A track winding back

A look at leadership approval poll trends, and my new facility for tracking them.

BludgerTrack is back, sort of – you can find a permanent link on the sidebar along with a miniature version of its main attraction, namely polling trends for leader approval and preferred prime minister. These go back to the onset of Scott Morrison’s prime ministership in August last year, and thus encompass distinct Bill Shorten and Anthony Albanese epochs.

As you can see, Morrison has mostly gravitated around neutral on his net rating (i.e. approval minus disapproval), barring a post-election surge that has now run its course. Shorten’s position appeared to improve during the election campaign, which was also picked up in Labor’s internal polling, though clearly not far enough. Albanese has mostly been around neutral, but as a newcomer he has a high uncommitted rating, which doesn’t come through when you reduce it to a net measure. This is how he manages to do worse than Shorten on preferred prime minister (although a narrowing trend kicked in here a few months ago) despite doing better on net approval.

I haven’t included the most recent Newspoll result at this stage, as this is clearly a distinct new series for which I will require a few more results before I can standardise it against the other polls. On the basis of this limited evidence, the new-look Newspoll’s leader rating scores can be expected to behave somewhat differently from the old. As Kevin Bonham notes, the new poll has markedly worse net ratings for both leaders, as uncommitted rates are lower and disapproval higher.

Needless to say, what’s missing in all this is voting intention, for which I am going to need a good deal more data before I reckon it worth my while. If you’re really keen though, Mark the Ballot has gone to the trouble of running a trendline through all six of the Newspoll results post-election. If nothing else, my BludgerTrack page features a “poll data” tab on which voting intention polls will be catalogued, which for the time being is wall-to-wall Newspoll. And while I have your attention, please note as per the post above that I’ve got the begging bowl out – donations gratefully received through the link at the top of the page.

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.

1,119 comments on “A track winding back”

  1. Tricot:

    Thanks for the additional info on Poland. I get nervous when the judiciary’s attacked, even judges from the communist era, who by now must be quite old. And we’re not immune from such attacks here, witness, for instance, the Right’s response to Mabo No. 2.

  2. Seems like a painful distraction to use the first day of COP25 for Laborites to pick at their scabs from 10 years ago.

    After all actually using their time to highlight how inadequate and dangerous the coalers in government are for the future of carbon emissions and everyone. Is nothing compared to fighting historical and imaginary events.

    It seems Labor has nothing to say on how inadequate current emissions reduction is, because they have nothing of consequence to say on the matter anymore. Beholden to the same fossil fuel donors as the Libs? Perhaps waiting to see where they think the political winds are blowing, even as they ignore the growing wave of citizens, globally, demanding more?

    Noted radicals at Climate Analytics found that only OECD nations, including Australia, ending coal by 2030 would have any chance of meeting Paris agreements.

    Any serious action will primarily involve ending coal power. Which both majors appear wedded to.

    Australian power sector must exit coal by 2030 to play its part in climate fight: study

  3. Too much to handle, Scomo?

    Alex Beech

    PM Scott Morrison, when asked about the treatment of Yang Hengjun, answers by reiterating Peter Dutton’s response on Nick Zhao. To be clear – definitely not the same person.

  4. guytaur @ #730 Monday, December 2nd, 2019 – 11:10 am


    Medicare For All is the reason Sanders and Warren are in with a chance of winning the nomination.

    It’s very simple. Polling tells us even Republican voters like it

    This is Universal Healthcare you are arguing against in your slavish desire to see a centrist win. Ignoring the reality of why Sanders and Warren are front runners at all.

    Sanders should have clearly won the nomination in 2016 but was robbed by the Clinton camp. He or Warren are the candidates with the policies that the majority of Democrats want to see enacted. Let’s hope he can prevail this time. The centrists are basically moderate Republicans and deserve to be scorned.

  5. Anecdotal evidence points to an increase in retail figures in November (to be released on 10/1/2020) and predictably in December (to be released on 6/2/2020). I guess the question is whether it’s a case of increased confidence in the economy, or are shoppers maxing out their credit cards?

  6. Need I remind everybody that at one stage 10% of computer and IT products were Apple Macs.

    False equivalence, but anyway, they weren’t 10% for over 3 decades! 😆

  7. lizzie @ #748 Monday, December 2nd, 2019 – 11:41 am


    “The prime minister has obligations under the ministerial code of conduct and the alternative view would have been that he didn’t avail himself of the information and, therefore, he couldn’t fulfil his obligation under the ministerial code of conduct.”

    Au contraire, M’sieu Pomme de Terre, everyone except Morrison could see that Angus wasn’t behaving as a Minister should, so there was no need to learn anything more.

    Exactly, John Howard didn’t need other people to make his decisions about rogue Ministers for him. 😐

  8. Speaking of living on credit:

    [‘Australians have the world’s second-largest household debts. We know it, we worry about it, and there is increasing evidence it is changing our way of life.

    Hovering around 120 per cent of GDP — that is everything the nation produces in a year — Australia’s household debt is second only to Switzerland, and we’re not too far behind the Swiss.]:


  9. Frances Mao
    Given Yang has previously expressed concern about the Aus govt forgetting about him “because I’m not white” – not a good look from Aus govt to mix him up

  10. In the 1990s, central Dandenong in Melbourne’s southeast was in decline. But, over the past decade and a half, this trend has been halted and in some areas reversed. Our research has identified key elements in this revitalisation, including strong roles for both public sector and non-government participants.

    Importantly, the approach has delivered new opportunities for the culturally diverse local community.


  11. ‘Dandy Murray says:
    Monday, December 2, 2019 at 10:50 am

    That leaves a fundamental question: What is the political solution that will deliver zero emissions?

    How does this sound, BW?

    Radical industry policy:
    – renewables, think 5x current NEM capacity or greater
    – large-scale storage (e.g. pumped hydro in Tas)
    – direct electricity exports to SA Asia
    – hydrogen production for industry, transport, process heat and electricity balancing
    – air separation (nitrogen and oxygen)
    – hydrogen/ammonia exports
    – green steel exports
    – green aluminium exports
    – industrial food production technology,

    targeted at the regions:
    – Central, Nth and FN Qld
    – NW WA
    – Central west NSW
    – NW Vic
    – SA (it’s basically all regional, right?),

    all coupled with staged shutdowns of coal and NG-production regions and buy-outs (reverse auctions) of marginal agricultural land, with medium-term contracts for rehabilitation for both.

    This should all be financed by the state, because it is the only entity that is able to bear the long-term risk; no commercial entity can be expected to do it. Heck, the state ultimately bears the risk regardless of the actual commercial arrangements, so why not make it transparent.’

    I would be happy to go with something like that. I would make a couple of points, though. This is focussed on policies when it is the politics that is broken.

    I would add another point in terms of a strategic approach to fixing the politics: focus on the starting, not on the finishing. The reason is that the implementation of most government policies adapts as it goes along. There is a selling reason as well. The difference between what things look like after a year or so is much smaller than the difference at the end. Does not frighten the neddies so much.

    IMO the key lies in finding a way of not splitting the political effort as is currently the case.

  12. I suggest that at the next TV rating survey covering today – Channel Nine will show a huge boost as a result of showing the movie-

    “The Invention of Lying” — as doubtless half the population will watch eagerly hoping for handy hints to assist with applying for political staff positions.

  13. Let’s remind ourselves of why the Greens voted against action on Climate Change in 2009, and be spared the revisionism. It was clear their reasoning – the CPRS was not good enough for them. Greenpeace parroted the purist position.

    “This week, the Australian Senate will be debating Rudd’s CPRS – Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. It will almost certainly be defeated and will need to go back to the Senate in November for a second vote. The Coalition will vote against it because they are a party divided by climate sceptics. The Greens will vote against it because it is a monumental fraud being perpetrated on the Australian people and will result in very little, if any, environmental benefit.

    Greenpeace’s view of the CPRS is that it is so fundamentally flawed that it should go back to the drawing board. We should replace it with Plan B – a suite of policies we could implement today that would get us on the path to a low emissions future. While we think a price on carbon can be a very useful thing, it is only one of a wide range of policies needed to actually cut emissions and drive the necessary transformation to a low carbon economy. In any case, the CPRS won’t put an effective price on carbon because it will exempt most of the big polluters from having to pay the price, thereby undoing its very purpose for existance.

    But the massive exemptions and billions of dollars in free permits to the big polluters are not the only problems with the CPRS. There has been a lot of discussion about the emissions reduction target of only 5%. Rudd has said that this could increase to 25% under certain circumstances depending on the international climate treaty that will be adoped at Copenhagen in December. But as Bernard Keene from Crikey pointed out, the conditions forAustralia cutting emissions by 25% are so onerous that it is a bit like saying “free for pensioners when accompanied by both grandparents”.

    So then, if we put aside the exemptions, free permits and the low target, how is the scheme looking? Well, if you’re interested in actually cutting greenhouse pollution here in Australia then it still isn’t looking too good. Some of you might remember the famous ‘Australia clause’ that Robert Hill managed to negotiate through development of the Kyoto Protocol. It allowed Australia to continue polluting as much as ever, but our overall emissions would decrease because of an accounting slight-of-hand to do with measuring emissions from landclearing. Rest assured that Rudd and Penny Wong are trying to do this again through the REDD mechansims (Reducing emissions from Degradation and Deforestation) of the global treaty process.


  14. And the Greens in January 2010 were still justifying their horrendous decision…

    “Why can’t the Greens support the CPRS as it stands?

    There is broad recognition that the Rudd government’s emissions trading scheme is weak and badly designed. However, some still hold the view that “something is better than nothing”, that, if the bill passes, “at least we’ll have the architecture of a scheme to build on”.

    If that were the case and the CPRS were merely too weak, the Greens might have supported it as a start. But even the government acknowledged, as they negotiated with the opposition, that there comes a point when action becomes so weak that it is useless. Beyond that simple point, we Greens recognise that, when faced with a serious and complex problem, it is the choice of the right action that is vital, not simply the decision to act. Prescribing and locking in the wrong treatment to a seriously ill patient can hasten death rather than prevent it.

    The Greens oppose the CPRS as it stands not because it is too weak but because it is the wrong action – it would actually point Australia in the wrong direction. It would pay polluters to keep polluting, hiding inaction with smoke and mirrors. It would undermine global action with its weak target, a target which, once set, would be impossible to lift without paying more billions in compensation. It would demoralise and disempower the community and it would repeat the mistakes of the Murray River, over-allocating permits.

    This is why we say it is not just a failure, but it locks in failure.”

    Well they’d certainly did lock in failure, but not as they envisaged.


  15. BW,

    Hopefully the policies drag the politics together. Pick and choose what you think will work to achieve this.

    Examples of things that won’t help are (well-meaning) conservationists going after the nascent hydrogen industry because it will need to be established with a CSG feedstock to achieve scale in the interim. This is self-defeating puritanism.

  16. This is the Brazilian Amazon. Are landholders in Australia any different? A government inspector in NSW was killed.
    (I love the origin of this word for land grabbers – grileiros.)

    Yet long before Bolsonaro’s rise, Stang’s philosophy clashed with the local culture in the Brazilian Amazon, where powerful ranchers view deforestation as the only path to economic prosperity. They see trees as valuable lumber and soil as space for cattle and soybeans.

    …The ranchers have found ways to invade the lots set aside as PDS settlements (Sustainable Development Projects), circumventing monitoring mechanisms and packing government agencies with political allies. “Land-grabbers,” or grileiros (a term that comes from an old practice of storing fake deeds in a box with a cricket, or grilo, whose feces would stain the papers yellow and make them look authentically aged), threatened Stang before her death and continue to menace those who are trying to uphold her legacy. Last year, Stang’s successor, Father José Amaro Lopes, was jailed for three months on charges that his supporters say were aimed at silencing him and his work on land rights and forest protection.


  17. This is self-defeating puritanism.

    A variant of this will need to go on The Greens’ gravestone:

    ‘Here lies the party of self-defeating puritanism’.

  18. Very true:

    [‘Anthony Albanese:

    Higher bills. Higher emissions. Political gridlock on climate action.

    10 years ago today, the Greens teamed up with the Coalition to vote down Labor’s carbon pollution reduction scheme.

    It was the wrong call then – and 10 years later, we’re paying the price.’]

  19. Crikey’s Bernard Keane puts a neat summary on Labor’s reminding/rewriting of history over the CPRS:

    “It’s 10 years since the Rudd government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) was defeated in the Senate, opposed by the Coalition and the cross-bench. Labor is commemorating the anniversary by claiming that if only the Greens had backed the CPRS, Australia would have avoided a decade of climate wars and begun reducing its carbon emissions. This is a fully-fledged campaign, with senior Labor figures using it to attack the Greens and a frontbencher delivering a speech doing the same.

    Except, the CPRS in its original form was a poor carbon pricing scheme in support of a woefully unambitious target, 5% below 2000 levels by 2020. If that was what had been put to the Senate in 2009, it might have at least been relatively innocuous.

    But industry lobbyists and union heavyweights came in for their chop, prompting Kevin Rudd to water an already poor scheme down further.”

    There have been bad faith actors on climate change in Labor and Liberal parties over many years.

  20. peter michael brooks
    Well done AACP
    ‘We are out of Westpac” – Doctors appalled.
    The Australian Association of Consultant Physicians (AACP), which represents consultant physicians and paediatricians from across Australia has decided to cease banking with Westpac.

  21. Socrates:

    [‘There have been bad faith actors on climate change in Labor and Liberal parties over many years.’]

    I note you’ve omitted The Greens.

  22. @judithajames11
    Health report @abcnews telling us that bush fire smoke more toxic than first thought! In part could be fact that burning buildings release toxins. Increased hospital admissions, deaths as proof. Singleton residents @SingletonArgus reeling from coal dust and fire smoke!

  23. Crikey’s Bernard Keane

    And there’s your problem. Bernard Keane, with his bully pulpit at Crikey, helped put the kibosh on taking any action at all 10 years ago, as sprocket pointed out. Now he’s writing history to suit himself.

    An unreliable source, in short.

  24. Gillard, who led a centre-left government, had reopened detention centres on Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island for offshore processing in 2012, as thousands of people tried to make it to Australia by boat. But Rudd’s ban on ever being re-settled in Australia was new.

    The policy was justified as an attempt to discourage people from taking the treacherous boat journey to Australia and halt the people smuggling trade in its tracks.

    When the conservative Coalition won the election in September 2013, they doubled down on Rudd’s pledge and introduced Operation Sovereign Borders — a military-led operation that includes intercepting boats before they arrive in Australian waters and turning them back to where they came from.

    I don’t believe Rudd should ever have declared that ban on re-settlement, but it is the LNP that doubled down and caused the mental torture and deaths. It is NOT same-same.


  25. Cat

    The Labor partisan bubble is being burst today.

    Facts over opinion.


    The same same claim comes from the offshore detention part.

    Under Labor the limited tome Mr Shorten refused to outline in the campaign would mean no prison camps.

    On the offshore part it is same same.

  26. A society dedicated to preserving the “much-abused” apostrophe is to be shut down as its chairman said “ignorance and laziness” had won.

    John Richards, who worked in journalism for much of his career, started the Apostrophe Protection Society in 2001 after he retired.

    Now 96, Richards is calling time on the society, which lists the three simple rules for correct use of the punctuation mark.

    Writing on the society’s website, he said: “Fewer organisations and individuals are now caring about the correct use of the apostrophe in the English language.”


  27. It’s all about maintaining the status quo of the two-party state.

    It’s all about being in the pocket of fossil fuel industries via acceptance of political donations and participating in the revolving door.


    The press gallery is happy to support Labor’s claim about the Greens wrecking the CPRS because it fits one of its favoured narratives, that extremists on both sides have wrecked the chance of effective climate action, and that if only the “sensible centre” would be allowed to govern, things would be OK.

    But when it comes to climate action, this is both wrong and irrelevant. Climate change is caused by basic physics. You either reduce carbon emissions or you cook the planet. The CPRS wouldn’t have reduced emissions — just given huge taxpayer-funded handouts to polluters. The press gallery’s centrist “fault on all sides, extremism is wrecking civility” hand-wringing will never change the basic maths, just guarantee we’re stuck in a permanent loop of climate failure.

  28. Catprog,

    That was me – nitrogen feedstock is needed for ammonia production, and nitrogen gas is used as an inert environment in steel milling (if we do any value adding).

    There are probably good uses for oxygen too!

  29. Julia Gillard’s carbon pricing scheme turned out to be better in every way than Rudd’s CPRS. It also featured high levels of compensation for polluters, but the Productivity Commission would have determined when they ended, not politicians. An independent Climate Change Authority would set targets.

    A Clean Energy Finance Corporation was established to invest in renewable energy. Compensation for households was much more effectively targeted. And the data shows that, until 2014 when the scheme was repealed, Gillard’s scheme was highly effective at reducing emissions, at minimal cost to the economy.

    Indeed, that was the plan — to call an election in February 2010, which on the polling available at that point would have delivered a handsome victory over Tony Abbott. But Rudd chickened out and put the election off.

    He was less reticent about undermining Julia Gillard after she replaced him. If there’s a reason why Australia doesn’t have a working carbon pricing scheme, it’s because Rudd’s relentless destabilisation of Julia Gillard meant a shambolic Labor had zero chance of ever winning the 2013 election. Rudd ensured that Tony Abbott would be elected and repeal an effective, low-cost carbon pricing scheme.


  30. The Guardian

    A little earlier this morning, Greens MP Adam Bandt introduced a bill that would compel the Climate Change Authority to report on the impact of three degrees or more of global warming on the Australian environment, economy and society.

    “The Australian people need to know that the Morrison government’s current climate targets will take us into a three-degree world, with catastrophic consequences for Australia,” he said. “We’re already seeing the severe impacts of a one-degree world with the climate crisis driving the fire emergency and the record drought. The Australian people need to know what the prime minister’s targets will do to the country when they take us to three degrees.”

  31. Socrates says:
    Monday, December 2, 2019 at 12:50 pm

    “It’s 10 years since the Rudd government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) was defeated in the Senate, opposed by the Coalition and the cross-bench. Labor is commemorating the anniversary by claiming that if only the Greens had backed the CPRS, Australia would have avoided a decade of climate wars and begun reducing its carbon emissions. This is a fully-fledged campaign, with senior Labor figures using it to attack the Greens and a frontbencher delivering a speech doing the same.

    Except, the CPRS in its original form was a poor carbon pricing scheme in support of a woefully unambitious target, 5% below 2000 levels by 2020. If that was what had been put to the Senate in 2009, it might have at least been relatively innocuous.

    And 10 years on, nothing is so much better than something?

  32. I wonder when the ALP will learn to enact an “Ensuring Integrity Bill” of their own? You know the kind the LNP make their speciality. A damp lettuce on their own interests and a total authoritarian clamp on their enemies…

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