Morgan phone poll: 51-49 to Coalition; Seat of the week: Perth

A small-sample Morgan phone survey features the first published polling data on the AWU slush fund affair.

Morgan has published results from a phone poll of 523 respondents conducted between Tuesday and Thursday, which have Labor on 36.5% of the primary vote, the Coalition on 44.5% and the Greens on 8.5%. Morgan’s headline two-party result is 51-49, but this comes from the dubious respondent-allocated preferences measure: the more reliable measure using preferences from the previous election has the Coalition’s lead at 52.5-47.5. This being a phone poll, it should not have the Labor bias associated with Morgan’s face-to-face polling. It also reverses the consistent trend of the face-to-face series in giving Labor the better result on respondent-allocated preferences (I have consistently had grave doubts about the face-to-face polling on this score). However, the poll shows no gap in voting intention between men and women, which perhaps illustrates the difficulties you can get with small samples. The margin of error on the poll is about 4.3%.

Morgan has also taken on the tricky job of framing questions appropriate to the knotty AWU matter. The most useful of these asks if respondents approve or disapprove of Gillard’s response, coming in at 37% and 28% respectively. A question on whether the Prime Minister should resign if “scandal allegations are true” has 43% saying she should against 27% saying she shouldn’t, but this rather overlooks the enormous range of the allegations that might be levelled (had they started a few days later they could simply have asked if respondents agreed with Christopher Pyne). Another question asks whether Gillard “was aware that the AWU ‘slush-fund’ was illegal when she resigned from Slater & Gordon in 1995”, which seems simplistic at best. Thirty-three per cent answered in the affirmative (including 10% of Labor voters and 20% of a tiny sample of Greens voters) against 26% negative, 17% couldn’t say and 24% not aware of the scandal.

There is also an entertaining plethora of questions on preferred party leaders, the chief head-to-head scorelines being Gillard 49 Abbott 36, Turnbull 59 Gillard 31, Gillard 46 Hockey 44, and Turnbull 54 Rudd 38. Not featured: Gillard versus Rudd or Abbott versus Turnbull.

Seat of the week: Perth

The electorate of Perth extends north-eastwards from the city centre to accommodate an area bounded to the south by the Swan River, extending from Mount Lawley and Maylands to Morley and Bassendean. An electorate bearing the name has existed since federation, with the entirety of the metropolitan area having been divided between it and Fremantle until the expansion of parliament in 1949. It then assumed more familiar dimensions, with Swan being drawn into the metropolitan area and Curtin created to accommodate the western suburbs.

Perth was held from its creation until 1922 by James Fowler, first as a Labor member and then as a Liberal and Nationalist following his defection in 1909. It thereafter remained in conservative hands until the Labor landslide of 1943, when it was won by Tom Burke (father of Brian). Burke held the seat until defeated in 1955 by Liberal candidate Fred Chaney Senior, whose son Fred Chaney Junior was a Fraser government minister, Senator and member for Pearce. Chaney was in turn unseated in 1969 by Joe Berinson, who became a junior minister in the Whitlam government and later a state Attorney-General. When the 1975 debacle cost Labor all its WA seats except for Fremantle, Berinson suffered a narrow defeat at the hands of Liberal candidate Ross McLean.

Redistributions in 1977 and 1990 respectively reoriented the seat westwards to the advantage of the Liberals and eastwards to the advantage of Labor. Australian hockey captain Ric Charlesworth was able to gain and hold the seat for Labor in the more difficult conditions after 1983, and Stephen Smith came to a seat with a solid Labor margin when he succeeded Charlesworth in 1993. It continued to trend in Labor’s favour thereafter, remarkably producing a slight positive swing amid the 1996 landslide, and surpassed Fremantle as Labor’s safest WA seat at the 2010 election. However, such has been the party’s progressive malaise in WA over the past decade that the margin has worn down to 5.9%.

Stephen Smith had been an adviser to Paul Keating and a state party secretary before entering parliament, emerging as a senior figure in the Right faction. He was elevated to the front bench after the 1996 defeat, and became Foreign Minister when the Rudd government came to power in 2007. He relinquished this role with displeasure when it was given to Kevin Rudd after the 2010 election, instead being assigned to defence. His desire to return to the foreign ministry was thwarted when Bob Carr was drafted after Kevin Rudd’s failed leadership challenge in February 2012. Smith also served as Trade Minister from Julia Gillard’s ascension to the prime ministership in June 2010 until the reshuffle which followed the subsequent election.

A Liberal preselection in June 2012 was won by Darryl Moore, a former mining engineer now involved in “investing in and managing the family’s commercial and industrial real estate portfolio”, ahead of Geoff Hourn, a former lieutenant-colonel in the Australian Intelligence Corps.

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.

717 comments on “Morgan phone poll: 51-49 to Coalition; Seat of the week: Perth”

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  1. [7253
    Posted Saturday, December 1, 2012 at 12:26 am | Permalink

    Hartcher *almost* writes something different than his usual:

    His verdict is in two parts: where JG is tough, Abbott is feeble.

    That’s it for Abbott. He is finished. No LOTO can survive for long if they are considered to be weak. He has been widely tagged for his lack of guts. No-one has disputed the call.

    Hockey? or Turnbull? or….some other??

    It won’t make any difference. Labor will win in 2013. There is a good chance the next Liberal PM is not yet even in the Parliament.

  2. briefly:

    …..There is a good chance the next Liberal PM is not yet even in the Parliament.

    For the sake of Oz, let’s hope you’re right!

  3. Who would have thunk, William. And this bit..with that word “context”. And our media believe this their speciality area, ha, ha.

    [news outlets’ desire for exclusivity often prevents them from providing their readers with proper context and all the available data.]

  4. For those interested in Tasmanian issues, I now believe that free political speech in Tasmania is under significant threat – in the area of comments deemed to knowingly insult, ridicule, offend or humiliate someone based on their political views – as a result of the Anti-Discrimination changes passed in the Lower House recently and which go to the Upper House. I also believe that the Tasmanian Attorney-General, a non-lawyer, has no idea what he’s doing. My latest piece on this including links to relevant Hansard and even a Twitter exachange with the AG (!) may be found here:

    I expect I will now, for the first time in my life, ask the Legislative Council to reject government legislation.

    On the Morgan Poll, my read is that it shows no evidence of an adverse impact of the AWU saga in the time over which it was taken. The change from previous F2F is explicable by random variation and by method differences and 52.5 is completely within trend. More significant are the findings in the issue-specific surveys – eg that only 43% want Gillard to resign even if the allegations are true – and that is even without it being stated what allegations are being talked about. Plus more voters in favour of Gillard’s response than against it, and 30% not even paying attention. And a new worst Morgan netsat for Abbott (albeit, Morgan poll infrequently) – all up nothing to see here by way of impact, or if anything a whiff of positive for Labor.

    Could all be old news very soon as the Blewitt sister stuff seems quite explosive, and may really hurt the Coalition if it cannot be discredited quickly. Abbott can hardly credibly call for the presumption of innocence for Blewitt when he did not grant it to Gillard. (Of course even Blewitt should be presumed innocent but that should not be any help to Abbott/Bishop).

  5. Julie Bishop is my local member. I think I might be writing to her and cc to The Subi Post with a list of questions. She writes to me by snail mail often enough asking for my views so she just might get them.

  6. Another insight into Ms Bishop.
    I was manning the Floreat PS booth for the ALP last election and City Beach PS booth in 2007.
    Each time Ms Bishop visited when I was there and each time I greeted her with a genuine hello and smile. Both times I got the cold shoulder. She made a bee line for the Lib crowd and was all over them like an asbestos rash.

    In 2010 One of the charming old ladies (about my mothers age) referred to the PM as “That Thing”. Ms Bishop didn’t bat an eyelid and got into an animated discussion with her about how much she appreciated the effort this “Lady” was putting in.
    Such a charming crowd. After that I knew I was on the right side.

  7. We are all pleased with Kate McClymont’s Walkley Award for “McClymont won best print news report for a story on the Craig Thomson credit card claims that also appeared in The Age,” which was is a total fabrication of evidence according Peter Wicks at Independent Australia and Vex News


    discussion of credit cards evidence here

    all the Independent Australia reports about HSU by Peter Wicks can be found here

  8. William, I was talking to a person who works in Centrelink who doesn’t trust polling as 90% of welfare recipients no longer have a landline, they use mobiles exclusively and they vote

  9. Silent Majority, handing out How To Votes at elections can be dangerous. My source of [excellent] home made Christmas cakes, a Liberal lady, won’t supply me after she saw me handing out How To Votes for the Greens. Kelly O’Dwyer gave us a nod. Unfortunately Micheal Danby, in the adjoining electorate, got stuck into the young girls handing out Liberal How To Votes at a small booth

  10. I am so looking forward to Bishop next mentioning the name Blewitt as a trusted source of information. Has Bishop had the hide to speak to the press about anything at all since they found they had been lied to? They won’t forget even if she hides until February. I’m sure JG will remind the House of that fact if the Libs are stupid enough to mention the AWU in QT. By then Blewitt’s disgrace will be in the public domain as there’s no way channel 7 are going to sit on that revelation forever or have another news service claim the scoop.

  11. I’m only taking two things out of that Mogan poll:

    1. Sample size 523, MOE 4.3%. It’s too small a group and too large a margin of error to make anything out of the 2PP, respondent allocated or otherwise. Best you can say is that it’s around what the other pollsters are saying.

    2. It does, however, confirm something that’s been apparent all along. 24% of the respondents don’t know anything at all about the Gillard/AWU issue. A lot of others don’t seem to have an opinion. The rest are ambivalent, breaking down along party lines.

    The questions are a bit misleading:

    The first is fair enough, just establishing whether people know about it.

    The second is definitely misleading. I’ve been following ths story, and I’m not entirely sure myself whether Gillard left S&G in 1995 because she found out the slush fund was dodgy or not. Nobody’s been charged over it, so the use of the word ‘illegal’ is unnecessarily emotive. At any rate, Gillard said she broke off relations with Wilson as soon as she was aware something dodgy was going on, and that by that time it was already being investigated. Asking people whether they thought she knew is not only a leading question, but it doesn’t get to the heart of the issue anyway.

    The third question is probably just asking whether you approve or disapprove of Gillard. If the question had been ‘do you accept her explanation’ it might have revealed more. It’s gone for a value judgement.

    The fourth operates on an assumption – it’s really just asking whether if someone is guilty of something should there be consequences. You’d expect that to come in strongly for ‘yes’. Besides which, the opposition refuses to articulate any allegations, so asking what happens if Gillard is guilty of these allegations is pointless.

    I don’t know why those questions were framed that way, but they seem designed to create an impression rather than to measure one.

  12. Meanwgile in pomgolia there were three by elections which saw a good thrashing for the Tories. So bad that “there were renewed Tory calls for an electoral pact with Ukip at the 2015 general election ” .

    [While the Tories were pushed into fifth place in Rotherham and fourth place in Middlesbrough, the Lib Dems suffered an even worse mauling, losing their deposit in Rotherham and Croydon]

  13. From Carlton’s article:

    [‘Sometimes there are moments when a prime minister must keep faith with their convictions,” snapped yet another scolding editorial in The Australian on Wednesday. Oh dear. Sometimes a leader writer must keep faith with plain English grammar: tautology, singular, plural, that sort of thing.]

    A poor start. Convictions ought to fall witin things that are loosely matters of “faith” making it formally tautological. The leader writer probably intended to assert that Gillard should give effect to her convictions. The “sometimes there are moments” phrase is vacuous journalese, but not poor syntax. The use of “their” however, is not merely the 3rd person plural possessive adjective but also the generic possessive — standing in lieu of he or she and made necessary by the generic “a Prime Minister” which is non-gendered.

    There’s so much wrong with The Australian‘s leader and whole approach, that I wonder why Carlton bothered with this cheap swing. It did seem to work against the general theme of his attack, which was that the matter was a storm in a teacup.

  14. [Fran Barlow
    Posted Saturday, December 1, 2012 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    The use of “their” however, is not merely the 3rd person plural possessive adjective but also the generic possessive

    But the article was directed at a her not a generic. Carlton read it as it was intended.

  15. Fox News figure worries that evidence on climate change may spur policy action:

    “Hard” “Authoritative” Evidence Of Climate Change Begins To Overwhelm Even Fox

    [A new study showing that polar ice is melting faster than before has convinced even Fox’s Stuart Varney, who previously said climate change was a “scientific conspiracy.” The Fox Business host acknowledged that the study, which adds to the extensive body of science showing the threat of manmade climate change, is “hard evidence” from an “authoritative source.”

    The study, published in the journal Science, shows that polar ice sheets are now melting three times faster than they did in the 1990s, contributing to sea level rise. On his Fox Business show, Varney expressed concern that this “hard evidence” of global warming might bolster efforts to address the problem]

  16. [The Finnigans
    Posted Saturday, December 1, 2012 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    @CraigEmersonMP – CHILLING TRUTH: Ralph Blewitt raped his sister – … – No wonder @JulieBishopMP is running away & hiding]

    Seven news hinted, no doubt because it didn’t want the deformation case, why it could write “sister said’, I don’t know. Vexnews came out and said it, Craig Emerson used it, JB stuck with it.

    Interesting progression.

  17. [Tom Hawkins
    Posted Saturday, December 1, 2012 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    no way channel 7 are going to sit on that revelation forever or have another news service claim the scoop.]

    Looks like it goes to Vex News

  18. “Sometimes there are moments,” reads like a tautology to me. You could remove one or the other and the meaning would remain. At any rate, all Carlton is saying there is that the sentence is messy. “There are moments when a prime minister must keep faith with her convictions,” reads much better. Or even, “There are moments when a prime minister must uphold her convictions.”

  19. Chris Kenney chucks a tanty.

    [A crucial building block for the government’s spin has been to demand a “smoking gun”. Journalists were revealing facts and asking pertinent questions yet Labor sought to raise the bar, claiming the story wasn’t worthy unless it contained a killer blow.

    Journalists less susceptible to spin were simply interested, as ever, in discovering who, what, when, where and why.]

    Indeed: “Why?”

    [We now know the fraud would not have been possible – knowingly or unknowingly – without Gillard’s assistance incorporating the association in this way and arguing for it in a letter to the West Australian Corporate Affairs Commission.

    We know the official documents describe the association as one thing when its real purpose was to facilitate a union “slush fund”.]

    Not “collusion”, not “aiding and abetting”, not “conspiracy”, but… “assistance”.

    A bloke comes up to his solicitor, who happens to be his girlfriend, and says he’s got a problem with setting up an association. What did he do wrong? The solicitor/girlfriend looks over the forms, reads the letter he received querying the application and realises the registrar wants to be sure it’s not a union trying to incorporate.

    She writes a letter setting the matter straight. It’s not a union. It’s some guys who’ve gotten together to form an association and they want to make it official. Happens all the time.

    The form goes back. The association is registered. She does this all for nix as the client is close to her.

    Let’s sack her for giving “assistance”. And while we’re at it let’s sack all solicitors who carried out their client’s instructions, or every barrister who ever defended a man or woman the jury didn’t believe and found guilty.

    We must have propriety and decency in our national discourse, after all.

    Kenny – after all he writes for the “national newspaper” sees this as a matter of national concern…

    [… the AWU story goes to professional conduct, political transparency, prime ministerial integrity, union corruption and a government’s ability to break the perceived and actual yoke of union domination.

    What political journalist would not be interested? ]

    That’s an awful lot of blood he’s trying to eke out of a very small pebble. A 20 year-old pebble at that. A pebble that was cast upon the waters when the PM was a 30-something young woman doing a favour for a friend.

    Kenney reckons the non-News media are in on the conspiracy. They don’t take his story seriously enough. They cut the PM too much slack.

    He starts out by stating the bleedin’ obvious:

    [Abbott has again been prepared to cloak himself in negativity to inflict this damage.]

    As the PM might say, “Can’t be too hard” for Tony to do that, seeing as he’s turned saying the word “No” into a new genre of performance art. How noble of him to selflessly sacrifice his personal approval rating by continuing on his courageous quest, riding backwards into the sun?

    Chris wants all this to be taken seriously:

    [But to watch much of the coverage out of Canberra this week, most of this has been lost. We have seen simply daily jousting in a contest chosen by the opposition but framed by Labor spin.]

    Oh, the “daily jousting contest” again?

    Would that be the same jousting contest that caused Chris’s newspaper to call for the PM’s resignation because Dennis Shanahan’s “demands” for clarification about Bob Carr were ignored?

    Or perhaps he’s referring to Old Prune Face, Nikki Savva, too preoccupied about the Prime Minister’s ear lobes to write a story on the election campaign?

    Or maybe his colleagues’ obsessions with Ruddstoration? What’s not to love about the non-story of Kevin’s Krazy Komeback?

    No, seriously, what he’s referring to is the momentous events of national importance that devolve down to whether the PM, 20 years ago, wrote a letter, what she said to her partners about it three years later, and why she just doesn’t admit she’s guilty of… something… and resign.

    Chris Kenny has the shits that the rest of the media haven’t covered Slatergate as nastily and excruciatingly as he thinks they should have.

    He thinks the PM’s life should be taken as one long continuum from girlhood to the top job, and any chink in the armour, at any point in that timeline, should disqualify her permanently from office.

    I guess Chris has led a blameless life, free of bad decisions and poor choices of girlfriends. Perhaps Chris has never even run a red light, or paid the fine for it past the due date?

    If so, then perhaps he has a right to criticise the PM for her own pecadilloes of the past, but otherwise he has no right at all to pontificate like he is.

    [Both sides attempt to frame the political debate. The point is that most journalists ignore or even expose blatant spin from the Liberals – as they should – while far too many simply parrot spin from the government.]

    Men are from Mars. Women are from Venus. And Chris is from another planet altogether, far, far away.

    [How else to explain the relentless focus on the legitimate but transparent opposition tactic of having Julie Bishop rather than Abbott lead the attack?]

    As Chris said, Tony decided to be negative, but because the PM had skewered him by That Speech a while ago, he didn’t have the guts to stand up for himself, so he sent his “good girl” in, Ms Vinegar Tits herself, to do his fighting for him.

    What a man!

    And there, I think Chris might find, is the real nub of the story.

    Tony Abbott is so hamstrung by the stinging attack – and the public’s reaction to it – made upon him by the Prime Minister that he’s been effectively taken out of the debate.

    Standing up to T. Abbott pays dividends. Gillard has stood up to him. Gillard takes the spoils of that particular stoush.

    And Chris Kenney just can’t accept that this is the new paradigm of Australian politics: “The Bully Boy brought down.”

    The private school prat who’s been getting his way throughout his whole life of intimidating others is having it dished back up to him, by a woman, a powerful woman, and he doesn’t know how to handle it.

    Now, there’s a story for you! Pity the Australian doesn’t want to tell it.

  20. sprocket

    I watched the interview with Nate Silver. Very interesttng. Although he tends to say “right” a fair bit. I found it distracting for some reason. I know…….. I have issues 😀

  21. frednk

    It appears that it was Finns providing the link of the vex story to Emerson via tweet. I could be wrong. Perhaps finns could clarify

  22. [Vexnews came out and said it, Craig Emerson used it, JB stuck with it.]

    Emmo didnt use it. It was my tweet to Emmo alerting him of what has been published on Vexnews. It was my comment not Emmo that followed.

    Jesus, why cant you guys get a simple tweet.

  23. [ A crucial building block for the government’s spin has been to demand a “smoking gun”. Journalists were revealing facts and asking pertinent questions yet Labor sought to raise the bar, claiming the story wasn’t worthy unless it contained a killer blow.

    Journalists less susceptible to spin were simply interested, as ever, in discovering who, what, when, where and why.]

    This is good. Kenny’s just given us the green light to grill Pyne over his night of drinkies with Ashby. Endlessly and forensically. And to open up the more recent developments with Pyne, which haven’t surfaced yet. We can have a good look at Mal Brough too. And go hard on Bishop’s Wittenoom past as well. And to grill Abbott over his slush fund to destroy Pauline Hanson.

    After all, we don’t need smoking guns any more. Or a killer blow. Just allegations. We’re only interested in discovering the who, what, when, where and why. And we have the right, thanks to Kenny, to take it all over parliament and all over the media until we feel like stopping.

  24. BB

    Does Chris Kenny say anything in his report about JBishop being warned off aout Blewitt by his sister a few months back? What about the judgment of the coalition and JBishop to seek advice from Blewitt, a self confessed liar and fraudster to cast aspersions on the PM of this country?
    I know he is a partisan hack but he should quit while he is behind. This is embarrassing

  25. [The Finnigans
    Posted Saturday, December 1, 2012 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Emmo didnt use it. It was my tweet to Emmo alerting him of what has been published on Vexnews. It was my comment not Emmo that followed.

    Jesus, why cant you guys get a simple tweet.]

    Sorry ” the Delphinidae used it”

  26. [“Sometimes there are moments,” reads like a tautology to me. You could remove one or the other and the meaning would remain.]

    Fair point. Speaking as someone who favours always honouring one’s convictions, that one slid past me.

  27. “Sometimes there are moments when a prime minister must keep faith with their convictions…”

    The usual pompous drivel you get from the Australian. It suggests that they think that there are there are moments when the PM doesn’t have to keep such faith – probably when jumping to attention to do their boss’s bidding.

  28. The word has gone out to all Murdoch media: tell readers that the Leveson inquiry was a waste of time and any form of regulation would be evil.

    [Media regulation is not the answer

    Even considering the gross excesses of the British media, a culture very distinct to that in Australia, regulation would be an over-reaction. It would also potentially create a barrier to journalism that properly exposes matters of serious public concern.]

  29. [It would also potentially create a barrier to journalism that properly exposes matters of serious public concern]

    Like the PM’s earlobes, Slipper’s text messages and who signed what and when, 20 years ago.

  30. Both Australia’s LOTO & Shadow AG have openly accused Australia’s PM a CRIMINAL without proof. Where’s the OUTRAGE from #MSMhacks? #auspol

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