Essential Research: 53-47 to Coalition

Essential Research has primary vote shifts towards Labor and away from the Greens cancelling each other out with respect to two-party preferred. Also featured: party attribute polling, and Senate news.

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.

Senate matters:

• 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”.

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.

640 comments on “Essential Research: 53-47 to Coalition”

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  1. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.

    Very convincing Barnaby, very convincing.
    Labor should play this for all it’s worth. Disgusting!
    Not to be rude, but John, do us all a favour and piss off!
    Would there be any political (or other) favours buried in this?
    This may be an entertaining journey.
    There’s so much to like about this outstanding family.
    The facts will speak for themselves.
    The OECD has already examined them.
    You’d better tread carefully, Tone!

  2. Section 2 . . .

    I don’t think Wacka will run away from this one.
    MUST SEE!! Alan Moir has clearly had enough of the Great Wall of Credlin.
    David Rowe with some rather disturbing Melbourne Cup imagery.
    David Pope is less than impressed with the amateurish FA efforts of Abbott and Mesma.

  3. BK

    [Jon Stewart skewers Toronto Mayor over crack smoking.]

    I’d say the crack smoking was one of his lesser offences. Apparently he has groped medical students, done homophobic and racist rants and turned up “hammered” to public events.

    Obviously, he has substance abuse issues, but it is interesting that it’s the “crack cocaine” that they focus on.

  4. I have grumbled recently about dumb decisions in (Labor) education policy. Only focuson testing and people teach to the tests. It looks like students, even at elite schools, are doing the same.
    [Students are abandoning the more complex 2-unit HSC maths course in favour of the simpler ”general” course in an attempt to maximise their Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR), but then find themselves ill-equipped to cope at university, teachers have warned.]

    How can we possibly expect to increase advanced industries to replace manufacturing if we have a declining supply of people doing advanced maths? This greatly reduces the number of people who can do courses like engineering, medicine and some IT. As I said recently, our high school student skills in maths are going backwards.

  5. Thanks for the links BK. Howard rambling on about CC scientists being alarmist is the height of hypocrisy. The man made a career from playing on people’s irrational fears, now he says not to worry about a real one.

  6. This story on Caterpillar pulling out of manufacturing mining equipment at Burnie is actually more regrettable than Holden closing. Mining equipment is something we make well, and have been competitive at.

  7. [ Treasurer Joe Hockey is set to approve the sale of GrainCorp Ltd, but will attach conditions to the deal designed to placate concerns from the Nationals, The Australian Financial Review reports.

    According to the newspaper, key Liberal party members are in favour of the sale, but some in the Nationals have said they oppose the transaction even with conditions.

    Mr Hockey previously set himself a December 17 deadline to rule on the proposed sale of GrainCorp to American firm Archer Daniels Midland (ADM).

    The AFR reports some Liberals fear the adding of conditions to the deal could lead ADM to walk away from the $3.4 billion transaction. ]

  8. Morning all


    Heard excerpt of Bishop the Jnr on radio this morning say wtte that tomorrow she will be attending the Bali forum, where she expects productive talks, All she needs to do now, is convince herself!

  9. After having made a song and dance about NBN cable on hanging from power poles, guess what –

    [ The coalition government will review a Tasmanian Labor government proposal to pursue an alternative National Broadband Network (NBN) rollout plan that would use overhead cables in a bid to launch the network faster and more cheaply, according to The Australian.

    Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull have agreed to receive a proposal being prepared by Tasmania-owned Aurora Energy that will detail the plan that could be replicated elsewhere in the country.

    Under the plan, Aurora’s power poles would be used to facilitate the rollout in Tasmania, allowing NBN Co to bypass the issue of asbestos in telecommunications pits that have delayed the rollout.

    The proposal will also be promoted as a way to cut an estimated $100 million from the $300 million rollout cost, The Australian added. ]

    Will they still have to pay Telstra as well – isn’t that a signed deal?

  10. Is this the rorting story alluded to yesterday evening? I thought there was one coming about Philip Ruddock

    [Mr Joyce, who was given free tickets to watch the 2012 State of Origin and NRL finals in corporate boxes, claimed flights to Sydney, Comcars and overnight ”travel allowance”, costing taxpayers $4615. His spokeswoman told Fairfax Media that attending the matches was legitimate ”official business”.]

    Read more:

  11. Socrates

    [Only focuson testing and people teach to the tests]

    Well, this can scarcely be slated home to federal Labor. The tests were introduced under Howard.

    Indeed, focus on tests and teaching to tests has been standard educational practice in Australia basically forever.

    Under Labor governments, some states have looked at moving away from this – but under Liberals, things tend to drift back.

    [Students are abandoning the more complex 2-unit HSC maths course in favour of the simpler ”general” course ]

    The descriptor here is a bit strange. General Maths is also a 2 unit maths course, so why make it sound as if the advanced courses are different?

    Of course, the problem is not so much students not wanting to do Advanced Maths because of ATAR scores, but because of the lack of teaching staff available to offer these courses in the first place.

    Our school gets around this problem by combining classes with the local Catholic school. Even so, at Year 11, my son was taught his advanced maths by a PE trained teacher who had never taught maths at that level before (but did a sterling job).

    One of the ‘real’ Maths teachers is part time. She has commented that there are days when there are no teachers at the school who are qualified to teach Maths beyond Year 10.

    This is not a problem of Labor reforms (although I agree with you that we should move away from testing only, and argued for project based and other forms of assessment being included) but of the existing teaching staff – and of course goes back to problems created twenty or thirty years ago, when the existing teaching taskforce was in school.

    It also points to a problem with attracting Maths orientated teachers to schools. People with their training can get lucrative jobs elsewhere.

    NSW has – for probably about a decade now – offered free retraining followed by guaranteed work for teachers if they wish to upgrade their skills. Obviously, they still have problems attracting and retaining maths staff.

    Until that problem’s overcome, it’s difficult to see how we can overcome the problem of students taking on more challenging maths courses. They simply won’t do it if the help they need isn’t there.

  12. Morning all

    BK The cartoonists have given Abbott absolutely no honeymoon. They’ve been drawing him ‘ugly’ since Day 1.

    Sprocket The problem with Howard speaking is that so many still see him as strong, dependable and right about most things so when he speaks rubbish it’s OK. His backflip on CC is irrelevant to most and will be joyous to the Abbottians.

    It angers the rest of us.

  13. I note that there have been a spate of shootings in NSW over the past week. I recall during the Gillard Govt, Liberal pollies blamimg the federal govt. Where is the outrage against Abbott and Co?

  14. victoria@18

    I note that there have been a spate of shootings in NSW over the past week. I recall during the Gillard Govt, Liberal pollies blamimg the federal govt. Where is the outrage against Abbott and Co?

    Also NSW labor are letting BOF off the hook as are the media.

    We would be being told there is a war on our streets day after day if it was Labor in power.

    Not a sausage.

  15. The Australian Industry Group says electricity prices won’t fall as fast or as quickly as people might be hoping. Well, what a surprise, who’d have thought.

  16. dave

    I am here in Vic, but i do recall Abbott and his cronies out and about blamimg Labor. Of course, it was stupid, but hey it worked

  17. [ Of course, it was stupid, but hey it worked ]

    Vic, the tories consistent capacity to convince people of bullshit is their best skill set.

    Plenty more surprises coming and plenty more excuses.

    Watch voters accept going to the footy is now *official business*?

    He even had free tickets and probably got “hospitality” at the game as well.

    If voters believe thats *official* business they deserve what they get and should bend over now.

  18. [

    Also NSW labor are letting BOF off the hook as are the media.

    We would be being told there is a war on our streets day after day if it was Labor in power.

    Not a sausage.

    Miranda Devine in today’s Daily ToiletPaper is telling Barry O’F to “grow a spine” over the guns and shooting issue.

    I suspect they are pushing for more of the Campbell Newman style “hang ’em high” approach.

  19. dave

    [If voters believe thats *official* business they deserve what they get and should bend over now.]

    We have been doing it for years.

    Many trips to Canberra for entire groups of Parliamentarians are very obviously simply for party political purposes.

  20. Socrates Fran’s explanations re maths teaching are appreciated.

    Perhaps a few financially sound, middle aged engineers could take a lifestyle change and move into Maths teaching.

  21. sprocket_

    You should get a medal for ‘reading’ the Daily ToiletPaper and in particular m devine.

    But my point above stands, if Labor was in power we would be hearing daily about this ‘war’ on our streets and it wouldn’t matter what the circumstances.

  22. Re NSW Maths courses:

    I find it disturbing for that matter that the SMH refers to 2 Unit Maths as “advanced”. Maybe for journalists?

    Admittedly this is a little while ago but those few friends of mine who did General Maths referred to it as “vegie” maths.

    2 unit was the basic course for use in any subsequent tertiary study at all – even for economics .

    3 and 4 unit were the courses for people actually interested in maths. Dr Professor Mauler for example says you cant really understand various issues in physiology without mastering some of the 3 unit maths concepts.

  23. MM – Fellow poster ModFib is a master at using selected ‘data sets’ to deliver a point.

    Often a broader look tells the truth.

    Mrs. MM is right about the Maths.

  24. [ The problem with Howard speaking is that so many still see him as strong, dependable and right about most things so when he speaks rubbish it’s OK. His backflip on CC is irrelevant to most and will be joyous to the Abbottians. ]

    Must admit I only quickly glaced through that howard article – did anyone questioning him about why he not only took an ETS to the 2007 election but said that we should be leading the world on it as his scheme would.

  25. Good Morning

    Repeating story BK linked.

    @bencubby: Senate inquiry into the viability of Australia’s Direct Action #climate plan.

    This committee is going to haunt Abbott. Facts such pesky things.
    I thought worth repeating as this really is the start of forcing media to report reality..

  26. What we all know.

    [A business group has cast doubt over an anticipated drop in electricity prices following the carbon tax repeal.

    In a submission to the Carbon Tax Repeal Taskforce, the Australian Industry Group (AIG) says any downward shift in electricity prices is likely to take some time, saying other factors have contributed to recent rises in the utility cost.

    “The proportionate impact of removing carbon costs will likely not match the impact of their introduction,” the AIG submission says.]

  27. “@senatormilne: John Howard helping protege Tony Abbott promote Australia’s climate denialism and rejection of science overseas is their form of zealotry.”

  28. [The Howard and Rudd/Gillard governments each made tentative starts on the international stage. The current government’s diplomatic initiation has been worse. Even allowing for inexperience, the Abbott government appears to be setting a new standard for diplomatic ineptitude. The Prime Minister in particular has lurched from one mistake to another, with each episode more ham-fisted than the last.


    No surprises there really. It’s hard to think of a more inept federal government than the current one.

  29. Zoomster Sorry, it was your post on teaching that I appreciated. It’s always good to get first hand info.

    Socrates There’s no difference in kids avoiding the ‘swots’ maths’ as we called it in the early 50s. I squibbed it as did many in my class. We opted for the easy stuff just to get a pass mark in HSC or Matric as it was then in SA .

    One guy in my class used to get 99-100% every test, exam. He was brilliant mathematically. I thought he’d be a top banana in later life but he opted for working as a Rates clerk with the local Council til he retired. Bet no rates certificates were wrong 🙂

  30. confessions

    What new media knows and helps inform PB and what Old Media knows are two different things. Good we have Fairfax though as I doubt OM would cover it otherwise.

  31. OECD reviews ‘Direct Action’ and finds it wanting. The OECD study, ‘Effective Carbon Prices’, found that emissions trading systems provided the lowest cost for reducing carbon pollution among the different approaches available. Of course what would a bunch of pinko greenie commos like the OECD know.

    Read more:

  32. BH

    [One guy in my class used to get 99-100% every test, exam. He was brilliant mathematically. I thought he’d be a top banana in later life but he opted for working as a Rates clerk with the local Council til he retired. Bet no rates certificates were wrong :)]

    I knew a guy who topped a fairly well regarded school and then left to run a printing press for the APS!

    The guy who came third became a Mirage pilot with an Engineering Degree.

  33. My email to the Minister for Agriculture just now:

    The following regulation may be of assistance to you.

    ”official business” means attendance at ”properly constituted meetings of a government advisory committee or task force provided that the senator or member is a member of the committee or task force”.

    As an aside, I am wondering what advisory committee or task force meetings are held concurrently with the football games at the game venues?

    It seems quite appropriate that you are the Minister for Agriculture. I’m sure you will give Mr Abbott and fellow traveller cabinet members and backbenchers expert advice and mentoring about the management of pigs’ snouts in troughs.

  34. Yet another reminder, big business will decide what tax it pays and what laws voters end up with –

    [ The federal government is set to announce plans to abandon a long list of unlegislated tax proposals, including seven high-profile Labor initiatives that would have targeted profit-shifting by multinationals and raised taxes on earnings from superannuation pension funds.

    Treasurer Joe Hockey and Assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinos will on Wednesday outline plans to dump seven changes to the tax system proposed during Labor’s time in government.

    In all, the federal government will announce plans to abandon most of 92 unlegislated and unresolved tax and superannuation reforms dating back to 2001.

    Of those, the government is expected to say it will proceed with 18 of the proposals.

    Among the abandoned proposals will be one that would have stripped interest tax deductions related to foreign earnings and reformed the thin capitalisation rules intended to block profits from being shifted overseas.

    The government will also abandon a proposal that would have levied a tax on superannuation pension earnings above $100,000, as well as a $1.8 billion fringe benefits tax on the car industry that had been announced in April.

    The coalition has said the backlog created massive operational uncertainty for businesses and consumers. ]

  35. Ctar1 It’s fascinating to see where life takes your classmates and so many of the laggers in my class have been very successful.

    Just saw Julie Bishop on telly. She’s not looking so confident and smug atm. An achiever out of her depth?

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