Queensland election minus four days

Couple of things:

• I haven’t yet watched yesterday’s leaders debate (which can be viewed in full at the Brisbane Times site), but not many observers are crediting the Channel Nine worm operators’ 76-24 decision in favour of Anna Bligh. Rather, the consensus seems to be that it was the usual scoreless draw. Campbell Newman did not repeat his error from the Ashgrove candidates’ debate of refusing to shake his opponent’s hand.

Michael Madigan of the Courier-Mail offers polling figures for leading Katter’s Australian Party candidates without saying where they came from – presumably from internal ReachTEL automated phone polling which was referred to in yesterday’s edition of the paper. In Mount Isa, Robbie Katter is said to be leading LNP candidate Mick Pattel 37 per cent to 31 per cent, with Labor incumbent Betty Kiernan apparently gone for all money, while the LNP-turned-KAP member for Beaudesert, Aidan McLindon, is said to be on 37 per cent to LNP candidate Jon Krause’s 38 per cent.

• The Courier-Mail reports that what appears to be Labor push-polling has been conducted to sow doubts in voters’ minds about the influence of “big business and developers”. What is particularly of interest is that it has been happening in Labor’s ninth-safest seat of Nudgee, where Labor newcomer Leanne Linard is defending a 14.3 per cent margin after the retirement of Neil Roberts. Both Anna Bligh and the party’s state secretary, Anthony Chisholm, have denied knowledge of the polling, which has reportedly been conducted by market research firm Ask Australia.

• The seat-level implications of the weekend’s Galaxy poll are plotted out by Kim Jamieson at Crikey.

Galaxy: Queensland LNP leadership poll

Further results from the Galaxy poll conducted on Thursday and Friday nights have been published, this time showing who respondents would wish to the lead the LNP in the event that Campbell Newman fails to win Ashgrove. The figures have Lawrence Springborg on 31 per cent, John-Paul Langbroek on 19 per cent, Tim Nicholls on 14 per cent and Jeff Seeney on 9 per cent, with 28 per cent uncommitted. Springborg would have benefited from the name recognition that comes from having led three election campaigns, however unsuccessfully. He also had relatively little competition for the Nationals vote, with Seeney obviously holding little appeal, whereas those preferring a Liberal divided relatively evenly between the two candidates. In interesting contrast to federal polling, the results do not show huge differences between Labor and LNP supporters, except that Labor voters were substantially less likely than LNP voters to nominate Nicholls, and were predictably more likely to be uncommitted. The accompanying Courier-Mail report (the graphic at the top confusingly features personal ratings from the previous poll, since when Anna Bligh’s position has sharply deteriorated) also tells us that 22 per cent of respondents said uncertainty surrounding the Ashgrove result made them less likely to vote LNP, against 71 per cent who said it made no difference; while slightly more respondents said Labor’s attacks on Campbell Newman’s integrity made them more likely (19 per cent) than less likely (16 per cent) to vote LNP, with 64 per cent saying it made no difference.

We are also told that Labor polling shows senior ministers Andrew Fraser and Cameron Dick set to lose their seats of Mount Coot-tha and Greenslopes, which respectively have margins of 5.2 per cent and 6.9 per cent, while Bob Katter claims automated phone polling conducted for his party by ReachTEL has “the KAP’s primary vote in the mid 30 per cent region in Hinchinbrook and Beaudesert”. Katter has also made the obviously academic observation that his party would “unequivocally oppose the creation of an ALP government” if it emerged with the balance of power. Labor meanwhile has switched its rhetoric away from any suggestion it might actually win to pleading that voters leave them with enough seats to form a credible opposition, which has rarely done much good for similarly placed parties in the past.

Galaxy: 60-40 to LNP in Queensland

GhostWhoVotes reports that the latest Galaxy poll continues to show Labor in Queensland on a direct course for the electoral mincer, with the LNP leading 60-40 on two-party preferred from primary votes of 30 per cent for Labor, 47 per cent for the LNP, 9 per cent for the Greens and 8 per cent for Katter’s Australian Party. Anna Bligh’s personal ratings have predictably been hit hard by the desperately negative campaign she has been pursuing, with her approval down seven from the Galaxy poll a month ago to 36 per cent and her disapproval up nine to 61 per cent. Newman’s figures are respectively up two to 49 per cent and up four to 44 per cent, while his preferred premier lead is effectively unchanged at 51-43, compared with 50-43 last time.

The poll brings an end to a surprisingly long drought for general statewide polling, the last of which were Newspoll and Galaxy polls published on the weekend of Febraury 17-18. The rise in Katter’s Australian Party excepted, these showed nearly identical results to the current poll. Newspoll had the major parties’ primary votes exactly where Galaxy does now, but with a different set of minor party figures producing a slightly softer two-party result of 58-42 (that Katter’s Australian Party is now up to 8 per cent raises questions about how accurately its preference split can be estimated, given it has never contested an election before), while Galaxy had both the LNP and the Greens two points higher than in the current poll, with Labor unchanged.

Some further campaign snippets, all of them via the News Limited paper it’s okay to not hate, the Courier-Mail:

• By way of illustrating Ashgrove MP Kate Jones’s remarkable personal popularity among her constituents, Madonna King writes in the Courier-Mail that “research is showing some Labor MPs are really on the nose in their electorates – take Rachel Nolan in Ipswich as a prime example”.

• Steven Wardill writes that “Anna Bligh’s admission she didn’t have the evidence to refer Newman to the corruption watchdog sent Labor’s vote into free fall”, but leaves us to speculate as to whether this is based on intelligence of party tracking polling or journo’s intuition. Pop culture buff Dennis Atkins further relates that Labor has shown its desperation by “cranking its negative ad buy to 11”.

• A report on preference recommendations tells us the Greens have formally announced they will direct preferences to Kate Jones in Ashgrove. Polling suggests the Greens vote in Ashgrove is being squeezed dry by the intensive focus on the two major candidates, but in this contest every little may count. Labor is returning the favour by directing preferences to the Greens in their strongest seat of Mount Coot-tha, where Deputy Premier Andrew Fraser appears to be fighting a losing battle to defend his margin of 5.2 per cent against the LNP. Labor will also direct preferences to the Greens in Ashgrove, Barron River, Brisbane Central and Indooroopilly. The LNP will recommend exhausted votes in every electorate, as will Katter’s Australian Party with the exception of minor party candidates in a small number of seats.

NOTE: Comments, sadly, remain off for the time being. Please see the post below for a further explanation.

Newspoll: 52-48 to Campbell Newman in Ashgrove

GhostWhoVotes reports Newspoll has slightly better, though still somewhat nerve-jangling, news for Campbell Newman: a poll of Ashgrove has him leading Kate Jones 52-48 from a primary vote of 49 per cent, with Jones on 44 per cent and the Greens on 5 per cent. Kate Jones has an approval rating of 65 per cent against 22 per cent disapproval, compared with 51 per cent and 37 per cent for Newman. Jones is rated the better MP for Ashgrove by 53 per cent, with only 41 per cent opting for Newman.

The following material was posted yesterday; rather than give the Ashgrove poll its own thread I have appended it to the existing one, which hadn’t had enough bang for its buck.

Continue reading “Newspoll: 52-48 to Campbell Newman in Ashgrove”

Galaxy: 51.5-48.5 to Labor in Ashgrove

The Courier-Mail yesterday published a poll of the all-important electorate of Ashgrove from a thumping sample of 800, which confirms the findings of Thursday’s ReachTel poll: that the two-party result is within the margin of error and Campbell Newman is in very serious danger of falling short. Indeed, the published figure has Jones in the lead with 51.5 per cent of the two-party vote, with both major candidates on 45 per cent and the Greens on 8 per cent. The two-party figure has been obtained using the preference splits from 2009, with the Greens vote going 50 per cent to Labor, 15 per cent to the LNP and 35 per cent exhausting, and the negligible “others” vote neatly divided 25 per cent to each party with 50 per cent exhausting. Of course, whether this pattern will be precisely replicated under the highly unusual circumstances of the looming election remains an open question. Galaxy has found 63 per cent of voters intending to allocate preferences, but since nine in 10 of these respondents are supporters of the major parties, this doesn’t tell us very much. The poll also provides a huge boost for Jones in finding that Labor supporters were a lot more likely than LNP supporters to nominate “liking for party/candidate” as the reason for their vote choice (70 per cent against 44 per cent), and correspondingly less likely to nominate hostility to the opposing party (27 per cent against 55 per cent).

• Katter’s Australian Party has predictably failed in its bid to have its full name listed on ballot papers after it was embarrassed to learn electoral rules provided for the use of its registered abbreviation, which is merely “The Australian Party”. So weak was its case that it has been suggested the court challenge was merely being used as an awareness-raising exercise. In related news, Dennis Atkins of the Courier-Mail turns out to be a hip-hop enthusiast.

• Yet more candidate trouble for the LNP on the Gold Coast, it having emergeed that Albert candidate Mark Boothman was the administrator of a website which “displayed soft porn”. The website was in fact a forum for motoring enthusiasts, and boys being boys, some participants had uploaded “adult content” to it. This follows the party’s loss of two candidates in the nearby seat of Broadwater, one over a drink driving charge and the other over his attendance at a swingers party function. For what it’s worth, my view is that parties in general, and the Queensland LNP in particular, have become a little trigger happy in dispensing with candidates over minor indiscretions. In this case it was not an option, as nominations have closed and ballot papers have been printed. Perhaps for this reason, Campbell Newman is standing behind a “terrific young bloke” and “family man”.

• Police are investigating the firing of a “large-calibre bullet” through the office window of Michael Crandon, the LNP member for the northern Gold Coast seat of Coomera.

• The Greens have launched their campaign with a promise to reinstate the upper house, an understandable objective given the near certainty that they will yet again fail to win any seats (their traditionally strongest seats are occupied by the two most senior figures in the government: Anna Bligh’s seat of South Brisbane and Andrew Fraser’s seat of Mount Coot-tha) Though personally, I would have thought a system of proportional representation in the existing single chamber both an easier sell (or at least, a less difficult one) and more in their interests in any case.

• Writing in The Australian, Peter Beattie predicts:

Bob Katter’s Australian Party will only win two to three seats at best … if Newman loses Ashgrove and the LNP wins government, Lawrence Springborg will be premier with Tim Nicholls as his deputy. Depending on who wins their seat, the opposition leader will be either Andrew Fraser or Cameron Dick. A Labor victory will see Jeff Seeney fall on his sword and Tim Nicholls as opposition leader.

ReachTel: 50.7-49.3 to Labor in Ashgrove

The Queensland election is now less than three weeks away, which marks the point where I usually start to take state election campaigns seriously. In that spirit, here’s an overdue new post.

• The latest of ReachTel’s seven automated phone polls for Ashgrove, conducted last night from a sample of 742, has Kate Jones leading Campbell Newman for the first time, albeit with a lead well within the margin of error: 50.7-49.3 using the preference distribution from the 2009 election. On the primary vote, Campbell Newman leads 45.4 per cent to 44.4 per cent. Results for the other six Ashgrove polls conducted by ReachTel are outlined here. More on ReachTel polling from Antony Green here.

• Two big pieces of news from the Gold Coast electorate of Broadwater, which Labor’s Peta-Kaye Croft holds on a margin of 2.0 per cent. Firstly, the 75-year-old mayor of Gold Coast, Ron Clarke, has confirmed he will run as an independent. Paul Weston of the Gold Coast Bulletin reports that “senior Liberal (sic) sources” said Clarke’s entry meant it was “game over” for them, as they expected Clarke to “gather enough votes from older residents in the electorate” to win. Secondly, the LNP is now on to its third candidate in the electorate after the second, solicitor Cameron Caldwell, was disendorsed when photos emerged (innocuous of themselves) of him and his wife at a party staged by a swingers’ club. Caldwell was given the nod at the end of last year after the first candidate, Richard Towson, allegedly returned 0.07 at a random breath test. The new candidate is 26-year-old Verity Barton who, according to Henry Tuttiett of the Gold Coast Bulletin, is “still lives at home with her mum” (“saving to enter the property market”, Barton responds), “doesn’t have a university degree” (she has partly completed a law degree at Bond University), and “the two jobs she’s had were as a retail assistant and LNP electoral officer” (the latter gig is with George Brandis). That Barton is a woman is one bright spot for Campbell Newman, who was defied by the local party on this count when it preselected Caldwell. The LNP now has 16 female candidates from a total of 89.

• Another LNP casualty has been their candidate for Logan, police sergeant Peter Anderson-Barr, who withdrew a fortnight ago after media reports from 2004 were circulated concerning an incident in which he allegedly struck an offender who had spat at him. The LNP’s assertion that Anderson-Barr was the victim of a “Labor Party smear campaign” was rubbished by Matt Condon of the Courier-Mail. Anderson-Barr’s wife, Joanna Lindgren, is running for the LNP in Inala. The party’s new candidate is American emigrant Michael Pucci, who served with the United States Marine Corps and met his wife during a posting in Brisbane.

• Campbell Newman’s decision to denounce Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s government as corrupt while campaigning on his home turf of Kingaroy was seized upon by Bob Katter, who accused Newman of “spitting on the grave” of Bjelke-Petersen and insulting his elderly widow. Kingaroy is located in the electorate of Nanango, which former test cricketer Carl Rackemann hopes to win for Katter’s Australian Party in succession to retiring One Nation-turned-independent member Dorothy Pratt. As VexNews sees it, Newman erred in stating to Kingaroy voters what was “probably the correct view for St Lucia dinner parties”. Newman immediately went on to tell such a party – or at any rate, an LNP fundraising dinner attended primarily by prospective business donors – that Bjelke-Petersen had nonetheless run the state’ s last decent government. Among the ministers in that government was Bob Katter, who served during the last four years of Bjelke-Petersen’s premiership. In another curious link, the party’s campaign director is Luke Shaw, who secured a place on the jury in Bjelke-Petersen’s 1991 perjury trial despite his involvement in the Young Nationals, and was one of its two members who held out against his conviction.

• Katter’s Australian Party has initiated legal action seeking to have all ballot papers reprinted, after it dawned upon them that they would be identified merely as The Australian Party. This threatens to make life complicated for the Electoral Commission of Queensland, as pre-poll voting has already commenced: as Antony Green says, “the ECQ may have to make some provision to isolate pre-poll votes completed before the court hearing just in case the court grants an injunction”. However, Antony further explains that the KAP appears not to have a leg to stand on, with the Electoral Act clearly stipulating that parties are to be identified according to their registered abbreviation. Rosanne Barrett of The Australian reports that lawyers for the party argued before the Supreme Court that its own application for the abbreviation to be registered should never have been accepted, for reasons presiding judge Roslyn Atkinson found “bizarre” – so much so that in one case she had “difficulty understanding how anybody could make that argument with a straight face”. The party is also pleading that the difference between the federal and state acts is an “operational inconsistency” which somehow amounts to an “unpermissable burden on freedom of political communication”. Atkinson retorted she was “not satisfied that there is a prima facie case of any argument of direct or indirect consistency under the Commonwealth electoral act and the state electoral act”, while Antony Green, writing on this site, rated the argument as “crazy”. The application, it seems safe to say, will be formally rejected when the matter is determined in the coming days.

• Nominations closed on Tuesday and the ballot paper orders have been drawn. Antony Green relates that the 430 candidates comes second only to the 438 from the 1998 election as the highest number ever. No doubt the long lead-in time between the announcement of the election and the issue of the writs helps explain this.

Queensland election minus four weeks

Around the grounds:

Ashgrove (Labor 7.1%): Yet another ReachTel automated phone poll for Ashgrove was conducted on February 9 from a sample of 616, and it showed Campbell Newman with a narrower lead than in any of the previous five: 49 per cent to 41 per cent on the primary vote, which panned out to an implausibly narrow 51-49 on ReachTel’s dubious two-party preferred measure. The Greens continue to hover around 6 per cent in this poll series, which is much lower than seems credible in this seat. In other Ashgrove news, the LNP is complaining that a “community group” to back Kate Jones under the banner “Locals for Locals” was set up by Labor to help it evade the $50,000 spending cap on promoting individual candidates which is coming into force at this election.

South Brisbane (Labor 15.0%): ReachTel also targeted the Premier’s electorate with a poll canvassing 339 respondents on January 23, and it found Anna Bligh leading the LNP 35 per cent to 34 per cent, which would pan out to a very comfortable win for her after distribution of preferences from the Greens, who were on 22 per cent.

Ferny Grove (Labor 4.5%): The most recent ReachTel poll canvassed 370 respondents in this seat on February 17, and together with past results it seems to suggest a pattern of ReachTel being roughly plausible in inner suburban seats like the two noted previously, but producing fantastically bad results for Labor further out in the suburbs. This poll had Labor incumbent Geoff Wilson trailing LNP challenger Dale Shuttleworth 63 per cent to 23 per cent on the primary vote. This was the first ReachTel poll which didn’t come with a respondent-allocated two-party preferred result, which presumably had something to do with Antony Green’s blog post on the matter a week earlier.

Mount Ommaney (Labor 4.8%): Following a very late retirement announcement from Labor member Julie Attwood, the party’s new candidate is Ben Marczyk, an organiser with Together Queensland.

Stretton (Labor 9.5%) and Sunnybank (Labor 10.8%): Steven Wardill of the Courier-Mail reported a fortnight ago that retiring Labor MPs Stephen Robertson and Judy Spence failed to attend the opening of their successor candidates’ electorate office. Robertson has reportedly “fallen out with branch members after the party preselected unionist Duncan Pegg over his preferred candidate, David Forde” (who is running as an independent), and “courted controversy late last year by attending a fundraising function for Mr Forde”.

Broadwater (Labor 2.0%): The ABC reports that Ron Clarke, the 75-year-old Gold Coast mayor, says he will decide over the weekend whether he will run as an independent against Labor’s Peta-Kaye Croft.

Southern Downs (LNP 21.1%): Peter Watson, Labor’s 19-year-old candidate for this unwinnable rural seat, has been disendorsed and expelled from the party over comments he left on web forums at the age of 15 and 16, in which he supported the White Australia Policy and said homosexuals were “degenerates” who should be “wiped out” from society. Anna Bligh argued, rather implausibly, that Watson had infiltrated the party in order to embarrass it. However, his father Dudley Watson is a long-standing party member and former president of his local branch, and resigned his membership in response to Bligh’s comments. Labor is using Watson’s expulsion to claim higher standards than the LNP, which is continuing to endorse Gavin King in Cairns despite his colourful record as a newspaper columnist. This follows the LNP using Richard Towson’s withdrawal in Broadwater over a drink-driving offence to plead higher standards than Labor, which continues to endorse Algester MP Karen Struthers despite her own drink driving conviction in 2007. Labor’s dumping of Watson has called attention to the party’s large retinue of wet-behind-the-ears candidates: 18-year-old Ben Parker, who lives on the Gold Coast, in Gympie; 20-year-old Oscar Schlamowitz in Indooroopilly; 20-year-old Jack O’Brien in Gregory; and 19-year-old Rachel Patterson in Mermaid Beach.

Lytton (Labor 12.2%): Meanwhile, the LNP’s 23-year-old candidate for Lytton, Neil Symes, has attracted attention over comments he made on Facebook describing asylum seekers as “terrorists and queue jumpers”.


Bernard Keane of Crikey observes that spending caps which are taking effect at this election arrive just in time for Labor’s loss of its spending advantage over the LNP, whose coffers have been engorged by donors courting favour with the expected victor.

• The registration of political parties which will take effect at the election has been finalised and it doesn’t include the Australian Sex Party, who were unable to prove they had the requisite 500 members. All that leaves is Labor, the LNP, the Greens, Katter’s Australian Party, One Nation, Family First and Daylight Saving for South East Queensland.

Newspoll: 58-42 to LNP in Queensland

Newspoll has published the first poll of the Queensland election campaign, if that’s what it can accurately be called before the writs have been issued, and it offers no respite for the Bligh government: the LNP is up three points on the primary vote to 47 per cent, Labor is down one to 30 per cent and the Greens are down one to 9 per cent. Where in the final quarter of 2011 Labor narrowed its two-party vote deficit from 61-39 to 56-44, it’s now back out to 58-42. Anna Bligh has nonetheless gained two points on approval to 41 per cent, with disapproval steady on 50 per cent, while Campbell Newman’s disapproval rating continues to head north, to 37 per cent from 33 per cent in the previous poll and 27 per cent in the one before. His approval rating is steady at 45 per cent after a six-point drop last time. Both leaders are up a point on preferred premier, with Newman leading 44-40. There are also questions on respondents’ strength of commitment to their vote choice, which typically shows less commitment among supporters of the weaker party, and which party they expect to win (54 per cent for the LNP and 22 per cent for Labor). Full tables from GhostWhoVotes.

UPDATE (19/2): Now we have a Galaxy poll with the LNP’s two-party lead at 60-40, up from 59-41 a fortnight ago, with the primary votes at 30 per cent for Labor (down two), 49 per cent for the LNP (steady), 11 per cent for the Greens (up one) and 5 per cent for Katter’s Australian Party (up one). Campbell Newman’s lead over Anna Bligh as preferred premier is down from 49-40 to 50-43. Bligh is steady on approval at 43 per cent and up two on disapproval to 52 per cent; Newman is down one on approval to 47 per cent and up three on disapproval to 40 per cent.