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. Dio:

    Perhaps we should add manufacturing to the growing issues on which the coalition are hopelessly divided. They’ve had Reith, the IPA, and Hewson in the media recently urging them to do something about car industry subsidies, yet all arguing from divergent positions.

    It’s quite simply stretching credulity to put this intransigence solely at the feet of Indi voters for heavens sake. Even for Carney, this latest effort is a shocker.

  2. victoria:

    The govt’s announcement on fringe benefit subsidy tax exemption should go on Boerwar’s list of surprises after the fuss they kicked up only months ago.

  3. [Much of modern Australia does not seem overly exercised by such notions. Today the Government confirmed it will retain the $1.8 billion fringe benefits tax exemption for cars bought through salary packaging. It is a straight-out subsidy.]

    The thought that Mirrabella was in any way prepared to be anything other than a toxic attack dog is ludicrous. However, i’d agree Vic that the above is an interesting perspective on the subsidy issue.

    Would like to see Abbott explain that if it was put to him in in a presser. Shuddering Brainlock or Run Rabbot Run reaction i wonder??

  4. ‘fess

    [It’s quite simply stretching credulity to put this intransigence solely at the feet of Indi voters for heavens sake.]

    Oh I’d say the Indi voters must have done something to deserve Mirabella as their MP and then to turn on this stalwart of good industry policy …

    You know it makes sense … to the RWDB set …

  5. @MB/594

    It should be noted that in Japan, Sales Tax will be going up from 5% to 8% in April of next year.

    Taxes are good, just depends which ones, if it’s a subsidy, then it’s not checked properly, and is wasteful.

  6. Given any Mandate that Abbott had to axe the tax was so voters could see price drops I think its running out very rapidly.

    So it is very arguable that even those that voted Liberal and National voted a mandate for Abbott. After its based on mendacity.

  7. Just on our former PM’s comments on climate change last night, what really struck me is how limited he felt the role of science in public policy should be. In truth he probably didn’t really think that much about it either when he was in or out of office, but it got me thinking of what the role of science in public policy should be. I found this speech by the chief scientist, which certainly articulates a lot of what I was thinking,

  8. The carbon tax debate is a YAWN. The scheme will convert to an ETS and will be done with.

    If Abbott persists with abolishing the ETS and wins the numbers in the new Senate – well good luck to him.

    I do think Abbott will win support in the new Senate to abolish the mining tax. And what timing?

    Demand for resources is tipped to boom again soon, mining stock prices are moving straight north – just when the mining tax will be scrapped.

    Beautiful 😈

  9. NathanA

    Interesting speech but whilst reading it i got to thinking part of Science problem might be that it is good at highlighting problems but seems unable to offer solutions.

    In that speech the claim was made that Australia could never be the world’s food bowl, no attempt was was made to suggest possible solutions to land use that could benefit both the environment and increase yields.

    Maybe Science needs to develop more positive outlook rather than just finding problems.

    I know that might be simplistic and narrow minded but maybe if Science could show alternatives that were more productive or over the issues then it may find those on the right more open.

  10. Centre

    Looking at the Chinese economy i don’t see any pick up in demand for our minerals.

    It might be a smart move to pull back on production for the next year or two as the global economy goes though a stable phase.

  11. Yes well you may not see any pick, but apparently some (who put there money where there mouth is) do.

    I think I’d be trusting the BHP management OK in what they do with their production.

  12. Centre

    Yes BHP might be seeing an increase in demand but as Treasury found BHP and others have previously overstated their forecasts.

  13. mexicanbeemer

    I can see your point, but I think scientists can be guilty of being too positive about the results of their work. Often, when justifying public investment in science, we talk about the discoveries that lead to cures for cancers and technology such as Wi-Fi. However, using the scientific process in public policy is also important, whether it be in reducing smoking rates, preventing the spread of HIV or taking lead out of petrol. These examples have led to very real differences for many, many people, and we should be prepared to stand up for this type of interactions between science and public policy

  14. [Any sign yet of the ABC prefacing nearly all of its stories with, “The Federal Opposition says…”?]

    Not since the Labor leader was elected.

  15. Nop, Treasury did not find that BHP have overstated their forecasts.

    Do you know what I was tipped for the BHP share price in 2014?

    They might nearly perform as well as a certain gaming company that’s going to be doing some collecting from our Mexican state soon 😉

  16. NathanA

    Absolutely, Science does have an important role as a key stakeholder.


    If i recall after the last budget the Treasury released a report into its forecast and one of its observations was that the mining sector had not achieved its earlier forecast.

    BHP as a stock is an interesting one, its share price is trending up, its latest reports to the market look positive.

    Do you think it will reach the $40 mark or are you tipping higher.

  17. [Much of modern Australia does not seem overly exercised by such notions. Today the Government confirmed it will retain the $1.8 billion fringe benefits tax exemption for cars bought through salary packaging. It is a straight-out subsidy.]

    $1.8 billion dollars to save a 6 billion dollar industry?

  18. beemer

    I think that the big mining coys may had overstated their revenue projections for just one accounting period. Treasury not BHP got it wrong!

    BHP share price? I’ve ben tipped mid to high $40s with 80% probability.

  19. fess

    I’ve seen quite a few IPA shills complaining about the Libs recently. BOF seems particularly unpopular but Abbott has been criticised too.

    They seem disappointed that he’s basically waving most Labor stuff through and has no plans.

  20. Somebody the other day was asking why the Coalition was introducing TPV’s if they were processing all future illegals offshore. As pointed out, commonsense tells you it’s for the 30,000+ people Labor have brought in on bridging Visas that the Coalition now need to deal with.

    Heres the bit from last weeks Op Sov Bords Presser confirming it:
    [Journalist: Is there a plan for the asylum seekers in the community whose bridging visas have expired or are soon to expire?

    Scott Morrison: For those on bridging visas, well, they will be moved on to a renewal of a bridging visa until their processing has got to a point of completion.

    Journalist: And what about people who’s in the – who are in the community with expired visas?

    Scott Morrison: Well, we would be looking to renew those visas at an early opportunity.

    Journalist: Would you consider using TPVs?

    Scott Morrison: No. TPVs and bridging visas are completely different. Temporary protection visas are visas for that legacy caseload of around 33 000 who have been found to be refugees. People on bridging visas have not yet and may not be found to be refugees and so the conditions and the situations for both of those groups is completely different.]

    So basically the 33,000 illegals currently sitting in Australia brought in by Labor and sitting on bridging visas will have their claims processed under a bridging visa, those found not to be refugees will be kicked out, those found to be refugees will be put on TPV’s.

    So theres your answer.

  21. zoidlord,

    while your mob play word games, the coalition are stopping the boats.

    Never let naval gazing get in the way of progress mate.

  22. @Sean/635

    Your mob is playing with words, and your mob hasn’t stopped boats, they just stopped reporting it, because control freak Abbott.

    Oh, Labor are not my “mob”.

    So get over it.

  23. zoidlord,

    If conspiracy theories are what get you to sleep at night, good luck to you.

    Morrison reports, accurately, all boat arrivals once a week.

    There has been a 70% decrease in arrivals in the period of operation sovereign borders than from the same period previous.

    The difference is that Morrison has the resolve to stop the boats… he isn’t sitting around the Labor office navel gazing and wondering if he is using the political correct terminology that won’t offend the precious petals sipping their soy latte’s in inner city Melbourne.

    His only goal is to stop the boats using all means possible and he is doing that as we speak.

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