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”

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  1. At least one good thing has come out of talk of Liberal-Green preference deals is that at least it puts to bed the notion that the Greens are not like those dreaded major parties they like to criticise for acting out of political opportunism rather than principle.

    The electoral reforms are principled. I think the appropriate response to people like you is a prayer:

    Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.

  2. CTar
    [Cancer or irony? Or both?]
    I reckon, at any given time, if you threw the same comment onto PB it’d have a good chance of sticking simply by coincidence!


  3. This afternoon my son and I took his little daughter to a suburban police complex to do a handover to the other parent. A Snr. Constable engaged little Evie in conversation and asked her favourite colour and if she liked dogs. He went out the back and a few minutes later appeared with a really good mini-balloon poodle to present to her.
    How’s THAT for community engagement!

    [The organisers of a Mardi Gras float threatened with expulsion after protesting refugee policies behind a Bill Shorten press conference remains defiantly unapologetic. Amy Thomas and Ed McMahon explain.

    Our small organising group for the No Pride in Detention float at this year’s Mardi Gras didn’t anticipate the controversy that has surrounded us in the aftermath. But we’re thankful that it has drawn attention to the campaign against refugee detention, and at the same time, raised a debate about what Mardi Gras should be all about.]

  5. It’s great that Bandt has come out against the anti-vax nutters. It’s going to cost the greens votes though , all the “hippy type ” greens who live around me are also anti-vaxxers.

  6. [Vogon Poet

    Posted Sunday, March 13, 2016 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    It’s great that Bandt has come out against the anti-vax nutters. It’s going to cost the greens votes though , all the “hippy type ” greens who live around me are also anti-vaxxers.]

    Not even a remote possibility. Everyone knows that only the Greens do evidence-based policy.

    [As a result, hundreds of people gathered at churches around the country on Sunday, including at Wesley United church, to learn how to engage in civil disobedience and protect asylum seekers should border force officials try to forcibly detain them and send them to offshore detention centres.]
    Grassroots activism 🙂

  8. [Spoken by a person who knows jack s**t about the trauma of being forced out of your country and the struggle to seek asylum.]

    Given that I was satirising the mindset of right wing xenophobes, that statement is probably accurate. Perhaps the first two words should have been ‘spoken like’, rather than ‘spoken by’.

    For the record, Nauru would be a hell hole for asylum seekers. It is a financially, and now morally, bankrupt 20 sq km piece of former guano droppings in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It’s impact on the mental health of asylum seekers was thoroughly recorded by the time a vicious Opposition imposed Nauru on a desperate Government.

  9. [all the “hippy type ” greens who live around me are also anti-vaxxers.]

    Yes I read once that the Byron Bay area has a large proportion of its population anti vaxxers.

  10. Vogon Poet@2657

    It’s great that Bandt has come out against the anti-vax nutters. It’s going to cost the greens votes though , all the “hippy type ” greens who live around me are also anti-vaxxers.

    I linked to the Bandt article yesterday and commended it.

    It was an excellent article and rendered a public service.

  11. [The Sydney Morning Herald
    14 mins ·
    Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said no less than nine times in one interview that the budget was “scheduled” to be held on the usual second Tuesday in May as speculation about a possible early double dissolution election goes into overdrive ahead of the return of Parliament.]

  12. bemused
    It has been a long 17 months but bit by bit it is getting better. There is another round of mediation in the offing.
    It is a situation nobody in our big family has ever experienced.

  13. BK@2666

    It has been a long 17 months but bit by bit it is getting better. There is another round of mediation in the offing.
    It is a situation nobody in our big family has ever experienced.

    The best advice I can offer is keep the lawyers out of it.

  14. So … to go back to my earlier post about the census and privacy …

    [ ]

    I see Pegasus posted the original release, and yes it was announced right before Christmas …

    [ ]

    A google of ‘Australian bureau of statistics census privacy’ returns very few relevant results between these two dates. To its credit, one of the very few is on Crikey – – but even that article attracted very little comment, and none of the comments seem to be from PB regulars.

    So – was anyone here aware of this before just a few days ago? If so, can you post a link where you found out about it? Seems very odd that such a significant change should be so completely ignored by the mainstream media.

  15. Haven’t you learned by now that Cormann NEVER gives an unequivocal answer to ANY question?

    Does he ever give an answer, equivocal or otherwise, to any question, other than just rattle through the day’s talking points?

  16. Well, I hope something happens this week to move on from the Green-Libs preferential debate.

    What polls, if any, are due this week?

  17. lizzie #2238

    [This is crying out for a cartoonist to start “the adventures of Barnaby Beetroot”. Wish I had the talent.]

    Well, moved by your words lizzie, I gave it a go.

    It’s no David Pope, but I think it turned out OK:

    And here’s the book I based my cartoon on:

  18. [Hearings could begin within weeks and would be held in Tasmania.]

    I assume the Senators on this inquiry will come from anywhere but Tasmania.

    T/A feeding frenzy …

  19. My experience has been that the anti-vaccination mentality, along with the usual aversions to fluoridated water and pasteurised milk, is far more closely tied to the talkback radio-addicted types with a soft spot for One Nation-style outfits, than to any Green voters.

  20. itsthevibe@2678

    My experience has been that the anti-vaccination mentality, along with the usual aversions to fluoridated water and pasteurised milk, is far more closely tied to the talkback radio-addicted types with a soft spot for One Nation-style outfits, than to any Green voters.

    I am thankful I don’t know any. I am not sure how I would react or cope.

  21. ‘fess

    [all the “hippy type ” greens who live around me are also anti-vaxxers.]

    It probably won’t matter either way as most likely they don’t vote.

    [Mar 13 2016 at 7:00 PM
    Fairfax-Ipsos poll: Government holds lead but Malcolm Turnbull’s star falls
    by Phillip Coorey

    The Turnbull government has a comfortable lead over Labor just months from the next election, but the Prime Minister’s personal standing continues to tumble as his administration struggles with indecision and infighting.

    The latest Fairfax/Ipsos poll shows the Coalition’s two-party-preferred lead relatively steady since the last poll a month ago, at 53 per cent to 47 per cent. But Malcolm Turnbull is falling down to earth while Bill Shorten’s standing has improved marginally.

    The poll of 1402 voters, taken from Thursday night to Saturday night last week, shows Mr Turnbull’s approval rating fell 7 percentage points in a month to 55 per cent, and his disapproval rating has risen 8 percentage points to 32 per cent.

    Mr Shorten’s approval rating has increased 3 points to 33 per cent and his disapproval rating is down 3 points to 52 per cent. Mr Turnbull leads Mr Shorten as preferred prime minister by 61 per cent to 22 per cent, down from 64-19 in last month’s poll.

    The Coalition’s primary vote is relatively steady at a strong 45 per cent while Labor’s is still low at 31 per cent. The Greens are on 14 per cent.

    The government’s two-party-preferred lead is out of kilter with other polls published recently, which have the major parties level-pegging at 50 per cent apiece. Strategists on both sides say they believe 50-50 cannot be attained when Labor’s primary is so low, and they estimate the actual numbers to be either 52-48 or 51-49.]

  23. GhostWhoVotes @GhostWhoVotes
    #Ipsos Poll Turnbull: Approve 55 (-7) Disapprove 32 (+8)

    GhostWhoVotes @GhostWhoVotes
    #Ipsos Poll Shorten: Approve 33 (+3) Disapprove 52 (-3)

    GhostWhoVotes @GhostWhoVotes
    #Ipsos Poll Preferred PM: Turnbull 61 (-3) Shorten 22 (+3)

  24. BK

    Haven’t you learned by now that Cormann NEVER gives an unequivocal answer to ANY question?]
    True but he is does give fluent unequivocal talking points de jour.

  25. It is not too late for the Greens to stop themselves from handing Senate control to the Liberals in the event of a DD.

  26. Ipsos could have the result of forcing a rethink by the Greens.

    Also could tempt Turnbull to jump.

    What’s not to like, especially as it is quite likely wrong?

  27. Looks as though Ipsos may have found a coalition-friendly sample. This makes Turnbull’s decline even more concerning for the Libs – a more balanced sample would quite possibly have shown an even greater decline in his standing.

  28. Interesting perspective:
    [Mr Denmore @MrDenmore
    Fairfax, whose ad revenues come from the real estate industry, find election-shifting opposition to the ALP’s NG policy. Yeah,right.]

  29. Bobalot@2690


    Weird result.

    Indeed, the government has been pretty shambolic for the last 3 weeks. I’m struggling to reconcile Newspoll / Essential with this result.

    I think IPSOS have still to sort out their methodology and have a house bias to the Libs. But the direction of the movement is puzzling. Possibly simply due to variation within MOE.

    [Mar 13 2016 at 7:00 PM
    Fairfax-Ipsos poll: PM back in the land of the political mortals
    by Laura Tingle

    Contradictory polls: Fairfax-Ipsos reckons the two party preferred vote is split 53/47 in favour of the Coalition. Newspoll and Essential in the past couple of weeks has put it at the more hair-raising 50/50.

    The capacity for a large margin of error built in to the Ipsos South Australian figures in this latest poll, suggests the likely split may well be closer to 52 or 51 in the Coalition’s favour.

    Certainly, the difference between Ipsos and Newspoll seems to reflect a continuing much weaker reading by Ipsos in the Labor primary vote than Newspoll in the period since Malcolm Turnbull became leader six months ago.

    Alarmed Coalition MPs might take some comfort from the more reassuring Ipsos numbers, given that they finished the last parliamentary fortnight suddenly contemplating the idea that the government could face an election loss.]
    Laura repeats Phil’s opinion that the real margin out there is probably 51 or 52 to the govt.

  31. [Forty per cent of voters said they opposed Labor’s plans on superannuation and 42 per cent said the same about negative gearing changes.

    The numbers for support were 35 and 34 per cent respectively.
    On cutting high-end superannuation tax breaks, there was almost no difference between Labor and conservative voters with 35 per cent support for each group, although Greens supports backed the change more decisively at the rate of 43 per cent.

    But 41 per cent of Coalition voters and 40 per cent of Labor voters did not approve of the change.]

    Read more:
    Follow us: @smh on Twitter | sydneymorningherald on Facebook

  32. L

    [Laura repeats Phil’s opinion that the real margin out there is probably 51 or 52 to the govt.]

    You mean like William’s Bludgertrack headline figure?

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