Ipsos has published its latest Issues Monitor survey results, in which respondents are presented with 19 issues and asked to identify the three of greatest concern. This is conducted monthly but published haphazardly: the last set of results was published on the precipice of our new era back in January, but the accompanying chart in the latest release allows you to at least eyeball the results from February and March. The big news in January was an unprecedented concern about the environment in the wake of the bushfires, pushing that issue to the top of the pile for the first time. It has now been put into the shade by a massive surge of concern about three issues: health care, up since January from 31% to 55%; the economy, up from 25% to 47%; unemployment, for which the result went unpublished in January (it was at 18% in December) and is now at 39%. The environment is now equal fourth on 22%, down from 41%, where it ranks alongside cost of living, down from 31%.
The Ipsos release also features results on the best party to handle the five aforesaid issues, which are consistent with an improved standing for the Coalition since December, the last time comparable figures were published. Most striking is its improvement on its traditional weak spot of health care, on which it now leads Labor by 34% (up eight) to 29% (steady), with the caveat that 7% favoured the Greens and most of those would presumably have Labor as a second preference (a further 3% favoured another party). The Coalition has also widened its lead on the economy, up seven to 43% with Labor down to 22%, the Greens on 5% and others on 3%, and gained five on cost of living to 34%, with Labor steady on 29%, the Greens on 7% and others on 4%. It also holds a lead over Labor of 34% to 28% on unemployment, with the Greens on 6% and others on 3%, no figures from December being available for comparison in this case. On the environment, the Coalition is up four to 23%, Labor is down one to 17%, the Greens are on 28% and others are on 6%.
The poll was conducted online from a sample of 1000, and was presumably conducted over the previous fortnight, but all we are told is that the numbers are for April.
• The count for the Brisbane City Council election is now all but complete, confirming a repeat of the 2016 result with the Liberal National Party winning 19 seats to Labor’s five and the Greens’ one, plus independent Nicole Johnston in Tennyson. The Greens came within an ace of taking Paddington off the LNP but no cigar, with LNP incumbent Peter Matic prevailing by 11,064 (50.7%) to 10,753 (49.3%) after preferences, a margin of 311 votes. Unlike at state elections, optional preferential voting prevails at Queensland’s local government elections, in this case to the advantage of the LNP since many preferences that might otherwise have flowed between Labor and the Greens instead exhausted. As Antony Green notes on Twitter, this certainly made the difference in Paddington, and might have saved the LNP from Labor in their three most marginal wards. LNP incumbent Adrian Schrinner’s winning margin over Labor’s Pat Condren for the Brisbane lord mayoralty was 286,297 (56.4%) to 221,309 (43.6%).
• Annastacia Palaszczuk has raised the prospect of Queensland’s October 31 state election being held entirely by post, as has been advocated by Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington. The ABC reports the next update of federal government modelling on the spread of the virus in around two weeks will guide a decision that is “expected in the next month”. However, it appears the Northern Territory election will proceed in a more-or-less normal fashion on August 22, with the Northern Territory News ($) reporting the local electoral commission does not consider a postal election an option because “postal services were still limited in many remote communities”. It is accordingly “looking to accommodate social distancing at the upcoming election by opening up more early voting centres, encouraging postal voting and extending early voting times”.
• The Greens are in the process of conducting a plebiscite of party members on how it will choose its leaders in future, the three options being the status quo of election by the party room, the “one member one vote” model of a straight ballot of party members, and Labor’s approach of a 50-50 model in which the result is evenly split between the two approaches. The party’s three former leaders, Bob Brown, Christine Milne and Richard Di Natale, jointly wrote a column in The Guardian that beseeched members to reject “one member one vote”, noting the disastrous consequences the model eventually had for the Australian Democrats, and gently suggested the status quo was to be preferred. A counter-argument was subsequently advanced in the same publication by five party luminaries, including current Senator Mehreen Faruqi and former Senator Scott Ludlam.