Highlights of day one

Reports this morning of a looming preference switch by the Victorian Liberals in favour of the Greens, and a line-ball internal poll in the new Perth seat of Burt.

UPDATE: Essential Research has the Labor lead down from 52-48 to 51-49, with the Coalition up two on the primary vote to 42%, Labor steady on 38% and the Greens steady on 10%. One of many questions on the budget records 20% approval overall and 29% disapproval, with 35% for neither and 15% for don’t know. All the others, together with questions on detention centres, can be seen on the full release. We also have a poll today in The Guardian for Lonergan, conducted Friday to Sunday from a sample of 1841, which reaches 50-50 on two-party preferred from primary votes of Coalition 42%, Labor 35% and Greens 12%.

In response to Radio National Drive host Patricia Karvelas’s desire to refer to yesterday as day one of the election campaign, a listener helpfully offered that the actual day of the announcement, Sunday, might be deemed “day zero”. That works for me, so there’s your headline. However you care to number it, here are some highlights:

Andrew Probyn of The West Australian reports a Liberal Party internal poll derived from “15-minute interviews with 600 people on April 30 and May 1” recorded a dead heat on two-party preferred in the new electorate of Burt in southern Perth. The report also cites optimism from Liberal insiders about Cowan and Hasluck, where “the advantage of incumbency and strong local campaigns” are expected to make the difference.

• In other internal polling news, Mark Riley of Seven News reported on Thursday that Liberal polling conducted on April 29 showed the party trailing 53.1-46.9 in Eden-Monaro, but leading 50.3-49.7 in Reid, 50.9-49.1 in Banks, 50.2-49.8 in Gilmore, 51.6-48.5 in Bennelong, 51.2-48.8 in Lindsay and 58.8-41.2 in Hughes, with Barnaby Joyce holding a 53.1-46.9 lead over Tony Windsor in New England. The report copped a more than usually vehement response from Liberal pollster Mark Textor, who denied any such polling had been conducted by his own firm, Crosby Textor. Riley said in his report that the polling was “delivered to New South Wales Liberal executives by campaign guru Lynton Crosby yesterday and leaked to Seven News”, to which Textor retorted that Crosby was out of the country. Riley responded that he had “at no stage said it was your polling”, and insisted it had been distributed to prominent members of the party. In his report the following evening, Riley said “Liberal-National director Tony Nutt said it wasn’t commissioned by the party and rejected the numbers”.

Ellen Whinnett of the Herald Sun reports the Liberals are “on the brink” of a deal in which they will direct preferences to the Greens in Batman and Wills, while the Greens run open tickets in marginal seats in the Melbourne suburbs. The former half of the bargain returns to the Liberals’ usual practice before 2013, but for the Greens to fail to direct preferences in marginal seats is a little more unusual. However, the impact of the former will be far the greater. When the Liberals flipped their preference recommendation in 2013, the Greens’ share of their preferences in the Melbourne electorate slumped from 80.0% to 33.7%. This would have gouged about 10% of Adam Bandt’s two-party vote against Labor, but the improvment of his position on the primary vote was sufficient to exactly cancel it out. In Batman and Wills, the Greens’ share of Liberal preferences in 2013 was 32.6% and 28.7% respectively. If that changed to 80% with no alteration to the primary vote, David Feeney’s 10.6% winning margin over Greens candidate Alex Bhathal, who opposes him again this time, would reduce to zero, while Labor would hold on to a 3.5% margin in Wills. By contrast, the Greens running an open ticket appears to reduce Labor’s share of their preferences by only 3%. The Greens vote in Labor’s Victorian targets of Deakin, La Trobe and Corangamite was in each case a fraction above 10%, so the difference is likely to be 0.3% to 0.4%.

• Crikey founder and shareholder activist Stephen Mayne has announced he is running against Kevin Andrews as “a pro-Turnbull, liberal-minded independent” in the eastern Melbourne seat of Menzies. Andrews is currently embroiled in a branch-stacking scandal that has resulted in the resignation of his electorate officer, Ananija Ananievski, involving elderly Macedonian immigrants who were reportedly unaware of their party membership. In an article in Crikey yesterday (paywalled), Mayne wrote that Georgina Downer, a lawyer, former diplomat and daughter of former Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, was “hoping Kevin Andrews is removed and she can be slotted in as a last-minute replacement before nominations close on June 1”. Downer was an unsuccessful candidate for the recent preselection to succeed Andrew Robb in the seat of Goldstein, which was won by former Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson.

• Liberal MP Dennis Jensen, who was disendorsed as the party’s candidate for his Perth seat of Tangney in favour of former party state director Ben Morton, announced yesterday he would run in the seat as an independent. He declined to resign from the Liberal Party in doing so, but state director Andrew Cox said yesterday that he had cancelled his membership in announcing his intention to run against an endorsed candidate of the party. Jensen foreshadowed yesterday’s actions in a speech to parliament last week, in which he called Morton “the Liberal branch stackers’ and powerbrokers’ candidate”, criticised the government’s record on tax reform, called for a royal commission into the banks, and spruiked himself as “a candidate who has deep Liberal values, but who will fight for constituents first and foremost; a free thinker who will be their voice in parliament without fear or favour”. Andrew Probyn of The West Australian noted a fortnight ago that running at the election would mean Jensen continued to draw a salary up until the day before the election, which would earn him around $35,000.

• The state council of the Liberal Party in Western Australia determined the order of the double dissolution Senate ticket on the weekend, and delivered a defeat to former Defence Minister David Johnston by relegating him to the highly loseable sixth position on the ticket. The order of the ticket will run Mathias Cormann, Michaelia Cash, Dean Smith, Linda Reynolds, Chris Back, David Johnston. All are incumbents, reflecting the party’s consistent success in winning three seats at half-Senate elections, and the difficulty it faces accommodating all of them at a double dissolution election that is more likely to net them only five. Many in the party had hoped that Johnston, who was dumped as Defence Minister in December 2014, would lighten the burden by retiring, but he failed to oblige. Johnston was more gracious in the face of disappointment than some, conceding he was “in the twilight of my career”, and telling the ABC: “The Liberal Party has been very, very good to me and I’ve had 14 years in Parliament which has been a fabulous adventure.” The state council’s decision reportedly ran ran contrary to the recommendation of its four-person selection committee, which proposed that Johnston take fourth place and Back take sixth. Joe Spagnolo of the Sunday Times reports one of the members of the selection committee, party state president Norman Moore, stormed out of a state executive meeting last week and threatened to resign as it became apparent the recommendation would not be supported, before apologising for what he conceded was a “dummy spit”.

Mark Coultan of The Australian (paywalled, I’m guessing) reports that the Liberal member for Barton, Nick Varvaris, has finally decided after much prevarication that he will seek re-election in the seat he won from Labor in 2013. Varvaris has been poleaxed by the latest redistribution, which has turned his 0.3% margin into a notional Labor margin of 5.2% by adding territory around Marrickville. Mark Coultan also reports the Liberals are still yet to endorse candidates in the competitive seats of Paterson and Kingsford Smith, but are likely to do so this weekend.

Jared Owens of The Australian has a useful article (probably paywalled) on the state of the parties’ double dissolution Senate tickets. While many remain to be finalised, Coalition tickets are now set in Victoria (incumbents Mitch Fifield, Scott Ryan, James Paterson and Bridget McKenzie, followed by newcomer Jane Hume, who recently suffered a surprise defeat to Paterson in her bid to fill Michael Ronaldson’s vacancy), Queensland (Ian Macdonald, George Brandis, Matt Canavan, James McGrath, Barry O’Sullivan and Joanna Lindgren, all of whom are incumbents) and South Australia (Simon Birmingham, Cory Bernardi, Anne Ruston, David Fawcett and Sean Edwards, all incumbents). Labor’s ticket in Queensland will be headed by two newcomers in former state MP Murray Watt and former party state secretary Anthony Chisholm, who are repectively of the Left and the Right. Behind them are incumbents Claire Moore and Chris Ketter, with another newcomer in Jane Casey in fifth place.

Stay tuned for the regular Tuesday poll release early this afternoon from Essential Research, which will probably be followed by a bit of a lull after the weekend storm. A full update of BludgerTrack, incorporating the latest state breakdowns, should follow a few hours after.

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.

797 comments on “Highlights of day one”

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  1. Just noticed that there’s been a Lonergan poll today. I had been beginning to wonder if their entire existence was the product of my fevered mind. This has to be their first federal poll in at least a year, correct?

  2. Imacca

    But we might need an infusion of a small number of something like an expensive ‘Raf’ while they get their act together.

  3. It’s a mistake to treat John Fraser like a highly competent civil servant who would be an asset to any government. His macroeconomic understanding is poor; he is doing damage in his role. A new government should have a free hand to appoint people who are up to the job. Bowen is aiming for bullshit process points – “look how non-partisan we are” – instead of thinking strategically about the economic agenda the nation needs. John Fraser is the guy you appoint if you are determined to make fiscal policy ineffective so that you can campaign on paeans to small government.

  4. Nicholas

    It’s a mistake to treat John Fraser like a highly competent civil servant who would be an asset to any government.

    Do you think this is ‘news’ to anyone who takes notice?

    A homily about ‘zip’.

  5. Crosby/Textor have thrown a couple of dead cats into the ring (immigration, Green-Labor coalition) to get the media away from issues they don’t like. A lot of negative focus on Bill, together with pushing the false but believable idea that the Liberals are the safer economic managers, this they believe should get them across the line. Difficult strategy to counter.

  6. But we might need an infusion of a small number of something like an expensive ‘Raf’ while they get their act together.

    Actually, a possible replacement for the SHornet may be an upgraded F35. By then the ADVENT program should have produced some results:


    It seems oriented to F35 and targeting some substantial improvements.

  7. Don Farrell to nominate for the SA fed senate ticket after being rejected by Jay for a SA state Senate job.
    Talk about the undead.

  8. To underscore just how close this election is, Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten are precisely the same height: 1.78m. This is the first time this has ever happened in Australian political history.

  9. So Bernardi is no longer top dog … couldn’t have happened to a nicer RWNJ! Shame they didn’t demote him to number 5 on the ticket!!!!

  10. Rowan
    9m9 minutes ago
    Rowan ‏@FightingTories
    High Court case on senate voting changes will be delivered 10am Friday 13 May

  11. Nicholas
    #756 Tuesday, May 10, 2016 at 10:25 pm

    ….Bowen is aiming for bullshit process points…

    …digging deep to invent some kind of fault in Bowen….but don’t worry, Labor won’t be coming to you or any other G-staffer or wannabe for recruitment advice…

  12. The Terrorghaph only has one right and that is the date, cannot trust their weather reports either, but that is not a bad piccie of Albo

  13. Appologies if already discussed on here, but here in SA there has been a considerable media storm about election posters. The Local Government Association has demanded all election posters be taken down by 9am tomorrow morning. It appears that while other parties are working to comply, the Liberals are not. Well the Liberals got a decent hammering over the issue on Today Tonight this evening, with a particular belting reserved for Jamie Briggs, who has reportedly taken out an injunction on the matter. Not a great look!

  14. :large

    If ‘t be true I didn’t knoweth any better about the fraught relationship between Lab’r and Green even but now, I’d bethink yond Murdoch hadst chosen a side.

  15. What is this thing with Cosby Textor? Didn’t Textor spark a dispute with Indonesia. Bit outside of his job description & surely shows a marked level of arrogance. If they’re advising expect same old same old = FUD

  16. Wow Christopher Pyne was subjected to some serious pwnage by Bernard Keane – kapow! I Didn’t think LNPers were allowed to use social media?

  17. Nina

    I Didn’t think LNPers were allowed to use social media?

    I think you’re right, Pyne wasn’t sure if Keane was a journo so obviously not s frequent visitor to Crikey.

  18. I Didn’t think LNPers were allowed to use social media?

    Ahhh….but now that Peta is not there to keep them on a tight leash??

  19. josquin @ #763 Tuesday, May 10, 2016 at 10:45 pm

    Crosby/Textor have thrown a couple of dead cats into the ring (immigration, Green-Labor coalition) to get the media away from issues they don’t like. A lot of negative focus on Bill, together with pushing the false but believable idea that the Liberals are the safer economic managers, this they believe should get them across the line. Difficult strategy to counter.

    It’s a difficult strategy to keep going for over 50 days of electioneering. Turnbull and Morrison are simply not up to it and will be smashed in one-on-one debates with Shorten and Bowen.

    In fact, I can’t think of a single Liberal frontbencher who is a patch on their opposite number on the Labor side.

  20. Bill Shorten should get some Botox in his moobs for the duration. It was not a good look to see them bouncing up and down as he ran through Townsville earlier today.

  21. Forget running, Shorten should be down the local PYC hitting a punch bag with PMMTs face on it. Good exercise + the bogans will luv it.

  22. Just caught up with Bowen’s NPC speech.

    Clarity and detail just blows anything Morrison says/does right out of the water. I really hope the strategy of well-founded policy works with the electorate (and, I suspect, more importantly, the media) because it is what people have been crying out for – substance over sloganeering. I’d like to see people begin to trust pollies more.

  23. Just caught up with Bowen’s NPC speech.

    Hit that on iview and then caught him on 7:30. He’s campaigning very well. I’m starting to get the impression that the ALP is a lot less “frantic” than the Libs so far in the campaign and my survive th “long march” in better shape.

  24. TPOF:


    Labor government alone – or not at all.

    Smart move. If there is a hung Parliament, it will be because all the momentum is with Labor. If they step back and let the Liberals form government rather than getting in bed with the Greens, the Coalition will fall apart and any subsequent election will see them swept away.

    There is nothing for Labor in even slightly indicating getting in bed with the Greens – however described.

    I have to agree. If there is a hung parliament, I daresay Labor would be praying that the various crossbenchers support the Coalition over them, as any ensuing minority government would almost certainly end in tears. Labor would probably be back in goverment within a year.

    And if the Greens do wind up being the deciding vote in the House, the most likely result is a Labor minority government regardless It would be political suicide for the Greens to support the Coalition – the only choice available to them is to support Labor is on the floor of parliament. (I mean, they could force another election, I suppose, but that would probably be political suicide as well… or at least looked upon very dimly by the electotate.)

  25. How shallow can it get (and only day 2 – or is it 3?), ‘ill fitting suits’ and now ‘moobs’ – FFS…

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