Reuters Poll Trend: 56.6-43.4

Reuters Poll Trend is back in business, presumably resuming its old methods of providing a weighted aggregate of results from Newspoll, Morgan and ACNielsen. As such it tells us nothing we didn’t already know, but its trend line is a handy thing to have. The current finding combines three weeks of results and has Labor’s two-party lead at 56.6-43.4, down from 57.3-42.7 previously.

Couple of legal matters to attend to:

• A legal challenge is proceeding against Labor’s 74-vote win in the seat of Chatsworth at the March 21 Queensland election. The LNP cites incidents of double voting and a strong overall result for Labor on absent votes as evidence of fraud. I’ve got a hat waiting to be eaten if the challenge is upheld.

• Gary Clark, husband of the former Lindsay MP Jackie Kelly, has been given the maximum fine of $1100 and ordered to pay more than $2000 in costs for his role in the distribution of fake pamphlets purporting to be from the “Islamic Australia Federation” in the week before the federal election. The ABC reports Magistrate Geoff Bradd aptly observing it was “difficult to think of a worst case of breaching the electoral act”, for which the penalties would seem to need strengthening.

• Note posts below on the latest state Newspoll results for Western Australia and South Australia.

Morgan: 61-39

The latest weekly Roy Morgan face-to-face poll has Labor’s two-party lead unchanged at 61-39, although its primary vote is down 1.5 per cent to 51.5 per cent while the Coalition is unchanged on 33.5 per cent. The slack has been taken up by Family First and independent/others.


• The Central Midlands & Coastal Advocate reports that Liberal Kalgoorlie MP Barry Haase has been making himself known in the areas of O’Connor which will be in the new seat of Durack under the radically redrawn boundaries. Despite being 75 years old, Wilson Tuckey has reportedly been taking an interest in the city of Kalgoorlie, which along with the southern coast from Albany to Esperance and areas of the South West will constitute the redrawn O’Connor.

• Liberal National Party candidate Andrea Caltabiano is launching a challenge against her 74-vote defeat by Labor’s Steve Kilburn in Chatsworth at the March 21 Queensland election. Claimed irregularities include double voting, particularly by candidates who lodged absent votes, and voters being wrongly removed from the roll.

• The Australasian Study of Parliament Group Queensland Chapter is holding a “behind the scenes review of the Queensland 2009 State Election” at the George Street parliamentary annexe from 6pm on Monday, Apirl 27. Star attractions are Antony Green, Treasurer Andrew Fraser, Keating government Attorney-General Michael Lavarch and Lawrence Springborg’s former chief-of-staff Paul Turner. RSVP by Monday to Erin Pasley, who can be reached at Erin-DOT-Paisley-AT-parliament-DOT-qld-DOT-gov-DOT-AU or on 3406 7931.

• No, I haven’t forgotten the May 2 Tasmanian Legislative Council elections – I will have a post up when I get time. In the meantime, Antony Green outlines the candidates.

NOTE: I am leaving open the previous thread for those who wish to continue the discussion, if that’s the right word, about asylum seekers, indigenous affairs, racism and the rest. This thread is for pretty much anything else.

Newspoll: 53-47 to Labor in Queensland

A very well timed Newspoll survey of 752 respondents shows Anna Bligh’s Labor government looking well placed with a 53-47 lead on two-party preferred – although this may be based on an unduly generous preference estimate. On the primary vote, Labor holds a narrow lead of 43 per cent to 42 per cent. This marks a correction from an aberrant looking result in the last quarter of 2008, when Labor led 45 per cent to 37 per cent (57-43 on two-party preferred). Normally Newspoll’s Queensland surveys are quarterly, with samples of over 1000 – obviously this one been cut short and rushed into service.

Perfect the next

There’s so much going on in Queensland at the moment that a progressively updated post on developments seems in order, starting with the relevant entries from last night’s general post.

Monday, February 23

• Missed a spot from Steven Wardill’s Courier-Mail report on Chris Bombolas’s departure from Chatsworth: “Frontrunners to replace Mr Bombolas include his electorate officer Margaret Young and Police Minister Judy Spence’s policy adviser Simon Tutt.”

• Chris Pianta, who as of 2005 was Bundaberg secretary of the Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Employees, has been nominated as Labor’s candidate to run against Rob Messenger in Burnett.

• Déjà vu all over again: Pauline Hanson in shock comeback bid, and Greens threats to withhold preferences from Labor.

• Liberal National Party television ads viewable here.

Tony Raggatt of the Townsville Bulletin on Mandy Johnstone’s preselection win in Townsville:

Even in Labor circles, there are questions. Not the least of which is why Mike Reynolds suddenly changed his mind after only days before going to the expense of preparing his advertising material, including video shoots with the other Townsville Labor candidates. Mr Reynolds told the Townsville Bulletin he made the decision during the past week due to health problems and rejected any suggestion he had been pushed …

Another question surrounding the preselection is why Labor’s factional bosses in Brisbane preselected a Left candidate from the Nelson-Carr group which is so openly hostile with Reynolds’ own Left group … There is a split between the Socialist Left factions of Mike Reynolds and Lindy Nelson-Carr (there is also a separate Labor Left faction). The Nelson-Carr faction would appear to have won the day by gaining the Townsville seat with its candidate Mandy Johnstone, apparently a cousin of Ms Nelson-Carr, while the Reynolds’ hopeful, Cathy O’Toole, his sister-in-law, will have to wait her turn.

Sunday, February 22

• The latest from the Courier-Mail:

ON YOUR marks, get set . . . The 2009 election race is almost under way. All that’s required to start the contest proper is for Anna Bligh, above, to take a quick drive up Paddington’s Fernberg Rd to visit Government House. That road trip will almost certainly happen some time in the next 10 days, with some predicting she’ll visit the Governor on Monday for a March 21 poll. Or will she wait a week and pull the trigger on a March 28 election?

They’ll have to be right eventually.

• Madonna King in the Courier-Mail sees things from Anna Bligh’s perspective:

Of course we’re going to lose seats. We’ve been in power for 11 years for goodness sake. But the boys (advisers chief-of-staff Mike Kaiser, Treasurer Andrew Fraser and state secretary Anthony Chisholm) all reckon we can win Gladstone, Mirani and Burdekin … The redistribution should deliver Mirani and Burdekin, and Gladstone should never have gone to an Independent in the first place. And don’t forget Bundaberg. The LNP might have sneaked across the line there, but this was Labor’s heartland for a century … Chris Bombolas just handed Chatsworth to the LNP … And there are other seats looking bad, too. Hervey Bay, where that former mayor Ted Sorensen is in with a good chance; Pumicestone; Aspley; not to mention Indooroopilly … Cleveland, Mansfield, Redlands – they’ll all be hard to hold and that’s not even considering those Gold Coast seats.

• Queensland’s very own Pitt the Younger, Curtis Pitt, is inevitably having to field questions about nepotism after succeeding his father as Labor candidate for Mulgrave. Curtis’s story seems to be that he worked locally as a cinema manager before moving to Brisbane in 2003 to take up a public service position, where he still remains.

• Elsewhere: Larvatus Prodeo, Woolly Days and Leon Bertrand.

Thursday, February 19

Fairfax confirms that Mandy Johnstone and Cameron Dick have won Labor preselection for Townsville and Greenslopes. ABC Radio reports the Mulgrave preselection has gone to Curtis Pitt, the son of outgoing member Warren. What’s more, a new front has opened with the surprise retirement of Chris Bombolas in Chatsworth, saying doctors have advised him to reduce stress due to diabetes. The ABC reports a successor will be chosen on Monday. A former Channel Nine sports reader, Bombolas won the seat in 2006 from Liberal powerbroker Michael Caltabiano in 2006, who in turn won it from Labor at a by-election a year before. Caltabiano’s personal vote as state member and earlier as a Brisbane City councillor would have meant the 0.8 per cent margin (reduced to 0.1 per cent after the redistribution) exaggerated Labor’s vulnerability, so long as Bombolas remained candidate – and assuming Caltabiano’s personal vote doesn’t transfer to his wife Andrea, who is the new Liberal National Party candidate. Now he’s gone, the seat can be ranked among those that will fall to the LNP barring a total disaster. Anna Bligh has intimated there might be more departures to come. Elsewhere: Cate Molloy to run again as an independent in Noosa (UPDATE: Make that “likely to run”).

Wednesday, February 18

• Queensland election speculation has stepped up yet another notch in recent days with three Labor members announcing their retirements (see below). The most excitable stories had it that the election would be called two days ago for March 28. The minimum election period is 26 days, so I gather an election for that date could be called as late as March 2. Darryl Rosin lays out the obstacles for various election dates beyond that in comments at Larvatus Prodeo, which are considerable if the government is of a mind to get in before the budget. The Courier-Mail reports outgoing Labor MP Mike Reynolds has told a radio interviewer the election “could be in late March”, while Tourism Minister Desley Boyle says she “suspects the election is not far away”. While you wait, enjoy Antony Green’s guide to the election, which went live this evening. My own effort remains a work in progress.

• Labor’s retiring Queensland MPs have made three seats available for new passengers on the Anna Bligh express ride to death or glory. Open for preselection are Townsville, where Mike Reynolds is calling it a day after 11 years; the outer Cairns seat of Mulgrave, home to Warren Pitt on-and-off-and-on since 1989; and the inner southern Brisbane seat of Greenslopes, vacated by another class of 1989 graduate in Gary Fenlon. Acting with remarkable haste, Labor set up preselection processes to replace Reynolds and Fenlon within three days of their retirement announcement on Sunday, with Pitt’s successor to be chosen two days after his announcement on Tuesday. In each case the decision will be made by the party’s administrative committee. Yesterday’s Townsville Bulletin reported that “insiders are tipping failed Townsville City Council contender Mandy Johnstone will get the party nod ahead of former mayor Tony Mooney” (who was defeated at the 1996 Mundingburra by-election which spelled the end for the Goss government). The ABC reports that Cameron Dick, brother of Brisbane City councillor Milton Dick, is likely to get the nod in Greenslopes. I gather we will find out in each case very shortly. The Cairns Post rang around trying to find someone who would admit to being interested in the Mulgrave preselection, apparently without success.

Borg’s Brisbane blues

A dedicated thread for Queensland election speculation would seem in order. Despite previous false alarms, the state’s press corps remains convinced Bligh will visit the Governor sooner rather than later. Greg Roberts of The Australian suggests the catalyst will be a “gloomy state budget in May” (UPDATE: Mark Bahnisch of Larvatus Prodeo notes the budget is actually brought down in June). He also reports on sobering internal polling for the Liberal National Party:

The polling indicates that Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg, an ex-Nationals farmer who led the coalition to two election defeats, is failing to connect with Brisbane voters … The western suburbs electorate of Indooroopilly, which was once a blue ribbon Liberal stronghold, is regarded as a must-win seat for the LNP. But the polling puts support for the LNP candidate – Scott Emerson, The Australian’s former Queensland political reporter – at 5 per cent behind the combined Greens-ALP vote. The Indooroopilly contest is complicated by the defection last year of Labor MP Ronan Lee to the Greens. Mr Lee is likely to swap preferences with Labor, even though Labor has yet to nominate a candidate after Mr Lee’s defection. The LNP is 5 per cent behind Labor in the bayside seat of Cleveland, which needs a swing of 1.5 per cent to the LNP for the Government to lose. In the inner-city seat of Clayfield, which returned to the LNP fold at the 2006 election, the polling suggests a lineball result, with shadow treasurer Tim Nicholls struggling to hold on. The only bright polling spot was in the northern suburbs seat of Aspley, where the LNP was one point ahead of Labor.

This squares with the perception of Paul Williams of Griffith University:

Brisbane’s progressive Liberals will not vote for a party headed by a National. Lawrence Springborg’s LNP might suffer a devastating loss … I’m told by a senior Labor figure that internal ALP polling shows a remarkable pattern: the so-called “Beattie Liberals”, those middle-class Brisbane voters who loyally voted for John Howard federally (and the state Liberals until the mid-1990s), are sticking with Labor and Premier Anna Bligh … Labor’s polling allegedly shows Brisbane’s progressive Liberals – despite anger at major public infrastructure failings in health, water and roads – still cannot bring themselves to vote for a conservative party headed by a National.

UPDATE: As has been noted in comments, Greg Roberts is wrong to indicate the LNP might have something to fear in Indooroopilly if they were “5 per cent behind the combined Greens-ALP vote“. The take-up of the exhausted vote option in Queensland is high enough that preferences will not flow tightly between Labor and the Greens like they do in compulsory preferential systems, as is presupposed by talk of a “combined Greens-ALP vote”.