ReachTEL: 50-50 in Queensland

The first poll of the Queensland election campaign finds Campbell Newman dangerously placed, despite an improving trend in his personal ratings.

The first poll of the Queensland election campaign has emerged courtesy of the Seven Network, which promptly commissioned the fast workers at ReachTEL to conduct an automated phone poll last night that captured 1583 respondents. So far as voting intention is concerned, the result doesn’t do much to encourage talk of a Liberal National Party recovery achieved on the back of “Operation Boring”. The poll has the two parties at level pegging on two-party preferred, albeit that this marks a shift from 51-49 in favour of Labor at the last such poll on November 28. Both major parties have recorded a slightly higher primary vote, with Labor’s 38.1% (up 0.8%) being its best result from ReachTEL since the Newman government came to office, and the Liberal National Party’s 40.3% being 1.1% higher than last time. This time the difference comes off “other”, down from 9.1% to 7.7%, rather than Palmer United, which is at 6.3% – only 0.2% down on the November poll, but 9.1% below its peak in July.

There are better indications for Campbell Newman on personal ratings, with his “very good” rating continuing an ascent from 13.4% in early to September to 17.5% in late November to 21.7% now. However, his “very poor” rating has been stable, and at 32.4% is high in absolute terms. Annastacia Palaszczuk’s ratings are perhaps suggestive of a slight tendency for voters to be jumping off the fence, with the middle rating on the five-point scale (“satisfactory”) down from 31.7% in late November to 28.7%, “very good” up 1.4% to 12.9%, and “very poor” up from 16.3% to 19.4%. The overall net ratings, subtracting negative responses from positive, are minus 11.1% for Newman and minus 8.5% for Palaszczuk. Further questions on preferred LNP leader, whether the LNP deserves re-election and who respondents expect to win produce almost identical results from last time, which you can read all about here.

Essential Research has also provided results of state voting intention combined from its weekly polling during the first half of December, which in the case of Queensland encompassed a fairly limited sample of 507. This result had Labor leading 51-49 on two-party preferred, after the LNP led 52-48 in November, with primary votes of 38% for the LNP (down two), 37% for Labor (up two), 10% for the Greens (up two), 5% for Palmer United (down one) and 3% for Katter’s Australian Party (steady).

Queensland election: day one

Some early dispatches from the quick-and-dirty campaign for Queensland’s January 31 state election.

Some odds and sods concerning the Queensland election campaign, which is now in progress after Campbell Newman’s announcement yesterday of a remarkably unorthodox January 31 polling date:

• The timetable for the election has been tailored to put all concerned under as much duress as possible. The Electoral Act allows for a five to seven day period before the closure of the rolls, and Newman has opted for five. This means the deadline for enrolment falls on Saturday, and not as it might have done on Monday. The closure of nominations can be set for between eight and 18 days after the start of the campaign – Newman has made it eight, meaning prospective candidates must have their paperwork in by noon next Tuesday. This gives Labor as little time as possible to sort out its preselection for the important seat of Lytton, where its candidate withdrew last month. The entire campaign period, of course, has been kept to the very bare minimum of 26 days, when it could theoretically have been drawn out to 56.

• Independent MP Liz Cunningham announced yesterday that she will not seek another term in her Central Queensland seat of Gladstone. Cunningham has held the seat since the 1995 election, and her vote in parliament was decisive in tipping Wayne Goss’s Labor government from office after its defeat in the Mundingburra by-election the following February. However, Gladstone is naturally Labor territory, to the extent that the LNP could only manage 10.9% of the vote even amid the 2012 landslide. Labor’s candidate is Glenn Butcher, a maintenance superintendent at Queensland Alumina. Local newspaper The Observer reports that Cunningham will today announce the candidate she endorses as her successor.

• The Courier-Mail reported last week that Labor is “scrambling to find a high-profile candidate” for Lytton, which given its 1.6% LNP margin would appear all but certain to fall to Labor. Its first choice, Daniel Cheverton, withdrew last month after a female colleague accused him of inappropriate behaviour after a campaign training session. Those mentioned in the Courier-Mail report are Peter Davis, former Bar Association president; Mike Kaiser, former party state secretary and briefly the member for Woodridge from 2000 to 2001, when he fell foul of the Shepherdson inquiry; Laura Fraser Hardy, who ran unsuccessfully in Bonner at the September 2013 federal election; and “long-time local party member Joan Pease”. Davis, who quit the Bar Association in protest against the government’s enormously contentious appointment of Tim Carmody as Chief Justice (who happened to do the honours in signing off on the writs for the election yesterday, acting in the absence of Governor Paul De Jersey, who was his predecessor as Chief Justice), is said to have been the subject of determined approaches from Annastacia Palaszczuk.

• Other preselections that still need resolving are Maroochydore, Buderim and Southern Downs for Labor, and Gladstone, Bundamba and South Brisbane for the LNP. None of the seats is a serious prospect for the party in question.

• A scan through the University of Western Australia elections database by Jared Owens of The Australian reveals that this will be “the first general election held in January since Tasmanians voted in January 1913 and the first on the mainland since the NSW colonial election of 1874-75”.

• As I was caught on the hop as much as anyone by the election announcement, the trustworthy Poll Bludger seat-by-seat election guide is still a work in progress. Estimated time of arrival: middle of next week.

The situation in Queensland

Showdown number two: Campbell Newman versus Annastacia Palaszczuk on … January 31?

“Campbell Newman set to name election date as January 31”, announces today’s Courier-Mail. An election at that time of year is, to put it mildly, unorthodox, although I observe that the school holidays conclude the previous Tuesday. A bigger puzzlement is this from the report: “The minimum campaign period under Queensland law is 26 days. This means the earliest date an election could be held is on Saturday, January 31.”. But twenty-six days from today is surely February 1, which would appear to suggest February 7 as the earliest possible date. Perhaps I’m missing something.

In any case, here is a thread for discussion of today’s drama as it unfolds, as it appears it surely will.

UPDATE: Antony Green tweets there are “26 days from issue of writ (Tuesday) to polling in a Saturday”, so I guess the 26 days is inclusive of the date of issue. Perhaps I’m sleep-deprived (no perhaps about it actually), but that would seem to suggest to me that today is in fact the day after today.

UPDATE 2: Newman has certainly confirmed that he will announce the election date today, but beyond that tells us we will have to wait a few hours.

UPDATE 3: For those still curious about the election timing issue – which, judging by comments, is none of you – it turns out I needed refer only to the next section of the act along:

(2) For the purpose of determining under subsection (1) a cut-off day, the polling day or the day for the return of the writ (the relevant day)—

(a) the day of issue of the writ; and

(b) the relevant day itself;

are both to be included in any specified number of days.