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. [All their revenue comes from advertising.]

    Dan, 2 days ago. GM pulled out from Facebook advertising, saying it was useless. That is not very good timing for Fakebook.

  2. Dan G. to add to that, internet ‘trends’ are fast moving and rapidly evolving… chances of facebook being the coolest thing in 2020?? not very high…

  3. Rossmore

    I posted this tweet over a week ago from AFR (fairfax) journo based in Canberra

    [Marcus Priest @MeddlesomPriest 10 May
    I can feel a big yarn coming on. Watch this space…]

    [Marcus Priest @MeddlesomPriest 10 May
    @M_Ludlow patience grasshopper. All will be revealed.]

    It is now the 18th May.

    I remain hopeful all will be revealed

  4. [GhostWhoVotes ‏@GhostWhoVotes
    #Galaxy Poll QLD Federal 2 Party Preferred: ALP 36 (-6) L/NP 64 (+6) #auspol]

    They really poisoned this Well. Seemingly beyond the point of no return. Think they have made their task impossible. They made all the exactly wrong choices commencing 2010. Labor are in danger of becoming a laughing stock aka NSW Labor.

  5. One estimate put the cost to the Eurozone of Greece making a disorderly exit from the currency at $1tn, 5% of output.

    It will not be disorderly. It will be a simple goodbye.

    The rest of the Eurozone will do High Dudgeon; to no avail.

    Aside: why are dudgeons always high?

  6. [#Galaxy Poll QLD Federal 2 Party Preferred: ALP 36 (-6) L/NP 64 (+6) #auspol]

    Bye bye swan. Gone up in smoke like his surplus.

  7. Time for all of us on the Left of centre, including comrades in the Greens, to put aside our differences. Time to draw a line in the sand. The Libs are prepared to do whatever it takes to bring down a democratically elected Government. Time for collective action, time to get very angry.

    None shall shatter the crystal spirit.

  8. Seemingly beyond the point of no return.

    How are your statistics and psephology?

    I just love FACTS!

  9. Gary. all this poll tells us is that fear of the unknown unsettles people. the unkown will become known over the next 12-18 months.

  10. Rossmore

    [Time to draw a line in the sand.]

    Apology in advance – but the “line in the sand” thing has to be one of the stupidest lines/memes in history.

    A line in the sand will disappear because of the (1) wind, and/or (2) tide.

    So “a line in the sand” means and limits NOTHING at all atall.

    Now, could we get on with using some precise language?

  11. [Gary. all this poll tells us is that fear of the unknown unsettles people. the unkown will become known over the next 12-18 months.]

  12. exactly zoid. this poll is still showing the post-electoral embrace QLD has made of right wing politics. in this case they think they know what they’re going to get… so they feel very relaxed and comfortable…

  13. Who cares about Queensland?

    Sorry but there’s a tolerance limit in relation to bad polling and that’s well over the limit.

    That’s pretty much no resources in Queensland whatsoever. Rudd’s seat would be lineball.

    Why Gillard’s in Adelaide constantly is beyond me. She should be in Queensland as much as possible

  14. I understand our Prime Minister is flying out tomorrow to important international thingies.

    Which noodle factory is Tone off to?

  15. over the next 12-18 months… the truth of the carbon tax will become evident, as will the truth of life under CanDo…

  16. [Why Gillard’s in Adelaide constantly is beyond me. She should be in Queensland as much as possible]
    You can’t persuade people the CT is not as scary as one imagines. They have to live it.

  17. Gary. Courier Mail commission them. QLD like to see themselves as QLDers first, Australian second. So of course the local Mordor rag wants to show them how they (and only they) are ‘feeling’… its a parochial thing…

  18. From wiki:

    Galaxy Research is an Australian market researching company which has expanded into providing opinion polling for State and Federal politics. It is principally managed by David Briggs. Its polls are published in News Limited tabloid newspapers, including the Herald Sun, Courier-Mail and The Daily Telegraph

  19. [the truth of the carbon tax will become evident,]

    What carbon tax? Gillard has removed it from history and the adds. Apparently we are getting compo for putting up with Labor. well mabe not, but you would not no what the hell Gillard has decided to sprinkle cash over you for at the moment by viewing the adds on tv.

  20. This is a good one from Noam. Not very popular here, though, spose.

    [Noam Chomski ‏@NoamChomski
    Always remember that psychological aggression is the greatest energizer of the human condition, do not waste it away on clubs and sports.]

  21. Hmmm
    [Kate McClymont @Kate_McClymont 3h
    Having a break from Craig Thomson and HSU. Legal threats aplenty from the Labor powerbroker who features on tomorrow’s front page.]

  22. Gary

    These sorts of polling results aren’t due to the price on carbon

    This is a deep hate (correct word to describe what’s going on) of Gillard

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