BludgerTrack: 52.2-47.8 to Labor

Another week with no discernible change to the BludgerTrack poll aggregate, outside of a further dip in Malcolm Turnbull’s net approval.

This week’s reading of BludgerTrack once again records next to no change whatsoever, with both Newspoll and Essential Research proving true to their recent form. The only perceptible shift is on personal ratings, thanks to Newspoll numbers which delivered Malcolm Turnbull the worst result of his prime ministership. Even here the change is limited to Turnbull’s net approval, with preferred prime minister essentially unchanged.


This week’s supplementary news bites all relate to the legal issues surrounding eligibility to sit in parliament, in each case involving minor party or independent MPs.

• After announcing he would resign from the Senate following the collapse of his housing construction group, Bob Day has indicated he might yet hang on if a deal for an investor to save the business comes through. However, authorities on such matters cited in media reports say the fact that his companies are in the hands of liquidators mean there is little chance of that happening. At the very least, Day is insisting on remaining in the Senate until the end of the year, saying in a statement that “marriage plebiscite legislation, ABCC and our other work is too important to Family First to have a vacant seat for even one day in November”. Fairfax reports that unions are “considering their options” with respect to a legal challenge to Day’s right to sit in the Senate given his financial position, but as Bernard Keane of Crikey explains, a court would need to determine Day was insolvent before section 44(iii) of the Constitution would have legal force.

• Western Australia’s One Nation Senator, Rod Culleton, has dodged one bullet after a court in New South Wales did not record a conviction against him after he pleaded guilty to larceny. This related to an incident in which he removed the keys from the ignition of a tow truck whose driver was attempting to repossess a car he was leasing and threw them into a ditch. He thus eludes, for now, the reach of section 44(ii), by which one may not a hold a seat if one is “convicted and is under sentence, or subject to be sentenced, for any offence punishable under the law of the Commonwealth or of a State by imprisonment for one year or longer”. However, two further obstacles lie ahead: a creditor’s petition that threatens him with bankruptcy, on which a court hearing is set for November 21; and another charge relating to an incident in which he surrounded a car being used by receivers foreclosing on his Western Australian rural property with hay bales to prevent them from leaving. This allegedly amounted to theft of the car, and requires him to face court in March.

• In the Northern Territory, the Electoral Commission has begun proceedings against the election of Yolngu leader Yingiya Mark Guyula, who won the seat of Nhulunbuy as an independent at the August 27 Northern Territory election from Labor deputy leader Lynne Walker by a margin of eight votes. It now emerges that Guyula was serving on the Milingimbi Community Advisory Board, for which he was paid all of $482 in allowances for attending four meetings. There does not appear to be much doubt that this is sufficient to trigger a prohibition on persons holding public office from running for election. The NTEC’s action comes after the Guyula’s difficulty was reported on a fortnight ago by the Northern Territory News. In the view of Ken Parish, a former Labor MP and now Darwin legal academic and stalwart of the Australian blogosphere (who signed Guyula’s statement of reply as a witness), the leak was almost certainly the work of Labor, which has a “distinctly inexperienced” front bench that “badly needs the services” of Walker. The most likely outcome would seem to be the voiding of the result and a by-election, at which Guyula would presumably be free to run if he divested himself of the position.

• Guyula’s difficulty relates to a section of the Northern Territory self-government act that echoes section 44(iv) of the Constitution, which applies to anyone who “holds any office of profit under the Crown, or any pension payable during the pleasure of the Crown out of any of the revenues of the Commonwealth”, other than ministers and military officers. This resulted in the voiding of the election of independent Phil Cleary at the Wills by-election of 1992 and Liberal member Jackie Kelly in the seat of Lindsay at the 1996 election, both of whom were subsequently re-elected. A parliamentary inquiry in 1998 recommended that this section of the Constitution be removed through a referendum on the basis that it was “uncertain and unfair” in the modern context, and that the relevant objectives could be better served through less restrictive measures determined by the parliament.

• Former Australian Electoral Commission official Michael Maley has made a submission to the parliamentary inquiry into the recent federal election, in which he suggests a disclosure scheme to handle another constitutional prohibition on election candidates: this one relating to foreign citizens or those “under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power”, as per section 44(i). This was used to overturn the election of One Nation’s Heather Hill to a Queensland Senate seat in 1998 on the grounds that she held dual citizenship. There were some who queried whether Tony Abbott had duly renounced his British citizenship when he first ran for parliament in 1994, or at any point thereafter. Maley argues that the status of citizenship is more difficult to determine that matters relating to solvency, convictions and the holding of public office, and that the best solution is to require candidates not born in Australia to provide “a complete statement of the facts on which he or she wished to rely to establish the absence of any relevant disqualification under section 44(i) of the Constitution, along with copies of any supporting documents providing evidence relevant to the issue”.

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.

1,769 comments on “BludgerTrack: 52.2-47.8 to Labor”

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  1. I can just see a Russian junior officer telling his general (who’s in the middle of fighting a nuclear war) that cost/benefit analysis is balanced against using expensive nukes to take out what is one of America’s prime strategic satellite bases:


    In any case we know that a cost/benefit analysis is only evah damanded of the Labor Party!

  2. Abbott has apparently specified Indigenous Affairs as his peace price.
    In this scenario Scullion is just another bit of collateral damage in the life and times of Abbott.

  3. I had assumed that all the active warheads (ie those capable of being delivered within an hour or so) are pre-programmed.
    I had assumed that shoot first and ask questions afterwards would have been the way to go.

  4. I don’t know if Turnbull can afford to yield to Abbott. They already know he’s weak and since they are already taking the polling hit for running Abbott in a Turnbull suit they might see it as an invitation to go the rest of the way. Especially because a reasonable number of them believe the 2PP hit is from being insufficiently conservative (indicating an impressive ability to misunderstand either polling or preferences).

  5. I just did a quick trawl using the search term ‘Popowski’.
    The locus appears to be eastern Poland/Bylorussia. (Historical note: the single highest civilian death toll percentage-wise for any state during WW2 was in Bylorussia).
    I have no idea whether any of the web links are related to our Liberal Party friend but Popowskis are recognized as having protected jews during world war two, presumably at risk of their lives.
    The most probable (statistically speaking) trajectory of a Popowski family member to reach Australia would have been by way of being displaced persons aka refugees followed by being part of the great wave of post WW2 migrants accepted into Australia.

    Whether family or no, I imagine that the Popowskis who risked their lives to save jews in World War Two would not be all that impressed with a Popowski whose main aim in life appears to be to stop refugees and displaced persons reaching the protection of Australia.

  6. Sky News Australia
    3m3 minutes ago
    Sky News Australia ‏@SkyNewsAust
    WATCH #thelatest 6pm, I speak w Family First SA Leader @dennishood – some ominous warnings for the Government on ABCC & PPL!!!! (@ljayes)

  7. Mike Hilliard,
    Had to go back a bit to find out why everyone started crapping on about nukes. No great surprise who started it.

    Yep. Our resident Concern Troll.

  8. Well, I hope no one took a blind bit of notice of my tips for the Melbourne Cup. I certainly shouldn’t have! $12 gone that I will never get back. : )

  9. Malcolm will be rapt that Abbott’s ambitions have come light!! Just as he gets Stop the boats Mk 2 up front and centre Abbott runs a distraction. If Mal says rack off then the tension within the Liberal Party continues. If he agrees to do it then tensions within the coalition and the the Liberal Party arise. Indigenous Affairs is held by the Nationals so they aren’t going to give up a cabinet position so which Liberal Minister is going to give up their spot for Tones or is he going to expand the ministry once again? You’ve got to feel sorry for Malcolm. On the other hand, maybe you don’t.

  10. I wouldn’t guarantee that Comey not getting a swanky gig means much. A lot of movers and shakers are ungrateful snots. If the purpose was to damage Hillary and it fails to stop her election / keep the Senate thetd

  11. I wouldn’t guarantee that Comey not getting a swanky gig means much. A lot of movers and shakers are ungrateful snots. If the purpose was to damage Hillary and it fails to stop her election / keep the Senate they’d hang him out to dry in a New York minute.

  12. Also sadly due to the existence of the prosperity gospel (aka Trickle Down in a Priest’s Robe) it’s often hard to tell genuine if misguided Christians from RWNJs.

  13. Mike Carlton: Enter 3 witches (pic)
    AshGhebranious ‏@AshGhebranious · 1h1 hour ago

    Sophie Mirabella dressed as a crim, Julie Bishop dressed as french whore and Gina Reinhardt dressed as the main sail of The Bounty

  14. Boerwar
    Tuesday, November 1, 2016 at 3:58 pm

    Abbott has apparently specified Indigenous Affairs as his peace price.
    In this scenario Scullion is just another bit of collateral damage in the life and times of Abbott.

    Scullion doesn’t matter. The damage Abbott would do as a minister would be far more significant. I which flags he would array behind him?

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