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. BTW I never have intended to make any insinuation that Shorten being seen as boring would be a negative for him in the long term.

    Quite the opposite in fact. I’ve long said that once the sugar hit of the Malcolm Myth wore off and after the craziness of Abbott and the R-G-R disaster a stolid, calm and frankly unexciting leader will seem a very good idea indeed to a great many people.

    Trying to whip up a scare campaign around Bill Shorten is like trying to create neuvelle cuisine recipe for porridge. I just doesn’t work. Like porridge Bill is a bit naff, and boring, but pretty good for you, completely inoffensive and ultimately satisfying. Every day Turnbull keeps burning the unrealistic expectations of the middle to ashes Shorten looks more and more like the guy no one thought was up to it, but ends up defying the odds and showing the quality that had previously been hidden.

    Shorten is much smarter than the media have taken him for up to now, and is one thing in public life that Turnbull never has been – a proven winner.

  2. Watching Mal climb into his Comcar and speed of to Yarralumbla and ask for an election with the polls around 53 – 47 against is going to be one of the great comic moments in Australian history.

  3. He has not given up on returning, no matter how deluded and there’s no question the party would indeed be that stupid because they really are.
    Just sayin’.

    All absolutely true.

  4. LOL, some of these phone scams. Apparently a warrant for my arrest has been issued for tax fraud. See you in the clink Bludgers!

  5. Interesting week so far…Turnbot trying to save a few deck chairs in SA. Labor out there on climate change.

    The published stories on -ve gearing so far seem to be pointing to a defeat for the Libs on this issue. That is remarkable in itself. LNP fear-mongering has failed.

  6. This ABC fact check is wRONg.
    Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Brendan O’Connor said on April 18, 2016 “ordinary workers in the construction industry… will have less legal rights than a criminal suspected of dealing the drug ice”.
    The CFMEU’s claim is nonsense.
    The CFMEU and labors claim is correct.
    A suspected ice dealer CAN refuse to answer questions.
    A person called to the LNP ABCC to answer questions is required to swear an oath.
    If such person refuses to attend, refuses to swear an oath or refuses to answer question they CAN be imprisoned for six months.
    A suspected ice dealer CANNOT be imprisoned for six months if they refuse to answer police questions.
    The LNP should give the Senate the same power as the ABCC in its request to LNP figures to attend questioning bu the Senate.

  7. It has been my dream for years that Julie takes over as PM then loses the election and her seat.

    I know the doGs have been good to us of late, but that may be asking too much.

    Still……..if you dont ask, you dont get. 🙂

  8. Gorkay King @ Wednesday, April 27, 2016 at 9:08 pm

    Not surprised with Milne’s attack on Labor policy. Same thing was happening today in Victoria. Ellen Sandell and Greg Barber were attacking Labor’s budget despite solid funding for health, education and public transport, mental health and domestic violence services. I don’t know if its because I am getting older but I am starting to think Greens are just a joke.

    The G’s dine out on assailing Labor. They are past masters at it. Here we are, on the brink of a truly historic Labor win – an improbable but greatly deserved win – and the G’s are running interference for the LNP. They are total frauds.

  9. John Reidy that would be an interesting turn of events if Shorten did attend. Would there be anything left in the staffer matter that they went over at the TURC and which was suggested by the Liberals for this inquiry or would that be just politically neutral now?
    As he isn’t compelled to attend, it is unlikely he or anyone would submit to the risks of is at this point, I would think. Might indeed fall into the Too Clever category

  10. Yeah I don’t mind a bit of the Greens I’ll be the first to admit and usually do what you might expect with first and second prefs. But attacking Labor is a terrible move right now

    If anything seeking mutually beneficial arrangements and cooperation with Labor should be more important to the Greens now than ever, when Labor is turning somewhat left again and the people are turning against the Government.

  11. mikeh (and others interested): I have recently adopted the practice, when the phone rings at about dinner time, of answering “National Centre for Discouraging Nuisance Calls”. Most of the nuisance callers just plug away reading from their script, but I get an internal laugh out of it anyway.

  12. Watching Mal climb into his Comcar and speed of to Yarralumbla and ask for an election with the polls around 53 – 47 against is going to be one of the great comic moments in Australian history.

    Oh get with the program K17!! The ABCC bill is just SOOOOOOOOOOO vitaly important the the rule of law and poor cats every where that Brave Sir MalPM will be off on his charger to the GG like a shot so he can save the coutry from the evil Unionists……oh with Michaela poised behind the saddle all aswoown at his audacity.
    And the polls be damned the man has a mission!!!!

  13. Actually dorky leaders are all the rage. Look how well the Vic Premier Andrews is doing. The idea of the ‘rock star’ politician is falling out of favour perhaps?

  14. And I really hope that everyone in the Senate cooperates to compel evidence and testimony on suspicious dealings in the Liberal Party to be given and heard.

    That transcript of the PM story about Sinodinos had me in stitches

  15. @jenauthor

    Andrews is smashing it at present. Watched the ABC news budget coverage and the only spokesperson they could find to say a bad word was someone from a property lobby group. His pitch was that the Andrews Government was using “rivers of gold” from stamp duty. He then proceeded to tips a milk carton full of gold coins very awkwardly into a glass which then broke.

    It was comedy gold.

  16. jenauthor

    Actually dorky leaders are all the rage

    I was an big “Fighting Tories” Albo supporter Bbut as I said back then, after years of Abbott stuntathons and a general frenzy of the electorate may just well want ‘boring’ and calm. Which made Bill just what the electorate doctor ordered.

    The way Shorten played Abbott like a fish proved to me he has what it takes.

  17. As far as Bill Shorten being boring is concerned….I don’t think there is anything at all boring about winning Federal elections with a mandate for reform. He has been very matter-of-fact in his promotion of strong policies. He has also held a highly unified and disciplined team of talented front-benchers together. There is nothing at all boring in that.

    There is one attribute he has that is quite evident in real-life. Bill Shorten makes those around them feel better about themselves…about their values, their beliefs, and about their ability to express themselves. This is a leadership style that is about encouraging those who follow as much as it is about those who have all the attention. This style is completely straight-forward and builds confidence. It’s exactly what Labor need and what the country needs.

  18. The idea of the ‘rock star’ politician is falling out of favour perhaps?

    Probably because they tend to prove to be shit at it.

    It’s easy to diss the ‘professional politician’, but politics is damn hard. It takes a long time and a lot of bruises to get good at it. People fantasize that some messiah untouched by the grubbiness of ‘teh politics’ will come along and save us all from it, but it don’t work that way. Every galah in the pub reckons if they were put in charge they’d set it all right in a week, but it’s bullshit. Competing interests, some with real power, want competing things. You just can’t make everyone happy. And you can’t just ‘bust some heads’. Sometimes you can, but you usually have to build up a big reserve of goodwill first, and then rebuild that goodwill after you have gone nuclear. It’s an option of last resort, not first.

    Shorten has learnt over many many years how to get a result. Perhaps not a result that has everyone shouting hallelujahs, but one that gives everyone a little something even if it’s not everything they wanted.

    This is a skill Turnbull just has never needed to develop. His training is all about winner takes all. In the law, in business and banking, it’s been about getting the win for his team and who gives a flying about the other guy? That might work great in those spheres but in politics it’s utterly useless. He has only two modes, attack or retreat. A classic kiss up – kick down bully. You see it all the time. He rolls over to the right of his party because he knows he’s too weak to take them on, and he goes negative and usually highly personal on any target he thinks he can get away with.

    The idea that Turnbull could ever deliver a higher quality of debate and considered discussion of alternatives was always farcical. Shorten on the other hand could very well do this if the Libs ever had a hope of electing a similarly strong character as leader. I’ve no doubt Shorten can be a bastard, but his first option always seems to be to try and nut out a compromise first.

    In politics that will take you a long way. Doubly so in contrast to the last few years of Abbott and Turnbull’s mindless negativity and hyper partisanship.

  19. A mate of mine told me years ago that he was going to start up a new political party. He reckoned he’d have no problems getting candidates up in every electorate, and that they’d be swept into power.
    I attempted to explain to him how hard it was in reality but he couldn’t grasp why it was so difficult.
    So I challenged him to write down five policy positions and find twenty people – any twenty people – to sign up to every single one of them.
    Haven’t heard a peep since (and his wife says she’s very grateful…)

  20. Offshore detention originated in a brain fart in John Howard’s head (or maybe one of his advisers) to give his Government a boost in the leadup to what was shaping up to be a very difficult election in 2001.

    The purpose of offshore detention is basically to put ‘unwanted’ people beyond the reach and the protection of Australian law, fobbing the problem off on dirt-poor neighbours. Not only is it shirking our responsibilities and legal obligations voluntarily entered into, but it is pretty idiotic when you think of it. No grown up country would do such a thing, and no grown-up Government would exploit the plight of these people as a political wedge.

    So, what should we do? Well, no one said it was easy, but I’m sure that it’s not beyond the wit and wisdom that a grown up country could muster, given a desire to actually address rather than exploit the issue, plus common sense and good will.

  21. The idea of the ‘rock star’ politician is falling out of favour perhaps?

    People have been let down by celebrity politicians not living up to expectations.

  22. Vic, somehow I think an ETS is a bigger problem for Turnbull. It’s impossible for him to argue it with any credibility. Even the business council are “praising” the ALP.

  23. Question:

    Buzz Feed posted on facebook earlier a video of MT speaking in parliament in favour of an ETS and why he’d be crossing the floor to vote for it. I agree with you that it’s hard for him to now be against it when so much of that footage is around everywhere.

  24. [LOL, some of these phone scams. Apparently a warrant for my arrest has been issued for tax fraud. See you in the clink Bludgers!]

    I had a lawyer friend who is a very respected Barrister, but in those lesser fields (ie not tax) whose dad was the target victim. Said it was a very well executed scam and he wasn’t sure it was a scam until about 10 minutes into the call. It was at the point arrest warrants were discussed that it was totally clear to this guy that it was a scam.

  25. Question


    In reality, i doubt anyone is worried about a price on carbon. We had one already and it was subsequently removed. No one noticed the difference.

  26. victoria @ Wednesday, April 27, 2016 at 10:27 pm
    That SKY quote is the most ridiculous thing I have ever read.
    “The current event is the point at which something in the future began to happen”

  27. Butler was hopeless though. He should have had the answer ready. The longer we delay the more it will cost, which also happens to be a good counter to the “live within our means” BS the L-NP like to pretend they are on about.

  28. [In reality, i doubt anyone is worried about a price on carbon. We had one already and it was subsequently removed. No one noticed the difference.]

    I agree, I don’t think it was any where as influential in the last election as they think, and I think Turnbull lacks the credibility to run a scare campaign. And the Project isn’t helping him.

  29. Not to mention what a waste direct action is.
    And not to mention that the costs can help fix the “deficit disater”.
    Anyway I’m sure he’ll be ready next time.

  30. Malcolm has renounced his past principles and positions for the big prize, not just on climate change, assuming that is that he ever held them.

    But as a poster a couple of pages back said, the punters by and large, unlike PB’ers, aren’t paying attention at this stage. They’re getting on with other stuff.

    So, when an astroturfed multi-tens of million $ disinformation campaign is unleashed, declaring that an ETS and stronger emission targets will be the greatest disaster since the Black Death, funded by the usual suspects and boosted by the big media players (guess who), there is no guarantee that having right on you’re side will count for much, unless you have a counter-strategy prepared and ready to go.

    Bill Shorten announced a great climate change policy. He needs to be very smart in selling it and ready to counter the strong opposition that it will engender.

  31. Turnbull to cross floor via @YouTube Who was this Malcolm Turnbull? Not #PollyWaffleTurnbull we have as PM now.

    This was the tweet I put on twitter about 5 hours ago, have had and still having a great run

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