Newspoll: 54-46 to Labor in South Australia

Newspoll finds Jay Weatherill’s government confirming the dominance it has established in South Australia since its fortunate election win a year ago, although Liberal leader Steven Marshall’s personal ratings have recovered from a slump.

The Australian brings us the latest quarterly result of state voting intention from South Australia, which offers yet more bad news for a beleaguered Liberal Party. Jay Weatherill’s Labor government is credited with a two-party preferred lead of 54-46, up from 53-47 in the final quarter of last year. Given that the election dudded the Liberals by failing to give them a parliamentary majority despite a commanding win on the two-party vote, this amounts to a swing to Labor of 7%.

On the primary vote, Labor is up one on the previous poll to 36%, with the Liberals and Greens steady on 33% and 10%. “Others” has been an extremely popular option in both federal and state polling from South Australia of late, which I can only assume has something to do with Nick Xenophon’s efforts to assemble his own party. The combined others vote is at 21%, down a point on last time.

Despite the dismal result on voting intention, Liberal leader Steven Marshall has recorded a surprising surge in his personal ratings, with approval up six to 41% and disapproval down five to 37%. Jay Weatherill is respectively down three to 43% and one to 41%, and his lead as preferred premier is down slightly from 47-29 to 47-31. Hat tip: GhostWhoVotes.

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.

37 comments on “Newspoll: 54-46 to Labor in South Australia”

    [Newspoll: Weatherill forecast bright as Libs fail to make ground
    THE AUSTRALIAN APRIL 20, 2015 12:00AM
    Michael Owen SA Bureau Chief Adelaide

    The Labor government in South Australia, under an emboldened Premier in Jay Weatherill, is maintaining pressure on the leadership of Steven Marshall as it consolidates its Newspoll advantage over the Liberal Party.

    Mr Weatherill, a year after narrowly delivering Labor a fourth term in power, remains comfortably ahead as better premier. He does so while maintaining an ALP lead in Newspoll, which emerged in the July-to-­September survey and was built on in the last poll. Although this Newspoll is similar to the last one, taken ­between October and December, it appears that Labor’s support is trending upwards.

    Today’s Newspoll, conducted exclusively for The Australian ­between January and this month, reveals Labor is edging further ahead on a two-party-preferred basis to be leading the Liberals by 54 per cent to 46 per cent.

    This lead comes three years before the next election, due in March 2018, and springs from a two-point gap Labor opened in the July-to-­September survey last year, which was Labor’s first Newspoll lead in five years.

    Labor’s primary vote has risen from 35 per cent to 36 per cent, slightly above the 35.8 per cent at the state election on March 15 last year. Primary support for the Liberals remains unchanged at 33 per cent. This is down from a primary vote of 44.8 per cent ­recorded at the March election.

    With the Greens steady on 10 per cent, independent parties — including South Australian senator Nick Xenophon’s NXT — have benefited. Support for “others” sits at 21 per cent, double the election mark of 10.7 per cent.]
    [SA Liberals need a Marshall plan if they’re to turn the tide
    THE AUSTRALIAN APRIL 20, 2015 12:00AM
    Michael Owen SA Bureau Chief Adelaide

    It appears remarkable that South Australia’s fourth-term Labor government has opened up an eight-point lead in Newspoll over a Liberal opposition that has ­plenty to work with.]

  2. The Liberals here in SA are pathetic, and remarkably, if anything, the government seems top have got their second wind, for they are sailing along nicely.
    Despite their health cutbacks (neatly called ‘Transforming Health’) being as popular as clap, with the exception of the closure of the Daw Park Repatriation Hospital, it seems the other measures will be accepted by most punters as the opposition to the cutbacks has been weak and they’ve been outsmarted – and outspent – by the Government.
    Ironically, the Repat is in the electorate of Liberal turned ALP Government Independent Minister, Martin Hamilton-Smith, who, as a former Major in the SAS, is left in the awkward situation of defending the closure of a hospital specialising in caring for veterans.
    As one senior Liberal staffer confided to me this week, the Liberals will empty Fort Knox to displace him at the next election – just another distraction to the goal of winning marginal seats they need for Government.
    The Liberals are also back into navel gazing mode at the moment, looking for a replacement for their laughingly incompetent State Director, Geoff Greene, who “resigned” after barely over two years into his tenure, and after more gaffes than George W Bush on his 3rd bottle of red.
    There are many moments in his tenure with the SA Liberals he may wish to erase from his resume; chief amongst them paying for a working prostitute (don’t believe me? – to run as an Independent in a marginal seat on the issue of child protection, and then AUTHORISING her ads on radio which allegedly defamed Premier Weatherill so badly he is taking action:
    Unfortunately, it is far harder to attract the best talent to an employer who has such a consistently high rate of failure, so unless a political genius on the conservative side can be conned into accepting the poisoned chalice or they can find someone suitable on a 457 visa, expect more of the same.
    And whilst the Liberals are musing over this, there is chatter that two of their sitting MPs are thinking of quitting mid-term causing nasty by-elections; AND the Government is looking carefully into the matter of very shiny blue newly elected Liberal MP for Davenport, Sam Duluk, who it has been alleged, did not live in his nominated address for long enough to qualify for electoral enrolment, so we may be seeing a rerun on the Davenport by-election.
    My critique on the state of play for the others later.

  3. A terrible poll for the Liberals but not surprising. Weatherall has done what is needed and/or promised. Thanks to a string of incompetent federal ministers, notably a former Defence minister obsessed with building canoes, it has been very easy for Weatherall to highlight that SA’s economic woes are mainly due to the federal government.

    The money saved by Canberra in auto subsidies has not come back to SA – so no real help for manufacturing workers. Likewise with funding cuts for public schools and hospitals. Add to that bloody minded refusal to fund the finish of the rail electrification and Tony Abbott has done Adelaide no favours.

    The problem for the Liberals in SA is that the federal issues directly impact on State issues, and all negatively. With few mining royalties and Olympic Dam cancelled the SA economy has been in the doldrums for two years. The things the State government have done – Adelaide oval, events – have helped, but it is not enough. So yes the State Libs are idiots, but the federal ones have, incredibly, been even dumber.

  4. [If repeated at a General election this poll would mean Jai would for the first time win a popular majority.]

    And the 5th time that the useless Opposition failed to win a parliamentary majority.

  5. Solid result for Labor, showing the SA Liberals continue to be as hopeless as ever. With the Federal factors all in Labor’s favor and more internal problems for the SA Libs coming down the pipe, Weatherill should cruise along relatively untroubled to the next election in 2018 (provided, of course, a Labor government elected in 2016 or early 2017 doesn’t bollocks it up for them).

    Whether Labor wins the next state election there will, I think, have more to do with Nick Xenophon than with whatever mug is Liberal leader in SA at that time.

  6. Bit hard to know what to make of the vast Others vote in this poll apart from that the poll is lousy for the Liberals however it is sliced. Seems to be a lot of contamination caused by the Xenophon vote in the Senate and SA upper house.

  7. Kevin (#9), I agree a lot might be to do with Xenophon’s popularity but I think a bit of it also has to do with the state certainly getting tired of a 4 term government and wanting to go with someone else, just not the Liberals in their current shape.

  8. If the Legislative Council blocks major government bills, the Government should consider a double dissolution under section 41 of the South Australian Constitution (if they have a bill that meets the requirements).

    They may even decide to use the provision to add 2 extra members per Legislative Council district (the whole state being one district).

  9. A fair bit of federal noise in this poll, which is pretty much what Steven Marshall said on radio this morning, which I agree with. He then reverted to the rather silly argument put forward regularly by the state libs about the “unfair” electoral system in SA. It still hasn’t quite dawned on them that a majority of seats is where the action is at. Spending ridiculous amounts of money in seats like Enfield (deputy premier John Rau’s seat) was a good exemplar of how they wasted a large amount of money.

    I don’t think the libs are going to get much joy out of the redistribution either. It’s very hard to carve up the seats much differently in metro adelaide to the way they are now without having other adverse effects. The classic example is the Henley Beach centred electorate of Colton which the liberals have for years been arguing should be turned into a “coastal strip” electorate. This could be done, but the net result would almost certainly turn the seat of Morphett into a much more marginal one, and in a better election for the ALP might result in an ALP win. Whenever you change a seat somewhere, it will almost certainly significantly affect another Liberal seat elsewhere.

    The more significant issue the state ALP will have in the long run is what happens when fierce local campaigners in ultra marginals like Paul Caica, Steph Key, Frances Bedford etc decide to retire …

  10. I do wish the Libs would give up whinging on the election result.
    It reminds me of the English cricketers after losing a Test series or similar, and to the majority of the electorate it sounds like that too. I think even some of the faithful are bored with it.
    As much as Federal issues may be at play, the State Libs will (as opposed to ‘can’) not differentiate themselves from their Federal colleagues. Baird did to a fair degree, Barnett is turning it into a crusade, but Marshall will not bag the Fed Libs. I have no doubt Weatherill would bag the Federal ALP if he felt it necessary, without a second thought.
    The ALP are painting Marshall as weak, and succeeding.
    Another thing that concerns me with Marshall is that he looks like someone under incredible stress all the time, whilst Weatherill, even at worst, looks slightly ruffled, but usually calm and controlled.
    Marshall’s frown is frightening yet he has a lovely smile which is rarely seen. I get about a bit and have heard him speak and he is really good, but then wanders around afterwards by himself, with most hosts busy with the Premier or Government Ministers, or even the relevant Mayor. It isn’t a good look.

  11. Independently Thinking

    Whinging for 3 years worked for Abbott. So, obviously they will use that methid again. Bring out the hard hats and bicycles!

  12. It’ll be interesting to see how the polls are affected by any future change in leader and/or government Federally. I have absolutely no doubt there’s a lot of people turning away from the Liberals because they don’t trust Marshall to stand up to Tony Abbott.

    But Labor seem to be showing a safe pair of hands right now. The health changes aren’t popular, but I don’t know if they’re a vote changer right now. Labor’s attack ads against the Commonwealth for cutting long term funding have let them get away with it a bit, I think.

  13. pritu

    The Libs in SA do not have a sympathetic media (despite what may be said by those on the left) and if anything, thanks to superior ALP media manipulation, the Murdoch run Advertiser is generally quite reasonable or even easy on the government at times.Not that it was on the Federal ALP Government.

    One Liberal State MP told me after last year’s election that they wish The Advertiser was more like the Daily Telegraph to help the Libs.

    I doubt the State Libs will run a series of rallies with placards reading “Jay Weatherill – Martin Hamilton-Smith’s bitch” or “Away with Jay”. Won’t work in this town.

  14. Well of course in SA Labor has the considerable advantage of the fairness police to ensure electoral boundaries are “fair”. Surprise surprise those people deliver a majority on a vote of 47-53. What would Don Dunstan say where he alive?

  15. ESJ and all Liberal mates, read this sentence:


    Read it until you understand it. Having a 30% margin in Flinders or McKillop doesn’t mean much when you can’t win over the kind of voters who get in an anti-government mood whenever there’s a traffic jam.

    Also, the premier’s name is spelt “Jay”, with a Y for yellow. I’m not sure why you think your version is funny. It isn’t.

  16. ESJ can whinge and whine all he/she/it likes but no one but similarly deluded Liberals are listening. But if believing in fairy tales makes you feel better, then I am sure mummy will continue to read them to you when she tucks you in at night.

    The only hope for the Liberal Party to win Government is to run a marginal seat campaign in each winnable seat that is better than Labor’s. As evidenced by the Fisher by-election, they still haven’t learnt that lesson.

    Must tell a joke that came out the week after the Davenport by-election: How do get the Liberals to win a marginal seat in SA? Give them a safe Liberal seat to start with.

  17. I wouldn’t bother with ESJ. Every SA thread, she makes the exact same comment (verbatim) and every time gets sufficiently rebutted.

    It’s made clear, by both this and her subsequent stupid remark about the Playmander, that she’s hastily copying somebody else’s rhetoric but doesn’t actually have a clue what she’s talking about.

  18. The SA Liberals are the architects of their own misfortune. Poor campaign in marginal seats, and a leader who largely failed to cut through in the electorate cost them what very much seemed like an unlosable election. Marshall is no hero, he only ever shows up for 10 seconds on he news to critisise whatever Labor did that day, but he will likely stay on due to lack of any clear candidate to replace him.

    The Weatherill Government has made a few unpopular decisions in cuts to health and welfare, but they have don a decent job in explaining that the spending reductions had a lot to do with Abbott up in Canberra.

  19. Shameless lies to car workers in SA – pretending that Labor could save a car industry that was gone AND similar lies to submarine workers.

    SA needs a redeployment program for honest working class folk to Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne and away from the sinister machinations of SA Labor.

  20. Speaking of Liberal ineptitude, it has come to light that the Liberals are hatching a plan to try and vacate a safe seat (probably Morphett) for Hindmarsh MP Matt Williams, lest he lose his seat at the next federal election (a strong probability, considering he won the seat by <2% in a landslide election in a state where the Abbott Government is sinking in the polls.)

    This, in itself, is not a stupid plan. The old guard needs to be cleaned out from the Liberal safe seats and Williams is a more talented member of their team. The problem for them is the timing of this is embarrassing, as it looks like they've already given up on the seat. Considering there'd be around a year and a half or so between the next federal election and the next state election, there's no reason they couldn't have waited until after Williams lost (if he does of course) before hatching said plans, just so it doesn't look so defeatist.

    This also brings up a problem that the Liberals do have (and I do know Labor can be guilty of this too; just it seems to be hurting the Liberals more) is that their talented members are in their marginals, whereas the seat warmers are in their safe seats. I mean, if this kind of polling holds until the next state election, the Libs would stand to lose several of its next generation of talent (including Marshall himself, if he's still around.)

  21. [all this from the party of the Wortleys!]

    Indeed. And while I am sure you copied and pasted that comment from your handler with no actual understanding of what it means, it is still a fair cop.

    One that I (probably too briefly) alluded to in my previous post.

    It is a problem that plagues any party driven by rigid factionalism and closed door deals.

    However, your knee-jerk, tribalistic, tu quoque argument doesn’t actually address the fact that it is especially crippling to the SA Libs at the moment. An observation made by many, not just the ALP.

  22. 22

    The Playmander point is actually valid, to a point. The ALP winning on minority 2PP is not entirely democratic. It is entirely legal, just like the Playmander election victories, but shows the need for electoral reform. Just because someone lives in a safe seat does not mean that their vote should be less influential in determining the government.

    It I was the SA Liberals I would either go for a directly elected premier (and probably deputy premier as well, to increase the chances of a majority) or a system of 2PP MMP. Or even both. 2PP MMP would work by having the proportional element based on the 2PP not the primary vote but on the 2PP. It may well be an overhang mandate only system.

  23. @ Tom, 28

    A mixed-member proportional system based on 2PP (as opposed to primary vote) would effectively amount to formally codifying Labor and Liberal as the only two parties allowed to win seats.

    A poor outcome, to say the least. If you’re going to do MMP, do it right.

    Another option for Tasmania would be something like Tasmania’s lower-house Hare-Clark system.

  24. Imagine if the next SA election was run NZ MMP-style. There’d be a real possibility of Nick Xenophon’s group having a plurality, and him getting to decide who out of Weatherill and (insert Lib redshirt here) get to be deputy premier under him.

    Tas-style Hare-Clark would only work in one sense: ease of comparing results when SA and Tas share election dates, for the sake of Antony Green’s few remaining hairs. Try dividing SA into five regions; you’ll eand up with northern Adelaide, southern Adelaide, eastern Adelaide / hills, the riverland / south east, and everything else (bordering three states and a territory). Tassie has Lyons, an “everything else” region, but you can drive across it in a few hours. Eucla to Broken Hill is slightly larger.

    Any kind of electoral reform in either SA or WA needs to focus on two things which aren’t commonly found in the rest of the world: (a) a large majority of the state living in the capital city, with the second largest city a couple of orders of magnitude behind; and (b) the sheer size of the place. It’s a tricky problem, and very unique to this part of the world.

  25. 28,

    But how would the system deal with election results in which a 2PP result is effectively more academic than useful – which has increasingly become the case across the country.

    For example, for all the major parties may complain about microparties winning Senate seats, it was only possible because the combined Coalition/Labor/Greens vote was so low.

  26. 29

    I was talking from my hypothetical perspective if I was the SA Liberals.

    It would not disallow minor parties and independents from winning seats. It could even be set up so that if a party wins a seat or two (or more), it gets proportionally elected seats based on its proportion of the 3PP (if it has fewer seats than its proportion of the seats would warrant).

    It would be an improvement on the current system because the voters in safe seats would have a similar influence over who the government is as the marginal seat voters.

    The Liberals may not want the extra competition that a primary proportional system would give them. But not as unlikely to want it as the ALP, who would have a hard time forming government without the Greens.

    I am in favour of Hare-Clark for Tasmania.

  27. 30

    Running for the SA Parliament would require Xenophon to quite the Senate, where he a a major figure in the balance of power. Would he want state government, with all its responsibilities and political pitfalls and short political life span, ahead of being a major national figure using the model he has proven himself so successful at?

    Under Hare-Clark SA would be divided into more than 5 electorates. It would be either seven 7-member electorates or nine or eleven 5-member electorates. If it was 11 electorates, the Commonwealth electoral boundaries could be used (like in Tasmania) but there would, due to South Australia`s more variable Commonwealth electorate number, be some risk in that.

  28. 31

    Under this system, the 2PP would not be academic. It would be one of the major factors in deciding the shape of parliament.

  29. I for one would gladly welcome the reign of Premier Xenophon. In all seriousness, I can’t see any scenario in which both major parties would support the same changed system

  30. I couldn’t give a damn what the Liberals’ perspective on the issue is and no, it is not comparable to the Playmander at all. The Playmander was an intentional malapportionment that, while starting with good intentions, hung around because it gave one side an unnatural advantageous position.

    The disparity in the current system is not due to a malapportionment. Adelaide has the overwhelming majority of seats because that’s where everybody lives. The Liberals only won 48% of the 2PP vote in Adelaide but won almost two-thirds of the rest of SA. They didn’t lose because of cheating or some magical rule that makes marginals in the Adelaide suburb really difficult to take, they lost because they were LAZY. They expected the win to be handed to them on a plate. I recall a Liberal supporter on here mocking everybody for having the audacity to suggest the thing will even be close, telling us to “expect a 1993-like result” – this was the lazy hubris they entered with and they paid for it.

    It was democratic because the voters in the marginal seats VOTED, fairly and squarely. End of story. They were begging to be picked off but the Liberals just expected them to fall, instead preparing for their “1993-like seat windfall.”

    Now, I will quickly add that I don’t think all Liberal complaints are invalid. I think the anti-Habib flyers were very dodgy but I draw the line at complaints about the system just because they refuse to adapt to it, rather than demanding it adapt to them.

    I personally welcome changes to the system. I advocate a 7×7 Hare-Clark style system. But I do so because I want to better the system, not because I want the system to change to suit a particular side of the debate. Similarly, I find the counter-argument that changing the system will cause a certain party or group to have balance of power just as stupid.

    Until such changes occur, if they ever do, The Liberals need to work with the system that’s in place, if they want to win. It’s not a big ask, they just need to actually put effort into their campaigns and do so in the right places (i.e. Adelaide suburbs) and not expect seats to roll in on the back of a milquetoast small-target campaign. They are not the natural party of government here, they should stop acting like it.

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