Polls: RedBridge, Morgan and more Newspoll, plus NT leadership change (open thread)

One poll with Labor ahead, the other with a tie, further numbers from Newspoll on the leaders’ traits, and a vacancy in the top job at the Top End.

Roy Morgan might plough on this week with a poll to be dropped next Wednesday or so, but what follows are most likely the last items of polling we will see for the year. The Australian traditionally drops aggregated Newspoll breakdowns in the dead zone after Christmas, but it will only have three polls to aggregate from on this occasion, unless it supplements them somehow.

RedBridge Group has a federal poll showing Labor leading 52.8-47.2 (in from 53.5-46.5 in the last such poll in early November), though seemingly all reportage of the poll has painted it as disastrous for Labor because the small sample of respondents with trades qualifications has the Coalition ahead. The primary votes are Labor 33% (down one), Coalition 35% (steady) and Greens 13% (down one). The accompanying report includes extensive further questions on national direction, issue salience and immigration. The poll was conducted December 6 to 11 from an unusually large sample of 2010.

• The latest weekly poll from Roy Morgan has a tie on two-party preferred, erasing Labor’s 51-49 lead over the previous two weeks. The primary votes are Labor 32% (up one-and-a-half), Coalition 38% (up one), Greens 11.5% (down two-and-a-half) and One Nation 4.5% (down half). The poll was conducted Monday to Sunday from a sample of 1720.

• The Australian had further results from Newspoll on the leaders’ character traits, which it published in a comprehensive display showing earlier numbers for the results going back to 2008 which is worth seeking out if you’re interested in this sort of thing. Anthony Albanese had higher ratings for trustworthy (49% to 41%), in touch (46% to 41%), caring (61% to 45%), likeable (57% to 39%) and having a vision for Australia (59% to 55%), and was less likely to be seen as arrogant (45% to 57%). Peter Dutton led on experienced (70% to 66%), decisive and strong (58% to 48%) and understanding the major issues (57% to 54%).

• Northern Territory Chief Minister Natasha Fyles resigned yesterday after nineteen months in the job, amid revelations she had failed to declare a conflict of interest relating to shares in mining company South 32. It presumably didn’t help that a RedBridge Group poll, conducted in the middle of last month from a sample of 601, had Labor trailing the Country Liberals by 40.6% to 19.7% (although the poll found Labor doing little better federally, and its age breakdowns included the implausible finding that the gap was 40% to 11% among the 18-to-39 age cohort). Names mentioned as possible contenders are her deputy, Nicole Manison, Infrastructure Minister Joel Bowden and Attorney-General Chansey Paech.

Weekend miscellany: NSW Liberal preselections, Voice polling and more (open thread)

Four federal Liberals face preselection challenges as factional tensions in the NSW branch reignite.

It was noted here last week that the Liberals had opened nominations in eight of the nine federal seats they hold in New South Wales, making an exception for Scott Morrison’s seat of Cook so as not to put him in an awkward spot as the party gently persuades him to bring forward his retirement. The Guardian reports that challengers to incumbents have come forward in four of these seats, three of which have been gestating since before the last election. They were largely thwarted on that occasion by the designs of one of their targets, Mitchell MP Alex Hawke, who was able to clog up the process long enough to compel the party hierarchy to resolve the matter in favour of the incumbents just weeks before the onset of the campaign.

Hawke is a close ally of Scott Morrison and a leading figure in the centre right faction, which had been left marginalised by deals between moderates and conservatives, and was weakened still further by the election defeat. Relatedly, Hawke faces a conservative-driven motion before the party’s state council to expel him over his tactics before the election. A recurring theme of the current round of challenges is that conservatives who were thwarted last time are now hopeful that Hawke and his faction will be too weak to fend them off. The aspirant in Hawke’s own seat of Mitchell in Sydney’s north-west, then and now, is Michael Abrahams, a lieutenant-colonel in the Army Reserve.

Also under pressure are two senior front-benchers, including no less a figure than the deputy party leader, Sussan Ley. Ley had variously been associated with the moderate and centre right factions, and appeared to be under pressure in her rural seat of Farrer before the last election following a conservative recruitment drive in local party branches. On that occasion her prospective challenger was Christian Ellis, a public relations specialist noted locally as a campaigner for water rights, who like Abrahams was thwarted by the national executive intervention. This time she will reportedly be opposed by Jean Haynes, a Deniliquin school teacher who appeared to have a seat in the state upper house lined up in December after the party hierarchy intervened to dump three male incumbents and replace them with women. However, a revision to the plan saw her make way for Rachel Merton, in part due to moderate objections over her role in Ellis’s challenge to Ley.

The other senior figure who faces a rival nominee is Paul Fletcher, former Communications Minister and member for the northern Sydney seat of Bradfield, where he was run uncomfortably close at the election by unheralded teal independent Nicolette Boele. However, the challenge from Paul Nettelbeck, described by The Guardian as a “communications expert who previously worked for the Menzies Research Institute”, is understood to be “primarily a defensive manoeuvre to prevent Fletcher retiring and passing his seat uncontested to a NSW moderate”. In the wake of the Aston by-election defeat in April, Niki Savva of the Age/Herald related that both Ley and Fletcher, together with Dan Tehan and Angus Taylor, had been “openly displaying their wares” in anticipation of a possible move against Peter Dutton’s leadership.

Also facing a challenge is the centre right-aligned Melissa McIntosh, whose success in increasing her margin in the difficult seat of Lindsay last year has seemingly failed to mollify local conservatives. McIntosh is again opposed by Mark Davies, Penrith councillor and husband of state Mulgoa MP Tanya Davies, who called off his challenge before the last election under the terms of a factional deal.

Other news:

• The Age/Herald has published results on the Indigenous Voice from this week’s Resolve Strategic poll, which found no leading 52-48 on a forced response question, compared with 51-49 a month ago. When an uncommitted option was included, 36% opted for yes (down six) and 42% no (up two). State breakdowns had no leading 51-49 in New South Wales, Western Australia and South Australia and 58-42 in Queensland, with yes leading 52-48 in Victoria and 54-46 in Tasmania (with caution due for small samples sizes particularly in the smaller states). The poll was conducted Wednesday to Saturday from a sample of 1610.

• Roy Morgan conducted one of its “snap SMS” polls this week in the wake of the Victorian government’s cancellation of the Commonwealth Games, which credited the state Labor government with a 53-47 lead on two-party preferred, compared with an implausible 61.5-38.5 at the last such poll in May. The primary votes were Labor 33% (down nine), Coalition 35.5% (up seven) and Greens 12.5% (steady). Forced response questions found Daniel Andrews with 45% approval and 55% disapproval, but leading John Pesutto as preferred premier by 52.5-47.5; and a 58-42 majority in favour of cancelling the games, leaving unanswered the question of whether it was a good idea to take them on in the first place. The poll was conducted Wednesday and Thursday from a sample of 1046.

• As for the weekly federal voting intention numbers from Roy Morgan, which I don’t focus on much due to the haphazard manner in which they are published, Labor holds an unusually narrow two-party lead of 53-47, in from 54.5-45.5 last time. However, the primary votes suggest the movement is largely down to preference flows, with Labor on 35.5%, the Coalition on 35% and the Greens on 12.5%, suggesting a 54-46 lead to Labor based on previous election preferences.

Niki Savva’s column this week in the Age/Herald related that data collated from 2500 households during door-knocking of the Kooyong electorate by teal independent MP Monique Ryan and her supporters found 58.5% in favour of the Indigenous Voice, 45.1% strongly; 30.6% neutral or unsure; and only 11.3% opposed. Recent poll results hawked by Liberal Senator James Patterson showing no with its nose in front in Kooyong were credulously reported by Sky News.

Simon Benson of The Australian reports JWS Research polling conducted for the Minerals Council of Australia initially found 46% in favour of the government’s “same job, same pay” industrial relations reforms, with 19% opposed — but many were said to have had misapprehensions that the reforms related to the gender pay gap. After being shown business lobby advertising attacking the reforms, the results were 26% supportive and 47% opposed. When further shown union advertising supporting the reforms, the result came out at 31% for and 34% against.

• As related in the previous post, draft new state boundaries for Western Australia proposing abolishing a Nationals-held regional seat, one of only six out of 59 not held by Labor, and the creation of a safe Labor seat in southern Perth. This has naturally infuriated the Nationals and supportive interests, coming as it does on the heels of upper house reforms that abolish a scheme that divides seats evenly between metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas, despite the former accounting for three-quarters of the state’s population. In other redistribution news, I am indebted to Ben Raue at the Tally Room for paying attention to the redistribution for the Northern Territory parliament, which has been passing beneath my radar. An initial set of draft boundaries that was published in May has been scrapped altogether due to a surge of enrolment in remote communities ahead of the Indigenous Voice referendum, driven by a push in the Australian Electoral Commission’s direct enrolment campaign.

Arafura by-election live

A quick look at a by-election today in the Northern Territory, with live count coverage to follow this evening.

Live commentary

8.20pm. The outstanding booth, which handled almost as many votes as the others put together, moderated the Labor margin to 18.9%.

7.45pm. With four out of five booths in (four of them mobile, the other a Darwin pre-poll), the result is a surprisingly emphatic win for Labor’s Manuel Brown, who leads the two-candidate count by 1112 to 265 – a margin of 30.8% as compared with 3.6% at the 2020 election.

6pm. Polling has closed; the NTEC’s results page is here. I will provide occasional updates on the progress of the count as circumstances permit.


A by-election will be held today for the Northern Territory seat of Arafura, following the death of Labor member Lawrence Costa in December. Defeat would reduce Labor from 14 seats to 13, a bare majority in a parliament of 25 in which the opposition Country Liberals hold eight seats. This post will be updated with some sort of live coverage of the count after polls close at 6pm this evening, although updates may not be particularly timely.

Arafura covers the Tiwi Islands along with mainland territory around West Arnhem, and can lay claim to the title of the country’s most heavily indigenous parliamentary seat. Labor has held it for all but one term since its creation in 1983, past members including Bob Collins and Maurice Rioli. However, it fell to the Country Liberals together with Arnhem and Stuart as part of the bush rebellion that cost Labor power in 2012, and Labor’s margin at the 2020 election was a modest 3.6%.

Labor’s new candidate is Manuel Brown, a local community service worker. It was revealed during the campaign that Brown was convicted of driving without due care following a fatal car accident in 2009, when he was 26. The Liberal candidate is Leslie Tungatalum, Tiwi Islands Regional Council and son of Hyacinth Tungatalum, who became the first indigenous member of the Legislative Assembly in 1974. A third candidate is Alan Middleton of the obscure Federation Party, whose policies include opposition to vaccine mandates

Supplementary elections, by-elections and no polls (open thread)

Minor electoral events from Victoria and Northern Territory in lieu of new polling news to report.

We continue to await the return of Newspoll for the year, which I imagine might be forthcoming ahead of the return of parliament next week. With Essential Research having an off week in the fortnightly cycle, this leaves me with nothing to report on the poll front. Two bits of electoral news worth noting are that the Liberals won the supplementary election for the Victorian state seat of Narracan as expected on Saturday, confirming lower house numbers of 56 for Labor, 19 for the Liberals, nine for the Nationals and four for the Greens; and that Northern Territory Chief Minister Natasha Fyles has announced that the by-election for the seat of Arafura, following the death of Labor member Lawrence Costa on December 17, will be held on March 18. With that, over to you.

New year miscellany (open thread)

Two minor bits of federal polling news, a change in party representation in the House of Representatives, and looming electoral events in the Northern Territory and Victoria.

‘Tis the season to be silly, but there is at least the following to relate:

• Roy Morgan published an SMS poll a fortnight ago that found 53% would vote yes in a referendum on an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voice to parliament, with 30% for no and 17% for undecided. A yes majority was recorded in five of six states, the exception being Queensland with 44% for yes and 38% for no. The poll was conducted December 9 to 12 from a sample of 1499.

• The Age/Herald reported last Wednesday on a quarterly analysis of Resolve Strategic polling, though since the pollster provides breakdowns for the three largest states with each poll result, this was less illuminating than the similar exercise performed for Newspoll. However, it did provide results for Western Australia, showing Labor up a point from its strong performance at the election to 38% and the Coalition down a further five to 30%.

• Calare MP Andrew Gee has quit the Nationals to sit as an independent over the party leadership’s opposition to an indigenous voice to parliament. This reduces the Coalition to 57 seats in the House of Representatives and increases the cross bench from 16 to 17, with Labor still on 77.

• A by-election looms for the Northern Territory seat of Arafura, which covers the Tiwi Islands along with mainland territory around West Arnhem, following the death last month of Lawrence Costa, the Labor member since 2016. A defeat would not imperil Natasha Fyles’ government, with Labor holding 14 out of the Legislative Assembly’s 25 seats, not including Blain MP Mark Turner who was expelled from caucus in February 2021.

• The Narracan supplementary election will be held on January 28, finally bringing resolution to the Victorian state election. The election for the seat was not conducted on November 26 after Nationals candidate Shaun Gilchrist died in the period between the close of nominations and election day.

• The Victorian Election Commission has announced it will conduct full preference counts through to the final counts in February, having previously only conducted the counts to the point needed to determine the winning candidate.

Fannie Bay by-election live

Live coverage of counting from the Northern Territory’s Fannie Bay by-election.

9.08pm. The two-party numbers from Parap look better to me for Labor than the primary votes did, breaking 805-640 their way for a swing of 8.6%. That puts Labor ahead 1745-1597, and I don’t believe there’s more to come than a trickle of late postals and a handful of provisionals. In raw terms, which are as good as any other by this stage, that gives Labor a winning margin of 2.2% after a swing of 7.3%, which is roughly par for the course for a by-election result — maybe a little worse.

8.01pm. Parap has indeed swung heavily against Labor, and with much more votes cast than last time — 1445 compared with 895 formal votes. So we have likely seen a move among conservative voters from pre-poll to election day voting. Labor is down 16.0%, the CLP is up 6.9% and the Greens are up 7.7%. So we’re still looking at a tight result.

7.57pm. The postals broke 120-113 to the CLP on two-party, so they still have a tight 957-940 overall lead. However, the big outstanding factor is the Parap booth, which broke 576-319 to Labor in 2020. For the CLP to get home, the swing there will need to exceed what we’ve seen so far.

7.53pm. 233 postal votes have been added to the primary vote count, and they have swung heavily against Labor — down 21.0% on the primary vote with the CLP up 13.5% and the Greens up 9.7%.

7.36pm. I made a bit of data entry error on the Darwin pre-poll booth: Labor’s primary vote was indeed down 10.2%, but the CLP was only up 4.3% with the Greens up 6.6%. So in other words, the swings there were much like Ludmilla and Labor still looks like it has an advantage. Now the two-party is in from the pre-poll booth, and while the CLP won the booth and has a raw lead of 837-827, they did much better on pre-polls in 2020 than other kinds of vote. If that’s the case again this time, Labor should pull ahead from here. However, that may not entirely hold this time because there was only one pre-poll option this time compared with three, and it appears voters may have taken their business to election day booths.

7.19pm. With 1664 votes in from the Darwin pre-poll booth, it would seem we’re looking at a very close result here: Labor is down 10.7% and the CLP is up 9.1%, suggesting a two-party swing bang on the Labor margin of 9.6%.

7.05pm. The Ludmilla two-party result is 248-210 in favour of Labor, which is a 7.3% swing to the CLP compared with 2020.

6.39pm. Eleanor in comments dispels my earlier confusion about “Urban Voting Darwin”, which is mobile hospital voting (and sometimes prisons, but not on this occasion). It’s 16 votes broke 9-7 to the CLP on two-party preferred.

6.38pm. The Ludmilla booth is in, with 458 formal votes this time compared with 282 last time, presumably due to there being fewer pre-poll voting places this time. There is a solid 11.6% drop in the primary vote to 30.6%, but most of it has gone to the Greens, who are up 8.2% to 24.2%. The CLP is up 5.1% to 37.6%, which is less than it would need to rein in the 9.6% margin, but not by so much that you could call the result at this point.

6.22pm. Results are in for something called “Urban Voting Darwin” — whatever this is, it is not the pre-poll booth. It accounts for all of 16 formal votes, of which the CLP has seven and Labor four.

6pm. Polls have closed. There were only 282 votes cast at the Ludmilla booth in 2020, so we should expect primary vote numbers from there at least inside the hour.

4pm. Two hours before the close of polls, here is my live thread for the Fannie Bay by-election count, which will choose a successor to former Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner in an electorate that covers suburbs just north of central Darwin. Labor is defending a seemingly solid margin of 9.6%, but such measures can be deceptive in the territory’s tiny electorates, in which candidate factors weigh heavily. There are three independents in the field along with Labor, the Country Liberal Party and the Greens, and I will have competitive they might be until results are in. There won’t be terribly many of these: there are only two election day polling booths, plus a pre-poll booth that operated in central Darwin. The Labor government, now headed by Natasha Fyles, holds 14 seats out of 25, so defeat would leave it one away from minority status.1

Preference flows and by-elections (open thread)

A look at preference flow data from the 2019 and 2022 elections, and the latest on looming by-elections in the Northern Territory, Tasmania and (sort of) Western Australia.

Something I really should have noted in last week’s post is that the Australian Electoral Commission has now published two-candidate preferred preference flow data from the election, showing how minor party and independent preferences flowed between Labor and the Coalition. The table below shows how Labor’s share increased for the four biggest minor parties and independents collectively (and also its fraction decrease for “others”) from the last election to this and, in the final column, how much difference each made to Labor’s total share of two-party preferred, which was 52.13%.

Note that the third column compares how many preference Labor received with how many they would have if preference flows had been last time, which is not the same thing as how many preferences they received. Labor in fact got nearly 2% more two-party vote share in the form of Greens preferences at this election because the Greens primary vote was nearly 2% higher this time.

State and territory by-election:

• Six candidates for the August 20 by-election in the Northern Territory seat of Fannie Bay, in ballot paper order: Brent Potter, described in a report as a “government adviser, army veteran and father of four”, for Labor; independent George Mamouzellos; independent Raj Samson Rajwin, who was a Senate candidate for the United Australia Party; Jonathan Parry of the Greens; independent Leah Potter; and Ben Hosking, “small business owner and former police officer”, for the Country Liberals.

• Following the resignation of Labor member Jo Siejka, a by-election will be held for the Tasmanian Legislative Council seat of Pembroke on September 10. Siejka defeated a Liberal candidate by 8.65% to win the eastern Hobart seat at the periodic election in 2019. There will also be a recount of 2021 election ballots in Franklin to determine which of the three unelected Liberals will replace Jacquie Petrusma following her resignation announcement a fortnight ago. As Kevin Bonham explains, the order of probability runs Bec Enders, Dean Young and James Walker.

• Still no sign of a date for Western Australia’s North West Central by-election.

Daly by-election live

Live coverage of the count for the Daly by-election in the Northern Territory.

7.51pm. Mobile Team Daly 3 is in, and Labor ends the night with an insurmountable lead of 1856 to 1424, a margin of 6.6% from a swing of 7.8%. CORRECTION: Mobile Team Daly 3 is not so much in, as removed from the NTEC’s list of booths. In any case, we’ve seen everything we’re going to see this evening.

7.31pm. 104 votes from pre-poll and election day centres in Darwin don’t change anything. Apart from declarations and postals, we’re still just waiting on Mobile Team Daly 3.

7.15pm. Now we’ve got Berry Springs EVC and all booths reporting so far in on the two-party, and all of a sudden it looks a great night for Labor. Jennings did better at Berry Springs EVC as expected, but it amounted to little — she’s still on only 15.1%. That reduces it to a traditional CLP-versus-Labor contest, on which Labor leads 56.4% to 43.6%. I’m only projecting that to narrow slightly, with Labor winning by 5.3% from a swing of 6.5%.

7.12pm. Another twist in the tale from two Mobile Team booths that have reported. They account between them for 1807 votes with one of three results still outstanding, whereas the two Mobile Team booths in 2020 totalled only 1651. So clearly these have had more use this time. The results are a body blow for Jennings, who now looks certain to finish third, and a giant fillip for Labor, who got fully 64.5% of the primary vote from the two between them. They have now bolted to a lead of 45.8% to 33.9% over the CLP. Still waiting on the two-party results from the two booths.

7.02pm. It’s pointed out in comments that Jennings’ home town is Berry Springs, where she got 39.1% compared with about 21% elsewhere. One of the outstanding booths is the Berry Springs pre-poll centre, but it should only account for about 20% of the outstanding total. That presumably shortens the odds for the CLP. If the 2020 results are any guide, the one we’re waiting for is Mobile Team Daly 1, which should account for nearly half the outstanding votes. This happened to be a strong booth in 2020 for the Territory Alliance, for which Jennings ran as a candidate in a different seat.

6.52pm. A much better result for the CLP from the Coolalinga early voting centre leaves them with 44.8% of the primary vote, and also narrows Jennings’ lead over Labor to just 12 votes. This is a particularly strong booth for the CLP: they got 56.9% last time and 52.9% this time. Since they remain down on the primary vote on a booth-matched basis, and their primary vote was only 35.8% last time, they remain in trouble if Jennings can stay ahead of Labor. Otherwise, it looks clear now the CLP will retain the seat, as they have a two-party swing of 5.9% against Labor.

6.50pm. The issue for Jennings is whether she stays ahead of Labor to take second place. She currently leads them by 156 votes to 128. The 22 votes of the other independent, Wayne Connop, would presumably widen that. But later reporting votes may be stronger for Labor. If Jennings does drop out, it seems likely the seat will stay with the CLP: they lead the two-party count 267 to 214. This amounts to a 1.4% swing to the CLP, from which a 3.2% winning margin can be projected. There are so many votes outstanding though that that could not be thought decisive. So at present, the only candidate who can be ruled out is Connop.

6.40pm. The CLP has pulled ahead on the primary vote with the other election day booth in the electorate, Wagait Beach, reporting. These are small numbers of votes though so presumably the pre-poll voting centres did very good business. As things currently stand, Jennings still looks well placed to win on Labor preferences.

6.35pm. The Berry Springs booth, one of only two operating on election day, has recorded a rather spectacular result for independent candidate Rebecca Jennings, who has 116 votes to the CLP’s 113 and Labor’s 50. The CLP is down 6.6% on the primary vote and Labor is down 10.4%. Unless this is a local peculiarity, it suggests Jennings will win comfortably on Labor preferences. Results from the NTEC here.

6pm. Polls have closed for the Northern Territory by-election for the seat of Daly, covering pastoral areas to the south of Darwin. The by-election is being held after Country Liberal Party member Ian Sloan, who won by a 1.2% margin at the election last year, retired due to ill health. The candidates are Kris Civitarese of the CLP, Dheran Young of Labor and two independents, Wayne Connop and Rebecca Jennings.