Little change in the BludgerTrack poll aggregate this week (see the sidebar for details), though what’s there is enough to send the Greens to a new low and others to a new high for the current term. The only new additions are the latest numbers from the two weekly pollsters:
Essential Research has moved in Labor’s favour, their primary vote up one to 36% with the Coalition down one to 47% and the Greens steady on 8%. On two-party preferred, the Coalition lead is down from 55-45 to 54-46. The monthly personal ratings record very little change, with Julia Gillard down one on approval to 37% and steady on disapproval at 54%, while Tony Abbott is steady on 40% and down one to 49%. Abbott’s lead as preferred prime minister shifts from 41-39 to 40-39. Pleasingly, further questions concern campaign finance and find 29% support for public funding of political parties against 47% who think they should be funded only by donations; 65% support for donation caps against only 17% for unlimited donations; and only 5% opposed to public disclosure of donations (Institute of Public Affairs, take note). Thirty-six per cent supported the $1000 disclosure threshold originally proposed by the government, 26% favoured the $5000 agreed to under the doomed compromise with the Liberals, and only 17% supported the present $12,000 threshold. Other questions concerned tolerance (69% rating racism a large or moderate problem in Australian society) and Pauline Hanson (58% think it unlikely she would make a positive contribution to parliament against 30% for likely).
The weekly Morgan multi-mode poll has Labor down half a point to 31%, the Coalition up half to 46% and the Greens steady on 9.5%. Both previous election and respondent-allocated preference measures of two-party preferred are at 56-44, compared with 55.5-44.5 and 55-45 last week.
The Sunday Fairfax papers carried results from a ReachTEL automated phone of 3500 respondents in six Labor seats, which found Jason Clare on 48% of two-party preferred in Blaxland, Peter Garrett on 49% in Kingsford Smith, Bill Shorten and Wayne Swan on 53% in Maribyrnong and Lilley, and Jenny Macklin on 57% in Jagajaga. Also covered was Craig Emerson’s seat of Rankin, but here we were told only that he was trailing. The poll also inquired as to how people would vote if Kevin Rudd was returned to the leadership, which had Labor improving 4.5% in Kingsford Smith, 8.4% in Blaxland, 3.6% in Lilley, 11.8% in Rankin, 3.1% in Jagajaga and 8.6% in Maribyrnong.
Roy Morgan also published a phone poll of 546 respondents on Friday which found 21%, 16% and 16% of respondents would respectively consider voting for Julian Assange’s Wikileaks Party, Katter’s Australian Party and the Palmer United Party. The Australian Financial Review also reported that Labor pollsters UMR Research had found 26% of respondents would be willing to support Assange’s party. Personally, I don’t find questions on voting intention of much value unless respondents are required to choose from a limited range of options.
Martin Ferguson’s announcement that he will bow out at the coming election has unleashed a preselection struggle for possibly the safest Labor seat in the country, the inner Melbourne seat of Batman. The vacancy was immediately perceived by Julia Gillard and Bill Shorten as a chance to accommodate Senator David Feeney, a Right powerbroker and key Gillard ally who has been stranded with what looks to be the unwinnable third position on the Victorian Senate ticket. However, Feeney is meeting fierce opposition from the local Left and those who believe the seat should go to a woman after Tim Watts was chosen to succeed Nicola Roxon in Gellibrand. Penny Wong and Jenny Macklin are in the latter camp, while Julia Gillard’s intervention has been criticised by Brian Howe, the Keating-era Deputy Prime Minister who held the seat from 1977 to 1996. The early talk was that Feeney might be opposed by ACTU president Ged Kearney, but she soon scotched the idea saying she wished to remain in her current position. Support is instead coalescing behind local Left faction member Mary-Anne Thomas, executive manager of Plan International. Two early starters have withdrawn to give her a clear run: Tim Laurence, the mayor of Darebin, and Hutch Hussein, refugee advocate and former national convenor of Emily’s List. Brian Howe has come out in support for Thomas, while Martin Ferguson is backing Feeney despite his long association with the Left. Stephen Mayne and Andrew Crook of Crikey have an extremely detailed review of the situation in the local branches.
Ed Gannon of the Weekly Times reports the Victorian Liberal Party has defied Tony Abbott and angered the Nationals by resolving to field a candidate in Mallee, which will be vacated by the retirement of Nationals member John Forrest. The Nationals candidate, former Victorian Farmers Federation president Andrew Broad, said any opponent fielded against him would be another Liberal Party muppet run out of Melbourne, which Liberal state director Damien Mantach said was a shrill outburst … unbecoming of someone who is aspiring to be a local leader and elected to high office.
Katter’s Australian Party and the Palmer United Party have unveiled high-profile Senate candidates in country singer James Blundell and former Western Bulldogs AFL player Doug Hawkins, who will respectively run for the KAP in Queensland and the PUP in Victoria.