More affairs of state

More evidence of a tight contest looming in Queensland while Mark McGowan reigns supreme in Western Australia; and a parliamentary committee in Victoria kicks the upper house electoral reform can down the road.

Not every state this time, but half:

Victoria

The Victorian parliament’s electoral matters committee has tabled the report of its inquiry into the 2018 state election, of which the greatest item of interest is a full chapter devoted to reform of the upper house electoral system. Together with Western Australia, Victoria is the last hold-out of the group voting ticket system that is electing ever-increasing numbers of preference-harvesting micro-party candidates. This reached a new height at the 2018 election, at which parties other than the Coalition, Labor and the Greens won 10 out of the 40 seats in the Legislative Council, including two elected with less than 1% of the vote. However, the report recommended only that a further parliamentary inquiry be held into the matter. The report also recommends no change to the two-week period for pre-polling, which the Liberals and Nationals called to be shortened.

Queensland

Polling of the marginal state seats of Currumbin, Mansfield and Aspley by YouGov for the Australian Conservation Foundation shows a combined two-party result of 52-48 for Labor, compared with an almost exact 50-50 for these three seats in 2017. The primary votes are Labor 37%, LNP 37%, Greens 10%, One Nation 4% and 10% don’t know, compared with 2017 election results of Labor 41.2%, LNP 38.4%, Greens 10.6% and One Nation 8.5%. The poll was conducted from August 17-19 and targeted 200 respondents in each of the three electorates.

Western Australia

A poll for The West Australian by Painted Dog Research showed Mark McGowan with an approval rating at 91%, up four from an already stratospheric result in June. Support for the state’s border closure was at 92%, up from 89% in May. The poll was conducted from a sample of 837, with field work dates not provided.

Northern Territory

As related in the dedicated post, the CLP sneaked home in an eighth seat in the Northern Territory election as the count concluded last night, producing a final result of Labor 14, CLP eight, Territory Alliance one and independents two.

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: 51-49 to LNP in Queensland

With three months to go to the election, surging personal ratings for Annastacia Palaszczuk and weak ones for her opposite number yield little advantage to Labor on Newspoll’s voting intention scores.

The Australian has published a Newspoll of state voting intention three months out from the Queensland election, showing the Liberal National Party leading 51-49 on two-party preferred despite strong personal ratings for Annastacia Palaszczuk. The accompanying report tells us that Labor is on 34% of the primary vote, with the Greens on 12% and One Nation on 11% – all were are told for the LNP is that they are four points up on their 2017 election result, which was 33.7% (UPDATE: The tables show it at 38%). As compared with a YouGov Galaxy poll for the Sunday Mail in early June, conducted by the same company but published under different branding, this represents a one point gain for Labor on two-party preferred and two points on the primary vote, with the Greens steady, One Nation down one and the LNP, one gathers, steady.

Palaszczuk records a 64% approval rating, with the disapproval rating not provided in the report currently on the website (UPDATE: It’s 29%), and leads Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington 57-26 as preferred premier. Frecklington’s ratings are 34% approval and 42% disapproval. Palaszczuk scores 81% approval for her handling of COVID-19 compared with 80% for Scott Morrison – we are told Morrison is at 17% disapproval on this score, with no corresponding number provided for Palaszczuk (UPDATE: It’s 14%). There should be more detail available with the publication of the full tables later this evening.

UPDATE: Full results here. The poll was conducted Thursday to Wednesday from a sample of 1000.

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.

The week that was

Party turmoil in Victoria and Queensland, state and territory seat entitlements for the next federal parliament determined, and more polling on attitudes to demonstrations in the United States.

After a particularly eventful week, a whole bunch of electorally relevant news to report:

• The last official population updates have confirmed next month’s official determination of how many seats each state and territory will be entitled to in the next parliament will cause the abolition of seats in Western Australia and the Northern Territory, and the creation of a new one in Victoria for the second consecutive term. Antony Green offers detailed consideration of how the redistributions might look, suggesting Victoria’s will most likely result in the creation of another safe Labor seat in Melbourne’s outer north-west, while Western Australia’s could either mash together Hasluck and Burt in eastern Perth, or abolish the safe Liberal south-of-the-river seat of Tangney, with knock-on effects that would weaken Labor’s position in Fremantle and/or Burt.

• In the wake of the 60 Minutes/The Age expose on Adem Somyurek’s branch stacking activities on Sunday, Labor’s national executive has taken control of all the Victorian branch’s federal and state preselections for the next three years. Steve Bracks and Jenny Macklin have been brought in to serve as administrators until January, and an audit of the branch’s 16,000 members will be conducted to ensure that are genuine consenting members and paid their own fees.

• Ipsos has published polling on the recent demonstrations in the United States from fifteen countries, which found Australians to be supportive of what were specified as “peaceful protests in the US” and disapproving of Donald Trump’s handling of them, although perhaps in slightly lesser degree than other more liberal democracies. Two outliers were India and Russia, which produced some seemingly anomalous results: the former had a strangely high rating for Trump and the latter relatively low support for the protests, yet both were uniquely favourable towards the notion that “more violent protests are an appropriate response”.

• The Tasmanian government has announced the periodical Legislative Council elections for the seats of Huon and Rosevears will be held on August 1, having been delayed from their normally allotted time of the first Tuesday in May.

In Queensland, where the next election is a little over four months away:

• After floating the possibility of an election conducted entirely by post, the Queensland government announced this week that the October 31 state election will be conducted in a more-or-less normal fashion. However, pre-poll voting is being all but actively encouraged, to the extent that Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath says there will be an “election period” rather than an election day. This will mean “more pre-poll locations, longer pre-poll hours, and more pre-poll voting days in the two weeks prior to the election”.

• The Liberal National Party opposition was thrown into turmoil last week after the Courier-Mail ($) received internal polling showing Labor leading 51-49 in Redlands, 52-48 in Gaven, 55-45 in Mansfield and 58-42 in inner urban Mount Ommaney. The parties were tied in the Sunshine Coast hinterland seat of Glass House, while the LNP led by 52-48 in the Gold Coast seat of Currumbin, which it recently retained by a similar margin at a by-election. Frecklington’s supporters pointed the finger at the state branch president, Dave Hutchinson, who was reportedly told by Frecklington that his position was untenable after Clive Palmer hired him as a property consultant in January. The party room unanimously affirmed its support for Frecklington on Monday, as mooted rival David Crisafulli ruled out a challenge ahead of the election.

• The Queensland parliament this week passed an array of electoral law changes including campaign spending caps of $92,000 per candidate and limitations on signage at polling places. The changes have been criticised ($) by the Liberal National Party and Katter’s Australian Party, who complain that union advertising will now dominate at polling booths, and that the laws was pushed through with indecent haste on Tuesday and Wednesday.

YouGov Galaxy: 52-48 to LNP in Queensland

Amid the cross-currents of COVID-19 and Jackie Trad’s resignation as Deputy Premier, a new poll finds Annastacia Palaszczuk well up on personal approval, but her government sagging on voting intention.

Brisbane’s Sunday Mail has a YouGov Galaxy poll ($) of Queensland state voting intention that finds a surge in Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s approval rating failing to translate into electoral support for the Labor government, which trails the Liberal National Party 52-48 on two-party preferred, after the last such poll in January showed a dead heat. Labor is down two on the primary vote to 32%, with the Liberal National Party up three to 38%, One Nation down three to 12%, the Greens up two to 12% and Katter’s Australian Party steady on 3%.

This is despite a surge in Annastacia Palaszczuk’s personal ratings, up 20 points on approval to 49% and down 11 on disapproval to 33%, with her lead over Deb Frecklington as preferred premier now at 44-23, out from 34-22. The net positive rating of 16% matches that of Newspoll’s state leaders poll in April, although that poll had a much lower uncommitted rating with Palaszczuk at 55% approval and 39% disapproval (which were actually the softest results out of any of the five leaders canvassed on that occasion). Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington’s ratings have improved, with approval up three to 26% and disapproval down four to 29%, although her 45% uncommitted rating indicates persistently low name recognition.

Despite the weak result on voting intention, Labor is credited with a 39-28 lead as best party to manage the post COVID-19 economic recovery, and there is now a 49-30 split in favour of the proposition that the state is heading in the right direction, which went 46-31 the other way in the February poll. All the online report tells us about field work dates and sample size is that the latter was “more than 1000”.