BludgerTrack: 51.3-48.7 to Coalition

The bottom falls out from Malcolm Turnbull’s personal ratings, early federal election speculation mounts, early Queensland state election speculation sprouts, and preselections abound across the land.

The Coalition’s downward odyssey in the BludgerTrack poll aggregate enters its sixth week, although the movement on voting intention is slight this time, since all three pollsters this week (Newspoll, Roy Morgan and Essential) essentially repeated the results of their previous polls. Nonetheless, the 0.2% shift has been enough to bag Labor gains on the seat projection in New South Wales and Queensland. There is even more encouragement for Labor from the leadership ratings, on which Malcolm Turnbull is tanking rapidly, albeit that his head remains above the waterline in positive net approval. Bill Shorten’s trendlines are pointing northward, although he still has a very long way to go. Kevin Bonham had the following to say about the Newspoll leadership ratings, a day before they were corroborated by Essential Research:

Turnbull is still far more popular than Bill Shorten, but he’s dropped 35 points in the four polls taken since last November. This loss of 35 points in three and a half months is exceeded only by Paul Keating in 1993 (43 points in just over three months), John Howard in 1996 (36 points in six weeks) and Howard again in 2001 (38 points in six weeks). The 1996 Howard example comes with a big asterisk too, because Howard was falling from the career-high +53 netsat he had jumped 24 points to reach in the immediate aftermath of the Port Arthur massacre. It is not at all normal then for a PM to lose this much popularity this fast, but then again it is not that normal for them to have it in the first place.

Electoral matters:

Phillip Coorey of the Financial Review sees the two possibilities as the much-touted July 2 double dissolution, or a normal election in mid-August, either of which would leave time for a same-sex marriage plebiscite to be held by the end of the year. He also relates that the government is “exploring the logistics” of bringing down the budget on May 3, rather than the scheduled date of May 10, which is one day before the deadline for calling a double dissolution expires. Among other things, this would allow the government time to attempt to get its legislation reinstating the powers of the Australian Building and Construction Commission through the Senate. Its reject would confirm its currently contestable status as a double dissolution trigger, which the Greens sought to retain by having the government agree not to reintroduce it during the current session as part of its deal to legislate for Senate electoral reform.

• Amid talk of a possible early state election, Queenslanders go to the polls next Saturday to vote on a referendum proposal that would render such a thing impossible, by introducing fixed four-year terms with elections set for the last week in October. The referendum has been timed to coincide with local government elections, which also means that the big partisan prize of the Brisbane lord mayoralty is up for grabs. According to a Galaxy poll of 540 voters conducted for the Nine Network, Liberal National Party incumbent Graham Quirk holds a 53-47 two-party lead over Labor’s Tim Harding. This compares with his winning margin of 68.3-31.7 at the 2012 election, which was held a few weeks after Anna Bligh’s government had been decimated at the polls. The Galaxy poll also found Brisbane voters favouring the referendum proposal by 48% to 35%, but Steven Wardill of the Courier-Mail, offers that “regional Queenslanders are expected to be much more sceptical towards the proposal”.

Preselection matters:

• The Liberal preselection to anoint a successor to Victorian Senator Michael Ronaldson has produced a surprise winner in James Paterson, the 28-year-old deputy executive director of the Institute of Public Affairs. Paterson will shortly fill the casual vacancy to be created by Ronaldson’s imminent retirement, and will head the party’s ticket in the event of a normal half-Senate election. It had been generally expected that the position would go to Jane Hume, a superannuation policy adviser who had the influential backing of Michael Kroger, president of the party’s state branch. Hume had earlier won preselection for the number three position on a Coalition ticket that allocates second place to the Nationals. Also in the race was Amanda Millar, who filled a casual vacancy for Northern Victoria region in the state upper house in August 2013 but failed to win re-election in November 2014; and Karina Okotel, a legal aid lawyer.

• Labor’s preselection in Fremantle will be conducted over two days on Sunday, when a ballot of local members determining 25% of the total result will be held, and Monday, when the rest is to be determined at a meeting of state executive. The two nominees are Josh Wilson, chief-of-staff to outgoing member Melissa Parke and the local deputy mayor, and Chris Brown, a Maritime Union of Australia organiser and former wharfie. Observers say that Wilson will dominate the local party ballot, but factional arrangements are likely to tip the balance in Brown’s favour at state executive. The winner will face recently preselected Greens candidate Kate Davis, solicitor for tenants’ rights organisation Tenancy WA.

• Tim Hammond has been preselected without opposition to succeed Alannah MacTiernan as Labor’s candidate in Perth. Hammond is a barrister specialising in representing asbestos disease victims, one of the party’s national vice-presidents, and a member of the Right. It appears that the Brand preselection will go the same way, with no other contenders standing in the way of Madeleine King, chief operating officer of the international policy think tank Perth USAsia Centre. Other confirmed Labor candidates in winnable seats are Matt Keogh in Burt, a commercial lawyer and president of the WA Law Society, who ran unsuccessfully at the Canning by-election in September; Anne Azza Aly in Cowan, a counter-terrorism expert at Curtin University and founder of People Against Violent Extremism (as seen here last week in Seat of the Week); Tammy Solonec in Swan, an indigenous lawyer; and Bill Leadbetter in Hasluck, executive director of an obstetric practice and occasional history academic. Aly and Solonec both have a past with the Greens, Aly having been endorsed as a candidate for the 2007 federal election before withdrawing from the race, and Solonec having held an unwinnable spot on an upper house ticket at the 2013 state election.

• The New South Wales Liberals are preparing to determine their Parramatta preselection through a trial plebiscite of local party members of more than two years’ standing. A push to make such ballots the norm was rejected at the party’s state conference in October, to the chagrin of the religious Right faction in particular, but a compromise deal backed by Mike Baird has allowed for trials to be held in a small number of federal and state electorates over the coming years. Kylie Adoranti of the Parramatta Advertiser reports 278 local members are eligible to participate, together with the members of the state executive and further representatives of the state council and the Prime Minister, collectively accounting for 28 votes. Nominees include current Parramatta councillor Jean Pierre Abood; former Parramatta councillor Andrew Bide; Charles Camenzuli, a structural engineer and building consultant who was the party’s candidate in 2010, and also sought preselection unsuccessfully in 2013; and Felicity Finlay, who also contested preselection in 2013, and appears to be a school teacher.

• Labor’s national executive has taken over the preselection process in the New South Wales seats of Barton and Hunter, initiating a process that will be resolved on Friday. The beneficiary in Barton will be the state’s outgoing Deputy Opposition Leader, Linda Burney. National executive will also determine her successor in the state seat of Canterbury, where a by-election now looms. In Hunter, Joel Fitzgibbon is to be confirmed as candidate for a seat that effectively merges his existing seat of Hunter with Charlton, which has been decommissioned in the redistribution. The intervention enforces a deal in which Hunter remains secure for the Right, who have been frozen out in Barton by the endorsement of the Left-aligned Burney.

• Labor in New South Wales also has normal preselection processes in train for ten other seats, including two in the Hunter region: Shortland, where Jill Hall is retiring, and Paterson, which the redistribution has transformed from Liberal to marginal Labor. Shortland looks set to be the new home for Pat Conroy, whose existing seat of Charlton has, as noted above, been rolled together with Joel Fitzgibbon’s seat of Hunter. Conroy says he insisted on facing a rank-and-file ballot. Nominees in Paterson include Meryl Swanson, a local radio presenter, and Robert Roseworne, decribed by the ABC as a “Port Stephens community campaigner”. Both preselections are scheduled to be resolved the weekend after next.

• Nationals MP John Cobb has announced he will not contest the next election, having been member for Parkes from 2001 to 2007, and Calare henceforth. The front-runner to succeed him as Nationals candidate in Calare appears to be Andrew Gee, member for the state seat of Orange, although media reports suggest opponents may include Wellington councillor Alison Conn, Bathurst businessman Sam Farraway, Orange councillor Scott Munro, Bathurst mayor Gary Rush, Lithgow councillor Peter Pilbeam and Bathurst region farmer Paul Blanch, who was the Liberal candidate in 2004.

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.

2,734 comments on “BludgerTrack: 51.3-48.7 to Coalition”

  1. An Interesting read from John Megalogenis. May have been linked before:

    [“If politics waits any longer to address these issues, we will muddle into a recession and government will have to prop up the economy, but from a position of weakness, with the budget in deficit and interest rates too low to cut in a meaningful way.”]

    http://www.canberratimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/will-australia-be-caught-short-as-politicians-sacrifice-the-national-interest-to-stay-in-power-20160302-gn8j0u.html

  2. Mr Denmore’s opinion sounds like “if in doubt, throw an evidence free aspersion aagainst the poller”

    This is more believable, from Phil’s article…

    [It also shows there is no majority of voters either for or against limiting superannuation tax concessions and negative gearing. In each case, one quarter of voters is undecided, indicating the battle for hearts and minds over tax reform is still to be decided.]

  3. [ Opinions vary among strategists about what is going on in the polls. Labor pragmatically doesn’t put too much weight on the 50/50 numbers, though they believe the government’s lead is gradually being whittled away. ]

    I’d agree with that. I think the 50/50 polls are at the bottom of the “Current” range for the Libs.

    Not a good place to be though when they have to deliver a Budget thats looking more and more like 2014 with all they have “ruled out”.

    I’d say they are hoping that any nasties in the Budget are hidden by the color and movement of an election campaign and are relying on a Media willing to be led around by the nose.

  4. [ In each case, one quarter of voters is undecided, indicating the battle for hearts and minds over tax reform is still to be decided.]

    This sounds plausible to me too.

  5. http://www.afr.com/news/politics/fairfaxipsos-poll-voters-up-for-grabs-on-super-and-negative-gearing-20160312-gnhlho
    [Mar 13 2016 at 7:00 PM
    Fairfax-Ipsos poll: Voters up for grabs on super and negative gearing
    by Phillip Coorey

    Public opinion over changes to superannuation tax concessions and negative gearing is there to be won with one in four voters yet to be swayed either way.

    With both issues front and centre of the tax reform debate, the latest Fairfax/Ipsos poll shows slightly more voters oppose touching either tax concessions than supportive, but one quarter of voters remain undecided.

    The monthly poll shows 42 per cent oppose changes to negative gearing, 34 per cent are supportive, and 24 per cent are undecided.

    Whereas only Labor has negative gearing in its sights, both sides are targeting superannuation tax concessions.

    The poll of 1402 voters, taken from Thursday night to Saturday night last week, finds 35 per cent support paring back superannuation tax concessions and 34 per cent are opposed. Another 26 per cent are undecided.

    Negative gearing looms as one of the key issues at this year’s election with the government nominating Labor’s policy and its supposed affect on housing prices a prime focus of its campaign.]

  6. I am very impressed with Shorten’s courageous (and not in the yes minister sense) attitude to not trying for a small target.

    It gives me hope for the coming campaign, which will be one of (if not the) longest in Oz political history.

    It means that Labor stands for something, and you know what you are getting should you decide to vote for them. I’m going to vote below the line in the senate this time, after I do my homework.

    However in my electorate there is no contest. Tony Windsor or bust!

  7. Quantitative easing occurs when central banks buy government bonds and company paper from private sector actors. The private sector is not changing its net financial position – it is merely swapping one form of wealth (bonds) for another (reserves). Quantitative easing is a reshuffle of the private sector’s wealth portfolio.

    Quantitative easing does not stimulate lending and productive activity:

    The mainstream view is based on the erroneous belief that the banks need reserves before they can lend and that quantitative easing provides those reserves. That is a major misrepresentation of the way the banking system actually operates. But the mainstream position asserts (wrongly) that banks only lend if they have prior reserves.

    The illusion is that a bank is an institution that accepts deposits to build up reserves and then on-lends them at a margin to make money. The conceptualisation suggests that if it doesn’t have adequate reserves then it cannot lend. So the presupposition is that by adding to bank reserves, quantitative easing will help lending.

    But banks do not operate like this. Bank lending is not “reserve constrained”. Banks lend to any credit worthy customer they can find and then worry about their reserve positions afterwards. If they are short of reserves (their reserve accounts have to be in positive balance each day and in some countries central banks require certain ratios to be maintained) then they borrow from each other in the interbank market or, ultimately, they will borrow from the central bank through the so-called discount window. They are reluctant to use the latter facility because it carries a penalty (higher interest cost).

    The point is that building bank reserves will not increase the bank’s capacity to lend. Loans create deposits which generate reserves.

    The reason that the commercial banks are currently not lending much is because they are not convinced there are credit worthy customers on their doorstep. In the current climate the assessment of what is credit worthy has become very strict compared to the lax days as the top of the boom approached.

    http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=33146

  8. imacca@2704

    Opinions vary among strategists about what is going on in the polls. Labor pragmatically doesn’t put too much weight on the 50/50 numbers, though they believe the government’s lead is gradually being whittled away.


    I’d agree with that. I think the 50/50 polls are at the bottom of the “Current” range for the Libs.

    Not a good place to be though when they have to deliver a Budget thats looking more and more like 2014 with all they have “ruled out”.

    I’d say they are hoping that any nasties in the Budget are hidden by the color and movement of an election campaign and are relying on a Media willing to be led around by the nose.

    Agreed, good analysis.

    But I believe that the ‘media’ has changed greatly from just five years ago.

    Murdoch no longer has the clout that he used to have – the giveaways of the Oz and the Tele are a significant and telling development in a futile attempt to boost circulation figures.

    The Fairfax stable is also under pressure. Circulation and thus influence is dropping there also.

    I would have to wonder where the vast majority of the voters get their political news these days?

    Not from newspapers, that’s for sure.

    I presume some is from television, both commercial and ABC, but increasingly I would guess from social media, which means that individuals have far more clout than they have ever had before.

    There’s a PhD thesis or three in those changes.

  9. confessions@2719

    don:

    I envy you having a fabulous candidate to vote for this election. I really do hope Windsor can pull off a victory.

    So do I, but spare a thought for our mood during the last election when we knew that Barnaby was a cert to get in!

    The sheep vote around here.

  10. My take is that there is a slow bleeding of confidence and hope in Turncoat. Even though the trend is ugly for him, his preferred PM and netsat results are still pretty good for a PM to have, if seen in isolation from the trend.

    In regard to comparative policies, however, I think there is still a significant expectation that the Government will come out with the glorious solution – or at least a coherent vision, backed by policies – that it will take to the next election. This hope and expectation might be met, in which case there might be a little skin lost for the government, but they will win solidly. I think that hope/expectation is reflected in this poll (subject to MOE of course). And the shemozzle of the last couple of weeks might have taken more shine of Waffles, but the government is still being propped up by the hope that they might show some purpose.

    My guess is that this government really has nothing to offer and whatever it comes up with in the next couple of months will be so rushed and patched together that it will come apart, especially in a long election campaign. And the Government will deflate until there is no prospect of winning the next election.

    To put it another way. By the time the electorate passes judgement, only one party will have a suite of policies that can stand up to scrutiny, even if not necessarily positive. And they will win the prize because they have something and the Government has nothing.

  11. Oh dear….
    [Former federal minister Stephen Smith has been accused of disloyalty and bringing the “Canberra disease” to Western Australia by confirming he will challenge Mark McGowan’s leadership and run for premier if the party wants him.

    Mr Smith revealed on Sunday he had been asked by people on the backbench and frontbench to put his hand up, and after a lot of soul searching had decided to do it if the majority supported him.

    “Their rationale was that under our current arrangements we’re not in a position to win 10 seats on a 10 per cent swing and therefore form a prudent, responsible, competent state Labor government,” Mr Smith told reporters.]
    https://au.news.yahoo.com/a/31083649/smith-reportedly-up-to-lead-wa-labor/

  12. TPOF:

    It’s only been 6 months since Turnbull took over from Abbott, but already he’s had so many ‘fresh starts’ for the government it’s hard to count them on the one hand!

  13. [ But I believe that the ‘media’ has changed greatly from just five years ago. ]

    Maybe. If there was more commentary like Taylor’s latest about how its policy, not the election date that’s important (and didn’t Bill pick up that line quickly) i’d be more inclined to agree.

  14. Some PB posters have commented in the past on the opinions of rusted on LNP voters in their social circles – family, work, clubs and so on.

    Is there any hint that those people are starting to think that Malcolm is playing silly buggers with the electorate with this ludicrous will he/won’t he/DD/no DD/May 3/May 10 business?

    Any straws in the wind would be interesting.

  15. Steve777@2701

    An Interesting read from John Megalogenis. May have been linked before:

    “If politics waits any longer to address these issues, we will muddle into a recession and government will have to prop up the economy, but from a position of weakness, with the budget in deficit and interest rates too low to cut in a meaningful way.”


    http://www.canberratimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/will-australia-be-caught-short-as-politicians-sacrifice-the-national-interest-to-stay-in-power-20160302-gn8j0u.html

    You are right Steve777, a great article. Particularly liked this.
    [Government must reclaim responsibility for the areas of public policy that will prepare us for the future – most notably, education and infrastructure.

    As a journalist I am wary of giving advice, especially when it involves a greater role for government in the economy. I can think of no generation of politicians I would trust less with the responsibility of redrawing the line between the market and the state than the current crop. But the choice is being forced on Australia anyway.

    The political system cannot restore public confidence without a more responsive government. And the economy won’t stabilise without a more active government. The default setting of politics in the twenty-first century – to trust in the market – has proven to be bad economics, even for Australia, the only high-income nation to avoid the Great Recession. It has left us with gridlocked cities, growing inequality and a corporate sector that feels no obligation to pay tax.]

  16. [In regard to comparative policies, however, I think there is still a significant expectation that the Government will come out with the glorious solution – or at least a coherent vision, backed by policies – that it will take to the next election. This hope and expectation might be met]

    TPOF,
    Fuck reality. The media will do its best to construct the narrative that Turnbull has miraculously delivered.

  17. [ Fuck reality. The media will do its best to construct the narrative that Turnbull has miraculously delivered. ]

    If anything is going to win the libs the election it will be that. Depends on how badly or not they fwark up the 2016 budget.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *