Way back between December 6 and 8, an online poll of 1016 respondents was conducted by Dynata for the Institute of Public Affairs covering myriad issues, results of which have been apportioned out piecemeal ever since. The latest serving seeks to counter the consistent finding of other pollsters that the nation’s most trusted news organisation is the ABC. The results have naturally been received with skepticism in some quarters, although asking respondents if they feel the ABC “does not represent the views of ordinary Australians” only seems dubious in that it’s framed in the negative for no clear reason. The poll found 30% in agreement with the proposition versus 32% who disagreed, leaving 38% on the fence.
The result has been elevated to a vote of no confidence in the organisation by Coalition Senator James McGrath (who I suspect might be surprised if he learned how many of its critics are on the left), while a News Corp report seizes on the result for the 18-24 age cohort to suggest the ABC has lost the esteem of the young. The latter overlooks a sub-sample size that would imply an error margin upwards of 10%. The survey period also predated the worst of the bushfires, which have presumably been good for the broadcaster’s public image. Previous results from the survey have covered the date for Australia Day, local councils making political statements and the powers of unelected bureaucrats and removing references to race from the Constitution.
Some news on state (and territory) affairs, including updates on two of the three by-election campaigns currently in progress, guides to which can be accessed on the sidebar:
• The Northern Territory by-election for the northern Darwin seat of Johnston will be held on February 29, an unwelcome development for Michael Gunner’s struggling Labor government ahead an election on August 22. Much attention was focused on the Greens’ decision to put Labor last on its how-to-vote cards, but it may also prove consequential that the Country Liberals have Labor ahead of the Territory Alliance, the new party formed by former CLP Chief Minister Terry Mills. The party’s candidate, Steven Klose, has been boosted by suggestions the party could emerge as the official opposition if it wins the seat, since it would have three seats to the Country Liberals’ two if Mills is joined by Klose and Jeff Collins, an ex-Labor independent who says he is a “50-50 chance” of joining the party. Tune in to the blog on Saturday for live results reporting with more bells and whistles than you might think the occasion properly demands.
• Labor’s candidate for Queensland’s Bundamba by-election will be Lance McCallum, a former Electrical Trades Union official and current executive director of the Just Transition Group, a government body to help energy workers whose jobs might be lost amid the transition to renewables. Michael McKenna of The Australian ($) reports McCallum was nominated unopposed after winning the endorsement of the Left, to which the seat is reserved under factional arrangements. A rival candidate for the Left faction’s ballot, Nick Thompson, had the backing of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, whose state secretary Michael Ravbar has disputed the legitimacy of the result. The only other known candidate is Sharon Bell of One Nation, who was the party’s federal candidate in Blair last year. No word on a Liberal National Party candidate, but The Australian reports the party is “expected to run”, despite the 21.6% Labor margin. Nominations close on Tuesday.
• A Tasmanian parliamentary committee report has recommended restoring the state’s House of Assembly to 35 seats, from which it was cut to 25 in 1998. Each of the state’s five electoral divisions have returned five members under the Hare-Clark proportional representation system, compared with seven seats previously. An all-party agreement was previously in place to do this in 2010 and 2011, before the then Liberal opposition under Will Hodgman withdrew support as a riposte to government budget cuts. No recommendations have been made in relation to the Legislative Council, which was cut from 19 to 15 in 1998, except insofar as the committee considered the possibility of it have dedicated indigenous seats.
Also, note below this one the latest guest post from Adrian Beaumont, covering recent developments involving the nationalist Sinn Finn party in Ireland and the far right Alternative fur Deutschland in Germany, along with yet another election in Israel.