Day two: Essential, Lonergan, BludgerTrack and more

Individual polls continue to record a statistical dead heat on two-party preferred, but the BludgerTrack poll aggregate detects a subtle shift in favour of the Coalition since the release of the budget.

First up, the latest dispatches from the front:

• The preference deal with the Greens being pursued by the Victorian Liberals at the behest of the party’s state president, Michael Kroger, is meeting resistance from other branches of the party. Rick Wallace of The Australian today cites unidentified Liberal sources expressing displeasure at the idea, and gets Tasmanian Senator Eric Abetz to reiterate that the “very strong view” of his own state division was that the Greens should be put last. The party’s federal director, Tony Nutt, issued a statement yesterday stressing that no decision had been made.

• Labor hit a spot of bother today in the Townsville electorate of Herbert, which it has never quite been able to pick off since it fell to the Liberals in the 1996 landslide. Bill Shorten’s Queensland road trip brought him to the electorate today, but a doorstop he conducted together with the Labor candidate, Cathy O’Toole, was dominated by O’Toole’s involving in a protest at Liberal member Ewen Jones’s electorate office in February pleading for “a more humane policy for refugees”.

• Apropos Dennis Jensen’s announcement he will run as an independent in Tangney, the Australian Parliamentary Library reviews “the electoral fortunes of MPs who left major parties and contested the next election as Independents”, going back to 1949. Out of 17 identified examples, 12 failed to win their seats (several of whom left office under a cloud); three won re-election but were then defeated at the next election subsequently; and another won re-election and then retired at the election subsequently. Only Bob Katter went on to lasting electoral success.

Now to polling. BludgerTrack has been updated with the latest Essential Research, along with state data from Ipsos, Essential and ReachTEL. The Coalition is now credited with a lead of 50.5-49.5, which is full point better than the pre-budget reading from last week. That translates into a net gain of three since last week on the seat projection, with two gains in New South Wales and one each in Victoria and the Northern Territory balanced by a loss in Queensland. At some point in the not distant future, I’ll start including state-level primary vote breakdowns and two-party results from respondent-allocated trends as well as previous election preferences, but for the time being the display looks like so:


Two new polls were released yesterday, and I have a bit left to say about one from the day before:

• Essential Research’s fortnightly rolling average has the Labor lead down from 52-48 to 51-49, with the Coalition up a point on the primary vote to 42%, Labor steady on 38% and the Greens steady on 10%. The poll also records 20% approval and 29% disapproval of the budget, with 35% opting for neither and 15% for don’t know. Twenty-one per cent felt the budget had made them more confident in the government, compared with 32% for less confident and 35% for makes no difference. However, most of the specific measures were well supported; 69% for internships for the young unemployed versus 14% opposed; 72% for the higher tax on cigarettes, versus 21% against; 62% for capping super tax concessions, versus 21% against; and 50% in favour of company tax cuts, versus 34% against. Opinion was evenly divided on the tax cut for those on more than $80,000, at 43% for and 44% against, and there was a predictable result for “cuts of $1.2 billion to aged care providers”. A bonus survey question provided exclusively to SBS recorded a view that the budget would make it harder for young people looking to buy their first home and gain a higher education, migrant families seeking education jobs, and people saving for their retirement – but there was a relatively good result for “young people trying to find a job”, presumably reflecting the internships scheme. The poll also recorded 48% opposition to bringing asylum seekers from Manus Island to Australia with 30% in support, and 39% holding the view that conditions in detention centres were poor, versus 32% for good.

• The Guardian Australia yesterday published a poll by Lonergan Research showing 50-50 on two-party preferred, from primary votes of Coalition 42%, Labor 35% and Greens 12%. It also found only 12% felt they would be better off because of the budget compared with 38% for worse off, and that 29% said it made them more likely to vote for the Coalition compared with 47% for less likely. The poll was automated phone survey of 1841 respondents conducted Friday to Sunday.

• I hadn’t mentioned the budget response results from Newspoll, which are worth a closer look. Among other things, there are breakdowns by income cohort, which you don’t often see in published polling. Those on higher incomes ($100,000 and lower) were more disposed to have an overall favourable view than those on lower incomes ($50,000 or less), but not by a great order of magnitude: 39% good and 22% in the former case, 31% good and 22% bad in the latter. However, bigger disparities were recorded on personal impact, with 11% of low-income earners expecting to be better off and 45% expecting to be worse off, compared with 29% and 27% for higher income earners. There are also interesting differences by age, with the most favourable responses coming from the young and the least favourable from the middle-aged, with the older cohort landing in between. Charts below put all this into the context of the regular post-budget Newspoll questions going back to 1988 (although there’s a slight change this year and that there are no longer neutral as distinct from uncommitted response options), and show the historic relationship between the “own financial position” and “economic impact” questions, with this year’s question identified in red. On pretty much every measure, this was an average response to a budget, although the plus 5% net rating for economic impact compares slightly unfavourably with an average of plus 10.9%. Its also a weaker than usual result for a Coalition budget, which have had historically better results (part of which is to do with the Howard government holding the reins in the pre-GFC boom years).


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.

1,527 comments on “Day two: Essential, Lonergan, BludgerTrack and more”

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  1. Memo to self buy champagne, check out the flow on various sites, of how the Turnbull vs Shorten debate is going from 6pm onward after debate if it goes how I think it will, open champagne and read Pollbludger.

  2. LU – I oppose the amalgamations, and the problem with the way they have been conducted is that it has been driven by political imperatives, not efficiency.

    Beside the ones mentioned tonight, another overtly political decision was the Parramatta-Auburn-Holroyd decision. The poor, southern parts of Parramatta and Aurburn have been hived off to join Holroyd. These are some of the poorest parts of Sydney, and the new council will have a very weak rate-payer base.

    The wealthier, northern part of Auburn, such as Olympic Park and Wentworth Point have been sent off to Parramatta. With the southern part of Parramatta Council, around Granville, hived off and areas around the Hills and Epping included, the resultant Parramatta Council is heavily stacked in favour of the Liberal Party.

    So a rich, Liberal-leaning council has been created, and an impoverished Labor-leaning council has been created.

    In my own area of the Hunter, the merger that would have made most sense would’ve been Newcastle and Lake Macquarie, which contains Newcastle’s suburbs. The problem was that the resultant council would have over 350,000 people and consequently would’ve been too powerful against the state government. Instead they’re proposing to merge Newcastle Council with a rural and regional council, Port Stephens, to its north.

  3. JimmyDoyle
    I agree.
    Merging Newcastle and Lake Macquarie, would make a lot more since Lake Macquarie suburbs a part of Newcastle.

  4. Baird in NSW has shattered his credibility with his council mergers.
    The process has been farcical, rushed and in many cases politically driven.
    Barnaby Joyce’s local area has been spared forced amalgamation as has Kiama council, in another marginal federal coalition seat.
    The whole process stinks – my local inner west Sydney council has been merged with another two for no logical reason. My local council was well managed, balanced it’s books and invested in community facilities – libraries, roads, parks etc.
    Baird’s hubris may have way too far here. It’s extraordinary.

  5. Hi JimmyDoyle,

    I should have said I support the amalgamations in principle. I agree whole-heatedly with all you say. It is not going to go down well in voter land.

    I don’t have a good read on how it may affect the federal vote, but it cannot be positive.

  6. FEDERAL Police will today make a court application that could lead to Malcolm Turnbull’s election campaign being derailed close to polling day.
    The AFP will ask the Federal Court for access to records related to the James Ashby affair — the claim that a former staffer to Peter Slipper copied his employer’s confidential diary and gave the information to others.
    This comes as Mr Turnbull was linked to a company named in the Panama Papers. He was a former director of a company incorporated by embattled law firm Mossack Fonseca, but there is no suggestion Mr Turnbull had acted improperly.
    Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin has revealed that investigations into the most enduring controversy of recent federal political history are close to conclusion.
    “What I will say is that the majority of the investigation has been completed. However, there are still a couple of significant avenues of inquiry that we are following,” Commissioner Colvin told a Senate Estimates committee last week.

  7. Re. The News Ltd Town hall tomorrow, Crikey reported today it will be on Sky News, or streamed live from the Daily Telegraph web site.
    I am hoping Bill’s Town Hall experience will stand him in good stead, there is nothing like experience.
    Tingle’s column in the AFR was a good summary, it is too early to talk about winners v. Losers (sorry Bluey), it is all about positioning and the vibe. The biggest thing is the equal expose Labor and in particular Shorten is getting, given his lower profile, a long campaign is exactly what they need.

  8. A Federal Court judge will decide within three weeks whether to allow police access to mobile phone records in their investigation of Liberal National Party MP Mal Brough.

    The AFP was in court this morning seeking access to the mobile phone records of James Ashby, staffer of former speaker Peter Slipper.

    Barrister for the Commonwealth, Andrew Berger, told the court there could be information on the phone that “leads to the inference that information has been passed that should not have been passed… and may indicate where an offence has
    potentially been committed”.

  9. Henry,

    I guess you’ll be in the new Sydney Flight-Path Council too then 🙂


    I’ve just had a look at the Cumberland Council boundary – that’s simply outrageous.

  10. Warren

    If we have to have a Lib premier bring back Barry O’Farrell, bottle of wine and all.

    At least more honest in his approach, it now seems.

  11. LU – it is a travesty. Have a look at the Newcastle-Port Stephens proposal:

    The grounds on which this dog’s breakfast of an urban, suburban, regional and rural council is justified, is that the Newcastle and Port Stephens jointly own Newcastle Airport. Now considering the two councils have had no problems owning and managing the airport as two separate councils, this is a pretty weak reason.

  12. [ Have a look at the Newcastle-Port Stephens proposal:]

    Right, even I can see that’s nuts.

    What the aim here? Divide and conquer a Labor area by splitting it in two and attaching them to Lib-leaning areas? Or some form of “growth” strategy to be implemented on the outer southern suburbs of Newcastle? I don’t know the area too well.

  13. LU – I can only guess as to the reason why this proposal is going ahead. One guess is that a combined Newcastle-Lake Macquarie Council would have 340,000 people, which would make it the fourth or fifth largest local area government in the country, and the first or second largest in NSW – and given the Hunter’s strong regional identity and resentment of Sydney, that’s too much power and influence to concentrate in one regional council.

    The other reason I’m guessing at is that the Liberals want to try and discredit Labor in the state seat of Port Stephens, which Labor won in a huge swing in 2015. I’m sorry to say that Newcastle is not a particularly well-run council, so that could potentially damage Labor in Port Stephens.

    Most suburban development in Newcastle is occurring west of the city and in Maitland, so is not affect by this council proposal.

  14. Laura Tingle:

    It’s all harmless fun at one level and many social media followers love the sense of “behind-the-scenes” intimacy but, wedged between the pressure to deliver and, at another level, for some media outlets, the ideological demands of editors to deliver the hammer blow to Labor policies, it is sometimes hard to remember that the job at hand is to ask questions of politicians and to try to tell your readers what is actually happening. Which sometimes is nothing much at all.

    I wonder which publications those editors might work for? Well actually I don’t, I have a pretty good idea.

  15. Will it be possible for those who don’t subscribe to pay TV to view tonight’s debate in full anywhere?

  16. Good Morning
    swegen31: Bizarre situation unfolding on @936hobart. Liberal reps refusing to talk about their own announcement. #politas #ausvotes

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