Morgan: 57.5-42.5 to Labor

Polling conducted over the past two weekends finds the Abbott government not unexpectedly going from very bad to worse.

I wouldn’t normally lead with a Morgan poll so soon after a Newspoll result, but today of course is a special occasion (for future generations who might happen to be reading this, Tony Abbott today beat off a spill motion by the unconvincing margin of 61 to 39). After conducting an unusual poll last time in which the field work period was extended and the surveying limited to a single weekend, this is back to the usual Roy Morgan practice of combining face-to-face and SMS polling from two weeks, with field work conducted only on Saturdays and Sundays, with a sample of around 3000 (2939 to be precise about it). So the poll was half conducted in the knowledge that a spill was imminent, and half not.

On the primary vote, there has been a straight two-point shift from the Coalition to Labor since the previous poll, which was conducted from January 23-27, with Australia Day and the Prince Philip knighthood having landed on January 26. This puts Labor on 41.5% and the Coalition on 35.5%, with the Greens steady on 12% and Palmer United down one to 2%. A slightly better flow of preferences for the Coalition blunts the impact a little on the headline respondent-allocated two-party figure, on which Labor’s lead is up from 56.5-43.5 to 57.5 to 42.5. The move is a little bigger on previous election preferences, from 55.5-44.5 to 57-43. Tomorrow’s Essential Research should complete the cycle of pre-spill opinion polling, and I’m well and truly back in my old routine of updating BludgerTrack overnight on Wednesday/Thursday.

UPDATE (Essential Research): Essential Research’s reputation for stability emerges unharmed with another 54-46 reading this week, with the Coalition up a point to 39%, Labor steady on 41%, the Greens up one to 10% and Palmer United steady on 3%. It’s a different story on the monthly reading of Tony Abbott’s leadership ratings, with approval down eight to 27% and disapproval up nine to 62%. However, Bill Shorten’s position has also sharply worsened, with approval down six to 33% and disapproval up five to 38%. Given this is nowhere reflected in other polling, one might surmise that Essential has hit bad samples for Labor over consecutive weeks. Shorten’s lead as preferred prime minister is nonetheless out from 37-35 to 39-31.

Other questions find 59% approval for the government dropping its paid parental leave scheme versus 25% for disapprove; 59% support for same-sex marriage, up four since December, with 28% opposed, down four; 26% saying support for same-sex marriage might favourably influence vote choice, 19% saying it would do so unfavourably, and 48% saying it would make no difference; 44% favouring a negative response to government retention of personal data and information against 38% for a positive one; and a suite of questions on privatisation that do a fair bit to explain what happened to Campbell Newman.

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.

1,707 comments on “Morgan: 57.5-42.5 to Labor”

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  1. I don’t think, for example, that it would be too hard to sell to Australians the idea that we shouldn’t spend $35 billion on fighter jets that don’t even work properly.

  2. [rossmcg

    Posted Wednesday, February 11, 2015 at 10:24 pm | Permalink


    George Pell might once have been a candidate for one of Abbott’s knighthoods.

    Not any more

    I didn’t realise Abbott applied a good character test, Sir Prince.

  3. I’m not one of the green “believers” that think that if we’re nice to everyone, they’re all going to be nice back. Australia can afford a well equipped army, and part of that army is a competitive air-force. It is the greens defense wonkiness that makes me think they don’t do government. I’m totally on-board with their social issues, and for addressing climate change, but mung beans are no excuse for fighter jets when push comes to shove, and defense is all about making sure you can push when you’re shoved.

    Again, these are just some of the ways that any debt we have can be addressed, and it simply isn’t that a major issue. I agree on negative gearing. It should only apply to new builds, and if you simply grandfather in all existing properties, or even have a gradual reduction over time, I’m all for it. I also agree that super contributions should be capped.

    But the best thing this government could do, would be to borrow and to build infrastructure. Debt is so cheap right now, it is a once in a generation opportunity, and funds would be crawling over one another in order to lend money to create productive assets. It makes jobs in the building, it increases productivity, it makes our cities and regional areas more able to sustain larger populations, and all of those things increase revenue and decrease debt. And where do you think that money that is borrowed is spent? In Australia, to pay Australians to do the work that subsequently pay taxes.

    Australia simply doesn’t have a debt problem. Well it does… it has a problem of people not understanding debt. Borrowing to increase productivity is the best possible use for debt, which has been used time and time again in Australias past to build massive infrastructure that has changed our society for the better. We should be doing more of it.

  4. @ privi izumo, 1653

    I’m not a “green believer” (I’m a member of the ALP, after all), but my problem with the F-35s is chiefly that they don’t work properly.

    I have no problem with us acquiring other, more effective fighters such as the Eurofighter or more F/A-18s, especially if it’s going to be cheaper.

    After all, there is only one country that we really need air superiority over on our own – Indonesia… and we already have that without the F-35s (we have more F/A-18s than the Indonesians have combat-capable fighters in general, and the F/A-18 is better than all of their planes).

    If we got into a scrap with, say, Russia or China, having F-35s (even if they worked as promised) wouldn’t help against the kind of numbers we’d be facing.

  5. Bemused @1629:

    [The argument re aging population is that there won’t be enough people in the workforce to support the rest.

    Older people WILL be able to get jobs in such circumstances.

    I am sorry this is too difficult for Greens to comprehend.]

    You seem to be deliberately misunderstanding me. There aren’t enough jobs for the people officially in the workforce now – let alone people who have been discouraged out of the workforce (back to homemaker partners, or young people in their parents’ homes, or early retirees etc.)…most official statements re: labour under-utilization put it at ~14-16% of the workforce now. I’ve seen unofficial estimates that put it as high as 20% of the workforce.

    …How in Dog’s name do you think that adding more people to the workforce will address that issue?

    I’m sorry that a Laborite simply can’t understand that adding more supply to an already oversupplied market (labour, ironically!) won’t do a blasted thing to address the oversupply!

  6. Alias @1648:

    Not as badly as if they propose a GST hike. All 5 of those measures can be sold to the electorate (factually) on the basis that they’re either (a) luxuries to be purchased when we can afford it (the F-35s) or (b) rorts that corporations and the rich are using to skate off paying taxes.

    Hiking the GST will hurt everyone.

  7. @ Matt, 1656

    If anything, we should be talking about cutting the GST to release more disposable income into the economy and stimulate consumer demand.

  8. [1607

    privi izumo.. You’re right there is no debt problem]

    Maybe not yet. But there is a structural imbalance problem. This economy dis-saves (runs a capital account surplus / current account deficit). This has not been a big problem in recent years because of the inflow of capital to finance the resources boom. These inflows have added to our future income so should be self-liquidating; and they also financed an expansion in the economy and supported our past fiscal balances.

    However, even though investment-related capital inflows are receding and our exports have been growing, our demand for foreign capital is still ticking up. That is, we are accepting the savings of other economies – especially from Europe and Asia (China) – to fund our recurrent expenditures. As the speculative property boom rolls on and the public sector deficit widens, inflows of external capital will certainly increase.

    This is inherently unstable. It means we are consuming more and saving less (and investing less well) than we otherwise would. Considering the altitude of the property market, the closest example to our current situation is the 1890s, when Australia experienced its worst ever property- and foreign investment-related financial crash and its darkest depression.

    The orthodox policy reaction to the imbalances we can now observe is re-position the economy so that the balance of savings/dis-savings shifts towards neutral. This means consumption has to fall and savings – the aggregate of private and public savings – must rise.

    To protect employment from a fall in consumption, economies will seek to increase their net exports, usually by procuring a real exchange rate depreciation. Australia has been able to achieve this (without really trying very hard) by increasing commodity sales to China, but this motor is now slowing very quickly and is likely to soon start to reverse.

    Quite obviously, not all economies can expand their net exports to each other at the same time. In the years prior to the GFC, this did not matter much. World trade grew very strongly for many decades – far more strongly than GDP – and free capital flows meant that imbalances could be and were sustained for many years, even at extreme levels.

    It was recycled capital associated with trans-border investment flows and trade imbalances that financed the global booms in real estate in the decade leading up to the GFC. Similar imbalances are now financing both the current speculative run in land in Australia and the Commonwealth budget deficit – a deficit that is growing even faster than Sydney land is rising in price.

    The pressure created by global sectoral/trade imbalances, fiscal restraint and, perversely, financial expansion, is now forcing nearly every economy to try to re-balance their savings/consumption by increasing their net exports – by harvesting each others’ demand.

    It is this competitive pressure that is impelling excess production and the consequent deflationary cycles in industrial economies. We can see this very clearly in our own bulk commodity industries, where declines in prices are driving increased production as firms seek to operate at their lowest cost points and to maximise revenue, even though profit margins may be cut to nil or to negative levels.

    Australia has to figure out what it is going to do to respond to this situation.

    How can we drive domestically-oriented growth at a rate that exceeds the growth rate in demand for foreign capital? What settings do we need to adopt to tune our savings and consumption, our investment and real (exchange rate adjusted) wages so that the economy will grow in a balanced way?

    How can we re-set our fiscal and monetary frameworks so that we can meet our social income/spending, public and private investment, employment, financial stability and national savings goals?

    These are complex and so far mostly little-discussed issues. But we will have to discuss them soon, if only because the Sydney housing market is on an historically huge tear and the deficit is getting worse all the time.

  9. [Arrnea Stormbringer

    Posted Thursday, February 12, 2015 at 12:56 am | Permalink

    @ Matt, 1656

    If anything, we should be talking about cutting the GST to release more disposable income into the economy and stimulate consumer demand.

    One problem I see with that is how the States deal with reduced disbursements.

  10. privi izumo:

    Let me tell you some things about the F-35s, son:

    First, they’re six years late (and counting) on deployment. At the rate things are going, by the time they’re finally ready to be deployed, they’ll be obsolete!

    Second, we’re not even getting the top-line version. Per Jane’s, as well as the Pentagon spokesman for the program, we’re only getting a downgraded “export-version” of the F-35.

    Third, the cost is staggering – $140 million per aircraft! That’s a lot of money to spend on a years-late, second-rate aircraft.

    Fourth, we won’t – despite buying the damn things – be able to get copies of the operating software for the onboard systems – presumably, if there’re bugs, we’ll have to call out Lockheed Martin techs to deal with them. I’m sure you can see the problems with this…

    Fifth, even the Pentagon – that well-known haven of procurement efficiency – is getting frustrated with Lockheed Martin’s slowness and expense wrt the project.

    Sixth, and worst of all, the F-35 tries to be a bit of everything. Part air superiority fighter, part bomber, part recon…it fails at all three at once!

    It’s a bloody awful choice for all of those reasons and many more – a flawed concept that’s simply not getting anywhere. Time to pull the plug and get the f**k out of it.

    Australia can afford a well-equipped defence force (including RAAF) – but the F-35 simply isn’t value for money.

  11. @ Barney in Saigon, 1659

    This is a problem that cuts to the core of state-federal relations – and there are two solutions:

    1) Move more responsibilities (eg. health, education) from the States to the Feds, or
    2) Entrench those responsibilities with the States and allow them to levy some of their own other taxes (with corresponding deductions in federal taxation).

    I personally believe #1 is the better option in today’s world, but either one would solve the problem – sitting on the fence will just make it worse.

  12. Barney @1659:

    I’m ambivalent about the idea of cutting the GST, but if I was told to, I’d make up the lost GST revenue to the States with general purpose grants. That way, Canberra foots the bill and can raise revenue in other ways to make up for it.

  13. I suppose there’s a third option – transfer payments from the federal government to the states, drawn from income taxation.

  14. [1657
    Arrnea Stormbringer

    If anything, we should be talking about cutting the GST to release more disposable income into the economy and stimulate consumer demand.]

    The States are already under-funded.

    What we have in this economy is an excess of private savings by the wealthy (who mis-allocate their capital, mainly by speculating in land and equities) and inadequate savings by the public sector. We should re-order national savings. Simple.

  15. Briefly @1658:

    Sounds like one solution would be to drop the dollar somewhat to improve the terms of trade…the question would be how to do it with a minimum of disruption.

    But one thing’s pretty clear: the whole world can’t go on a tear of “beggar-thy-neighbour” policies…that way, we -all- end up as beggars. So any response should be done carefully, moderately and in consultation with our major trading partners, to ensure that we don’t slide into round after round of protectionism for it’s own sake…

  16. Briefly @1665:

    Speculation in land and equities, hmm? That should be simple enough – second-year econs teaches that an antidote to speculation is a transactions tax.

    0.5%-1% transactions tax on the share market, and ease out negative gearing for established real estate (perhaps remove it entirely on investment properties?)…how would those steps strike you?

  17. @ briefly, 1665

    See my posts at 1661 and 1663. The difference can be made up to the States, but the cost-of-living relief a GST cut would yield is very real – and it would be felt most by the poorest in the community.

  18. @ Matt, 1667

    I’d support a transactions tax, but I’d put it a fair bit lower than 0.5% to start with (perhaps 0.05%). You can ratchet it up later if you have to.

  19. Matt, in matters of defense, I think you really need to read a bit more widely, and realize that this is not a five, or even ten year plan, but a much longer one.

    The F-35B is a vertical lift jet, and the white-paper is essentially saying that Australia is on the very long path (again) to developing a military projection capability that hasn’t existed since the decommissioning of the HMAS Melbourne in 1982. As in, we will have ships and jets that can be utilized anywhere, not just in Indonesia. Part of that puzzle is the acquisition of a fighter jet capable of taking off and landing on Canberra class assault ships, effectively turning them into air-craft carriers. Australia doesn’t currently have this capability, and it will fundamentally change how our military is perceived.

    It is a big strategic shift, and is commensurate with the responsibilities of our governments position in international affairs.

  20. I would also like to know against what hypothetical opponent would the Australian armed forces having carrier-based aircraft make an actual difference.

    Anyone with the tech to match us (Russia, China, maybe India eventually) is going to have a massive advantage in numbers, so what’s the point?

  21. AS : It has been a while since I read the response to the white-paper and the initial analysis of the purchase. I suspect that there will be several goes at this order before it is finally delivered, and we’re still not even sure what the A series will enable.

    Either way, strategically, Australia is building up its air-force, and these things don’t happen overnight. They also aren’t going to be finished by the time that our current government gets chucked out of office, and I think you can be pretty bloody sure that the acquisition of the aircraft or the relationship with the US isn’t going to be changed unless the project itself falls in a screaming heap in the US itself. Both parties are pretty much of the same thinking on this, because these requests are basically coming through from the military.

    The question I have is… when and where are we going to be building the air-craft carrier?

  22. 1672

    Aircraft carriers are easy targets for anti-shipping missiles. Anti-shipping missiles cost only a small fraction of large ships and thus it is easy for a nation state to afford to be able to fire enough of them at a ship to sink it, provided you have a source of missiles that does not stop when you most need them (like the Argentinians with their 5 Exocets in 1982), I would estimate.

  23. 1673

    The two new large helicopter ships we have bought from the Spanish are capable of being aircraft carriers (Spain uses theirs as aircraft carriers).

  24. @ Tom, 1674

    Precisely. The only countries we could go to war with where having such an aircraft carrier would conceivably help our operations are also countries that possess the ability to design, construct and launch large numbers of anti-ship missiles at them.

    It is an utterly wasted effort for Australia to try and duplicate the US naval doctrine of blue-water power-projection – we’re just not that big of a power.

    The first and foremost goal of the Australian armed forces should be defense of Australia itself. The F/A-18 does that job just fine – buy more of them if necessary.

    As for the F-35 project “falling in a screaming heap”, I’m pretty sure finding out that your plane won’t even be able to fire its gun when it enters service is a pretty epic fail. It’s not a question of whether the F-35 will be a failure, it’s a question of whether the US Government realises and acts on it before they’ve already built some God-awful number of the damned things.

  25. AS: The point is, with all defense things, is that you CAN do something if you need to. There are plenty of other countries in our region that might or might not go off the deep end.

    This is why Greens don’t do government. Strategic military investment is something takes concerted political will over extended periods of time and costs lots of money. When your defense policy is “be nice to everyone and they’ll be nice back” it doesn’t leave much room for discussion on how to build up your military in a responsible way. Australia has almost 25 million people now. By 2050 it is expected to have almost 40 million. We are lucky to have such a stable government, but over the space of 30 years, even once stable governments go bat-shit insane (take a bow Yugoslavia). When these things go pear-shaped, they go pear-shaped quickly, and it’s not responsible government to say “jeez, I wish we’d started our military build-up 15 years ago…”

  26. @ privi izumo, 1677

    Please stop conflating me with Greens defense policy. I’ve already acknowledged the need to invest in military development – I just don’t think the F-35 is the answer to that particular question.

    Buy more F/A-18s, buy the Eurofighter, buy the Gripen for all I care – just tell Lockheed Martin to shove their over-budget, behind-schedule, technically-crippled F-35 where the sun don’t shine.

  27. And looky here… look at all of the sudden military experts! Better make sure you’ve got a long-range fighter-bomber, and submarine support, if you want to bomb places in far off lands then, eh?

    I reckon you should either read about the subject through the defense white-papers, and analysis of military matters, or simply accept that you’re not military people, and really should rely upon expert opinion. THankfully, both of the parties that are actually capable of forming government at least have the understanding that it is best to ask good responsible military people that you trust (like that Sir Houston fella? He’s an air-guy right?) and then get the fuck out of their way so they can do their job.

  28. @ privi izumo, 1679

    I’ve been listening to the military talk on the F-35 coming out of the US – the overwhelming opinion is that the whole project is an ill-conceived, over-designed and under-delivering mess. It’s trying to do too many things and failing to be top-of-the-line on just about all of them.

    There are better options for all of the things that the F-35 is supposed to do.

  29. privi izumo @1673:

    The idea of the Canberra-class being pocket carriers is nice, until you remember that Defence specifically nixed that idea when it was floated. Given that you’d need to refit the Canberras for the purpose (they’re currently configured for large-scale troop deployment and support), it’s unlikely to happen, however much I’d like it to. And in any case, our contract is for the F-35A, not the F-35C – meaning we’d need to buy more of these white elephants if we wanted to play Battleships with them. And more supply vessels for extended deployments, and more surface and submarine escorts, and so on and so forth…

    It’s the absurdity of it that really gets to me. We have to “rebalance our economy” and “find savings in the public sector”…but not, apparently, when it comes to the most expensive aircraft in history! Talk about having it both ways!

  30. @ privi izumo, 1683

    With respect to Air Marshal Houston, his opinion quoted there is quite old – more recent developments in the F-35 program have cast serious doubt on the assumptions underpinning his argument there.

  31. > Matt : We have to “rebalance our economy” and “find savings in the public sector”

    Like I said, I think that’s BS. We don’t have a debt problem. We have structural things that we need to do in our economy, but for the most part it runs quite well. The things we really need to do is to stop giving money to people who already have it, and instead give it to people who need it. Negative gearing, tax concessions for superannuation to high-income earners, and the multitude of things that can be done with corporate tax…

    But what we can’t do is neglect our military, because it takes a long long time to build up capability, and when you need it, you’d better have done it, because it’ll be too late to do it quickly.

  32. privi izumo @1679:

    Whyever should we want to bomb far-off places? Are we an imperial power such as the USA, these days?

    No? Then we have no need for long-range bombers to defend Australia.

    Also, in reference to your @1677: Do kindly stop strawmanning me. I’m a Green, and I support strengthening and modernizing the military. I just don’t think that an ill-conceived, overdue, ridiculously expensive lemon of an aircraft is the way to go.

    If you want to strengthen the military, do something about their personnel retention problems. To start with, make their qualifications useable in civvy street again, and re-institute the military service pension after 20 years’ service – the Navy got about ten extra years out of my father on account of that pension.

  33. > AS: With respect to Air Marshal Houston, his opinion quoted there is quite old

    First, I would suggest actually reading what he wrote. The acquisition of the JSF has the same rationale today as it did then. The numbers are almost the same too.

    But more to the point, Angus Houston was still in a position to ask for the JSF when the order was made a few years ago. What… you reckon he changed his mind? That he thinks this is all just a big mistake?

  34. privi @1685: I agree – military capability is something you maintain and improve constantly, or you don’t have it. Which is why I’d support (among other things), building more ships for the RAN, improving personnel recruitment and retention rates to effectively crew all our combat units (Army, Navy and Air Force) and doing what we can to foster our own defence procurement industry.

    I just do not consider the F-35, in light of its cost overruns, its delays on completion and service entry, its many reported bugs and problems and its general uncertainty about what it is in the first place (trying to be everything at once is usually a very, very bad idea when it comes to combat aircraft – better to be a fighter or a bomber, not do a half-assed job of being both), to be the way for the RAAF to do that.

  35. > Matt: Whyever should we want to bomb far-off places? Are we an imperial power such as the USA, these days?

    > No? Then we have no need for long-range bombers to defend Australia.

    Green-speak. That’s why you guys don’t do government. You can’t think of a reason why military power would be required, and so you don’t see the need for an actual military. There are so many strategic situations that could necessitate the need for Australia to use military force in another place.

    Thankfully, no-one relies on the greens for strategic thinking in this regard.

    You know what’s weird? One of the greatest arguments for the adoption of ETS’s and the like is simply as a risk mitigation system. The “hey, what happens if you’re wrong about climate change.” thing. It’s a good argument, because it’s right. Even if you’re a rabid right-wing nut-job, you can still understand the concept of insurance, and that if you pay a little more now, you don’t have to pay as much then.

    If you could only apply that logic to military matters we’d be shweet.

  36. @ privi izumo

    First, I would suggest actually reading what he wrote. The acquisition of the JSF has the same rationale today as it did then. The numbers are almost the same too.

    I did read it, and while the needs of our air force are the same today as they were then, the JSF is not the same aircraft as it was then.

    I can’t say what (the now-retired) Air Marshal Houston might or might not think about the F-35 now, but I’d like to think that he’d take into account all the cost and schedule overruns, as well as the many technical problems the F-35 has picked up in the intervening years when formulating a revised opinion.

  37. As for the logic that military investment is (like an ETS) insurance against future possibilities, I absolutely agree. As I’ve said repeatedly, I don’t oppose military expenditure.

    What I oppose is white-elephant projects that will run over-budget, behind-schedule and leave us saddled with lemons for decades to come. We need to get the right planes for Australia, not whatever planes the US foists on us.

  38. briefly
    Posted Wednesday, February 11, 2015 at 11:41 pm | Permalink


    GST is levied on imports:

    GST, currently 10%, is calculated on the Customs Value of the goods, plus duty, plus transport and insurance combined.

    And the importing business deducts that from the GST bill as it has been paid (it is an input other than wages) and pays up the 10% they charge the customer.

    Now do a little thinking about what they have to charge the customer. If you are importing finished goods they have to add enough to cover a sales and distribution system + profit (which should be taxed); if they are converting the goods they have to charge enough to cover Australian wages.

    As I said, GST is a gold plated disincentive to hire people. Far worse than payroll tax.

  39. @ frednk, 1699

    Good read, that. Thanks for linking. Adds more fuel to the “the F-35 is an over-priced piece of rubbish that won’t even be better than its competitors from Russia and China” argument.

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