BludgerTrack: 56.0-44.0 to Coalition

Three slightly less bad polls for Labor have softened the post-leadership crisis slump in the BludgerTrack poll aggregate. Also featured: preselection news and some minor changes to electoral law.

The latest weekly BludgerTrack update accommodates results from Newspoll, Essential Research and Morgan’s multi-mode poll, with the latter looking like it will be a regularly weekly occurrence in contrast to the unpredictable schedule of the face-to-face series it has replaced. This is a somewhat better batch of polling for Labor than the previous week or two, gaining them 0.5% on two-party preferred and two extra on the seat projection. My latest bias adjustments for the Morgan multi-mode polling, based on comparison of its results with the overall poll trend, are +1.7% for Labor, +0.4% for the Coalition and -1.5% for the Greens, compared with +1.4%, +0.9% and -1.5% as I calculated them a week ago.

In other news, I have a raft of preselection action and a review of some minor electoral law changes:

• A bitterly contested preselection to replace Nicola Roxon in the rock solid Labor seat of Gellibrand in western Melbourne has been won by Telstra executive Tim Watts, running with the backing of Stephen Conroy, for whom he once worked as a staffer. His opponents were Katie Hall, a former adviser to Roxon who ran with her backing; Kimberley Kitching, former Melbourne councillor and current acting general manager of the Health Services Union No. 1 branch; Julia Mason and Daniel McKinnon. The 50% of the preselection vote determined by a local party ballot conducted on Monday saw 126 votes go to Watts, 105 to Kitching, 87 to Hall, 42 to McKinnon and four to Mason. Despite a preference deal between Kitching and Hall, that gave Watts a decisive lead going into Tuesday’s vote of the party’s Public Office Selection Committee, where the “stability pact” between the Shorten-Conroy Right forces and the Socialist Left reportedly assured him of about 70% of the vote. Andrew Crook of Crikey reports that Kitching, who had hoped to prevail with support from Turkish community leaders, was thwarted when the “Suleyman clan” (referring to an influential family in western suburbs politics) defected to Watts in exchange for support for Natalie Suleyman to take the number three position on the upper house ticket for Western Metropolitan at the next state election. A dirt sheet targeting Hall over her sexual history and involvement in the HSU was disseminated in the week before the vote, which has led to Kitching complaining to an ALP tribunal that Roxon had falsely accused her of being involved.

• Steve McMahon, chief executive of the NSW Trainers Association (as in thoroughbred horses) and former mayor of Hurstville, has won Labor preselection for the southern Sydney seat of Barton, to be vacated at the election by Robert McClelland. Much more on that in the next episode of Seat of the Week.

• Barnaby Joyce faces opposition at the April 13 Nationals preselection for New England in the shape of David Gregory, owner of an agricultural software business in Tamworth. Another mooted nominee, National Farmers Federation president Jock Laurie, is instead seeking preselection for the by-election to replace Richard Torbay in his Armidale-based state seat of Northern Tablelands.

• Tony Crook, who won the southern regional WA seat of O’Connor for the Nationals from Liberal veteran Wilson Tuckey in 2010, has announced he will not seek another term. The seat was already looming as a spirited three-cornered contest to match the several which had unfolded at the state election (including in the corresponding local seats of Kalgoorlie and Eyre), with the Liberals running hard and early behind their candidate, Katanning farmer Rick Wilson.

Jason Tin of the Courier-Mail reports Chris Trevor will again be Labor’s candidate for the central Queensland seat of Flynn, having won the seat when it was created in 2007 before joining the Queensland Labor casualty list in 2010. Nicole Hodgson, a teacher, and Leanne Donaldson, a former public servant in child protection, were reportedly set to take on the thankless tasks of Hinkler and Fadden.

A package of electoral law changes made it through parliament last month in the shape of the Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Improving Electoral Administration) Act 2013, despite opposition to some measures from the Coalition and Senate cross-benchers Nick Xenophon and John Madigan:

• If a ballot box is unlawfully opened before the authorised time, as occurred at two pre-poll booths in Boothby and Flynn at the 2010 election, the act now requires that the votes be admitted to the count if it is established that “official error” was responsible. The AEC requested the law be clarified after it acted on contestable legal advice in excluding the relevant votes in Boothby and Flynn from the count, which were too few to affect the result. In its original form the bill directed that the affected votes should be excluded, but Bronwyn Bishop successfully advocated for the savings provision when it was referred to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters.

• The Australian Taxation Office has been added to the list of agencies which can provide the Australian Electoral Commission with data relevant to enrolment. As usual with matters that touch on automatic enrolment, this was opposed by the Coalition, Xenophon and Madigan, but supported by all lower house independents and the Greens.

• Pre-polling will in all circumstances begin four days after the close of nominations, giving the AEC two more days to print and disseminate material to the voting centres. The Coalition took the opportunity to move for the pre-poll period to be cut from 19 days before polling day to 12, again with the support of Xenophon and Madigan. The change also eliminates a discrepancy where the date came forward a day if there was no election for the Senate, in which case the election timetable did not have to provide an extra day for lodgement of Senate preference tickets.

• Those casting pre-poll votes will no longer have to sign declaration certificates. A change in the status of pre-poll votes from declaration to ordinary votes was implemented at the 2010 election, allowing them to be counted on election night, but voters still had to sign a certificate. The AEC advised this was unnecessary, but the measure was nonetheless opposed by the Coalition, Xenophon and Madigan.

• The cut-off for receiving postal vote applications has been moved back a day from Thursday to Wednesday, acknowledging the near certainty that voting material posted to those who apply on the Thursday will not be received in time.

• The timetable for conducting electoral redistributions has been amended to allow more time for considering objections raised in public submissions.

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.

1,173 comments on “BludgerTrack: 56.0-44.0 to Coalition”

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  1. Diogenes
    [Perhaps Crean wants to start a new party]
    Astute that remark. It happened in the last big split in 1955. But I’m sure he and the rest of those in the party with principles in place of careers would prefer the Short/Cons give up after the election.

  2. Hey all

    Just on my way home after a couple of quiet after work drinks 🙂

    What the Fark is Crean up to, Julia should sack the old fool

  3. jv

    Crean etc might be unhappy with the way the party is run but they have bugger all appeal as a new party as they would just be Labor Mark II.

  4. Crean fancies himself as a leader. The truth is he couldn’t lead a trip to the local shops. He simply has delusions of relevance, now as in the past.

  5. You didn’t really think this Labor leadership issue was over because Gillard and Swan said so did you?

    If you did, I suggest you look a bit closer at the polls. A 32-35% primary vote going into an election is simply unacceptable.

    40% primary vote is the minimum required for victory. 38% is the structural base vote. Anything below that is a disaster, not just in terms of the next election but for the party generally. That’s before you get into what’s going on state by state.

  6. Briefly, My view of this is that Crean took a hit for the team, He stood up and said bite me, if they had any teeth.
    I think Gillard had to put Rudd away, Crean put his hand up.
    You only have to look at Simon Crean to see he admires her.
    I could be wrong.

  7. grey @ 1158, Simon The Bold thought he had a deal with Rudd. In return for his “support”, Crean would be rewarded with Deputy Leader and Treasurer. Rudd wasn’t going for that, but Crean thought he could pull it off on the day. He still fancies his chances as the Third Guy – the candidate who is anyone but Rudd or Gillard.

    He is mistaken. He has completely discredited himself in the eyes of both Gillard and Rudd. No-one would vote for Crean as Library Monitor, let alone leader.

  8. Well there many in the ALP who would not view Crean as a Labor rat.
    I am one of them.
    This was planned and instigated.
    She won, Rudd lost. End of story.

  9. Calling people Labor rats is stupidity plus.

    Crean is bitter – to be expected.

    The important thing is to consider the underlying reason for his comments

  10. Calling people Labor rats is stupidity plus.

    Crean is bitter – to be expected.

    The important thing is to consider the underlying reason for his comments

    Well maybe it was to smoke out the Rudd dickheads.
    It certainly worked. And this issue is over. Anyone thinks otherwise is delusional.

  11. Grey
    If as you suggest Crean acted to smoke Rudd out – which I once believed, why is he still carrying on.

    Was he left out to dry by Gillard after taking the fall? There is clearly more to the story than just smoking Rudd out

  12. briefly/Dave

    Dan and horse made it as far as the second well at Beersheba.

    Neither moved on after the decision was made to have a cigarette and let the horse have a drink.

    Dan’s buried just outside town.

    (Briefly – Of course no offence taken!)

  13. Dave/briefly

    Dan was a Victorian.

    He enlisted at the point the Palestine thing was being planed.

    The Brits had the enlistment people here and in NZ specifically looking for people from country areas who didn’t have street addresses ie the ones who could ride a horse.

    It should have increased the odds of him surviving but unlucky, I guess.

    (Sorry for the lateness of my replies but week nights are work time for me to keep office hours in GMT)

  14. Briefly @ 1141:

    Yep, Simon’s lost it big time. My father, a rusted-on lefty from way back, and a supporter of Crean Snr, and Jr, has little respect left for Simon.

    Ironic that Simon is of the view that the PM has a “tin ear’, when both he and Kevin “climate change is greatest moral issue of our time” Rudd both totally misread their caucus mates’ views.

  15. Diog:

    Crean: In that case, his party theme song would be “It’s My Party (and I’ll cry if I want to”)

    Sing along now …

  16. aundiced view
    Posted Saturday, April 13, 2013 at 12:51 am | Permalink

    Simon Crean has so little talent for politics that he worked his way though the party in Victoria, arrangd the factional settings, did the necessary deals, recruited new supporters, performed roles at many levels of party and government, and because of what the party saw in him, was elected to high parliamentary office, and then as party leader.

    According to the supporters of the old affiliated union hacks this now amounts to: “He is a complete idiot”.

    Bit of rewriting history there, Jaundiced? No doubt to validate your theory thst everything Labor currently does is bad. Crean got his degree on merit, but just about everything else fell into his lap.

    Being the son old Frank helped a bit to start and then going under the wing of Landeryou at the Storeman and Packers Union also helped advancement. Then up the ACTU ladder via Hawke and Kelty. By the time he made a bid for parliament, he was marked as a rising star and went straight onto the front bench.

    The only time he really got close to the rank and file is when the factional bosses wanted to roll him and Beasley refused to help. He did then stage a successful rearguard action through the electoral college votes and held off the attack. Other than that, he’s had a cosy run. See Latham’s AFR piece on the hereditary peers in Labor and their sense of entitlement.

    And you claim no progress. Removing them from key areas of power has to be some progress.

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