Newspoll: 57-43 to Liberal in South Australia

Liberal leadership turmoil hasn’t saved SA Labor from sinking to its worst position in Newspoll since it came to office a decade ago.

GhostWhoVotes reports Newspoll has a surprisingly poor state poll result for the Labor government in South Australia, which it records as having crashed to a 57-43 deficit on two-party preferred for the July-September quarter. This compares with a 52-48 deficit when that last such poll was published for January-March, and the Labor government’s worst Newspoll result since it came to office in 2002. Labor’s primary vote of 28% is down six points on the previous poll, and was last at this level just before the 1993 election wipeout. The Liberals are up three to 43% and the Greens steady on 11%, with “others” having spiked three points to a remarkable 18%. Jay Weatherill’s honeymoon personal ratings have dissipated, his approval falling five points to 42% and his disapproval up ten to 33%. Isobel Redmond has surprisingly strong figures considering the speculation about her leadership, although her approval is down three to 40% and her disapproval up two to 36%. She has also narrowed her deficit as preferred premier from 46-23 to 40-27.

With the next election roughly 18 months away, we’ve been hearing the first preselection stirrings. Daniel Wills of the Sunday Mail provided an information-rich report on Liberal jockeying at the start of the month, noting a large number of women in the field:

• Peta McCance is again the front-runner for Liberal preselection in the southern suburbs seat of Mitchell, where Labor’s Alan Sibbons ousted Labor-turned-Greens-turned-independent member Kris Hanna last time after holding out against McCance with a two-party margin of 2.1% (adjusted to 2.4% by the redistribution).

• Maria Kourtesis’s bid to again contest the coastal southern suburbs seat of Bright as the Liberal candidate will face opposition from Marion deputy mayor David Speirs. Kourtesis fell 167 votes short of unseating Labor’s Chloe Fox in 2010, and the redistribution has given the seat a notional Liberal margin of 0.1%.

• Local party branch president Terina Monteagle is likely to contest Ashford, which Stephanie Key holds on a margin of 1.5%, reduced from 4.8% by the redistribution.

• Former state party director Bev Barber, who unsuccessfully sought to fill Mary Jo Fisher’s Senate vacancy, is “being spoken of as a possible candidate to run for Transport Minister Pat Conlon’s seat of Elder”. The redistribution cut Elder’s margin from 3.6% to 1.7%, and there is “doubt he will recontest”.

• Heidi Harris, staffer to front-bencher Duncan McFetridge, “may run in Fisher”, which is held by independent Bob Such (who as far as I’m aware will seek another term).

• In Colton, Jassmine Wood, who ran in Hindmarsh at the 2010 federal election, and Suzette Lamshed are possible starters to take on Water and River Murray Minister Paul Caica in Colton, where the margin is 3.9%.

• One of the few men named in Wills’s article is Norwood councillor Vincent Tarzia, who is “strongly tipped” to take on Education Minister Grace Portolesi in Hartley. Portolesi carved out a decisive victory in 2010 after suffering a swing of just 2.3%, but the redistribution has garnished her margin garnished from 2.3% to 0.5%. UPDATE: Independently Thinking in comments relates that Tarzia has backing from Christopher Pyne, and is likely to prevail over former member Joe Scalzi and Campbelltown councillor Marijka Ryan.

• Wills’s reported related that Tea Tree Gully mayor Miriam Smith was “likely” to contest Newland, which Sports Minister Tom Kenyon holds with a post-redistribution margin of 2.7%, although she subsequently denied this to Erin Jones of the Leader Messenger.


• There have been persistent suggestions that Finniss MP Michael Pengilly will lose his preselection. An honour student at the Grahame Morris school of gender sensitivity, Pengilly has variously said Transport Services Minister Chloe Fox “ought to be put down”; that Fox’s female staffers had been involved in a “catfight”; that the Prime Minister was a “real dog”; and that former Kangaroo Island major Jackie Kelly was a “dead dog walking”. It was also reported by Sarah Martin of The Advertiser that four councils within the Finniss electorate had held a formal meeting with Isobel Redmond to raise concerns about his dealings with them. Redmond agreed with a reporter’s suggestion that she had “little confidence” in Pengilly, who has refused to rule out running as an independent if dumped. There was speculation his party membership might be terminated. Adelaide lawyer Josh Teague, son of former Senator Baden Teague, has been mentioned as a possible successor, as has Alex Brown, son of former Premier Dean Brown.

• Barossa councillor Susie Reichstein was named by The Advertiser’s Greg Kelton as a possible Liberal successor for Schubert MP Ivan Venning when he announced his intention to retire in July.

• Peter Treloar, member for the very safe Liberal Eyre Peninsula seat of Flinders, made a surprise announcement earlier in the month that he was bowing out due to “personal and family reasons”. However, he changed his mind a few days later.

• A putative challenge to Liberal front-bencher David Pisoni’s preselection in Unley was knocked on the head by the party’s candidate review committee. The prospective candidated was Peter Maddern, a businessman who ran in Morialta for the Save the Royal Adelaide Hospital Party in 2010.

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.

25 comments on “Newspoll: 57-43 to Liberal in South Australia”

  1. I suspect that this poll is probably a bit too optimistic for the Libs, however, there certainly was an expected shift after the Olympic Dam announcement.

    Also, Redmond has been given an extra life after this poll.

  2. We constantly see a high “Others” vote in SA federal poll sub samples and now in this state poll.

    If I had to explain it I would say this is a latent vote for Xenophon. However, I’d be interested to hear a local opinion.

    Is there something else at play in SA with the high “Others” vote?

  3. According to Martin O’Shaughnessy, the polling was much worse for Labor at the start of the 3 month polling period, but recovered somewhat after Redmond’s gaffe.

    [“Despite a significant fall in satisfaction with Ms Redmond’s performance late in the quarter, a strong performance early in the quarter means that her average satisfaction level for the three months is largely in line with the previous Newspoll,” Mr O’Shaughnessy said.

    “Across the period of this poll, Labor’s primary vote has recovered significantly.

    “The average is not telling us the true story of how they went this time around, and we have got a very sharp fall-off in personal ratings towards the end of the period for Isobel Redmond.

    “Ironically, while the Liberal vote looks quite strong, it was a lot stronger at the beginning (of the three-month poll) and would have given Labor the fright of its life if they had stayed in that position. But the Liberals have gone backwards with these gaffes that Redmond has made.”]

  4. In regards to the Others, I wouldn’t be surprised if Family First is making some inroads. Rob Brokenshire has a bit of name recognition

  5. A satisfyingly robust post William!
    I can tell you now there will be no sitting Liberals losing their preselections. The only one in danger is Pengilly who is on a final warning from the State Executive.
    You can add to the preselection goss that local Norwood, Payneham & St Peters Councillor Vince Tarzia, backed by local Federal MP, moderate warlord Christopher Pyne, is facing former candidate (and MP) Joe Scalzi & also local
    Campbelltown Councillor Marijka Ryan. Tarzia will win.
    In Labor supporting Independent-held regional seat of Frome, incumbent Geoff Brock will apparently be facing Liberal Kendall Jackson after the State Liberal Party took the unusual step of refusing to accept the nomination of local newspaper editor Greg Mayfield to replace the Senate seat of Mary Jo Fisher, whereupon he was stood down from his job. Mayfield reportedly said he would nominate for Frome but he is now working for another Fairfax owned rural paper and is not talking. What is more interesting is that popular local Mayor Brenton Vanstone has not been brought on board to run for the Libs.
    Cosi Costa will run unopposed for Light for which he unsuccessfully contested last election.
    On the ALP side of the ledger, Infastructure Minister Pat Conlon has told his circle he won’t be recontesting his now ultra-marginal seat.
    Along with retiring Ministers John Hill, Michael Wright & Speaker Lyn Bruer, there will be some hard seats to fill.
    The ALP has partially filled its Legislative Council (Upper House) ticket – the numbers 1 & 2 spots going to Ministers Wortley & Hunter, followed by Right faction warhorse Port Adelaide Councillor Tung Ngo then Left Faction & State Secretary Kyam Maher. The other positions on the ticket are yet to be decided but the ALP are unlikely to win them anyway.

  6. I think the “others” are due to a large number of high profile nonLAB/LIB/GR pollies in SA; Brock, Mr X (or more specifically his remnants), Hanna, Bob Such, Kelly Vincent, Pegler.

  7. I find this result surprisingly good for Redmond and the Liberals after Redmonds amazing gaffe recently when she said she would dismiss one third of the public service. If the sample really is taken in August/September I presume it is a composite of smaller polls and doesn’t include any results after Redmond’s statement.

  8. Looks like Labor’s condition is terminal – a combination of old age, Olympic Dam disappointment, Bernard Finnigan, electricity and water price rises, but certainly not a vibrant Liberal Opposition!

  9. I think it’s three big things.
    The hammering Labor & Rann took during the last election.
    An “it’s time” factor combining with individual incidents- Olympic Dam, Finnigan etc.
    Thirdly another example of the way the country’s been conditioned to think that the joint basically runs itself except for the things Labor gets wrong, so it won’t matter if we vote those nice Liberals in will it? Even if they are a rolling joke.

  10. If this was a rolling poll and the Liberal vote was higher in the first part of the period and the final result is an average of the 3 polls. then is it reasonable to assume that the final poll was better for the ALP than 57-43, perhaps about 55-45 or better?

  11. Omen’s Nose was triumphant at this poll.

    I gritted my teeth. Perhaps ODX washout was greater than I expected.

    Full of gloom for next poll, given SA downgrade to AA status.

    ‘SOUTH Australia’s credit rating has taken another hit, being downgraded further to AA from AA plus.

    Ratings agency Standard & Poor’s announced the move today following another study of the state’s finances.

    S&P reduced the state’s AAA credit rating to AA plus just after the State Budget in May and another major ratings agency, Moodys, later downgraded their rating.

    Any downgrading means it costs the state much more to borrow funds for infrastructure and other projects.

    S&P said in a statement the rating action “reflects our view that revenues across the forward estimates will be weaker than reflected in the 2013 Budget, due to a lower GST pool than forecast, as well as weaker conveyance duties from 2014’.

  12. Interesting that this has happened despite the leadership problems with the Liberals and their announcement of scorched earth economics (20,000 public servant to go, 1 in 5, so similar to interstate conservative governments; also Abbott’s recent problems federally.
    But Labor has looked stale and the current leader lacks the charisma of former premier Mike Rann. Also the Olympic Dam up grade failure has been part of average economic news.
    South Australia looks glum

  13. I would agree that the economic mood in SA has taken quite a hit since the Olympic Dam decision. As I have posted previously, there have already been redundancies in my industry (engineering) which usually meand there will be a lot of unemployed contractors in six months time. Yet even so, like Swing Required, I wonder about the timing and composition of this poll. Redmond has performed poorly recently, though that is balanced by the Finnigan trial. I would have expected the previous status quo to remain.

  14. The news announces that the government is about to institute changes in local planning assessment that take yet more assessment and decision making out of the hands of councils and into the hands of private firms, which could indicate less transparency in the process.
    The government says it is to speed up development during an economic slowdown but it reeks of a sort of decision-making and mentality that is bound to breed further distrust involving developer sway over government at the expense of local inputs and open consultation, particularly when amenities ( parks and amenities, heritage sites) could be involved.

  15. Well Poliquant,there is a high others vote in SA for several reasons.
    We are less likely to believe the rubbish from either Labor or Liberal, because they both sold us down the river by privatising anything they could touch.

    We have no water other than that left in the Murray by Qld, NSW and Vic, so are therefore more green in our outlook as a result of this.

    We have an inordinately high number of our population finding an imaginary friend at their local Assemblies of God church. This unfortunately gives us the likes of Robert Brokenshire and Coy Bernardi as role models and therefore an extra donkey vote for the far right

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