BludgerTrack: 55.4-44.6 to Coalition

Polling trends show a further deterioration in Labor’s position in the wake of last week’s leadership chaos, and a new automated phone poll suggests the trend is set to continue.

The latest weekly BludgerTrack update has been added to the sidebar, adding results from Newspoll, Galaxy and Essential Research. I have replaced my ad hoc rolling average calculation with LOESS, the polling wonk’s smoothing method of choice. As well as making my graphs look prettier, this makes for smoother trendlines and should reduce volatility from one week to the next. I’ll be applying some further methodological tinkering next week, including updating the Newspoll bias measures to account for the Western Australian election result – on which more below.

First though, it should be noted that the Financial Review has published results from a JWS Research automated phone poll of 4070 respondents in 54 marginal seats, conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday. This records an aggregate swing of Labor of 9.3%, compared with a quite bad enough result of 4.8% when the exercise was last conducted in mid-January. In the aftermath of last week’s leadership chaos, it may well be significant that the shift was heavily concentrated in Queensland.

Preselection news:

• A general meeting of the ACT Liberals has voted down a motion to overturn Senator Gary Humphries’ preselection defeat at the hands of former ACT Opposition Leader Zed Seselja by a margin of 168 to 138. There had been compaints from Humphries supporters that many party members had been wrongly excluded from the February preselection vote, which Seselja won 114 to 84.

• The plot has thickened in the preselection to choose a successor to Nicola Roxon in Gellibrand, with three credibly rated candidates in the field. Unidentified sources quoted by John Ferguson in The Australian suggest opposition to Tim Watts, Telstra executive and former staffer to Stephen Conroy, amounts to a test of Conroy’s influence, which is said to be “starting to wane”. Josh Gordon of The Age reports a 2008 factional realignment reserved the seat for the Shorten-Conroy Right sub-faction, but Roxon has entered the fray by sending a letter to local party members urging for them to support her former adviser Katie Hall. There is another prospective candidate in Kimberley Kitching, a former Melbourne councillor, current acting general manager tasked with restoring order to Health Services Union No. 1 branch, and wife of VexNews provocateur Andrew Landeryou. Gordon reports the Turkish community is emerging as a source of support for Kitching, as Conroy has roused its opposition by refusing to offer up the state seat of Footscray to the “so-called Turkish bloc”.

• The preselection to replace Richard Torbay as Nationals candidate for New England will be held in Tamworth on April 13. Barnaby Joyce will certainly be a starter, but there have been suggestions he will or should face opposition from Nationals Farmers Federation president Alexander “Jock” Laurie, including from Calare MP John Cobb.

• With the state election out of the way, WA Labor is now proceeding with federal election preselection processes, chief among which is determining its Senate election ticket and filling the casual vacancy caused by the retirement of Chris Evans. Suggestions Labor might be reduced to one Senate seat in Western Australia mean that more than prestige is at stake in ordering the top two positions on the election ticket. The two incumbents are Louise Pratt of the AMWU Left and Mark Bishop of the SDA Right, with the latter generally expected to be deposed by Joe Bullock, who succeeded him as the SDA’s state secretary. Other nominees are former state Bassendean MP Martin Whitely, a critic of party preselection processes generally and the Joe Bullock ascendancy in particular; Brett Treby, a Wanneroo councillor who ran for the state seat of Wanneroo; John Welch, secretary of the Western Australian Prison Officers’ Union; Kelly Shay, assistant state secretary of United Voice; and Sue Lines, assistant national secretary of United Voice.

• Sue Lines is getting more attention for her parallel nomination to succeed Chris Evans, a position claimed by the powerful United Voice sub-faction of the Left. Lines is rated as one of two-front runners along with Sharryn Jackson, who won the lower house seat of Hasluck in 2001 and 2007 and lost it in 2004 and 2010. The aforementioned Martin Whitely, John Welch and Kelly Shea have also nominated for the Evans vacancy, together with Linda Morich and Ashburton councillor Peter Foster. Both matters are scheduled to be determined at a state executive meeting on April 15.

Finally, a review of Newspoll’s performance at the WA election and some related musings on the two-party preferred measure. The scorecard for Newspoll reads thus:

Result		57.5?	33.1	53.2	8.4
Newspoll	59.5	32	54	8
Difference	+2.0?	-1.1	+0.8	-0.4

This is a very sound result, with all primary votes well within the margin of error. However, it’s worth noting that it’s the eighth pre-election Newspoll out of the last nine to shoot low on the Labor primary vote, and the seventh to do so by more than a percentage point – remembering that in most cases two-party preferred ended up near the mark because support for the Greens had been overstated (although this hasn’t been evident on the two most recent occasions).

Keeping in mind that my two-party result is based on incomplete data, Newspoll’s two-party preferred result proved less accurate than the primary votes, which is largely down to an issue with two-party preferred calculations involving the Liberals and Nationals. Newspoll looks to have followed the usual method of simply combining the two and then distributing minor party preferences between the two major parties, but this doesn’t account for the fact that in three-cornered contests some Liberal and Nationals votes end up in the Labor pile when the contest is boiled down to Labor-versus-Liberal or Labor-versus-Nationals for two-party purposes. This is of little concern at federal elections, where competitive Nationals-versus-Liberal contests are uncommon. However, the WA election had no fewer than 17 three-cornered contests out of 59 seats, with both Liberal and Nationals polling strongly in most cases.

It should be noted that it makes a difference whether a Labor-versus-Liberal or Labor-versus-Nationals count is used, because Nationals voters are more likely to preference against their coalition partners than Liberal voters. This seems to be especially pronounced in those regional corners of the state where the Nationals have won a new constituency of former Labor voters who are still not keen on the Liberals. The precise result of the final two-party result will thus be influenced by the WAEC’s ruling on whether it conducts Labor-versus-Nationals or Labor-versus-Liberal counts in the eight seats where such counts remain to be published. In 2008 they went Labor-versus-Liberal in each case, which meant the Nationals were only used in seats where the final count had been between them and Labor (I believe this only applied to Pilbara, where only 7517 formal votes were cast, and that this will again be the case this time). The results were thus more favourable to Labor than they might have been if the WAEC had employed an alternative rationale, such as conducting Nationals-versus-Labor counts where the seat was won by the Nationals, as was the case in six of the eight seats with counts still outstanding.

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.

2,550 comments on “BludgerTrack: 55.4-44.6 to Coalition”

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  1. ru

    That’s what I thought but evidently they get paid quite a lot less than a 20 yo. The argument is they don’t have the experience a 20 yo so they get less.

  2. meher

    at present, there are active disincentives for the unemployed to further their education.

    For starters, Newstart is higher than the student allowance – so if you enrol as a student, you automatically lose money.

    Secondly – as we’ve just found out – part time study isn’t recognised. It appears it’s either full time or nothing. So my son, who wants to ease his way back into University, is doing two units of work by distance education – but he is expected to be also looking for full time work, which would make it very difficult for him to complete his studies.

  3. ESJ


    There problem with that is there are so few Labor MPs in NSW and Qld that a lot of those jobs must already be taken.

  4. Z

    [For starters, Newstart is higher than the student allowance – so if you enrol as a student, you automatically lose money.

    What’s the rationale for that?

  5. To an extent, the new field of endeavour is government relations, ie lobbying. So many former qld and NSW staffers are employed by these firms. Of course if you lose federally and state the utility of these lobbyists decline somewhat but still smart corporates cover both sides so unemployment is still a rare phenomenon for most staffers.

  6. Hecs staryed when i started uni after school. Paid off two degrees on Hecs. First economics before Army. Finance after army. 3 years in reserve while at Uni and working 2 to 3 bar and waiter jobs at any one time. 10 years in Regular Army. 1 year reserves after that. Started own business. Sold that after 9 years. Now an employee.

  7. Diog

    I really have no idea – it’s been the case for at least a couple of decades, so I assume really basically forever.

    I would GUESS it might be to discourage perpetual studentship — that the thinking is that, rather than take up work, someone would take up further study, but you’d think that problem could be solved in other ways.

  8. ESJ – The Libs are pretty good at warehousing their people as well.

    Not only the APS but also in places like the IPA and the media.

  9. Still ironically ex maps suffer more than staffers because there is an assumption by employers that there job is beneath them and why would you want to work here when you were an mp/minister. Some of the alp mps in NSW and qld have made some pretty hard adjustments

  10. The excuse is money yet in the next breathe the Government spends billions on a system to give the impression that it is supportive.

  11. Welcome back EStJ. I had to think what you had to do to achieve redemption. @2455 I am told Reba Meagher now works as a lobbyist – her client list must be interesting but mercifully brief.

  12. [2393
    Compact Crank

    And the minimum wage system should be scrapped. It stops the unemoyed getting paid work.]

    This is just simplistic. It suggests that the only thing that matters is the cost of wages. There are so many other things that are more relevant than nominal hourly wage rates – such things as skills, mobility, language and arithmetic skills, literacy in general, age, health, experience, geographic location, the nature of available work…to say nothing of gender, race, dis/ability.

    What is even more important, of course, is the health of the economy, which drives demand for labour in general and supports wages at all levels, from the bottom up.

    This has not been an issue in Australia for many years, but it is about to become one if the LNP get their way.

    One thing the ideologues may like to think upon….were low wages a solution to high unemployment, the very poor economies of South Asia – especially, say, Bangladesh for example, would be economic powerhouses; while the high wage economies of the European industrial heartland, like Germany, would be wastelands.

    The truth is there is a lot more to the porous, casualised, fractionally-attached low end of the labour market than wage rates, as CC must surely know.

  13. Your timeline doesn’t make sense, but who cares. As for the working two jobs stuff, even those of us who were on the equivalent of Youth Allowance did that.

    And I can’t understand how someone who went to Duntroon didn’t get a degree there. Why wait until after you left? Doesn’t add up.

  14. ESJ

    [Some of the alp mps in NSW and qld have made some pretty hard adjustments]

    which is exactly why the parliamentary super system was introduced – one of the former PMs is suspected of having spent some time living on the streets.

    When this became known, there was a sort of ‘can’t let this happen again’ thing.

  15. CC…the self-made champ….I just don’t buy it. Sorry…it is all bull. CC is here for the polemics. By definition, he just makes stuff up all the time.

  16. [2460
    Compact Crank
    Posted Saturday, March 30, 2013 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    There shouldn’t be age based wages. It should be on economic value.]

    In this case, it’s quite likely you’d be paying your employer for the right to occupy a desk and waste everyone’s time.

  17. Zoomster That was Scullin but I think”living on the streets” is a bit of an exageration. He had a very nice old age pension.

  18. Whenever I feel disheartened by the travails of the ALP, I only need to think for a moment of the fraudulent chicanery of the idiot-right, such as those regurgitated by CC. Then I am reminded why the Liberals should never be trusted with anything remotely important.

  19. Hecs was introduced 1989, Duntroon like ADFA is for Cadets, that is why it is the Royal Military College. From memory recruits get a degree from UNSW.

    Yep the timeline falls in a heap, but heck who cares.

  20. Zoomster – degrees come from ADFA. Duntroon is military training for direct entry and ADFA army after their degree.

  21. [zoomster
    Posted Saturday, March 30, 2013 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    Far, far cheaper to keep someone on welfare.]

    Welfare or gated estates. The choice a right wing nutter has to make.

    Personally I prefer being able to walk down the street. The Americans can keep the beggars (Mny of whome are returned solders), their gated estates, their fear and the other shit they have to put up with.

  22. Hadn’t seen this. Why do we have offshore processing again?
    “No advantage scrapped – Refugee processing to start on Nauru

    The Nauru Director of the Department of Immigration has told a meeting of asylum seekers in the Nauru detention camp that their refugee assessments will begin “in about ten days.”

    The initial refugee assessments are expected to be finalised in around six months.

    Despite telling the meeting that he is speaking on behalf of the Nauruan government, the details of the processing reveals that the processing is totally controlled by the Australian government.

    A Nauruan government officer will only be involved at the very final step to accept or reject recommendations made by the assessors flown from Australia.

    In an answer to a question from one asylum seeker, trying to explain why processing is happening on Nauru, he said, “The Australian government decided it will happen this way.”

  23. Oakey rebas doing ok thank you very much, pension, charity gig with an order of nuns and a few bits and pieces – it’s not penury and it would add up to about 30 hours per week.

  24. But there is really no justification left for defined benefit schemes for politicians given the options open to them and for those who can’t take up the options well there no better or worse off than anybody else in the community which is appropriate.

  25. Edward St John

    [For example Wayne swan was warehoused on Kim Beazleys staff in 1996 when he lost the seat of Lilley for the first time.]

    Pity he never stayed there.

  26. “For example Wayne swan was warehoused on Kim Beazleys staff in 1996 when he lost the seat of Lilley for the first time.
    Pity he never stayed there.”

    As one of the Labor-only ‘Treasurers of the Year’, an award never gained by any of the LNP shower, your miserable sour-grapes attitude is showing.

    The LNP obviously doesn’t recognise achievement.

    Yep. I knew that.

  27. [Jeez, what has Wayne Swan ever done to deserve such scorn?]

    Be elected to Dept PM it would seem. You know a woman’s job.

  28. I have always had a soft spot for Reba. She did the hard yards to become health minister. I am sure we all agree that after being Joe Tripodi’s girlfriend she deserved some reward.

    Speaking of which what is Joe up to these days. I always felt that after politics he would find his place in auto alley

  29. [2477
    jaundiced view]

    Y’all make the most of mocking Wayne Swan. Soon we will see what happens when the ideologues get put in charge of the economy. There will be much bleating and wailing, so many regrets spilling onto the soil. Even sour old green trots (= grots) like you, j-v, may be moved to sorrow.

  30. [He couldn’t sell a chook raffle in a pub and he shows loyalty to himself alone.]

    Is there anyone in the Federal Cabinet you like Two Bob?

  31. [but I think Swan is anybody’s]

    Swan wasn’t one of those leaking against his own Cabinet.

    [and he shows loyalty to himself alone.]

    See point above. Sorry, but when you fly the flag for Cabinet leakers and whiteanters you don’t get to take the high moral ground on loyalty.

  32. OC

    [Speaking of which what is Joe up to these days. I always felt that after politics he would find his place in auto alley]

    Love it!

  33. [2485


    He couldn’t sell a chook raffle in a pub and he shows loyalty to himself alone.]

    This is crap. Wayne Swan was Treasurer during the worst economic crisis since the 1930’s. He put everything he had on the line. He may not be the orator that people want – and he has not been the pure bull-shitter that was Peter Costello – but he has kept the economy sound and the budget in respectable shape. Everyone takes far too much for granted when it comes to the economy, and are too quick to fault Swan. Considering the difficulties of the times, he should be marked much better than he is.

  34. briefly

    I mock the likes of Swan and the S/C coterie because he is one of the few loons who have made what you describe possible, through sheer lust for internal control without any concept of how to use it externally. A bit like wankers everywhere I guess.

  35. confessions

    I don’t really care what you think. Your constant refrain in calling Rudd a “sociopath” does not sit well with me so we must agree to disagree!

  36. j-v, you are as bad as CC. You and he would make a fine pair…perhaps, with Tom you might manage and anti-Labor menage a trois. You’re all so far up yourselves as to be completely irrelevant.

  37. That’s a nasty reference to Reba Oakey , would you apply a similar one to Carmel or plibersek ? You should if your not a partisan.

  38. MTBW

    It does become more and more difficult to bother responding to the totally predictable harder core partisan hacks. I enjoy discussion free of the latest spin. After 15 monthe away, it is just the same from the party insiders. Where do they get the energy?

  39. Joe Tripodi should be thanked for the deal on capacity-sharing at the port of Newcastle.

    Never heard of it? Thought not, it only makes billions in revenue.

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