MediaReach: 64-36 to Labor in Northern Territory

A new poll confirms the widely held view that the Northern Territory’s Country Liberal Party government is set to be decimated at the August 27 election.

With the Northern Territory election now a little under four weeks away, the Northern Territory News has published results from an automated phone poll of 887 respondents conducted by MediaReach, which credits Labor with a 64-36 lead (hat tip to Leroy Lynch). This amounts to a 20% swing since the 2012 election that brought the Country Liberal Party government to power, which if uniform would leave the CLP competitive only in Katherine and the Alice Springs seats of Araluen and Braitling. Several points to be made here:

• MediaReach is a largely untested pollster, but its name was mentioned a few times in relation to private polling ahead of the federal election. One of these credited Labor with a 12% swing in the Darwin seat of Solomon, compared with an actual result of 7.4%.

• The Northern Territory’s substantial remote communities are practically impossible to poll, and the report provides no indication of how this difficulty was dealt with. Others have limit their endeavours to just polling Darwin in the past. The report suggests that may have been what this poll has done, as breakdowns are provided for the northern suburbs, Palmerston, the rural Darwin area and the inner suburbs, with no results indicated for anywhere outside Darwin.

• Candidate factors are uniquely important in the Northern Territory given the tiny size of the electorates, and particularly so in those impossible-to-poll remote areas.

Nonetheless, if the poll is to be interpreted conservatively as indicating a 15% swing to Labor in the Darwin area, it would be hard to see the CLP retaining any seat there. Labor actually held up quite well in Darwin when it was voted out in 2012, instead losing office on the back of an unanticipated rout in remote electorates. The poll suggests the CLP might be able to hang on in the three Palmerston seats, particularly the two being defended by sitting members, and I presume Gerry Wood and Kezia Purick will presumably retain their seats of Nelson and Goyder as independents. But it would be very hard to see Labor winning fewer than 10 of the 15 Darwin-region seats. Labor holds a further two seats outside Darwin; is presumably well placed to win the semi-rural, semi-remote seat of Daly, which has a post-redistribution margin of 5.2%; and might even be a show in Alice Springs for once (Adam Giles’ margin in Braitling is 19.6%).

The remaining question is whether they will win back any of the largely indigenous remote electorates. Two of these, Arafura and Stuart, are being defended by the winners from 2012 as Country Liberal Party members; in a third case, Larisa Lee in Arnhem, the member is now an independent. Alison Anderson has held Namatjira in various party guises since 2005, was a CLP member at the time of the 2012 election, and is now an independent, and will presumably retain the seat as such.

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.

9 comments on “MediaReach: 64-36 to Labor in Northern Territory”

  1. I’d be very surprised if the CLP win any of the bush electorates this election. They are completely on the nose in the remote areas. Current indies may hang on, but I reckon Labor are a very good chance in both Arnhem Land and the desert.

  2. 7:30 report has been the cherry on top of a disunited and dysfunctional government. If people remember back to how CLP were such a powerhouse in NT politics when they won office for 27 consecutive years- it really gives perspective how far they have fallen.

  3. The Giles Government is up there with the most chaotic and shambolic government ever in Australian history. A complete wipe out would be well deserved.

  4. At the federal election the only areas the CLP out-polled the ALP were in Darwin’s hinterland. Unfortunately for the CLP this is nicely held by independent Gerry Wood. I’m sure it won’t happen but there must be a small possibility that the CLP will not win a single seat. They will probably win 1 in Palmerston and 1 in Alice at least. They deserve to be completely obliterated.

  5. William I would’ve thought you’d want to mention more than just the 2PP figures. The first preference polling tells another story where Labor doesn’t get any swing on primaries. Instead, the polls indicates a massive 38% of voters wanting to send their vote to minors/independents. It’s going to be a messy election, for sure.

    On the independent side you’ve mentioned Woods (Nelson), Purick (Goyder) and Anderson (Namatjira) will probably retain. Lambley is probably also favoured to retain Araluen as an independent. Larisa Lee (Arnhem) is more than likely on the way out. She barely won in 2012 and hasn’t performed well. She’s up against an enthusiastic young Indigenous teacher from Numbulwar, Selena Uibo, who looks like a likely winner for Labor.

    Being a Katherine local, I can tell you that Willem Westra van Holthe (CLP) is quite on the nose with many of his constituents. Yes, Katherine has always been a CLP seat but locally, the sale of TIO and the push for fracking has created widespread concerns in the flood-prone, pastoralism and tourism reliant town. In the Federal election, all Katherine booths went to Snowdon (ALP) for the first time ever (as far as I know). Willem’s challenger Sandra Nelson has put in a good campaign so far and I think is a good chance.

    And a hot tip: no-one much seems have noticed Yingiya Mark Guyula, independent candidate for Nhulunbuy. He ran for Federal seat of Lingiari last month to test the waters and ended up winning one of the remote polling booths outright (62%) and was competitive in two others (25% and 31% of primaries). He is running a good campaign and obviously hitting a nerve with Yolngu voters and looks like he will give long-standing Labor MLA Lynne Walker a real run for her money.

  6. Update: Alison Anderson is not running for Namatjira and has endorsed the Labor candidate for that seat and for neighbouring Stuart (currently held by CLP’s Bess Price).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *