BludgerTrack: 53.4-46.6 to Labor

Labor records a second week of solid movement on the poll aggregate, although this doesn’t yet account for the Coalition’s relatively good result from ReachTEL.

BludgerTrack moves half a point and three seats in favour of Labor this week, which mostly reflects the fact that it’s been a while now since the Coalition had one of the relatively good data points that are discernible in late May and early June on the two-party trend chart below. This week’s movement may have been ameliorated if the ReachTEL result had been included, but it hasn’t been because I haven’t yet seen the primary vote numbers inclusive of the forced response for the undecided. In other words, the only new result is a strong one for Labor from Essential Research. On the seat projection, Labor is up one in Queensland and two in Western Australia. Nothing new on leadership ratings.

Another new poll worth noting is the Political and Social Views Survey from JWS Research, based on an online survey of 1251 respondents earlier this month. Respondents were asked to identify where they placed parties, leaders and themselves on a zero-to-ten scale along two dimensions: left-right politically, and progressive-conservative socially. The average respondent identified as fairly solidly right of centre, with respective mean scores of 6.3 and 6.0. However, this may indicate a bias towards right-of-centre results across-the-board: even the Greens barely made it to the left on the left-right dimension, and all comers were in the conservative half of the conservative-progressive dimension. Respondents overall saw little distinction between the Coalition and One Nation, and regarded Tony Abbott as the most radical actor out of those on those offer. While the average respondent identified slightly closer to the Coalition on left-right, they landed much closer to Labor on conservative-progressive.

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.

337 comments on “BludgerTrack: 53.4-46.6 to Labor”

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    Abolishing Malapportionment in the Senate is practically impossible because it would involve diminishing the proportionate representation of 3 states in the Senate and not state can be deprived of the constitutional thereof without its voters agreeing with it (which they won`t do, because they do not want to diminish their state`s representation in the Senate).

  2. Zoomster
    Sunday, July 23, 2017 at 6:52 pm
    If we made changing the Constitution a little easier – not much, just enough so that sensible, considered reforms could get through – that would then allow changing all the other stuff we don’t like.

    Perhaps changing it to a simple majority of electors?

    I’m in favour of this…with the added provision that the House and Senate should also have to meet jointly as a Constitutional Convention to debate and pass by an absolute majority any proposal to amend the Constitution…which would then be submitted to a referendum. So the Parliament would propose and the people would decide….

    The Constitution is antiquated in many respects. We should be able to reform it by popular democratic means.

    In many ways, the system we have works in spite of the Constitution rather than because of it. This is the case with respect to State finances, which are now almost completely subordinated to Commonwealth discretion. Likewise, the Constitution does not directly confer a power in relation to the Environment on the Commonwealth, and yet this is a key economic domain. Nor are the powers of the GG specified while status and rights of first peoples are also ignored completely. This is surely completely anachronistic.

    It’s arguable that we have created a republic in all but name in Australia, but no-one reading the Constitution would know it. The Constitution does not actually specify how the GG will be appointed or removed, while the office of PM is not mentioned at all.

    The case for a re-write of the Manual is quite clear.

  3. Here in SA we have fixed four-yearly elections in March … this is the month when the state is jumping with arts events, bike races, fast cars and thousands of tourists.

    I’m sure the timing in coincidental, but 😉

  4. Martha:

    Sounds like first world problems LOL!

    Seriously though, it looks like it’s going to take a Labor govt to sort this mess out. The coalition have given us a national broadband scheme that is entirely un-future-proofed and with all the technological and economic constraints that come with it.


    The Whitlam Government missed the opportunity to actually make passing constitutional amendments easier when it combined territory referendum voting (national total only) with cutting the number of states required to 3. It would have been more effective to make the referendum giving referendum votes to the territories, critically with the combined vote of all the territories counting as a state majority (giving them actual power as no referendum has even been rejected on national vote alone), making the vote entirely about giving votes to people in territories and thus increasing the chances it would pass but still be a way of having referenda pass with 3 states opposed.

    Similarly New England statehood would have allowed referenda with 3 state opposition to pass (although it may have created another power centralisation sceptic state).

    I doubt that a simple majority only requirement would win in enough of the smaller states to pass and would not apply to certain amendments which need majorities in states they may harm (unless said states voted in favour, which they would not).

  6. Swamprat:

    I’m sorry but all the arguments against 4 year fed parliamentary terms I’ve seen you posit today have been either weak or emotional at best. Not sure what this has to do with the Labor right tho.

  7. Doyley @ #245 Sunday, July 23rd, 2017 – 6:57 pm

    Really interested in what others think. I support strongly a Australian head of state but am yet to be convinced as to the importance of a Bill of Rights.

    Past performance doesn’t guarantee future results. Look at some of the policies PHON bandies about. If that’s too far removed for you, look at some of the ideas Abbott explored (like giving a Government Minister the unilateral power to strip someone of Australian citizenship, perhaps even in cases where it leaves them with no other citizenship remaining), or at what’s going on right now with Peter Dutton’s security super-agency.

    Or consider what Turnbull’s likely to do after every technology company on the planet finishes explaining to him that he can’t change the laws of mathematics and they can’t break their own end-to-end encryption. Perhaps he’ll just make it illegal for Australians to use encrypted communications technology in the first place. Nothing says he can’t. Nothing says an Australian citizen has a right to secure and private communications, free from government eavesdropping.

    Or look at the abhorrent conditions people have been subjected to on Manus and Nauru, and the downright oppressive legislation which our government has passed (on bipartisan lines, iirc?) to keep information about those abhorrent conditions from reaching the Australian public. Wouldn’t it be better if everyone within Australia’s jurisdiction and/or under Australia’s care is guaranteed certain basic conditions, and if the government could be held accountable when it deliberately fails to provide them, and unable to do things like intimidate doctors and other staff members into silence by passing draconian legislation with impunity because there are no official limits on what can and can’t be touched by legislation?

    There are probably many additional reasons, but those seem like some easy/obvious ones.

    A better question might be, what reason is there to not support a Bill of Rights? Aside from change-resisting inertia, I mean.

  8. Emmanuel Macron has a cunning plan to increase unemployment in France, and his falling approval rating shows that voters have noticed.

  9. I think the idea of 4 year terms is so the major parties can throw out the PM if he/she is doing badly. Given them two years, polls bad – replace leader and start again for next 2 years.
    I know ALP have something in place to make disposing of a PM harder, but it would be got around, and LNP are not at all adverse to knifing their PM.

    Basically Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten want/will want more time to prove themselves before the party ditches them. Polls run Australian politics. Sorry to be cynical.

  10. Night of the Long Prawns
    In 1974 Whitlam announced a half senate election for May 18. In the background he had offered Vince Gair the ambassadorship for Ireland and the Vatican. Under the then rules, if Gair, who was a continuing senator, resigned from the senate before the issuing of the writs the election would be for 6 rather than 5 senators and Whitlam calculated that the result would be 3:3 rather than 3:2 for the coalition giving him a senate majority.
    BUT Coalition members put on a beer and prawn night with Gair to celebrate his career. Gair “forgot” to resign and Doug Anthony contacted Joh to instruct Governor Colin Hannah to issue the writs as soon as possible before Gair resigned and for 5 senators
    There was much legal argument that Gair had become ineligible when he accepted the offer of a position of profit in March but the writs stood.
    In the uproar that followed Sneddon threatened to block supply and Whitlam called a Double Dissolution on the day the half senate election was due. His said wtte: The writ of the Governor-General overcomes that of any colonial vestige.
    At the DD the result was Lab 29 Coalition 28 National alliance (Country Party/DLP in WA) 1 Liberal Movement 1 Independent (who quickly became a Liberal) 1. The scene for 1975 was set.
    As a postscript Colin Hannah later made a politicised speech attacking Whitlam who then instructed the Palace to remove his dormant commission as commonwealth administrator

  11. Swamprat
    Sunday, July 23, 2017 at 7:13 pm
    – senate chosen by lot (lower the power of professional politicians)

    The constitution provides that the Senate will be elected by the people….

    7. The Senate

    The Senate shall be composed of senators for each State, directly chosen by the people of the State, voting, until the Parliament otherwise provides, as one electorate.

  12. OC:

    So totally love your historical throw-backs!

    Not for the first time I wish Psephos was still commenting here. He was also good with history and presenting it in a way that was interesting and contextual.

  13. AR,

    Thanks for your reply.

    How would a Bill of Rights guarantee the protections you refer to in your post ?

    Would not the government of the day be able to legislate the examples that you provide with the support of Parliament ? And, on the other hand would the government not be held to account by the very same Parliament and government legislation blocked if it ” goes too far in removing the rights of Australian citizens “.
    Is that not democracy at work ? As well, would not the High Court be the gate keeper in protecting the rights of Australian citizens and others living in this country if legislation that is passed by Parliament is considered oppressive or in contradiction of the constitution . Why the need for a Bill of Rights ?


  14. What I mean is, with 4 years, the PM has more chance to lift the polls before being disposed of, if doing consistently badly.
    Even so, after 2 – 3 years they can be chucked out, but 2 years to prove themselves is better than 1.5 years or so.

    So it’s self interest driving this idea.

  15. I think the chance of New England EVER voting for any but the most uncontroversial constitutional amendment is close to Zero.
    It is an urban myth in the region that some of the towns were the only places in Australia to vote against the 1967 aboriginal referendum. This is not true but the Yes vote in Kempsey and Taree was not particularly strong

  16. Thanks Fess
    I might post a little more now. The blog suddenly seems to have become much more civilised and psephology centred

  17. What I mean is, with 4 years, the PM has more chance to lift the polls before being disposed of…

    Or more opportunity to dispose of a dud PM.

  18. OC:

    It would be great if you did comment more. You and Dio, another regular PBer whose comments are always interesting, even if I might disagree from time to time. 🙂

  19. Dan,

    Thanks for your reply.

    The government still needs to get a significant amount of legislation through Parliament before he can sit on his throne. It is not a done deal. In any case, if any legislation is passed that is considered by individuals or groups to be in conflict with the constitution then the High Court awaits.

    Australia has a constitution, a strong legal system so why, I ask again, is there a need for a Bill of Rights ? What protections can a Bill of Rights provide that the constitution and strong legal system cannot ?

    Cheers and a great night to you.

  20. Tom and OC

    One of the pillars of strength in our Constitition is the States, and what they ceded of their soverignty in 1901 has stood the test of time. So despite some obvious anachronisms in S.51, like the Commonwealth have sole control of lighthouses, the role of the Senate as a State’s House is sound IMHO.

    For every conniving Joh B-P, we have a Bob Carr declaring vaste swathes of NSW National Parks, and a Dan Andrews telling Abbott where he can shove his CrossCity tunnell.

  21. “Or more opportunity to dispose of a dud PM.”

    Well, Steve 777, it works both ways. This is about Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten, being aware of the tyranny of Newspoll and keeping their job.

    If Bill Shorten becomes PM, and say electricity prices hit the roof and the boats come back, you will find tremendous pressure for Labor to ditch him. He would be done for. He would be quite aware of that and find a 4 year term much more amenable, to right things and get the polls up.

    I don’t for a minute think this is about stability of government. We used to have that until parties knifed the PMs. Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten are deadest scared of that happening to them – hence M. Turnbull jumping on this idea and loving it straight away.

  22. I even think the gerrymander giving Tasmania 12 Senators is ok, as long as they provide even stevens on numbers. Sadly, the talent pool down there is a bit tight.

  23. oakeshott country @ #274 Sunday, July 23, 2017 at 7:58 pm

    Thanks Fess
    I might post a little more now. The blog suddenly seems to have become much more civilised and psephology centred

    The blog has always seemed to me to contain not very much psephology, narrowly defined, and much more on political issues mixed with a lot of trivia.

  24. Prettyone,

    Interesting take you have on the reasons behind four year terms.

    Four year terms did not make the tenure of recent labor and liberal premiers in NSW and Victoria any more secure.


  25. Four year terms are not a problem (though no longer than that). But fixed terms are a real potential problem.

    There has to be a means for triggering an early election when necessary. We should not just hand over power without any means of taking it back.

    The key issue to resolve is the triggering mechanism/s for an early election. The current mechanism is wide open to abuse by the government of the day, and the decision needs to be taken out of their hands. But what to replace it with?

  26. The HC has shown little inclination to limit the power of Government except as specifically defined in the Constitution and in very rare cases where deciding otherwise would effectively remove democratic function. That’s why we explicitly don’t have a right to association and have a right to free political speech rather than free speech generally. As such in the absence of a Bill of Rights the HC is a dubious proposition at best for the protection of civil liberties. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing since it demonstrates that the Court isn’t seeking to overstep it’s jurisdiction.

    A Bill of Rights isn’t subject to political tinkering because it’s done as part of the Constitution and as such is beyond the power of the Government to directly modify. A Bill of rights codified in normal law is of course considerably weaker. Though the Senate would offer some defence.

    (On a side note the British Fixed Term Act is generally useless as it’s a standard act of law. It was a compromise for the Lib Dems unless you have a minority Government the Fixed Term Act can be revoked as any other law: ie with a simple majority vote. )

    Briefly: you significantly overstimate the power of the Senate to send anyone to an election. They can’t even send themselves to one. The Senate’s only ability to “force” and Election is by blocking supply and the convention of the major parties since then to pass ongoing supply with bipartisan support renders that moot. Any other election of the House is at the Houses discretion , and if that’s because they feel they can’t get enough of their agenda through that’s on them, not the Senate and indeed if the Senate couldn’t do that it would be a profoundly pointless body. And

  27. Oakeshott Country
    Like ‘Fess’ I also appreciate your snippets of history. Meher Baba at times provides some interesting snippets of history which I also appreciate. Keep doing it.

  28. Just Me
    The traditional measure is a no confidence motion or failure to pass something they counts as a confidence motion without later having a motion of confidence.

    The logic here is that a Government that voted it had no confidence in itself would not be returned because it’s a statement of unworthiness. I suspect in this where much of Parliamentary procedure is ritual , that it would simply become part of the standard procedure. You could probably substitute something like a no confirmation vote plus a a majority of the Opposition (since thats a formal position in the Westminster system) or more than half of the non-Government Members in order to trigger an election if you wanted something as an escape valve that couldn’t devolve into non-fixed terms.

  29. Doyley
    Sunday, July 23, 2017 at 8:12 pm

    The most important reasons for a Bill of Rights relate to the prevention of arbitrary imprisonment. For example, there’s currently no provision against arbitrary imprisonment (think of 3-strikes sentencing). There’s no provision against the suspension of citizenship (think of Abbott’s plans to render stateless persons without trial), which would also result in arbitrary imprisonment. There’s no automatic right to due process or judicial review of administrative decisions (think of the proposals to abolish the AAT and the abolition of the legal status and individual rights of refugees). There are in fact very few protections for individuals in relation to the use of discretionary powers by the State. This will likely only get worse as the security apparatus becomes more elaborate.

  30. Elaugaufein,

    Thank you for your post re the HC and its “limitations”.

    You comment that a Bill of Rights is free of political tinkering. How would you suggest the drafting of a Bill Of Rights for Australia be undertaken to exclude any ” political tinkering ?” Would not a Bill of Rights need to be legislated ?


  31. Meher Baba at times provides some interesting snippets of history which I also appreciate.

    Yes good point Poroti, MB is another who comments all too infrequently IMO.

  32. John Ruddick just announced on Sky that he will be challenging Trent Zimmerman in North Sydney.

    It would be nice to see the Liberal Party tear itself apart, seat by seat, prior to the next federal election.

  33. Someone on Twitter this morning (can’t remember who, sorry) mentioned that the White House has suddenly become a much more polite, civilised place to work.

    This is due to everyone wandering around saying, “Pardon me”.

  34. Doyley
    A Bill of Rights is something of a pipe dream. It would have to be legislated as a Constitutional amendment. The protects it because it requires the same process to alter. I have no illusions that it would be simple to establish one now. It would not.

    America is also evidence that even an explicit Bill of Rights isn’t necessarily sacrosanct. The Judicial reading of eg the 2nd and 4th Amendments have changed significantly over time with no actual change to their wording or explicit amendment. There’s no absolute way to protect anything from a Government with a military riding a wave of Fear.

  35. Elaugaufein

    You miss the point about the power of the Senate. Senators have fixed terms. Senators cannot be sent to an election before the expiry of their terms other than when a DD is invoked. The House can be dissolved just about any time. Members of the House do not have the same tenure as Senators. They are in an intrinsically weaker position. And yet the requirements for election to the House are arguably far more onerous than exist for Senators. The Senate is largely autonomous and its members are less answerable to voters. It is significantly more powerful than is usually understood.

  36. John Ruddick just announced on Sky that he will be challenging Trent Zimmerman in North Sydney.

    Who is going to challenge Tony Abbott? Surely if ever there was to be a turnover of MP personnel on the North Shore, Warringah is ripe.

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