The latest fortnightly average from Essential Research drifts further away from Newspoll in having Labor’s primary vote up a point to 36%, with the Coalition steady on 45% and the Greens down two to 8%. The Coalition’s two-party preferred lead is unchanged at 53-47.
Questions about party attributes deliver a generally poor report card for Labor, the most eye-opening finding being a 72% rating for divided, which up six points from during the election campaign. Labor continues to perform poorly on trustworthiness and the keeping of promises, but is not thought to be too influenced by corporate interests and does okay on vision, policies and moderation. Results from earlier party attribute polling allow us to compare Labor’s position under Julia Gillard at the start of April, Kevin Rudd two weeks into the election campaign, and Bill Shorten this week. With results for negative indicators like divided and out of touch inverted so that higher numbers consistently indicate better results, Labor’s average score across 12 common indicators goes from 37.25% under Gillard to 46.2% under Rudd to 44.2% under Shorten (the three polls respectively had two-party preferred results of 56-44, 50-50 and 53-47). Departures from the overall trend suggest that while Rudd was rated a better and more visionary leader than his two peers, he had baggage for being too liberal with promises and was not seen as moderate (the latter being the only measure on which Gillard was competitive with him).
The Liberals’ average responses went from 47.5% in April to 45.25% in August to 48.7% in November. They have much improved since the August poll on leadership and being clear in what they stand for, but are more likely to be seen as extreme or too close to corporate interests. With mediocre ratings recorded for promises and trustworthiness, the party’s trump card remains that only 25% think it divided. The poll also tests opinion on what the government’s commission of audit should recommended, with means testing of welfare and presumably painless cuts to duplication strongly favoured over lower benefits and anything involving privatisation. A separate question finds opposition to the privatisation of Medibank Private at 43% compared with 22% support. Finally, a question on voluntary euthanasia has support at 68% and opposition at 19%, respectively down one and up five since September 2010.
I’ve had a fair bit of paywalled material on the Western Australian situation in Crikey, which subscribers can enjoy here, here and here (the articles respectively being from Tuesday, Monday and Friday).
Labor in New South Wales moved promptly last week to confirm former Robertson MP Deb O’Neill to fill Bob Carr’s Senate vacancy, which he announced to the surprise of nobody only a week before. O’Neill was a surprise winner in Robertson at the 2010 election after deposing beleagured incumbent Belinda Neal for preselection, but she was unable to withstand the tide against Labor on September 7. Early nominees for the vacancy included another casualty of the election, former junior minister and Eden-Monaro MP Mike Kelly, but he withdrew as it became apparent that O’Neill had decisive cross-factional support. Labor appears to be planning to have O’Neill continue to work her old electorate with an eye to recovering it at the next election, as well as maintaining a broader Central Coast presence for the party after it also lost Dobell.
The Queensland Senate seat made vacant by Barnaby Joyce’s move to the lower house as member for New England remains in limbo, as Campbell Newman withholds parliamentary endorsement for Liberal National Party nominee Barry O’Sullivan pending a Crime and Misconduct Commission inquiry. A former LNP treasurer, O’Sullivan faces lingering accusations that he improperly sought to induce state MP Bruce Flegg to vacate his safe seat of Moggill at last year’s election in favour of Campbell Newman, in lieu of which Newman was required to contest the Labor-held seat of Ashgrove. With the CMC taking longer over the matter than anticipated, the vacancy will go unfilled until state parliament resumes in February. That leaves Queensland a Senator short when the new parliament convenes next week, which if nothing else will deprive the Nationals of a vote in the party room. The matter has aggravated ongoing tensions within the LNP, with Barnaby Joyce and Ron Boswell calling for O’Sullivan’s Senate position to be confirmed even as senior members of the party reportedly push for him to graciously step down.