Two bits of polling news to report, neither of which are from Resolve Strategic, which had hitherto been appearing in the Age/Herald on the third Wednesday of each month. That leaves:
• Essential Research’s fortnightly report does not include the monthly leadership ratings, which are the series’ main point of interest outside of its quarterly dump of voting intention numbers. However, it does feature the regular ratings on governments’ COVID-19 responses, which finds the federal government’s good rating up three from its nadir a fortnight ago to 41% and its bad rating steady on 35%. The New South Wales government’s good rating is at a new low of 42%, which is down five on a fortnight ago and compares with 69% eight weeks ago. Victoria’s is up two to 56% and Queensland’s is up six to 66%; from their particularly small sample sizes, Western Australia is up five to 87% and South Australia is down five to 68%. The poll also finds 75% support and only 10% opposition to mandatory vaccinations, with no distinctions to speak of by party support. Also featured are further questions on COVID-19 that tend to the personal rather than the political, and questions prompted by the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report last week.
• JWS Research has released its occasional True Issues survey, in which the federal government’s performance index score (by which 50% would indicate an even balance of positive and negative responses) is down six points since February to 52%. Fifty-seven per cent now rate Australia’s COVID-19 response as very good or good in comparison with the rest of the world, down from 79%. For the federal government specifically, the drop is from 56% to 38%; for state governments in aggregate, it’s down from 64% to 53%. A question on issue salience, in which respondents were asked to list three issues of particular importance, finds “hospitals, health care and ageing” reigning supreme on 59%, up from 45% in February, with economy and finances a distant second on an abnormally low 21%.
• Phillip Coorey of the Financial Review on “a school of thought that it would be better to not wait for another budget and go in March instead”:
Waiting until May and launching an election campaign with a budget that would be a sea of red ink does not have the same appeal as 2019, when the budget predicted a return to surplus and contained generous tax cuts. The March theory is based on the hope that there is some semblance of normality in society following the Christmas break, due to vaccination levels being high enough and nobody in hard lockdown.
• Graeme Orr of the University of Queensland law department pokes many a hole in the government’s legislation whose intention is to give the existing major parties dibs on the words Liberal and Labor, and notes the proposed hike in the minimum membership requirement for party registration from 500 to 1500 is rough on regionally focused parties but little obstacle to parties formed by “wealthy interests”.
• Paul Sakkal of The Age reports the Liberal preselection for Casey, which will be vacated with Tony Smith’s retirement, has attracted a field of six: Roshena Campbell, barrister, Melbourne councillor and wife of Herald Sun journalist James Campbell; Grant Hutchison, managing partner of local law firm Hutchinson Legal; Aaron Violi, former staffer to Senator James Patterson and current executive with a company that provides online ordering services to restaurants; Andrew Asten, principal of Boston Consulting Group and former ministerial chief-of-staff to Alan Tudge; Donalea Patman, founder of For the Love of Wildlife, which campaigns against hunting in Africa; and Ranjana Srivastava, an oncologist. The report relates that Campbell and Violi are aligned with state Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien and party president Robert Clark, while Hutchison and Asten are in the rival Josh Frydenberg/Michael Sukkar camp.
• Charlie Peel of The Australian reports there are three candidates for Liberal National Party preselection to succeed George Christensen in Dawson: Whitsunday mayor Andrew Wilcox, former Mackay councillor Chris Bonanno and “the relatively unknown Chas Pasquale”.