Essential Research, territory seat entitlements, Groom wash-up

The federal government continues to be rated highly for its COVID-19 response, as a plan to save the Northern Territory’s second seat proves to have a sting in the tail for the ACT.

The latest fortnightly Essential Research poll finds 67% rating the federal government’s COVID-19 response as good, unchanged on a fortnight ago, with the poor rating down two to 13% – its strongest net result in this regular series since June. The small sample state breakdowns find the South Australian government’s positive rating down six to 70%, which I believe is the lowest it has yet recorded, although it might not pay to read too much into that given the near double-digit margin of error. The results for the other four mainland state are all up by one point: to 76% for New South Wales, 60% for Victoria, 72% for Queensland and 83% for Western Australia.

Respondents were also asked about their level of interest in various news stories: 69% said they were closely following the COVID-19 outbreak in South Australia, against 31% for not closely; 66% likewise for COVID-19 vaccine trials, and 34% for not closely; 56% closely for Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn his election defeat, with 44% for not closely; and 53% closely for war crimes allegations against Australian soliders, against 47% for not closely. The poll also found 37% felt the government spent too much on foreign aid, down four points since 2017, with spends too little steady on 16% and the right amount up four to 23%. Also featured was a series of detailed questions on climate change and coal-fired power plants, which you can read all about in the full report. The poll was conducted Wednesday to Monday from a sample of 1034.

In other news, Antony Green peruses the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters’ report recommending action to preserve the Northern Territory’s second House of Representatives seat, which otherwise stands to be lost based on the territory’s share of the national population. Significantly, he notes that the proposed removal of an existing tweak to the calculation that was added to help the Northern Territory get over the line back in 2004 now stands to cost the Australian Capital Territory the third seat it gained at the last election – perhaps explaining why the government has been so sanguine about preserving Labor-held seats in the Northern Territory.

The change in 2004 made use of the margin of error the Australian Bureau of Statistics provides for its population estimates for the territories, requiring that the figure at the top end of the range be used in making the determination. Whereas the most recent determination credited the ACT with 2.55 quotas, rounding up to three seats, it would have only have been 2.48 if the ABS’s straightforward estimate had been used. There is no suggestion of changing the existing determination to cost the ACT its third seat at the next election, but a significant growth in population would be needed if the third seat was to be preserved at the next election after.

Antony Green’s submission to the inquiry suggested that, in addition to giving the territories a minimum of two seats, the calculation be made not on the basis of the garden variety arithmetic mean, but on the harmonic mean, which would be less prone to rounding down for the territories and smaller states. This method has the virtue of producing “an allocation of seats with a population per member closer to the national quota than the arithmetic mean”. The committee – apparently including the four Labor and one Greens members as well as the five from the government, since there was no dissenting report – acknowledged the logic of this but cited “problems with the potential for public acceptance”

Mention should also be made of Saturday’s by-election in the regional Queensland seat of Groom, which did nothing to alter its complexion as a safe seat for the Coalition. The LNP candidate, Garth Hamilton, currently has 66.9% of the two-party preferred vote with only a handful of votes outstanding, representing a 3.6% swing to Labor Œ more or less the same size of the swing in the Longman by-election that did for Malcolm Turnbull in 2018, though on that occasion his critics could point to a 9.4% drop in the LNP vote as One Nation surged to 15.9%. The One Nation factor went untested on this occasion, since the party did not field a candidate, although the party’s performance in the recent state election suggested they would only have done a limited amount of damage.

Of perhaps more note than the result is the pattern of turnout in the second by-election held during COVID-19 (the first being in Eden-Monaro only July 4): election day turnout was down 21.3%, from 53,943 to 42,490; pre-poll voting centres were up 0.8% from 25,169 to 25,380; and there have so far been 11,966 postal votes counted, compared with 14,108 at the 2019 election. Voter fraud fans may care to note that the LNP did better on election day votes (a 2.7% swing to Labor) than pre-poll votes (a 4.0% swing) and, especially, postal votes (a 7.3% swing).

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.

2,520 comments on “Essential Research, territory seat entitlements, Groom wash-up”

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  1. Zerlo

    As I recall, the democrats came close in at least one of those Senate races, but a couple of percent was held by a third party conservative.

  2. “Your posts get “deleted”, i.e. go to moderation, when you misspell your email address in the comments form, which you do rather a lot.”




  3. Q: That is true but we can still discuss the culture and how people under the influence behave…..
    we can, but I doubt many of us are sociologists, psychologists or psychiatrists etc…most comments seem to reflect gross generalisations, thinly veneered anti-woman rhetoric or other personal agendas.
    I haven’t seen any light shed on this complex issue. Some real statistics would be a start.

  4. Oh btw Dandy.. if you ever find yourself not busy. I have a pile of hot rocks I can tell you about 🙂

    And with that.. I’m gonna crash.

  5. And That just because it happen on those comments William.

    Do you know why I misspell – your website doesn’t work properly. Since it doesn’t even save the login details.

  6. Torchbearer
    What kind of statistics would you be wanting to see because i’m not sure human interactions can be reduced to statistics. People that are considered attractive or successful are known to draw the attention of the opposite sex and then when alcohol and ego are mixed then things can happen that should not. That isn’t about blaming the victim or excusing the offense but by recognizing it could help prevent it.

  7. Mexicanbeemer @ #2512 Monday, December 7th, 2020 – 9:12 pm

    What kind of statistics would you be wanting to see because i’m not sure human interactions can be reduced to statistics.

    People that are considered attractive or successful are known to draw the attention of the opposite sex and then when alcohol and ego are mixed then things can happen that should not. That isn’t about blaming the victim or excusing the offense but by recognizing it could help prevent it.

    All that is irrelevant if something non-consensual happens during sex.

  8. Barney
    Which is what i wrote but if we want to stop it reaching that point then more needs to be said about what leads to it.

  9. Jeez it’s late.

    Bushfire Bill hates women.

    Catmomma hates William because the website got hacked last month, and now her security blanket is malfunctioning.

    Firefox hates Joe Biden under the mistaken belief that he served in the Bush cabinet. (You may be looking for Rumsfeld, Cheney, Rice etc.)

    GG… just hates.

    Mundo is halfway to being a bot and still provides more value to this comment section than all mentioned above.

    Did I miss anyone?

  10. It appears that the reluctance of the Australian public to mark down the Morrison’s LNP government for its arrogance, bigotry and deceit has not inhibited the Chinese government, its representatives and spokepersons from forming their own opinion.
    At this stage, one wonders as to the extent the Chinese reaction to Morrison’s impetuous remarks and attitude will impact on trade with China and therefore the Australian economy.
    These things take time to evoke a response from Australian business however an economic downturn in any number of industries is likely to reverse the seemingly enduring favourable LNP polling.
    The balance sheet is a powerful motivator.
    Another shock to wheat prices after such a wonderful harvest may be the catalyst for a shift in public opinion.
    A change to iron ore pricing or iron ore trade preferences may cause a reaction in the polls.
    Any more downward pressure may cause the elusive downturn in housing and house prices and sap the confidence in an improving Australian economy.
    Christmas may not be so merry at the lodge this year if the wine sours in the conditions.
    Any beef with the Chinese may be tough to swallow.
    Morrison may be in need of some barley water to ease his throat in the new year.
    What will ths marketeer conjure?
    The Chinese do like fireworks!

  11., from the SCMP.

    I guess whether the coup in DC is off/ on, it seems the PRC’s CCP isn’t too enamoured by Australia’s human rights, Wuflu etc – if not southern resource area or stepping stone to Antarctica, besides I think Shanghai’s population alone is the size of Australia’s, as in diplomacy by other means- or Quad references, any more than Australia is feeling the pressure over trade, not that having BoJo/ inept and tone deaf ‘PM’ $houty or TDJT in three of the Five Eyes …
    Whilst net sat/ approval is reported to be high, I guess $houty might think a double dissolution might work, and delay say a federal ICAC/ CIC some more.

    So far the 2020s appear to be like the 1920s, WW4/ GWOT rather than WW1 leftovers, dreadnoughts going the way of carriers to submarines to robots/ AI, even if the GFC/ Great Recession seems a distant memory in the midst of Wuflu border closures and shutdowns, Depression/ Recession, Great Depression …

    A change in American leadership at inauguration should help democracies, if not commies/ state, theocrazies/ Dog or fascists/ Ersatz Dog.

  12. The Age
    Victoria’s environmental watchdog has overturned all of the approvals it has given to landfills set to accept the West Gate Tunnel’s contaminated soil, in what has been described as a “monumental stuff up” that has shattered the public’s faith in the regulator.
    Joining Vic Police and the Fire Services who have lost the public’s faith.
    What the hell is happening to the public service in Victoria?
    Looks like pressure was applied by the Andrews govt to get the Westgate Tunnel project debacle back on track and the EPA has then acted unlawfully as a result of this pressure.
    Over to you Jacinta and Lily for a full explanation.

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