Newspoll: 50-50 in Western Australia

Colin Barnett’s personal ratings have bounced back after a fallow period in Newspoll, but state voting intention remains deadlocked on a two-party basis.

Now Western Australia gets the end-of-year quarterly state polling treatment from Newspoll, encompassing the October-December period from a sample of 863, and it finds two-party preferred unchanged on the previous two quarters at 50-50. Both major parties are up on the primary vote, the Coalition by one to 42% and Labor by two to 33%, with the Greens steady on 15% and others down three to 10%, no doubt reflecting the decline of Palmer United. The personal ratings are of interest in finding a strong rebound for Colin Barnett after persistently weak results throughout the current term, with his approval up five to 37% and disapproval down seven to 49%. However, Labor leader Mark McGowan has maintained his strong ratings, with approval up one to 48% and disapproval down two to 27%, and now holds the narrowest of leads as preferred premier at 40-39, down from 41-38 last time.

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.

29 comments on “Newspoll: 50-50 in Western Australia”

  1. As a West Australian, I strongly get the impression that Labor could very easily open up a strong lead once campaigning begins and people are reminded of just how many promises Barnett has broken (some of them more than once now – hi there, Ellenbrook). Labor will have an easier time doing this this time for three reasons:

    1) As mentioned, it’s not the first time Barnett has promised one thing before an election and done another afterward.

    2) At the last state election, a great many WA voters were waiting on their verandas with a baseball bat for the Gillard government of the day – that’s not the case now.

    3) Tony Abbott is very much on the nose, and Barnett’s lies will make it easier for Labor to link Barnett to Abbott.

    The next state election is very much Labor’s to win.

  2. [The next state election is very much Labor’s to win.]

    I agree I’m just not sure that the Party that put Joe Bullock into the senate is a party ready for Government, we will see.

  3. I’m far from being a fan of Bullock (who I knew when he was a right-wing student pollie) but I note:

    1. Bullock was handed his Senate position by the Left in a deal involving a State seat.

    2. Despite many predictions on PB of Bullock being Abbott’s secret weapon in the Senate, etc Bullock seems to have done nothing amiss in his first 6 months.

    3. Bullock is far closer to the Australian political mainstream than Pratt. Labor is a mainstream party. If one wants a party which cares more about LGBTs than the concerns of working class people, the Greens are there for you

    I thought Pratt was a good representative and hope to see her back. But, unfortunately, the Labor vote in the last election was always going to be very low. The Left tried to replicate Wong’s coup against Farrell in WA. It got ugly on both sides, and Bullock said some nasty things about Pratt.

    But the fact remains that Bullock was preselected in #1 spot through a cross-factional deal.

    Many on PB would seem to want to see a Labor Party with no Right faction and no machine politics. Such a party would end up fighting with the Greens for the 10-15 per cent of the vote that lives in terrace houses in the inner cities.

    Elections are won in the suburbs, and the people who live in those areas – while they are far more tolerant and open-minded than their counterparts a few decades back (except perhaps about boat people/Moslems) are not in any sense left-wing.

    So, to sum up, a party featuring people like Joe Bullock is more likely to get elected than one that doesn’t. Whether or not they are deemed to be “ready” is a moot point.

  4. From the perspective of a Labor supporter (even as one sympathetic to the Greens’ politics), I’m less concerned about Bullock’s personal social policy positions and more concerned about his apparent willingness to rubbish his fellow Labor candidates and the party as a whole when he runs his mouth off.

    The comments he made about Pratt alone should (in any fair world) see him disendorsed at the next Senate election where his term is up.

  5. Interesting result for McGowan here.

    If you care to listen to any of the talk-back gurus here and the local West, all you get from them is how hopeless MM is.

    This lot continually harp on the fact that “All McGowan does is criticise without coming up with any policies of his own” or wtte.

    The fact that we had a Federal Liberal leader who did nothing else but offer three word slogans is totally lost on them.

    According to all the West’s hacks, McGowan has not got a chance in 2017. We regularly get updates on how it is virtually impossible for McGowan to win back the seats lost by Labor as the last election (eg Morley) and the nigh on impossibility of any other seats.

    Clearly, by 2017 the Barnett government will be a bit long in the tooth and things are not exactly going along as well as they used to in Sangropia – despite the West newspaper (today included) desperately trying to talk the local economy up.

    Of course, the 23 billion??? and more, growing State deficit – and for obvious reasons – is never mentioned in the same tones as that for the Federal deficit under Labor or currently that under the Coalition.

    Mind you, the electorate here still can’t quite get the good times might be over.

    By 2017, this might not be the case.

  6. [But the fact remains that Bullock was preselected in #1 spot through a cross-factional deal.]

    Yeah and that is exactly my problem, they didn’t select the best candidate they selected the actual powerbroker whose right wing views are about his most attractive feature and deserved the low vote they got.

  7. 1

    2) & 3) WA now has a fixed 4 year term and the next WA election is not due until early 2017, after the Next Commonwealth Election. Shorten may well have replaced Abbott as PM by then.

  8. The idea that Bullock is ideologically representative of anyone under nursing-home age is laughable. His views are wildly out of line with a good 70% of the population (the vast majority of them being people who vote or preference Labor), as was obviously made clear when his candidacy trashed the Labor vote and cost them a safe Senate seat.

    I’m pretty surprised at McGowan’s relatively high ratings in this poll because no one I know on any side of politics can stand him. I still feel like Barnett will ultimately fall over of his own accord, for reasons already illustrated here, but that his and the Liberals’ best asset is Labor hanging on to McGowan.

    I think it’s unfortunate that the Labor frontbench gets a bit starved of media airtime, because I’d love to see some informed preferred leader polling versus Cook, Tinley and Wyatt.

  9. (Also undermining the “but Bullock is secretly representative of the working-class!” argument should be his unique success in 1994 in being the only Labor candidate in modern history to lose the state seat containing Midland.)

  10. On the other hand, those who subscribe to the “governments lose office rather than oppositions win them” view, would see nothing wrong in McGowan hanging on and just being there.

    Isn’t this what Federal Labor is currently on about with Shorten?

    I think the recent Victorian experience tends to reinforce the “governments lose” view.

    There are a few other factors for 2017 – the local coalition will be quite long on the tooth; Barnett, if he is still there, will not stay for another term – hence the pressing need for the Liberals to find a new leader and finally, either Abbott just hanging on or going down in 2016 will still be a plus for local WA Labor.

    I don’t think it has dawned on many here in WA that the boom is really over.

    Somebody will have to cop the blame and by 2017, the coalition will be into its seventh or eighth year of government with nobody to blame locally or Federally.

    Goodness only knows how big the deficit will be by then – especially if iron ore prices remain low.

  11. Based on the libs primary vote without the. Nats it looks about 53-47 in the metro area to labor.. This would just about deliver enough seats for Government wouldn’t it.?

  12. [Bullock is far closer to the Australian political mainstream than Pratt.]

    That’s at best arguable, I think. No doubt there is such a thing as a conservative working class, but the liberal positions on social issues these days are almost invariably the majority ones.

    One of the most interesting phenomena to emerge from polling over the past year has been that the big chunk of the Labor vote that transferred to the Greens in Western Australia at the time of the special Senate election has stayed there (whereas the spike to Palmer United at the same time has vanished into the ether). There was a column by Joe Spagnolo last week portending trouble for McGowan, which informed us that “hard-nosed Labor MPs and backers believe the only real statistic to quote is the primary vote”. If that statement makes any sense at all, it only does so to the extent that it’s the only statistic that helps serve the cause of undermining McGowan – when in fact, it’s very likely a by-product of circumstances beyond his control.

  13. Labour in WA will get nowhere till there is a massive clean out of the failures who stuffed up the last Labour Govt,all of em are well past their use by date and goes for Perths own version of Sussex st.
    The people running the party are still living in 1958 also the usual suspects Stokes Ch7,the West Aust,Murdoch Sundery Slimes you dont get a lot of alternative views in Perth Radio,TV and Papers stick with Liberals.

  14. Meher Baba,

    [Bullock is far closer to the Australian political mainstream than Pratt. Labor is a mainstream party. If one wants a party which cares more about LGBTs than the concerns of working class people, the Greens are there for you]

    By what metric is Bullock a better advocate for the “working class” than Pratt? Are LGBT people somehow held loftily separate from such concerns as access to education, healthcare and workplace conditions – or indeed the economy in general? It reminds me of some conservatives who agonise over the “left” abandoning “working class morals” in favour of support of multiculturalism and tolerance (not that I’m saying you hold that view in particular). It always made me think that the term “working class” means absolutely nothing if it doesn’t include the largely non-white working poor.

  15. “Political mainstream” is a cowardly term used by some hacks who are either afraid of spending political capital or just want to protect their social or political privilege.

    The ALP is about standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. This includes challenging social, political and institutional oppression and shattering privilege. Until the LGBT community can live equally with their hetero peers, without fear of prejudice, we have a responsibility to fight for them.

    It dismays me that there are some in the ALP who think the line has been drawn in the sand and all the important battles have been won and it’s now about defending the status quo and the privilege they have. It’s not. The battle continues, it’s just its lines shift.

    Anyway, I think you’ll find that mainstream Australia kinda supports equality for the LGBT community nowadays (at least every bit of polling from the last few years suggests that) but that shouldn’t matter – we should be fighting the fight, regardless.

    And this isn’t a “Trot” thing or whatever kneejerk response some of you will cough up, it’s a principle thing that I can guarantee many on both sides of the ALP factional divide are in complete agreement on.

  16. Not a massive fan of either Pratt or Bullock. Neither of them are stars and Labor should have used the number one senate spot to get a genuine talent to Canberra (given that the lower house is such a waste land for us over here.

    I find the defence of Pratt a little strange. Nothing wrong with having someone who’s passionate about LGBT issues as a Senator but the only time Pratt ever seemed to do anything was when it was about LGBT issues or a story about her own struggles to become a parent. No comparison between Pratt and Wong, who’s been a standout performer across a range of issues.

  17. Carey @ @0,

    What are you on, and where do I get some? The ALP has always been a socially-conservative Party, intent upon protecting their support base (initially the blue-collar union workers, nowadays white-collar Dilbert-type workers) from the evils of social progress.

    From the White Australia Policy to refugee policy, the ALP has consistently maintained an exclusionary stance on what it meant to be Australian, or deserve equal treatment from the Australian government, or to otherwise be “okker” in their eyes.

    Their one saving grace – economic populism/social democracy – has been all but obliterated by the money-men who now control the ALP wholesale, leading it further and further into the sticky webs of neoliberal economics (complete with massive structural unemployment to keep wages down, an eroded safety net and a governmental approach centered around looking after the rich first, last and always).

    Since the Silver Bodgie got in, the ALP has been steadily crumbled away to a wan shadow of its former self. They’ve drifted so far to the Right that their great past leaders (Curtin, Chifley, Whitlam) would hang their heads in shame to see the spineless bunch of right-wing hacks that the parliamentary ALP has become.

    I used to vote ALP – no more. Not until they rid themselves of the disease of neoliberalism.

  18. The next state election will be a tough one for Labor. The political climate of the time made the 2013 Poll a nightmare for them, and although the factors which were at play then are unlikely to be replicated in 2017, there will still be challenges.

    Firstly, they copped some very nasty swings last time around and seats such as Balcatta, Mt Lawley and Joondalup are now very firmly in the Liberal column. A lot of voters in these seats will need to switch sides to turn these around.

    Secondly, Labor were lucky to hold on in Albany and Collie Preston, and if the sitting members don’t recontest here (which seems fairly likely) they will be almost impossible for Labor to hold.

    Thirdly, former heartland seats like Perth and Belmont were lost, so some work will need to be done in unseating sophomore Liberal candidates next time round.

    Fourthly, the local media is not particularly favourable to the ALP. Anyone in any don’t about this should check out the Facebook and twitter pages of a number of TheWest Australian journalists.

  19. Simon Barry @21:

    I personally find Pratt to have been an above-average performer in Parliament, but that’s a matter of personal perspective.

    What isn’t a matter of personal perspective is the utter, objective idiocy of keeping the #1 place on the bastard who badmouthed the party. His screed to the Dawson Society, attacking Sen. Pratt (a -sitting member- for his own party) was beyond inexcusable, and should have gotten him dumped the second it came out in public.

    And for those who claim it’s “not mainstream”, I may remind you that Ronald Reagan (who, for all his faults, understood how the public worked) instituted the 11th Commandment in politics: “Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow [party name – in this case, Laborite].”

  20. Matt @24.

    Agreed. Bullock carried on like a pork chop and didn’t deserve number 1. Would have almost been better off keeping Bishop in the Senate…which is saying something as he was hardly a stellar performer!

  21. 24

    It was impossible to dump Bullock when it came out the day before the election. Rupert`s lot, who published it the day before the election, had likely know about it for some time, had they published it in a more timely manner (like before the close of nominations) then Bullock could have been dumped and the ALP would likely have been able to win 2 seats (at Liberal expense). The timing of publication looks like it was a deliberate exercise in harming that ALP and causing a worse Senate.

  22. Tom @26:

    I thought that the ALP knew about the speeches in Nov 13, and tried to just keep it quiet. Not the worst thing to do, but it didn’t work for them.

    And yes, the Murdocracy screwed them royally. They always do.

  23. The 50/50 isn’t glowing result when the primary vote is 33%. Labor is not going to win on 33% and 40% is realistic number to win government. Even Julia Gillard who barely dragged Labor over line in 2010 needed the support of independents when the primary vote was 38%.

    Some in the Labor party believe this year is make or break for Mark McGowan. The idea has been floated of recruiting Stephen Smith in a bye-election to lead the party. For WA Labor and their standing they have to consider all options.

  24. @ David, 28

    Perhaps, but the Greens didn’t poll 15% at the 2010 federal election either.

    I think if the Labor + Greens combined primary vote gets to 50% (48% at the moment), Labor could win the lower house. The upper house will be a mess, however – I wouldn’t be surprised if we had a result like Victoria’s.

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