uComms NSW state poll

A snap state poll from New South Wales slightly improves a tough week for Gladys Berejiklian.

The Ten Network reported this evening on a New South Wales state poll it commissioned from uComms, which was “run over the past 24 hours”, providing me with a helpful opportunity to launch a thread on the biggest issue in Australian politics right at the moment.

The results are welcome news for a beleaguered Gladys Berejiklian, finding 62.7% of respondents do not believe she should resign, with only 27.7% believing she should. Only 23.6% said this week’s revelations made them less likely to vote for her, with 49.8% saying they made no difference and 26.6% offered the seemingly perverse response that they actually made them more likely to vote for her — albeit that most of these respondents would likely have done so in any case. When asked who they would have replace her if she did indeed resign, Rob Stokes lead the field with 38.4%, ahead of 35.6% for Dominic Perrottet and 26.0% for Mark Speakman.

There was also a question on voting intention, but the Ten News report was frustratingly light on detail, saying only that the Coalition was on 38% and Labor 30%. This very likely did not involve distribution of an undecided component that typically comes in at around 8%, so it should be deemed that the true primary votes for both parties were around three points higher – putting both of them more or less where they were at the 2019 election.

Newspoll and Essential Research coronavirus polling

Among many other findings relating to COVID-19, the strongest evidence yet that Victorians are unswayed by news media narratives concerning their state government.

The Australian today reports Newspoll findings on COVID-19 and leadership approval from Victoria and Queensland, which were targeted with expanded samples (608 and 603 respectively) in the poll whose main results were published yesterday:

• Daniel Andrews is up five points on approval from late July to 62% and down two on approval to 35%, whereas Scott Morrison is down six on approval to 62% and up seven on disapproval to 33%. Andrews is reckoned to be doing very well in handling COVID-19 by 31% (up four), fairly well by 31% (down three), fairly badly by 13% (down five) and very badly by 22% (up four), while Morrison is on 26% for very well (down five), 45% for fairly well (down one), 15% for fairly badly (up three) and 10% for very badly (up one).

• Annastacia Palaszczuk’s ratings are only modestly changed, with approval down one to 63% and disapproval up four to 33% as compared with the poll in late July, while Scott Morrison is down five to 67% and up four to 28% as compared with the poll in late June. Both leaders’ COVID-19 ratings are a little weaker than they were in late July: Palaszczuk records 32% for very well (down five), 36% for fairly well (down eight), 16% for fairly badly (up eight) and 13% for very badly (up seven), while Morrison has 34% for very well (down six), 43% for fairly well (up three), 13% for fairly badly (up two) and 7% for very badly (up one).

• The national sample was asked about the restrictions in Victoria and Queensland, which naturally required lengthy explanation (the framing of which seems reasonable enough). For Victoria, the results were 25% too strict, 61% about right and 10% too lenient; for Queensland, 37% too strict, 53% about right and 7% too lenient.

• The balance of concern is nonetheless moving away from “moving too quickly to relax restrictions”, down 20 points since mid-July to 56%, to “moving too slowly to relax restrictions and harming economy, jobs and mental wellbeing”, up 19 points to 39%.

Today also brings the fortnightly Essential Research poll, as related by The Guardian with the full report to follow later today:

• Respondents were in favour of both Scott Morrison’s handling of COVID-19 (a 61% approval rating, up two on a fortnight ago) and Queensland state border closures he wants lifted (66% support, including 70% among Queensland respondents). Forty-seven per cent of Victorian respondents approved of the state government’s COVID-19 management, unchanged from a fortnight ago, while the rating for the New South Wales government was up seven to 67%.

• Thirty-three per cent of respondents felt tax cuts for high income earners should be brought forward from 2022, as the government has signalled it will do, while 38% believe they should be scrapped and 29% believe the government should stick to the original timetable. Twenty-one per cent believe they would be an effective economic stimulus, compared with 41% for moderately effective and 38% for not effective.

• Asked which technology they preferred for future energy generation, 70% favoured renewables and 15% gas and coal.

The poll was conducted Wednesday to Sunday from a sample of 1081.

UPDATE: Full Essential Research poll here.

Affairs of state

One finely crafted electoral news item for every state (and territory) that is or might ever conceivably have been part of our great nation.

A bone for every dog in the federation kennel:

New South Wales

Gladys Berejiklian has backed a move for the Liberal Party to desist from endorsing or financially supporting candidates in local government elections, reportedly to distance the state government from adverse findings arising from Independent Commission Against Corruption investigations into a number of councils. Many in the party are displeased with the idea, including a source cited by Linda Silmalis of the Daily Telegraph, who predicted “world war three” because many MPs relied on councillors to organise their numbers at preselections.

Victoria

The second biggest story in the politics of Victoria over the past fortnight has been the expose of the activities of Liberal Party operator Marcus Bastiaan by the Nine newspaper-and-television news complex, a neat counterpoint to its similar revelations involving Labor powerbroker Adem Somyurek in June. The revelations have been embarrassing or worse for federal MPs Michael Sukkar and Kevin Andrews, with the former appearing to have directed the latter’s electorate office staff to spend work time on party factional activities.

Together with then state party president Michael Kroger, Bastiaan was instrumental in establishing a conservative ascendancy with help from Bastiaan’s recruitment of members from Mormon churches and the Indian community. Having installed ally Nick Demiris as campaign director, Bastiaan’s fingerprints were on the party’s stridently conservative campaign at the 2018 state election, which yielded the loss of 11 lower house Coalition seats. Religious conservatives led by Karina Okotel, now a federal party vice-president, then split from the Bastiaan network, complaining their numbers had been used to buttress more secular conservatives.

The Age’s report noted that “in the days leading up to the publication of this investigation, News Corporation mastheads have run stories attacking factional opponents of Mr Bastiaan and Mr Sukkar”. Presumably related to this was a report on Okotel’s own party activities in The Australian last weekend, which was long on emotive adjectives but short on tangible allegations of wrongdoing, beyond her having formed an alliance with factional moderates after the split.

Continue reading “Affairs of state”

Newspoll state leaders and coronavirus polling

Persistent high ratings all round for state Premiers and the Prime Minister amid the coronavirus crisis, but signs the current Victorian outbreak may have cost Daniel Andrews some shine.

Courtesy of The Australian, Newspoll offers a repeat of an exercise conducted two months ago in which a large national sample is polled to produce state-level results on the popularity of premiers as well as the Prime Minister, both generally and in their dealings with the coronavirus. While the results are positive all round, they find Daniel Andrews falling from a top tier that continues to include Peter Gutwein, Mark McGowan and Steven Marshall, bringing him about level with Gladys Berejiklian but still clear of Annastacia Palaszczuk.

Andrews was down eight on approval to 67% and up ten on disapproval to 27%, while Berejiklian was down one to 68% and up three to 26%. Allowing for small sample sizes in the smaller states, Peter Gutwein took the lead (up six on approval to 90% and down three on disapproval to 8%) from Mark McGowan (down one to 88% and up three on 9%). Despite continuing to trail the pack, Palaszczuk recorded the best improvement with a four point increase in approval to 59% and a four point drop on disapproval to 35%.

However, Palaszczuk remains the only Premier with a weaker net approval rating in their state than Scott Morrison, who according to the poll has strengthened in Queensland (by five on approval to 72%, and down four on disapproval to 24%) but weakened everywhere else (approval down six to 61% and disapproval up five to 35% in New South Wales; down seven to 65% and up four to 30% in Victoria; down three to 67% and up two to 29% in South Australia; down three to 70% and up three to 26% in Western Australia; down four to 60% and up six to 37% in Tasmania).

Andrews’ deterioration on approval is more than matched on the question of handling of coronavirus, on which he now trails out of the Premiers with 72% for well (down 13 points) and 25% for badly (up 14). This pushes him behind Berejiklian (up two to 79% and down two to 16%), Palaszczuk (up four to 76% and down one to 22%) and Marshall (up five to 87% and down two to 9%). Still clear of the field are McGowan and Gutwein, who are tied at 93% well (down one for McGowan, up four for Gutwein) and 5% badly (up one and down three). Scott Morrison’s ratings on this score are little changed, and remarkably consistent from state to state — Queensland and South Australia are his best with 84% well and 14% poorly apiece, but his weakest result, in New South Wales, is still 79% well and 18% badly.

The poll was conducted from a national sample of 2949, ranging from 526 in Victoria to 309 in Tasmania.

Newspoll state leadership polling and Essential Research coronavirus latest

State-level polling finds the coronavirus tide lifting all boats — but none so far as Mark McGowan in WA, whose numbers may be without precedent.

The Australian ($) today provides Newspoll findings on state leaders’ handling of the coronavirus, from samples of around 520 for each mainland state plus 309 for Tasmania. The poll finds all concerned riding high, including three who strongly outperformed Scott Morrison’s ballyhooed 68% approval and 28% disapproval on the weekend. These are WA Labor Premier Mark McGowan, at 89% approval and 6% disapproval; Tasmanian Liberal Premier Peter Gutwein, at 84% approval and 11% disapproval after three months in the job; and Victorian Labor Premier Daniel Andrews, at 75% approval and 17% disapproval.

Morrison was also matched on approval and bettered on net approval by NSW Liberal Premier Gladys Berejiklian (69% approval and 23% disapproval) and SA Liberal Premier Steven Marshall (68% approval and 21% disapproval). Only Queensland Labor Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, who faces an election in October, was below the prime ministerial par (55% approval and 39% disapproval). With due allowance for small samples, I believe McGowan’s ratings may be a record for Newspoll, or indeed for any other Australian pollster, and that Gutwein’s might have been too if not for McGowan’s.

The leaders record even stronger ratings on the specific question of handling the coronavirus outbreak: 77% rate Berejiklian as having done well, compared with 18% for badly; Andrews is at 85% and 11%; Palaszczuk is at 72% and 23%; McGowan is at 94% and 4%; Marshall is at 82% and 11%; and Gutwein is at 89% and 8%. Equivalent results are also provided for the Prime Minister, and here too Western Australians are most positive, at 73% approval and 23% disapproval, with 85% rating Morrison had handled coronavirus well compared with 14% for badly. In New South Wales, Morrison scored 67% approval and 30% disapproval, and 82% well and 16% badly for coronavirus; in Victoria, 72% approval and 26% disapproval, 83% well and 14% badly; in Queensland, 67% approval and 28% disapproval, 81% well and 17% badly; in South Australia, 70% approval and 27% disapproval, 83% well and 15% badly; and in Tasmania, 64% approval and 31% disapproval, 81% well and 18% badly.

As reported in The Guardian, the weekly Essential Research coronavirus poll provides us with a third set of small-sample findings on mainland state governments’ handling of the crisis, ranging from about 80 respondents in South Australia to 320 in New South Wales. The latest results produce combined very good and good ratings of 77% for the Victorian and South Australian governments, 76% for Western Australia, 67% for Queensland and 63% for New South Wales. The table below records the progress of this series over its three weeks, together with an averaged result which again shows Western Australia highest at 77%, followed by 74% for Victoria, 72% for South Australia, 61% for Queensland and 60% for New South Wales.

Essential Research also finds confidence in the federal government’s handling of the crisis continuing to rise, with 70% rating it good or very good, a measure that earlier progressed from 45% in late March to 65% last week. Seventy-three per cent now say they consider themselves unlikely to catch the virus, compared with 57% at the peak of concern at the end of March. In response to a list of options for budget repair, 64% supported preventing companies in offshore tax havens from receiving goverment support, but only 32% favoured removing franking credits and negative gearing, and 18% supported death duties.

On the COVIDSafe app, the weekend’s Newspoll found 21% saying they would definitely take it up, 33% that they would probably do so, 21% that they would probably not, and 18% that they would definitely not. Apart from the lower uncommitted rating, this is broadly in line with an Australia Institute poll of 1011 respondents on Thursday and Friday which had 45% saying they would and 28% that they wouldn’t. Essential Research also weighed in on the question, and found 53% saying it would limit the spread of the virus, and 46% that it would speed removal of distancing restrictions. A full set of results from Essential Research should be with us later today.

UPDATE: Full Essential Research report here.

Leave means leave

Mounting suggestions that the disappointment of Labor’s election defeat could prompt an end-of-year rush for the parliamentary exit.

By-election watch:

• In her column in The Australian yesterday ($), Niki Savva wrote that unspecified Labor MPs were convinced Mike Kelly would “be gone by Christmas and that his resignation could be the trigger for others such as Mark Dreyfus and Brendan O’Connor”. This raises the prospect of by-elections for, respectively, the famously marginal south-eastern New South Wales seat of Eden-Monaro (Labor margin 0.8%), the Melbourne bayside seat of Isaacs (6.4%) and the western Melbourne Labor stronghold of Gorton (15.4%). Savva also canvasses the prospect, noted here last week, of Eden-Monaro being contested for the Nationals by state party leader John Barilaro, who holds the corresponding seat of Monaro and is said to hanker for the federal leadership.

• A move to federal politics, successful or otherwise, by John Barilaro would also require a state by-election in Monaro. Labor held the seat from 2003 to 2011, and Barilaro eked out only modest wins in 2011 and 2015, before a 9.1% swing blew the margin out to 11.6% in March. That could just be the beginning of things on New South Wales by-election front – as Andrew Clennell of The Australian ($) reported yesterday, John Sidoti’s difficulties at the Independent Commission Against Corruption are likely to result in a vacancy in the safe Liberal seat of Drummoyne (margin 15.0%), and there are suggestions Labor MP Nick Lalich “might want to retire early” from his safe seat of Cabramatta (margin 25.5% against Liberal, 12.9% against independent Dai Le). There were also said to be rumours an unspecified Liberal MP was “suffering an illness”.

Latest from the event-packed preliminaries to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters’ inquiry into the federal election:

• A submission from the Australian Electoral Commission has raised the possibility that counting of pre-poll votes might begin before the 6pm close of polls on election day. This would address the growing issue of election night being a two-stage affair in which most of the election day booths are done counting by 9pm, while the larger pre-poll voting centres can be delayed by several hours beyond that.

• A submission from the Liberal Party has called for the number of pre-poll voting centres to be reduced ($), and the pre-polling period to be cut from three weeks to two. Labor’s submission has also noted a three-week period places “significant pressure on political parties’ ability to provide booth workers”.

• GetUp! remains in the sights of the Liberal Party, and indeed much of the conservative end of the news media, with the Liberals aggrieved that the organisation has escaped classification as an associated entity of the ALP, despite it targeting exclusively Coalition members.

• Labor is correspondingly unhappy with the Australian Electoral Commission’s determination that the Liberal election day advertising that has prompted the challenges to the Chisholm and Kooyong results is beyond the reach of the section of the Electoral Act dealing with “misleading or deceptive publications”.

• The Greens want political truth-in-advertising laws adjudicated by an independent body, campaign spending caps and fixed three-year terms.

• A submission from Facebook has sought to address Labor complaints that the service was used to disseminate misinformation about Labor’s plan for a “death tax” by saying “thousands of posts” making such claims were demoted to give them less prominence in their news feeds, thanks to the work of its “third-party fact checkers”. It also claims to have shut down two accounts for spreading fake news, without providing any further detail.