The Sunday News Corp tabloids have published the first national poll of voting intention in nearly two weeks, and it’s consistent with the last Newspoll result (conducted by the same organisation) in showing Labor with a lead of 52-48. This compares with 53-47 at the last such poll in March. The primary votes are Coalition 37% (up two), Labor 37% (steady), Greens 9% (down one), United Australia Party 4% (steady, which is interesting) and One Nation 4% (down four, ditto).
It may perhaps be more instructive to compare the changes with last fortnight’s Newspoll result – both major parties are down two, probably making way for the UAP, who were not a response option in Newspoll. Presumably they will be in the Newspoll we can expect tomorrow evening, as they were in its marginal seat polls a week ago. Peter Brent at Inside Story smells a conspiracy, but I imagine the pollster’s position would be that the party merits such consideration because it is contesting all 151 seats.
Respondents were also asked if they were impressed or unimpressed with the campaign performances of six party leaders, all of whom perform poorly. Listed from best result to worst, Scott Morrison is on 38% impressed and 54% not impressed; Bill Shorten, 31% and 60%; Pauline Hanson, 20% and 67%; Richard Di Natale, 13% and 44%: Clive Palmer, 17% and 69%; and Michael McCormack, 8% and 38%. They were also asked if nine specific issues could potentially change their vote, with cost of living well ahead out of a somewhat arbitrary field on 58%. It seems they were also asked which party they trusted on this issues, since the report says there was nothing to separate them on cost of living, which at Holt Street qualifies as a “positive sign for the Prime Minister”. The poll was conducted Tuesday to Thursday from a sample of 1012.
New campaign updates for the federal election guide, including a seat poll result:
Curtin (Liberal 20.7%): Independent candidate Louise Stewart has provided The West Australian with results of a ReachTEL poll crediting her with a 23.9% primary vote. Liberal candidate Celia Hammond is on 42.5%, compared with the 65.5% Julie Bishop achieved in 2016, with Labor on 12.6% and the Greens on 11.3%. It is also stated that the polls show preferences dividing evenly between Stewart and Hammond, which seems rather unlikely, since Labor and Greens preferences will assuredly flow overwhelmingly to Stewart. The sample for the poll was 819, but the field work date is unspecified. UPDATE (29/4): The West Australian today brings the remarkable news that ReachTEL denies having conducted any such poll.
Gilmore (Liberal 0.7%): Katrina Hodgkinson, Nationals candidate and former O’Farrell-Baird government minister, has been endorsed by the outgoing Liberal member, Ann Sudmalis, and her predecessor, Joanna Gash. This amounts to a snub to the endorsed Liberal, Warren Mundine, who is facing a tough fight against Labor’s Fiona Phillips.
Solomon (Labor 6.1%) and Lingiari (Labor 8.2%): The Northern Territory has been commanding considerable attention from the two leaders, with Scott Morrison visiting on Wednesday and Bill Shorten having done so twice, most recently when he attended a dawn service in Darwin on Anzac Day. In the Financial Review, Phillip Coorey reports the seats are “deemed vulnerable principally because the NT Labor government is unpopular”, and in Solomon, “there is a very high rate of voters, mainly military personnel, with negatively geared properties”.
Warringah (Liberal 11.6%): Tony Abbott received an increasingly rare dose of useful publicity after GetUp! pulled an ill-advised online ad that mocked his surf lifesaving activities. The next day, a Daily Telegraph report appeared to relate what Liberal internal polling might say about the matter, but could only back it up by sprinkling fairy dust on a month-old finding that two-thirds of those considering voting independent would have “serious concerns” if such a candidate was “likely to support Labor or the Greens”.
Herbert (Labor 0.0%): Labor member Cathy O’Toole has signed a pledge being circulated by business groups to support the Adani coal mine, making life difficult for Bill Shorten, who is prepared to offer only that Labor has “no plans” to review environmental approvals. Labor’s candidates for the Coalition-held central Queensland seats of Dawson, Flynn and Capricornia have all signed a similar pledge circulated by the CFMEU, and Shorten has likewise refused to follow suit.
• The third candidate on Labor’s New South Wales Senate ticket, Mary Ross, was a late withdrawal before the closure of nominations over what was described only as a personal decision, although it probably related to concerns that Section 44 complications might arise from her receipt of government payments as a medical practitioner. Her replacement is Jason Yat-sen Li, an Australian-Chinese lawyer for the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal, and the candidate for Bennelong in 2013.
• New South Wales Liberal Senator and conservative favourite Jim Molan is running a “parallel campaign” to encourage Liberal voters to vote below the line, so he might circumvent a preselection defeat that has reduced him to the unwinnable fourth position on the party’s ticket. Such a feat was achieved in Tasmania in 2016 by Labor’s Lisa Singh, elected from number six ahead of Labor’s fifth candidate, but New South Wales has none of Tasmania’s experience with the candidate-oriented Hare-Clark system, and a great many more voters needing to be corralled.
• Craig Garland, who polled 10.6% at the Braddon by-election last July, is running for a Tasmanian Senate seat as an independent. An authentically crusty looking professional fisherman who has campaigned on the locally contentious matter of salmon farming, Garland told the Burnie Advocate he had knocked back an offer of $1 million campaign funding if he ran for Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party. Matthew Denholm of The Australian notes Garland’s potential to leech votes from Jacqui Lambie, who is seeking a comeback 18 months after being disqualified on Section 44 grounds.