Newspoll: 54-46 to Labor in Western Australia

As the state election campaign officially gets under way, Newspoll records a break in Labor’s favour. Also featured: a long hard look at where the election stands to be won and lost.

Courtesy of The Australian, a Newspoll timed to coincide with the start of a Western Australian state election campaign that officially began yesterday has Labor leading 54-46, out from 52-48 since the previous poll in November. One Nation has gone from 3% to 13%, which I suspect has something to do with how it’s been treated in the questionnaire. This takes a four-point bite out of the Liberals, now at 30%, and one point out of the Nationals, at 5%, while Labor is down three to 38% with the Greens steady on 9%. However, movement on personal ratings is in the other direction, perhaps reflecting the previous poll being conducted in the wake of the September spill motion. Mark McGowan’s lead as preferred premier narrows from 47-29 to 44-32; Colin Barnett is up four on approval to 32% and down four on disapproval to 57%; and McGowan is respectively steady on 46% and up one to 34%.

Also noted around the place:

Andrew Burrell and Paige Taylor in The Australian:

The Australian has been told by Liberal sources that internal polling shows Labor on track to win at least 12 extra seats but that senior figures also believe Mr Barnett could still win the campaign and sneak back across the line. It is understood the Liberals already are resigned to losing the marginal seats of Belmont, ­Forrestfield, Perth, Swan Hills and Morley, as well as the notionally Liberal seats of West Swan and Collie-Preston. The government is also deeply concerned about its chances in Morley (held with a margin of 4.7 per cent), Balcatta (7.7 per cent margin) and Southern River (10.9 per cent margin). In addition, internal polling is showing big swings against the Liberals in what appear to be three safe northern seats of Perth — Wanneroo (held by Local Government Minister Paul Miles), Burns Beach (held by Environment Minister Albert Jacob) and Joondalup (held by backbencher Jan Norberger). The Liberals hold all three seats with margins of between 10.4 per cent and 11.3 per cent.

The West Australian reported on Tuesday that a Labor-commissioned ReachTEL poll of 700 respondents from Joondalup, indicating that Labor would easily account for the imposing 10.4% Liberal margin with an 18% swing. After excluding the 4.7% undecided, the primary votes were undecided Labor 36.9%, Liberal 34.1%, One Nation 14.3%, Greens 10.7% and others 4.0%, with Labor leading 58-42 on two-party preferred. The poll also found McGowan with preferred premier leads of 60.7-39.3 over Colin Barnett, and 68.4-31.6 over Deputy Premier Liza Harvey.

• In a ten-seats-to-watch review in The West Australian yesterday, it was noted that “insiders from both parties” expected Darling Range (13.1%) to go down to the wire.

Me paywalled in Crikey today, on the horse race:

A lot depends on the distribution of the swing — and here Labor has cause for optimism. The battle zone of the electoral pendulum runs from Balcatta on 7.1% to Darling Range on 13.1%, with another 12 Liberal-held seats at various points in between. Those past the 10% mark include six (Joondalup, Southern River, Wanneroo, Burns Beach, Darling Range and Kalamunda) on the electorally volatile metropolitan fringes, where swings to Labor at the federal election tended to be around three times higher than elsewhere in the state … If Labor can reel in at least three, it can get by without more established and electorally stickier seats on smaller margins, namely Balcatta (7.1%), Mount Lawley (8.9%) and Bicton (10.0%).

Me paywalled in Crikey on Tuesday, on One Nation preferences:

Given that ballot paper studies have shown nearly half of Liberal voters follow their party’s how-to-vote card, this promises to be a game-changer for One Nation in seats where the Liberals do poorly enough to drop out of the count. However, it’s less clear how much a benefit the Liberals stand to gain in return … After allowing for the tendency of preferences to flow more strongly to the dominant major party in any given electorate, One Nation preferences (at the federal election) divided fairly evenly where there was a split ticket, while a preference direction increased the share of preferences for the beneficiary by around 8%. In a typical electorate, this suggests a preference deal stands to benefit the Liberals by around 1% on the two-party preferred vote.

Me paywalled in Crikey last Friday, on One Nation’s lower house prospects:

Much of the chatter surrounding the party’s prospects has focused on Nationals leader Brendon Grylls’ seat of Pilbara … A better bet may be the seat of Kalgoorlie, which ranked second behind Pilbara in terms of the One Nation Senate vote. Like Pilbara, Kalgoorlie was won by the Nationals for the first time in 2013, having variously been held in recent times by Labor, Liberal and an independent. One Nation’s task will be made easier by the retirement of sitting member Wendy Duncan, and it may also stand to benefit from the town’s simmering racial tensions. Alternatively, the party may find it easier to poach seats from Labor, given the potential for preference deals with the Liberals and Nationals — something that is certainly not in prospect with Labor. The strongest Labor-held seat for One Nation in terms of last year’s Senate vote was Collie-Preston, which Labor narrowly retained at the last two elections thanks to the local popularity of its sitting member, Mick Murray.

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.

27 comments on “Newspoll: 54-46 to Labor in Western Australia”


    WA election Newspoll: Libs need last-gasp deal with Pauline Hanson
    The Australian 11:00PM February 2, 2017
    Andrew Burrell
    WA Chief Reporter Perth @AndrewBurrell7

    Support for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation is soaring across Western Australia ahead of next month’s state election, in a ­dramatic shift that could deliver it lower house seats and help the Labor Party win government.

    The latest Newspoll, taken exclusively for The Australian this week, suggests the rapid ­re-emergence of One Nation will hinder Premier Colin Barnett’s attempt to win a third term on March 11.

    The result will increase pressure on Mr Barnett — the ­nation’s longest-serving leader — to negotiate a preference-swap deal with One Nation, which could be his only chance of hanging on to power.

    With the campaign officially beginning this week, the Labor Party under Mark McGowan has increased its election-­winning lead over the Liberal-National government.

    The ALP leads by 54 per cent to 46 per cent in two-party preferred terms — up from 52-48 in the last Newspoll in October — which would deliver the party 14 more seats at the election and make Mr McGowan premier.


    The Newspoll survey also asked One Nation voters about how they intended to allocate their preferences.

    The flow of preferences was split roughly 50-50 between Labor and the Liberal-Nationals, which would boost Labor’s chances in several conservative-held seats that it aims to win.

    The Liberals are expected to ­attempt to strike a preference deal with One Nation, but Mr Tincknell said last night he expected One Nation would allocate preferences equally to both Liberal and Labor in different seats.

  2. The Chamber of minerals anti Grylls ads getting a big workout on SBS tonight.

    Funny they think people watching a program about cooking produce from Kew Gardens need to be swayed on the evils of a mining tax

    And doesn’t anybody tell these people that the same ad over and over actually annoys people?
    Going to be a long month unless they have a new one or two in the wings.

  3. I’m curious: This Newspoll has the Fibs losing 17% on the primaries (1/3! of their primary in 2013!!), but ON gaining 13%, with some of that in turn leaking to Labor on preferences.

    Why is ON such a BFD?? They’re the quintessential anti-Weeping Angels of Australian politics – ignore them, and they’ll fade away, hopefully along with their “helpful” mainstreaming of racism, misogyny and kick-the-poor self-entitlements.

  4. These are great numbers. I hope they’re true.
    Ross, The ads are annoying & the idiot working man types that are spruiking the miners line just aren’t believable. I think that ship has sailed. How is it that a 25c royalty that has been around longer than I have hasn’t changed in 50 years? Twenty five cents a tonne!!
    Time for the foreign multinational miners to cough up, even just a little bit.

  5. I think WA deserves another term of a a Liberal government. I am getting annoyed with people living high on the hog, pissing their money against the wall, and when the Lib bingefest fizzles out then expect the ALP to work their guts out cleaning up the mess, AND with the stolen silverware.

    Fuck em. Run dead. Give ’em some more of what they suddenly don’t want.
    So says my cynical side.


  6. i am watching France24 news channel. The Trump Australia phone call is in with other top stories. GOP bigwig called our Ambassador to soothe plucked feathers er reaasure value of close ties.

  7. If even The Fascict is reporting the WA Libs are in trouble, then they are in trouble. The fact is, they let the biggest mining boom in the world finish largely untaxed, and now there is nothing left to prop up the States finances. WA could have been as rich as Norway, but no. And with sky high wages and housing costs, they are hopelessly uncompetitive, even vs the rest of Australia.

    One OECD study I saw concluded total taxes on WA mining wee the second lowest in the world. Barnett failed WA, so that Gina and friends could get rich.

  8. Socrates,
    I hope they are not looking at handouts at SA’s expense. My younguns working in Perth got out before the ship started taking on water. They have no plans to return.

  9. On ABC this morning, Trump also labelled the refugees as criminals, and wondered why the US should take Australian criminals. Nice.

  10. [The Chamber of minerals anti Grylls ads getting a big workout on SBS tonight.
    Funny they think people watching a program about cooking produce from Kew Gardens need to be swayed on the evils of a mining tax
    And doesn’t anybody tell these people that the same ad over and over actually annoys people?]
    You would begin to wonder why an organisation with such vast resources they can spend millions on a political campaign to stop a tax change couldn’t have members that paid a bit more as they exploit resources of the state …

  11. WWP
    It actually boggles my mind a bit that the mining charge Grylls wants to increase has stayed the same for decades.

    Can anybody think of another charge, fee, or levy that has not been increased?

    Even indexing it to the inflation rate would have raised heaps of revenue.

    The miners are not benevolent institututions. They are quicker than most to dump staff in a downturn and increasing automation in mines means many jobs will disappear forever.

  12. Further on the mining tax (or lack of it in WA!) in case anyone is wondering who benefits from its absence, when I did the figures a few years ago on foreign ownership, it was as follows:
    BHPB 76% foreign owned
    Rio Tinto 84% foreign owned
    Xtrata/Glencorp 100% foreign owned
    Industry average 80% foreign owned

    So apart from Twiggy and Gina, most of the beneficiaries of this untaxed bonanza were not even Australian. If you want to find Perth’s missing billions, start looking in New York, London or Zurich.

    Indeed, I do feel sorry for WA workers, but no, they should not be bailed out at the expense of other states.

  13. Socrates
    Friday, February 3, 2017 at 12:22 pm
    Further on the mining tax

    This is a more complete statement on the royalties regime in WA.

    Date: Thursday, 08 September 2016

    In 2015 the Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) collected $5.2 billion in royalties from mineral and petroleum producers in Western Australia, and almost three-quarters of this was from the iron ore industry.

    Iron ore royalties and additional rentals
    Western Australia has a three-tiered royalty system. The royalty rate depends on the level of processing and the form in which a mineral is first sold – 7.5 per cent for ore, 5 per cent for concentrate and 2.5 per cent for final form. All iron ore companies pay royalties at 7.5 per cent. However, if the iron ore is concentrated, the rate is 5 per cent. Based on recent prices of A$60 per tonne, iron ore royalty payments equate to $4.50 a tonne or $3 a tonne for concentrate.

    Iron ore producers are also required to pay an additional rental of 25 cents per tonne on their mining lease after 15 years of production on a mining lease. This charge is specific to iron ore producers and originates from the1960s when State Agreements were introduced for operations in the Pilbara. The additional rental provided a mechanism for the Government to recoup some of its investment in infrastructure in the region. It was later incorporated into the Mining Act and now applies to all iron ore producers after 15 years. At present three companies, Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Cliffs Natural Resources Pty Ltd, pay the additional rental.

    The Commonwealth Grants Commission takes royalty and other income into account when allocating GST receipts. As Royalty income rises in a State, GST distributions to that State fall and vice versa.

    What this effectively means is that allocations for the purpose of Horizontal Fiscal Equalisation (HFE) are made between the States and Territories rather than from the Commonwealth to the States, as occurred prior to the Howard/Costello measures introduced with the GST.

    So now we see the States and Territories bickering between themselves over the allocation of GST and other revenues. This has undone the Federal compact. It should be reformed. HFE is a Commonwealth responsibility and should be reinstated.

    Perth – and WA generally – really needs substantial public investment. The other States need the same thing. The now-prolonged under-investment by State agencies is one of the factors that is driving the very poor income growth results in this economy. This has to change. In WA, real household disposable income is falling. To address this we have to re-visit the fiscal and ideological errors of Howard and Costello. The sooner we do it the better.


    Both major parties appear to be seeking preference help from One Nation ahead of WA’s election in March, with Pauline Hanson’s party claiming Labor reached out to them about a possible deal.

    One Nation WA leader Colin Tincknell said he was surprised when Labor leader Mark McGowan “came knocking” yesterday to discuss preferences and that his party was still unsure how it would play things.

  15. A deal between the Libs/Nats and PHON would send a message to moderate voters that the LNP is drifting right since Howard. What % leakage from Lib to Labor might this mean?

  16. paywalled

    WA election: Western Power privatisation hits Colin Barnett
    The Australian 12:00AM February 4, 2017
    WA Chief Reporter Perth

    West Australian Premier Colin Barnett’s gamble to seek a mandate­ for the privatisation of state-owned Western Power at the looming election has backfired, with a special Newspoll survey showing 61 per cent of voters oppose the sale.


    Only 44 per cent of Liberal and Nationals voters said they supported­ the idea; 44 per cent were opposed and 12 per cent were uncommitted. Among Labor voters, the idea was less popular. Just 15 per cent favoured the plan and 76 per cent were opposed.

    Among One Nation voters, 28 per cent were in support and 63 per cent against.

    But the highest level of oppos­ition came from Greens voters: 13 per cent favoured the proposal and 77 per cent opposed it.

  17. jack stepney @ #23 Saturday, February 4, 2017 at 7:57 am

    A deal between the Libs/Nats and PHON would send a message to moderate voters that the LNP is drifting right since Howard. What % leakage from Lib to Labor might this mean?

    Good question, but I’m not sure people care. My impression is voters (1) see One Nation as less “right-wing” than they used to. One Nation’s xenophobia was pretty much just racist kookery when directed at Asians, but when directed at Muslims with the terrorism issue factored in it is much closer to the mainstream. Also (2) that voters are accustomed to their parties doing deals for electoral gain, having been desensitised to it by the sort of nonsense deals done in the old Senate system, and are no longer as likely to hold it against their parties.

    So my guess is that if the Liberals and Nationals do cut a deal with PHON the damage to their vote will be small and maybe undetectable.

  18. I think I LNP / LIB / PHON deal harms PHON most, it reduces their ‘protest party’ potential. The idiot senator from South Australia was most careful not to cut-off votes from either side.

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