BludgerTrack: 50.1-49.9 to Coalition

It’s close but no cigar for Labor in the latest reading of the BludgerTrack poll aggregate, which projects the Turnbull government grimly hanging on to a parliamentary majority.

As the many polls published before this week’s parliamentary sitting showed no let-up in the Coalition’s deteriorating standing in the polls, the BludgerTrack poll aggregate has come as close as close can be to tipping over in Labor’s favour. However, it continues to credit them with a bare parliamentary majority (which can probably be bumped up another notch with the near certainty that Clive Palmer’s seat of Fairfax will revert to type), owing to the advantage it attributes to sitting members. The boost to Labor adds five to their projected seat total, including three gains in Queensland, two in Western Australia and one in New South Wales, balanced by the loss of one in Tasmania. Note that the Nick Xenophon Team now gets its own entry on the vote totals (although not yet on the graphs), since its primary vote is now being tracked by ReachTEL as well as Roy Morgan. ReachTEL is no longer recording the Palmer United Party, whose support is now statistically insignificant.

Newspoll and Ipsos both provided new numbers on leadership ratings this week, the effect of which has been to throw things a little out of whack, owing to the gaping difference in the numbers for Malcolm Turnbull. Where Ipsos recorded Turnbull with a diminishing but still positive net approval rating of 13%, Newspoll recorded the reverse (i.e. minus 13%), despite their similar results on voting intention. Since BludgerTrack uses bias adjustments based on each pollsters’ performance relative to all the others, this result alone has shaken up the entire model. With all that said though, all the movements on the leadership ratings were fairly modest.

The familiar BludgerTrack graphs on the sidebar are a casualty of the Crikey redesign that was launched this week, but stay tuned, because there will soon be a module to accommodate them. Here’s a make-do for the time being, below which you can find the latest round of preselection news and what have you.


• The Greens are hawking a ReachTEL poll of 800 respondents in the seat of Melbourne Ports which finds 60% of Labor voters oppose the party directing preferences to the Liberals ahead of the Greens, as Labor member Michael Danby has threatened to do (albeit that he exceeded his brief in doing so). Danby’s threat came amid an increasingly complex situation with respect to preferences in Victoria, as Liberal Party state president Michael Kroger says the party is open to a “loose arrangement” with the Greens, who are “not the nutters they used to be”, which he puts down to the leadership of Victorian Senator Richard di Natale. Kroger’s hope is presumably to lure the Greens into running open tickets in Victorian marginal seats, in return for the Liberals directing preferences to the Greens ahead of Labor in the inner-city seats of Melbourne, Wills and Batman, contrary to their position in 2013.

• After 22 years as local member, and 29 in parliament altogether when her time as a Senator is taken into account, former Speaker Bronwyn Bishop was defeated in Saturday’s preselection vote in her northern beaches Sydney electorate of Mackellar. The seat will now be contested for the Liberal Party by factional moderate Jason Falinski, owner of a health care equipment business, former adviser to John Hewson and Barry O’Farrell and campaign manager to Malcolm Turnbull in Wentworth in 2004. Falinski prevailed over Bishop in the final round by 51 votes to 39, following the exclusion of Walter Villatora – a party activist who has spearheaded a campaign for preselection reforms that are principally favoured by the hard Right, and a close ally of Tony Abbott’s as the president of the Liberal Party’s Warringah branch. The score in the previous round had been Falinski 40, Bishop 37 and Villatora 12, with Villatora’s supporters breaking overwhelmingly in favour of Falinksi in the final round. This reflected the hostility of conservatives towards Bishop over her support for Malcolm Turnbull in the September leadership challenge vote. The currently unpaywalled Crikey has a thorough account of Saturday’s proceedings from a source familiar with the matter.

• Another safe seat Liberal preselection on the weekend, in Philip Ruddock’s seat of Berowra, resulted in an easy victory for Julian Leeser, a former executive director of Liberal-aligned think tank the Menzies Research Centre, and current director of government policy and strategy at the Australian Catholic University. Leeser is of Jewish background, and is said to be aligned with the Centre Right. He won 97 votes in the ballot against 10 for Robert Armitage, a local barrister; four for John Bathgate, a staffer to Christoper Pyne; and three for Nick McGowan, a one-time adviser to former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett.

• Bob Baldwin, the Liberal member for the regional New South Wales seat of Paterson, has announced he will not contest the next election. Baldwin suffered a heavy blow in the redistribution as the seat exchanged conservative rural territory for more populous areas of the Hunter region, turning Baldwin’s 9.8% margin from 2013 into a notional Labor margin of 1.3%. The Michael McGowan of the Maitland Mercury reports preselection nominees are likely to include Newcastle businesswoman Karen Howard and Port Stephens councillor Ken Jordan. Howard performed well as an independent candidate in the Newcastle state by-election of October 2015, and ran for the Liberals in the seat at the state election the following March. However, her tone-deaf attack on a local high school student over his geography project in November might cause some to doubt her judgement.

• After a bumpy ride, Liberal MP Craig Kelly has been confirmed in his preselection for the southern Sydney seat of Macarthur. The conservative Tony Abbott backer had earlier appeared to be under threat from Kent Johns, a powerbroker of the increasingly dominant moderate faction, but Malcolm Turnbull persuaded him to withdraw in February. He remained under challenge from Michael Medway, who ran in Werriwa in 2004 and appears to work in financial services, but Murray Trembath of the St George & Sutherland Shire Leader reports he has now withdrawn.

• The article mentioned in the previous item also relates that Nick Varvaris, who won Barton for the Liberals in 2013 but has now been poleaxed by the redistribution, was “still in discussions with the Liberal Party” as to whether he will recontest the seat, after earlier indications he would spare himself the effort.

• Barrister Andrew Wallace has won the Liberal National Party preselection to succeed Mal Brough in the Sunshine Coast seat of Fisher. As the ABC reports it, Wallace “won the preselection ballot convincingly in the first round of voting ahead of five other candidates”.

• The West Australian reports on the headache facing the WA Liberals as they prepare to defend six Senate seats at a double dissolution election that is likely to net them fewer than that, with none of the incumbents intending to retire. It had been hoped that David Johnston, who was dumped as Defence Minister in December 2014, might lighten the load by accepting a diplomatic posting, but he has now confirmed he will run again. The report says the state branch’s protocol should see ministers Mathias Cormann and Michaelia Cash take the top two positions and Johnston take third owing to “seniority”, but that Johnston might be bumped to fourth to make way for Dean Smith, with Linda Reynolds and Chris Back in fourth and fifth.

• The West’s report likewise says that Louise Pratt, who lost her seat from the second position at the state’s 2014 Senate election re-run, is well placed to take the fourth position on the Labor ticket with help from affirmative action, and is even hopeful of bumping Glenn Sterle for a place in the top three. Earlier indications had been that the order of the top end of the ticket would run Sue Lines, Glenn Sterle and Pat Dodson, with the fourth up in the air.

• Duncan McGauchie, a former policy adviser to the then Victorian premier, Ted Baillieu, has prevailed in a field of five to win Liberals preselection to succeed Sharman Stone as the Liberal candidate in the rural Victorian seat of Murray. He faces significant opposition at the election from Damian Drum, Nationals candidate and state upper house member.

• Labor’s candidate for Christopher Pyne’s loseable Adelaide seat of Sturt is Matt Loader, a gay rights activist and (I think) manager at South Australia’s Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure. Hat tip to Chinda in comments.

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.

3,581 comments on “BludgerTrack: 50.1-49.9 to Coalition”

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  1. Intersting state of the political cycle, with the trend definitely not a friend of Turnbull. The budget will be interesting, with a genuine need to tax the evasive rich in order to buy reelection. I do not think their charm will do it for Team Liberal. Perhaps they could have an online poll to rebrand themselves? I vote for Liar McLieface.

  2. The laudable effort to have a post which details people’s guesses for what the result will be for the election simply does not work.

    It does not work because people find an old post with half the actual guesses, add their guess, and post it as the latest and greatest. I have tried valiantly a number of times to merge the lists, but I have now given up.

    The list is regularly truncated by this method, and is now pretty useless.

  3. but that Johnston might be bumped to fourth to make way for Dean Smith, with Linda Reynolds and Chris Back in fourth and fifth.

    This makes no sense.
    Also, it’s Duncan McGauchie, son of the Donald who is the winner of the Nepotism Stakes in Murray.

  4. roger bottomley,
    Parliament isn’t sitting until Budget Week. However, there will be a Senate Inquiry into Political Donations at some time. I think in Budget Week also.

  5. William, I just checked Xenophon’s site and he seems to be using orange as the main colour for his party. Might be worth putting BludgerTrack’s Xenophon team numbers in orange rather than light blue.

  6. I also don’t know why the background has to be Liberal Blue Tie Blue. At least a nice shade of Red + Blue would have been more appropriate? Every time I see this it reminds me of Tony Abbott! : )

  7. Good Morning

    Its steady as she goes with bludger track showing how far the LNP has fallen from the dizzying honeymoon heights of Mr Turnbull. As I said yesterday I don’t see how the LNP can turn these polls around as the massive swing voter bribes are out of the question in this budget and the LNP will not want to run on their record as its not pretty at all as their voter base can attest.

  8. Mark Kenny grudgingly keeps Turnbull in pole position (is that the right metaphor?

    [Yet it is hard to escape the conclusion that, once again, the opposition has been playing the policy tune, and the government has been forced to dance to it. And this ahead of a budget set to contain changes to superannuation concessions that Morrison swore he would never resort to, and perhaps even tobacco tax increases.

    Makes you wonder who is in charge here.]

  9. I have CCCP including avatars, preview and page numbers working on previous thread but not this one.
    It’s an interesting time to be a bludger… 🙂

  10. BOConnorMP: When the Banks welcomed the way the Turnbull Government will respond to widespread scandals in banking we know the fix is in #auspol

  11. Malcolm could announce he was going to have a cup of tea and Kenny would proclaim him as ‘seizing the initiative’ and that it was a ‘game changer’

  12. [Bankers, under Liberal governments especially, whom they fund most generously, are in a class of their own. Despite doing very little of anything productive, except to make profits out of other people’s industry and trust, banks bask like sharks in the status of an industry. And for the Liberals it is a protected industry.

    Turnbull has factored both natural sloth and potected species status into his cunning reforming plan. It won’t all be one great orgy of self-reporting fraudulence. A newly rebooted ASIC will be the tough new (recycled) cop on the block. Or so he says.

    ASIC will even get some of its $120 million dollar 2013-14 Budget cut back courtesy of the same government. Overnight, the regulator will be transformed from paper tiger to a bigger, fatter, slower, pussy cat.

    The PM, himself, is busier than a cat watching two rat-holes. His government now, due to its own ineptitude and tactical blundering, has a feral Senate on its hands with two weeks to kill after its “let’s bring back the ABCC” bill was thrown out in a day.]

  13. Incidentally, at one point in the late 1990s/early 2000s SA (you might enlighten me as to whether this happened in other states as well) started to move over to narrow corflutes that were orange and black.

    It didn’t last more than one election, so I suspect it didn’t get good feedback, but I liked them. It was bold and made the posters stand out against all the others.

  14. Good morning Dawn Patrollers. Quite a bit to wade through today!

    Mark Kenny says the ASIC announcement was smart policy and tactics from the government but Labor still appears to be setting the agenda.
    However former ASIC insider says that Turnbull’s user-pays scheme will backfire.
    Lenore Taylor straight up says that the Coalition’s policies prove that Labor is winning the economic debate.
    Another open letter to Turnbull from prominent Australians. This time it urges him to take decisive action against corporations and the wealthy stashing their money in tax havens.
    And right on cue the Tax Commissioner will appear at a Senate inquiry today to answer questions on the Panama papers and what the ATO is doing about them.
    Turnbull has no intention to clean up banking says Urban Wronski.
    The 60 Minutes team as on its way home but Channel 9 executives are still under fire.
    Well done Channel Nine!
    Laura Tingle on the ASIC announcement. Google please.
    In all likelihood Hilary Clinton will win the nomination but she’s lost a lot of bark on the way.
    “View from the Street” says the DD will ensure Coalition losses. He also has a good dig at Brandis who he likens to a high school debater.

  15. Section 2 . . .

    Peter Martin with some simple advise to Morrison – We need more tax.
    Kym Beazley spoke a lot of sense at an ANU lecture.
    The Japanese bid for the submarines is seen to be the weakest. I hope the final decision reflects this. Googling is required.
    Hopefully it will go the way of the Germans. Google again.
    This anti-pokies advertisement is aimed squarely at politicians.
    Labor is set to rip up the Coalition’s IR policy as it applies to the public servise.
    Adele Ferguson says OK it’s a good move to beef up ASIC but the banks still need to feel the heat of a Royal Commission blowtorch.
    This puff piece on Costello’s performance by an old advisor of his neglects to mention the structural deficit he and Howard left us with.
    The head of the CPA wonders what the budget has up its sleeve.
    Maxine McKew pokes her head up with an article on political funding.
    Now it’s Mitsubishi’s turn to put up their hand on falsifying fuel economy/emissions testing and certification. This comes on the heels of the revelations over safety issue cover ups around 2000.
    This polling suggests that Gonski may play out against the Coalition in marginal seats.

  16. Section 3 . . .
    The effects of global warming are on full display.
    Another election fact from Stephen Koukoulas.
    Oh dear! Some explaining for Baird to do over WestConnex.
    So it looks like we’ll all be paying for ASIC now.
    More from Dave Donovan on the roles of the IPA and ld media in the dumping of the RSRT.,8902
    Soft on banks – tough on terriers.

  17. Section 4 . . . Cartoon Corner

    Matt Golding on why there’s no need for a banking RC.

    John Spooner and political funding.

    Alan Moir has Toad Brandis announcing the crackdown on corporate misbehaviour.

    With a ripper of a cartoon David Pope takes us poll dancing at the Fat Kat Club.

    Glorious work from Mark Knight on the ASIC boost. MUST SEE.
    David Rowe with an excoriating cartoon showing the relationship between the banks and the government.

  18. guytaur

    Gatorau: Sophie Mirabella pushing Cathy McGowan out of the way at the opeing of a local old people’s home. Charming.

    If this incident is indeed true, she really doesn’t sound like the kind of person anyone would want to be friends with, or work with, does she? Even if you put politics aside.

  19. Norwester

    The Senate is truly hostile to the LNP now. Such a brilliant master stroke for Turnbull to recall it and give it three weeks to attack the LNP agenda 🙂

  20. So Nine have ransomed their star reporter, their crew, and the mother, but have left their hired hands who did the dirty work to rot in jail.

    I’m sure there’ll be a full explanation, plus a “reveal” (is that the right TV word?) of the amounts paid, and a long heart-rending segment on 60 Minutes to clear it all up.

    It’s now a bigger story than it was ever going to be in the first place. We might even have spin-offs: a Reno Rumble segment on how to kidnap-proof your old fibro house? Perhaps a cooking program on Lebanese food? Will a romance blossom between Tara and her rough, but handsome Lebanese jailer (some like doing it in handcuffs, I hear)? They will be the episodes All Australia is watching.

    And let’s not forget… “I’m a celebrity reporter… GET ME OUT OF HERE!”

  21. I cannot understand why ABC news is putting the CH9 story at the top of its updates.
    I, for one, have no interest in it, but surely it’s not the most important happening in the world.

  22. William, Further to your preselection report for Berowra Nick McGowan was also the Liberal candidate against Jenny Macklin in Jagajaga at the 2013 election.

  23. How far can this Senate inquiry get before Turnbull goes to the GG to stop it? Are they going to hold hearings over the next few weeks? I hope it is broadcast live if they do.

  24. [The government will demand Bill Shorten appear before a Senate inquiry into political donations to answer questions about a $40,000 donation he failed to declare for eight years before revealing it in evidence to the royal commission into trade unions.

    The Senate cannot compel members of the lower house to appear before its committees, but in a move designed to turn the tables on a new committee that it has dubbed a Labor “stunt”, the government will argue the Labor leader has relevant questions to answer.]

  25. [Being indigenous in a wealthy country like Australia, the US or Canada does not necessarily lead to better health outcomes compared to indigenous people living in disadvantaged countries, a landmark study has found.

    The health and wellbeing of almost half of the world’s indigenous and tribal peoples has been captured in what is the most comprehensive indigenous health report ever compiled.]

  26. Darn, At the 2013 election the Coalition won 90 seats and Labor 55 but redistributions in NSW and WA change these notionally to 88 and 57 respectively

  27. Personally never watch these shows myself…..
    7m7 minutes ago
    Geoff Pearson ‏@GCobber99
    if your not convinced media want Turnbull returned Just watch the Morning shows beating up on Shorten today show brought in Miranda divine

  28. When the freeway by pass at Albury-Wodonga was opened, there was a stage set up for dignataries with cards on each seat with their names.
    Steve Bracks, as Premier of Victoria, was seated next to John Howard.
    Mirabella was observed on a number of occasions going up and switching her card with Bracks’.
    Finally, the staff were forced to stick the cards down with sticky tape.

  29. Lizzie: I heard a doctor who specialises in indigenous health interviewed on the ABC a while back and the point he made was about the gap.

    If everyone is poor, and the gap between the non-indigenous “haves” and the indigenous “have nots” is smaller and as a result the disadvantage is not compounded by a strong sense of unfairness, injustice and is less likely to lead to mental health issues such as depression and drug and alcohol addiction.

    The wider the gap, though, the more likely it is that any disadvantage will be seen through the prism of racist policies such the removal of people from their homelands, the removal of children from their families and the chronic underfunding of the health and educational services they so desperately need.

    As I said, he made an important point about drug and alcohol abuse and how this impacts on the health of indigenous communities. Not surprisingly, this is more of a problem in “big gap” countries as well, partly because of easier access to drugs and alcohol, but also because mental health issue are also more prevalent. He believes any policies aimed at helping Indigenous people in this country won’t work properly until we face, head-on, the issue of how this country was settled and the impact on its indigenous inhabitants at the time; we acknowledge how various government policies over the years have torn apart indigenous families; and we ensure any reparations, physical or symbolic, are focussed solely on indigenous need, rather than catering to non-indigenous sensibilities.

    It was a very interesting interview. I wish I could remember the bloke’s name …

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