous they are about standard procedures, some insist that all correspondence is sent out in a certain format. Each email should end with a salutation, your name and role, the name of the office, and the office contact details. Furthermore, most offices also have a blurb at the bottom discouraging the recipient from needlessly wasting paper by printing it off, or has a disclaimer about the potential confidential nature of correspondence from an MP.

    None of these things are on the bottom of Ashby’s response to Pyne.

  24. TLBD

    [The programme … also shows Anderson making extraordinary allegations that Scotland Yard secretly and frequently uses private detectives to assist with investigations.

    Hidden cameras film him claiming that the Met had approached him to uncover information that the police could not.

    At one point, Anderson asked a Dispatches undercover reporter whether they were working for the Met. When questioned why he would ask that, Anderson replied: “We’ve had over the years, surprisingly or not surprisingly, quite a lot of requests from the police to do investigations.”

    He said that the police were governed by rigid processes that meant they sometimes needed to rely upon private investigators, and was recorded claiming: “The police have to follow a strict routine in order to investigate. You can’t investigate someone without enough proof about their innocence or guilt. It’s Catch-22. You can’t get in there to look at people, but you can’t find information out about them without getting in there and they have to hold back because there’s no evidence. So someone gets approached (and is told): ‘Look, erm, we’d like some information on this person’.”

    When asked again if he had undertaken requests from Scotland Yard in the past, Anderson said: “Unofficially, and I wouldn’t admit that, but yes.”

    The Met denied it ever used private investigators. A statement read “the Metropolitan Police Service does not use and has no need for such practices,” adding that the force had never used Anderson or Crown Intelligence.]

    These sort of stories are causing increasing waves in the UK.

    This program was shown earlier this week in the UK and was treated as just more confirmation of what is already known.

    Lord O’Donnell (previously Sir Gus, Cabinet Secretary and head of the UK Civil Service, then known as ‘GOD’ and now since his retirement as ‘LOD’) had several paragraphs in his written statement to the Leveson Inquiry noting ‘dismay’ at the close connections between the Police and the Press. He is not the first to use this ‘line’ but more ‘expression’ of this sentiment will follow from him using it.

    The nexus between Police, press and private investigators is now established and Leveson could, if he was inclined, make an early recommendation that this needs to be looked at as a ‘thing’ separate from his inquiry. The activities of Mazher ‘the sheikh’ Mahmood (proud of the number of police investigations leading towards prosecutions he is involved in) and John Yates (former Assistant Commissioner of the Met and now disappeared off to Bahrein), other Police Officers and very many named private investigators provide a rich field of potential ethical and/or illegal wrongdoings.

    If Leveson did make such an early recommendation it would be extremely ‘inconvenient’ for the current government – a coalition of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties. Two of the big things for Liberal Democrats are human rights and civil liberties ….

  25. David

    Why not! In Qld most Greens opted to exhaust preferences (Council). It is an easy step towards that and LNP preferencing.

    Look as Labor moves to the right on issues such as AS, uranium, US`alliance, Greens voters are much more likely to preference a Coal person if they see no real difference between the parties. This should be obvious and I am surprised that so few here see it.

  26. DL

    I reckon today’s stuff was a warning to people who know stuff that Fairfax knows a lot more.

    Break the big news Friday arvo to run for the weekend?

  27. repost from previous:

    [If you look at the timeframe, it is highly doubtful it is a reply, because 2 minutes isn’t long enough for Pyne’s original email, the response from Slipper’s staffer, then an email from Ashby to Pyne AND a response from Pyne.]

    Unless the possible previous email pre-dated the drinkies session?? Pure speculation but would be interesting times for Pyne if that turned out to be the case.

  28. ru

    Abbott has come out today and said wtte that everything there is to know is out there. Is it just foolish bravado on his part?

  29. So in tas, how would the greens have 25 ,

    Would not the libs have more

    It was stated yesterday here wtte libs have ow lost there opportuninty of any gain,
    Niting the greens vote if that combined with labor,wtte

    I think the writer may have meant becauce like fed libs they have no policies
    And when you write to to them about some labor policies that are not that popular re water meters
    They write back and agree,

  30. I think we have to be cautious when trying to relate what happens in MP’s offices to what happens in the outside world. There are probably protocols in place to prevent MP’s emails being accessed by smart IT geeky types.

  31. [I reckon today’s stuff was a warning to people who know stuff that Fairfax knows a lot more.

    Break the big news Friday arvo to run for the weekend?]

    Goods time to be at Fairfax. Wright all over Pyne, McClymont all over Thomson

  32. dtt,

    Why don’t you read William’s comment at 8 instead of vaporing over a silly comment from Morgan.

  33. Christine Milne has emphatically said that the Greens will work with an Abbott Coalition Govt. and will get good outcomes. Is that a message they are hearing and are therefor not worried about an Abbott Govt. thinking that Milne will keep them honest?

  34. [DL

    I reckon today’s stuff was a warning to people who know stuff that Fairfax knows a lot more.

    Break the big news Friday arvo to run for the weekend?]

    Yup. It seems pretty obvious that Jessica is sitting on a lot more. She’s been like the cat who’s got the cream 😀

  35. shellbell

    McClymont did not bother confirming that The AEC found that electoral costs were in order for Thomson. Why not?

  36. On another note, I’m glad the ACTU conference will end soon, as I think hearing from the ALP past figures does the government no good at all. All that happens is the dominent media voices extract such bits as can be construed or twisted to be considered as critical of the govt and run that as hard as possible. Also, only rusted ons and nostalgics like these people. For everyone else, Keating is a divisive figure. Also note how little coverage the good speech of PM got.

    I wish the NSW ALP figures of the past were like most of the Victorian ones – silent.

  37. DTR I can accept Green voters would exhaust their preferences but just find it hard to believe 40% would preference the enemy.

  38. Stephen Koukoulas on Agenda this afternoon with Judith Sloane. He was good on RN Breakfast this morning and even got in a final comment about ‘tea party’ like tactics from the Oppn here.

    His explanation of the debt/bond market is really clear. He said most of the bond debt is overseas interests not the Govts.

  39. These are the comments Kelty made, that Aunty managed to spin into their favoured meme that Labor has a truth problem. They ran with it on morning News reports, then seemed to drop it, though Cassidy used this angle on Faine this morning on his political round up where he made absolutely no mention of the Pyne email in Fairfax.

    Shadow minister caught lying, again, apparently does not rate as news, in his mind.

    [BILL KELTY: I’ve got to be frank. It’s too easy to blame the media, too easier to blame the playthings of politics. And there’s no purpose blaming the opposition for doing what after all you expect them to do and that’s to beat you.

    In a sense I think we make politics just simply too hard. The truth will normally do. This is a transition in the Australian economy that for many people will be very hard. But the truth is also this – that the very best people, the very best people to manage that transition is a Labor Party, it is unions.]

  40. Are people judt saying they would pref the greens at this stage not sure what they want

    A green not wanting a price on carbon, they just want trees planted lol

    And bob and christine helped design the price on carbon, lol

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