Morgan SMS poll: Turnbull versus Shorten versus Dutton

A snap poll points to the limits of the Liberals’ Peter Dutton solution. Also featured: Dutton’s Section 44 problem, and the practicalities of an early election.

Miscellaneous Liberal leadership latest:

Roy Morgan has conducted an SMS poll of 1288 respondents with two rounds of preferred prime minister question: Malcolm Turnbull versus Bill Shorten, and Peter Dutton versus Bill Shorten. The former credits Turnbull with a lead of 52% to 44.5%, while the latter has Shorten leading 59% to 36.5%. Morgan’s SMS polling doesn’t have a brilliant track record, and it has been noted in comments that the party breakdown figures suggest a sample with an excess of “others” voters, which includes One Nation. Even so, the poll is unlikely to be so flawed that Dutton’s poor showing should be dismissed outright. The demographic breakdowns are of interest in that Shorten leads Dutton by about 45% among respondents under 35, but Dutton has a slight lead among those 65 and over, which illustrates that Dutton’s constituency closely reflects that of the Liberal Party as a whole. Dutton also does particularly badly in Victoria, but better in Queensland.

• The government has referred the question of Peter Dutton’s potential Section 44 ineligibility to the Solicitor-General, Stephen Donaghue, as Labor circulates advice that a “reasonable prospect” exists that the High Court would disqualify him, given the chance. Malcolm Turnbull’s equivocal comments about the matter in Question Time yesterday angered Dutton’s supporters, given the matter can very easily be swept aside by making no move to refer it to the High Court. The prohibition on parliamentarians with a “direct or indirect pecuniary interest in any agreement with the Public Service of the Commonwealth” was interpreted with extreme narrowness by Chief Justice Garfield Barwick in 1975, then far more broadly by a majority of the court in the Bob Day case last year. It seems a case can be made either way as to whether Peter Dutton lands on the wrong side of the new line, by reason of a family trust that owns two childcare centres in receipt of government subsidies. Anne Twomey in The Conversation notes the government could face a welter of litigation arising over any action taken by Dutton as minister while ineligible, which would apply from three months after the time he became subject to the pecuniary interest.

• Antony Green lays out the case against an early election. On top of anything else, it is noted that the Liberals simply aren’t ready for one, financially or in terms of candidate selection. He also comes down hard on the notion that Malcolm Turnbull could forestall a leadership defeat by going to an early election (which may owe its popularity to the end of season three of The Thick of It), on the grounds that it is so obviously self-defeating as to be unworthy of consideration.

• Nonetheless, the potential for a dissolution to be requested by a tottering leader raises intriguing constitutional questions. In her book The Veiled Sceptre: Reserve Powers of Heads of State in Westminster Systems, Anne Twomey cites somewhat contrary views from Robert Blackburn, who suggests a Governor-General would be “duty-bound to reject any request by a Prime Minister for dissolution during a leadership contest”, and George Winterton, who argues a chief minister should be required to demonstrate his or her support on the floor of parliament where the matter is in doubt. Blackburn’s quote raises the question of what constitutes a leadership contest, which is distinctly different in the British context he was addressing as compared with Australian practice. Winterton’s point arose in a piece on Australian state Governors, and well describes the attitude taken by Queensland Governor Walter Campbell in 1987, when Joh Bjelke-Petersen was setting the current record for intransigence by a leader in the process of being ousted by his party.

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.

1,768 comments on “Morgan SMS poll: Turnbull versus Shorten versus Dutton”

Comments Page 2 of 36
1 2 3 36
  1. Sprocket – This morning’s AFR, quoting unnamed MP:

    The MP said Mr Hogan’s possible switch was understandable. “He has got the village of Nimbin and all those hairy armpitted lefties chasing him down.” The MP said their office had been swamped by messages from party supporters despairing at the thought of knifing another Prime MInister. “They’re sick of it”.

  2. If Dutton and is backers are actually attempting to blow up the govt and nothing else. They are doing a good job. Cos otherwise this whole fiasco makes not much sense.

  3. The way I saw it …. The petition was never presented last night ( although it was being cirulated) to the PM or the whip as they had left the building.

    Hence the early morning phonecall to Trumble

    Potato Head is now tweeting that he did call the PM …. Spud has said he has the numbers and wants a spill.

  4. jeffemu says:
    Thursday, August 23, 2018 at 7:50 am
    Correct me if I am wrong but the way I see it (and was told) that the petition was circulated requesting a Party Meeting only and formality requires only 2 signatures and can be presented to the PM or is it the whip.

    It didn’t require the number 43 to sign.


    But it does require the PM’s approval, and he has denied Dutton’s request.

    The 43 figure would override the ability of the PM to issue that denial of permission for a meeting.

  5. Oh and the Sky News crowd last night said wtte that Labor was running interference on Dutton re the pecuniary interest. Which tells them that Dutton is a threat to Labor.

  6. Crash and burn

    “It seems that all Australian prime ministers are destined to be on some variant of a Shoemaker-Levy Nine orbit,” ANU VC Brian Schmidt, via Twitter yesterday, “

  7. Morning all.

    So the media is off again this morning with another round of ‘is there / isn’t there a partyroom meeting’. If there is to be a partyroom meeting it will be before QT. After QT lots of MPs head home.

  8. Hogan has threatened to literally sit on the cross benches, that is the extent of it, as he will still support the government. What a pretender.

  9. chris murphy
    chris murphy
    As good as it gets. Bret Walker QC is generally regarded in the profession as the best lawyer in Australia today. If he says Peter Dutton should not be in Parliament take it on board. My experience of Walker? Brutally honest. Brilliant. Liberal MPs should be told. #auspol

  10. BREAKING… apparently Dutton has phoned the PM and requested a party room meeting this morning and PM Trumble has refused the request.

  11. Having said Turnbull should survive, especially if Dutton is referred to the HC, there is still the valid question of whether the country is no longer governable. A one seat majority, less Dutton, spells stalemate. A one seat majority, with Dutton, spells internal crisis. How will they make new laws? They retain the ability to pilfer Treasury for more $400 million handouts to business mates, but nothing gets resolved and the people dont get a say.

    Shorten is entirely correct to bring a no confidence motion.

  12. Only a party that believes in nothing could do this to itself. If they believed in half the things they espoused, these Tories would attempt to find some common ground. This split really has flushed out their bankruptcy of ideals.

  13. As much as I would get a momentary thrill seeing Turnbull torn apart by the hyenas in his party, I would truly savour seeing him roundly defeated at a general election by Bill Shorten and the Labor Party.

  14. Its the best outcome for Labor.

    Murdoch fails to install his leader

    Instability division and chaos for the LNP heading into an election

    Election victory

  15. One assumes this isn’t just more gaming.

    Peter DuttonVerified account@PeterDutton_MP
    29m29 minutes ago
    A few minutes ago I spoke with Malcolm Turnbull to advise him I believed the majority of the party room no longer supported his leadership. Accordingly, I asked him to convene a party room meeting at which I would challenge for the leadership of the Parliamentary Liberal Party.

  16. Guytaur

    Indeed. Given that all of this followed Rupert’s recent visit, is this the first time in history that Murdoch interferrence has done progressive politics in Australia a favour?

  17. The crazy thing is that his is the time when Malcolm should be finding an alternative moderate candidate. But he won’t, because he won’t let go of the precious.

  18. I think Dutton is bluffing again. If he had 43 names he should write them down and give them to Turnbull.

    Is this an opportunity for the Liberals to use one of those crowd sourcing softwares? Put up the word “leader” and see how many respond. It would be fun to watch.

    Have a good dy all.

  19. Didnt Murdoch initially support Whitlam? And then when he didnt get any favours, quickly turned on him ordering his cadres to get him?

    It is where he realised his power and honed his style that has dominated Australian, UK and US politics since.

  20. I dont think Dutton has the numbers.

    If Dutton loses again would he resign from parliament and force a byelection?

  21. I’m inclined to agree with Barrie Cassidy – Dutton doesn’t want to strike twice, and lose twice.

    Which I’m not sure has ever happened.

  22. Ides

    I don’t think Dutton is going to have a choice. That legal advice he released shows the fatal flaw in that advice. He is still the beneficiary of the Trust. Thus indirectly profiting from the Crown.


  23. If Shorten wins the next election he will be the longest leader since Howard and will most likely pass Howard in his second term.

  24. Seth @ #97 Thursday, August 23rd, 2018 – 8:24 am

    I’m inclined to agree with Barrie Cassidy – Dutton doesn’t want to strike twice, and lose twice.

    Which I’m not sure has ever happened.

    If Dutton had the numbers on a piece of paper then he would have used it already.

    Perhaps some of his “supporters” are a little gunshy of possible publicity.

Comments Page 2 of 36
1 2 3 36

Leave a Reply

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