Queensland election minus two days

Polls and betting markets appear to be breaking in Annastacia Palaszczuk’s favour, although Labor remains nervous about its brace of marginal seats in north Queensland.

Two days out from an election that is in a sense already half over, the rate of pre-polling and postal voting being what it is:

• Hot on the heels of similar polling from New South Wales and Victoria, the Financial Review yesterday published results of a voting intention-free poll from Ipsos. The most striking finding is that “half” believe Annastacia Palaszczuk would do a better job on the economy compared with 26% for LNP leader Deb Frecklington, a question on which conservatives traditionally have the edge. Sixty-five per cent of respondents took a positive view of Palaszczuk’s handling of coronavirus, including 38% very satisfied, with “only one in five” dissatisfied. The poll also found 40% support and 30% opposition to Adani’s Carmichael coal mine, with support at 45% in regional Queensland and 35% in “the cities”, which I take to mean the south-east. The poll was conducted last Wednesday to Friday from a sample of 1003.

• There is increasing talk about the prospects of independent Claire Richardson is the southern bayside seat of Oodgeroo, which Mark Robinson holds for the LNP on a margin of 7.2% over Labor. Richardson is the owner of a local engineering consultancy, and narrowly failed to unseat LNP incumbent in the Redlands mayoral election in March. A “senior LNP strategist” quoted in The Australian yesterday went so far as to say that Robinson would win the seat.

• Writing in Crikey earlier this week, Madonna King reported a view among Labor strategists that coronavirus had secured them the “grey vote”, reflecting a dynamic that appears to be playing out in the United States. This is reflected in Labor’s hopes of snaring LNP-held seats on Gold Coast (Bonney, Currumbin and Burleigh, in ascending order of margin) and Sunshine Coast (Caloundra and Glass House).

• On a less optimistic note for Labor, Annastacia Palaszczuk visited Mackay on Tuesday, where the LNP is talking up its chances despite an 8.3% margin and its long record as a Labor stronghold. An LNP source quoted in the Courier-Mail claimed support for Labor was “tanking in the regions”.

• The first of two leaders debates was held last night, with the other to follow tomorrow, with 53% of the hand-picked audience of 47 undecided voters saying the debate had made them more likely to vote Labor compared with 30% for the LNP, which I guess means 25 to 14. However, it would appear 23 of those selected to attend failed to show up on a night of inclement weather, thereby serving as a proxy for the nearly half of Queensland voters who are in no position to be influenced by the debate since they have voted already.

Kevin Bonham reviews the betting markets so I don’t have to: “Labor favourite in 44 seats, LNP 39, KAP 3, GRN 3, ONP 1, IND 1. One ALP/LNP tie, one LNP/KAP tie. Only 6 seats (inc Whitsunday) with incumbent not favourite. IND almost favourite in Oodgeroo“. I have a notion that things might have shifted further in Labor’s favour in the two days since that was written, as Sportsbet is offering just $1.25 on Labor to form government compared with $3.75 for the LNP, whereas not that long ago the markets gave the LNP the edge.

Queensland election minus five days

Another small-sample Newspoll seat poll, this one suggesting Jackie Trad has her work cut out for her in South Brisbane.

It turns out The Australian was holding back one last Newspoll marginal seat poll, to go with the Pumiceston, Mundingburra and Mansfield polls covered in this post. This time it’s South Brisbane, where Amy MacMahon of the Greens is created with a 54.5-45.5 lead over Labor’s Jackie Trad, who won by 3.5% in 2017. The primary votes are Greens 39% (34.4% in 2017), Labor 32% (36.0%) and LNP 24% (24.3%).

The two-party result is based on a 60-40 split of preferences from the LNP, who have Labor last on their how-to-vote cards, which is apparently a guesstimate. The only precedent I can think of for which the relevant data is readily available is Melbourne at the 2007 and 2010 federal elections (the Liberals put Adam Bandt behind Labor at later elections), at which the flow of Liberal preferences was upwards of 80%. Annastacia Palaszczuk has a 62-22 lead in the electorate over Deb Frecklington, which perhaps predictably is the widest among the four electorates polled, it being by far the weakest for the LNP.

As with the other seat polls, this was conducted last Tuesday to Thursday from a curiously exact sample of 404, and thus carries a wide theoretical error margin of 5%. It may also be noted that the record of polling in inner-city Labor-Greens contests is patchy at best.

• Elsewhere, the ABC’s state politics reporter, Peter McCutcheon, reckons there is “growing evidence the LNP is giving up on the idea of forming majority government”. This refers to the LNP’s pursuit of a curfew policy that might poach seats from Labor in the target markets in Cairns and Townsville, but will do so at a cost in support in the Brisbane marginals that are must-win from a majority point of view. It is noted that Frecklington’s campaign has made defensive plays in the Gold Coast seat of Currumbin while neglecting most vulnerable seats in Brisbane, Aspley, Mansfield and Redlands. Conversely, a “senior Labor source” quoted in The Australian says the election will be “won and lost” on Townsville, where Labor could “possibly afford to lose one seat, but any more and we’re in trouble”.

Charlie Peel of The Australian reports the LNP are hopeful of winning north Queensland seats where they finished third behind One Nation in 2017, including Mackay, Keppel and Thuringowa. Such results are predicated on a strong flow of preferences from One Nation candidates who stand to be excluded this time, and thus amount to a backfiring of Labor’s abolition of optional preferential voting at the last election. Internal LNP polling is said to show 65% of One Nation voters intend to preference the LNP ahead of Labor, much as they did at the federal election.

• Katter’s Australian Party is hawking a ReachTEL poll that shows 57% support for North Queensland to form a new state, for which the party is pushing for a referendum to be held after the election. The Courier-Mail says “350 voters in the marginal electorate of Mundingburra (were) polled as part of the survey”, leading me to wonder if that was part of the sample or the whole. Also on the KAP front, Robbie Katter says both that his party has not official position on euthanasia, which Labor has put on the agenda by promising reactivate stalled assisted dying laws, but also that he “would find it enormously hard to align with anyone that would ever contemplate pushing that agenda in the next parliament”.

Newspoll Queensland marginal seat polls

Very close races in two Labor-held marginals, but Labor appears to have a break in the LNP-held seat of Pumicestone.

The Australian brings us Queensland election state polls courtesy of Newspoll, the results of which are consistent with a general intelligence picture covered here: a close election with regionally patchy results, a slump in support for minor parties and especially for One Nation, and negligible support for Clive Palmer’s party, which in each case has support at either 1% or 2%.

• In the Brisbane seat of Mansfield, which Corrine McMillan gained for Labor in 2017 by a margin of 1.6%, Labor is credited with a lead of 50.5-49.5, from primary votes of Labor 41% (39.4% at the 2017 election), LNP 45% (40.2%), Greens 9% (11.3%) and One Nation 2% (9.1%). Annastacia Palaszczuk leads Deb Frecklington as preferred premier by 54-32. Sample: 404.

• In the Townsville seat of Mundingburra, which Labor holds by a 1.1% margin, the LNP leads 50.5-49.5, from primary votes of LNP 32% (26.1% in 2017), Labor 35% (31.4%), Katter’s Australian Party 14% (13.9%), One Nation 11% (16.7%) and Greens 4% (7.6%). Palaszczuk leads 43-36 as preferred premier. The seat is being vacated with the retirement of Labor member Coralee O’Rourke.

• In Pumicestone, on the cusp of northern Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast, which the LNP won by an 0.8% margin in 2017, Labor leads 54-46, from primary votes of Labor 45% (35.6% in 2017), LNP 37% (29.9%), One Nation 9% (23.3%) and Greens 6% (5%). Palaszczuk leads 55-29 as preferred premier. The seat is being vacated with the retirement of LNP member Simone Wilson.

Samples sizes are small – apparently exactly 404 apiece – but Campbell White of YouGov relates that these are the “first ever Newspoll seat polls conducted by live telephone to mobile phones”, presumably reflecting the fact that past seat polling was either in the landline era or conducted by robopolling. The polling was conducted from Tuesday to Thursday.

Queensland election minus nine days

A Roy Morgan SMS poll adds to the impression of a close race, as both sides pay an inordinate amount of attention to north Queensland.

Roy Morgan yesterday published an SMS poll crediting Labor with a 51-49 lead ahead of next Saturday’s Queensland election, from primary votes of Labor 36%, LNP 35%, One Nation 12%, Greens 10% and Katter’s Australian Party 2.5%. The poll was conducted Monday to Thursday last week from a sample of 1187.

Other happenings:

• Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party has run double page advertisements attacking Labor each day in the Courier-Mail since Sunday, with a half devoted to the government’s “policy-motivated stance” (apparently a bad thing) on COVID-19 and the other to a made-up claim about a Labor plot to introduce a death tax. The Roy Morgan poll had support for the party in statistically significant territory, at less than 0.5%.

• The campaign has been all about north Queensland this week, and in particular about the future of the Bruce Highway. The LNP signature election promise is a $200 million contribution to a dual carriageway from Gympie to Cairns, to which Labor has responded this week by building an alternative route further inland for heavy vehicles. Labor has been mocking the LNP for relying on an $800 million contribution from the federal government, but its own policies encounter much the same issue.

• Also in north Queensland, three Labor candidates have been disseminating campaign material imploring voters to “put the LNP last”, at odds with the party’s official position that that honour should go to One Nation, and with Labor’s attacks on the LNP for favouring both One Nation and Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party ahead of Labor on its how-to-vote cards. These include incumbents Craig Crawford in Barron River and Brittany Lauga in Keppel, along with Mike Brunker in Burdekin, which the LNP holds on a margin of 0.8%.

• Deb Frecklington yesterday targeted (white) voters in Townsville and Cairns by proposing curfews on children in the two cities, with parents potentially to receive $250 fines if it is broken. All three of Townsville’s seats are held by Labor on tight margins (Townsville by 0.4%, Mundingburra by 1.1% and Thuringowa by 4.1%), as are two of the three seats that cover Cairns (Cairns by 3.3% and Barron River by 1.8%). Townsville in particular is suffering a confluence of high crime and unemployment, as noted in a report in The Australian. While the notion of a curfew evidently has support locally, it has been criticised not just by indigenous and human rights groups, but also by some local police and Katter’s Australian Party, with Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto questioning the need for a “police special ops team just to look after stray kids”.

• A “Labor insider” quoted in the Courier-Mail says the party is “not ahead in all the seats we have”, but it hopes to compensate for any losses by poaching Pumicestone, Currumbin, Coomera and Caloundra from the LNP. Both sides are said to be feeling confident about Aspley.

The Australian reports the Electoral Commission of Queensland expects 1.5 million out of a total of around 3 million votes to be cast as pre-polls. This comes after around 120,000 such votes were cast when voting opened on Monday, compared with an equivalent figure of 29,000 in 2017, with a further 140,000 voting on Tuesday.

Newspoll: 52-48 to Labor in Queensland

A second poll in a week suggesting Labor has its nose slightly in front ahead of a Queensland state election now a fortnight away.

A week after YouGov’s 52-48 result for the Courier-Mail, the same pollster – this time under the Newspoll brand – has produced the same result for The Australian. The headline two-party result is all we have go on for now, as related in an analysis piece by Jamie Walker. Full results will assuredly follow later this evening, and will be related here when that happens.

UPDATE: The primary votes are also remarkably similar to the YouGov poll, with both showing Labor and the LNP at 37% apiece and One Nation at 9%, and the only difference being the Greens’ 11% in the Newspoll and 12% in the YouGov. Annastacia Palaszczuk is on 63% approval and 33% disapproval, while Deb Frecklington is struggling with 37% approval and 44% disapproval, and Palaszczuk leads 56-32 as preferred premier. Palaszczuk and Scott Morrison record identical ratings for their handling of coronavirus, at 76% well and 22% badly. The poll was conducted Friday to Wednesday from a sample of 1001.

Queensland election minus 16 days

Vaguely optimistic noises from Labor over party polling in two key seats, and a look at some of the names to emerge from the declaration of candidates.

Following Sunday’s closure of nominations and ballot paper draws, I have given my Queensland election guide a good once-over, adding full lists of candidates and expanded biographical detail.

Campaign developments of note:

The Australian reported yesterday that Labor was “increasingly confident” Jackie Trad would hold out in South Brisbane, with “several Labor insiders” saying Greens support was weakening. Also in South Brisbane, Greens candidate Amy MacMahon is standing by a young party volunteer after a media beat-up and opportunistic Labor attacks over a harmless pop culture meme she posted on Twitter.

• The Courier-Mail reported last Friday that Labor internal polling conducted in late September showed the party was “holding on to its slim 1.1 per cent margin” in the Townsville seat of Mundingburra, albeit that any such finding would have placed an LNP win within the poll’s margin of error. The seat is being vacated with the retirement of two-term member Coralee O’Rourke.

• Among the late nominees is Andrew Bartlett, who will run for the Greens against former LNP leader Tim Nicholls in Clayfield. Bartlett was an Australian Democrats Senator from 1997 to 2008, including a stint as leader from 2002 to 2004, and briefly a Greens Senator from November 2017 to August 2018, when he replaced Larissa Waters after her resignation on Section 44 grounds. This follows the disendorsement of the Greens’ original candidate, John Meyer, over alleged threatening behaviour towards women. Meyer is now seeking to upset his former party’s applecart in South Brisbane by running as an independent, claiming his dumping had been retribution for efforts to blow the whistle on financial impropriety within the party.

• Candidates in the marginal LNP seat of Currumbin on the Gold Coast include independent Richard Stuckey, husband of Jann Stuckey, who held the seat for the LNP until her resignation in January. The candidate of the party that will appear on ballot papers as “Clive Palmer’s UAP” is the boss’s wife, Anna Palmer. Sarah Elks of The Australian reports one third of the party’s 55 candidates are either employees or relatives of Palmer, and that their combined $13,750 nomination fees were paid for on the credit card of his company Mineralogy.