Budget week miscellany (open thread)

Not much polling, but a lot of Liberal National Party preselection news from Queensland, including the latest on the looming Fadden by-election.

Title aside, this post doesn’t actually have a huge amount to tell you about the budget, which is the reason for a polling drought this week — Newspoll, Resolve Strategic and Essential Research should all be conducting polling over the coming days to gauge response to the budget and its effect if any on voting intention, to arrive in a flood probably on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. All we have on the poll front is the usual light-on-detail weekly numbers from Roy Morgan, which have Labor’s two-party lead out to 54.5-44.5 after narrowing from 56.5-43.5 to 53.5-46.5 last week, from primary votes of 35.5% apiece for Labor (down half) and the Coalition (steady) and 12.5% (down half, so presumably the two-party movement comes off preference flows).

Other than that:

• The Australia Institute had a survey last week found 80% agreement that the budget should provide more spending on affordable housing, compared with 10% who disagreed, with only 25% considering the government’s proposed housing investment fund would provide enough of it, compared with 51% who disagreed. The survey was conducted from April 11 to 14 from a sample of 1002. Simon Welsh of RedBridge Group says the firm’s focus group research suggests the public has grown more empathetic following a pandemic that “broadened out our in-groups to include the vulnerable and the disadvantaged”, combined with “the rising influence of Millennial and Gen Z voters, with their high-levels of social progressiveness”. Together no doubt with the parlous state of conservative politics at present, this is feeding into “strong levels of support for policies/proposals like the Voice, NDIS funding, ‘raising the rate’ or restitution of single parent payments”.

• The Australian reports Fran Ward, founder of a charity supporting distressed farmers, has the support of Stuart Robert to succeed him as the Liberal National Party candidate at the imminent Fadden by-election, and is “seen as the front-runner”. Ward ran unsuccessfully to succeed Andrew Laming in Bowman at the last election and Steve Ciobo in Moncrieff in 2019. Also said to be considering a run is Gold Coast councillor Cameron Caldwell, whom Fran Ward unsuccessfully challenged at the council election in 2016. The Australian added another name to the list yesterday in Dinesh Palipana, “Queensland’s first quadriplegic medical graduate, works as an emergency doctor at the Gold Coast University Hospital”. After an initial flurry of speculation, Amanda Stoker, who failed to win re-election to the Senate from third position on the party’s ticket last year, has ruled herself out. Peter Dutton appeared to scotch the possibility of Stoker on the weekend when he said a local would be preselected, suggesting a failure to do so was the principal lesson to be learned from the defeat in Aston.

• Notwithstanding Amanda Stoker’s residence in Brisbane, The Australian’s Feeding the Chooks column related a fortnight ago that she was “sniffing around the Gold Coast” for a seat – the suggestion at the time being that she would seek to succeed Karen Andrews in McPherson when she retires at the next election. Others said to be in contention for McPherson were Ben Naday, a lawyer and rural fire brigade officer backed by Andrews, and Leon Rebello, solicitor for King & Wood Mallesons and former staffer to Julie Bishop as Foreign Minister.

• Also from Feeding the Chooks, a report that hard right Liberal National Party Senator Gerard Rennick has attracted a number of preselection challengers for his third position on the party’s Senate ticket, the most formidable of whom is said to be Nelson Savanh, a registered lobbyist who has support from James McGrath. Others in the field are “current Queensland LNP party treasurer and former Tattersall’s Club prez Stuart Fraser, serial candidate Fiona Ward (who has run for state and federal lower house seats before) and former Coalition adviser Sophie Li”, the latter of whom describes herself as “a technology entrepreneur, former banker and immigrant millennial woman”. The matter will determined by the party’s state conference on July 7.

Call of the board: northern New South Wales

Resuming a region-by-region series looking in detail at seat results from the May 2022 federal election, with a journey along the coast north of Sydney to the Queensland border.

Welcome back to Call of the Board, in which we take a region-by-region look at the results in every seat at last year’s federal election. This got us only as far as the Northern Territory, inner Sydney and outer Sydney last year before the Victorian and New South Wales elections got in the way. The plan now is to finish off New South Wales in two stages, the first of which takes us through the Central Coast and Hunter region and then along the northern coast to the Queensland border. A common theme throughout is that Labor scored strong swings in urban concentrations, gaining them Robertson and padding out a number of margins elsewhere, but made little or no headway in rural and mining areas.

The maps below represent two-party preferred vote shares and swings at booth level, which you can click on to get larger images. To provide a closer look, the analysis is broken into two parts, starting with the populous southern end encompassing the Central Coast and Hunter Valley.

Continue reading “Call of the board: northern New South Wales”

Miscellany: Fadden by-election, royal family opinion poll and more (open thread)

Stuart Robert calls time on his 16 year parliamentary career, initiating a by-election in a seat the Coalition should find a little harder to lose than Aston.

Recent developments of note, none more so than a new federal by-election hot on the heels of the boilover result in Aston on April 1:

• The second federal by-election of the parliamentary term looms, not as anticipated in Scott Morrison’s seat of Cook (at least, not yet), but in the Gold Coast seat of Fadden, where Liberal-aligned Liberal National Party member Stuart Robert is calling it a day. Robert held the seat with a 10.6% margin at last year’s election after a 3.5% swing to Labor, making the seat a good deal safer than Aston with its 2.8% margin post-election and raising the question as to whether Labor will find making a contest of it worth its bother. Robert has held the seat since 2007 and became embroiled in the robodebt affair through his carriage of the human services portfolio, a distinction he coincidentally shared with the former member for Aston, Alan Tudge.

• On a related note, James Massola of the Age/Herald reported prior to Robert’s announcement that a “major British company in the defence sector” had sounded out Scott Morrison for a job opportunity, potentially resulting in a by-election in Cook as soon as July.

The Australian reports John Howard has backed James Brown, chief executive of the Space Industry Association, former RSL president and veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq, to fill the New South Wales Liberal Senate vacancy arising from the death of Jim Molan in January. The report also relates that Brown is factionally unaligned, former husband of Malcolm Turnbull’s daughter Daisy Turnbull, and an opponent of the Indigenous Voice. The other confirmed starters are former state government minister and unsuccessful Gilmore candidate Andrew Constance and former state party president Maria Kovacic, but a number of other names have been mentioned as possibilities.

The Australian had results of a YouGov poll on perceptions of the royal family, which found William and Catherine well ahead of the field with positive ratings in the mid-seventies, Charles up nine points since March 2021 on 52%, Harry down over the same period from 61% to 38% and Meghan down from 46% to 27%, with Andrew down seven from an already low base to 15%. Forty-three per cent of respondents professed themselves not at all interested in the coronation, with 24% a little bit interested, 19% fairly interested and 14% very interested.

Two matters at state level of note:

• As covered in the previous post, Tasmania held its annual Legislative Council elections yesterday in three of the chamber’s 15 seats, which gave Labor a rare spot of good news in the state with a resounding win for incumbent Sarah Lovell in the outer Hobart seat of Rumney. Lovell’s primary vote increased from 33.8% to 50.5% despite the fact that she faced a Liberal candidate this time and not last time (although more favourable boundaries may have helped). There were even more resounding wins for independent incumbents in the seats of Launceston and Murchison.

• Public suggestions have been published for the Western Australian state redistribution. Labor’s submission calls for the abolition of the regional seat of North West Central and the creation of a new seat in the metropolitan area, in line with ongoing population trends, proposing a rearrangement of the outer metropolitan area that would provide for new seats centred on the fast-growing urban centres of Ellenbrook and Byford. The Liberals would prefer that the commissioners stretch the elastic to maintain the status quo.

Tasmanian upper house elections: Rumney, Murchison, Launceston

The annual round of Tasmanian upper house elections encompasses a live three-way race on Hobart’s fringe and two somnolent contests where country independents seek re-election.

Live commentary

8.50pm. I believe we have all the results we’re going to get for the evening, meaning all the booths plus pre-poll and postal counts. All three incumbents have been handsomely re-elected, with Labor’s Sarah Lovell remaining a shade over 50% on the primary vote in Rumney with the Liberal candidate a distant second on 26.5%. Independent Rosemary Armitage ended with 78.6% in her two-horse race against the Greens in Launceston, while Ruth Forrest in Murchison finished on 71.8% against two independent challengers plus Shooters Fishers and Farmers. The numbers in the chamber will duly remain at four each for Liberal and Labor plus seven independents.

7.35pm. A ninth booth pegs Lovell back to 51.9%, while Rosemary Armitage lead in Launceston continues to inflate, putting her at 75.6% in her two-horse race against the Greens.

7.28pm. Eight out of twelve booths now in from Rumney and Sarah Lovell still commands a majority of the primary vote, now on 53.0%, leaving no remaining doubt with the Liberal on 25.2% and Tony Mulder on 15.0%.

7.18pm. A fifth booth in Rumney pushes Labor’s Sarah Lovell up to 52.1%, making an 19.1% improvement on her 2017 performance on a booth-matched basis, despite the Liberals being on 25.7% in a seat they didn’t contest last time.

7.08pm. A flood of results from Rumney gives us four booths out of 12, all of which were in the electorate in 2017, and which collectively show a handsome swing to Labor of 17.5% compared with 2017, despite the fact there was no Liberal candidate in the field on that occasion. Labor’s Sarah Lovell is at 50.5% of the primary vote and seemingly headed for a comfortable win, with the Liberal candidate on 25.9% and independent Tony Mulder on 16.9%, which on a booth-matched basis is 7.2% behind his losing performance in 2017 on a booth-matched basis.

7.06pm. The Agfest booth is the first to report from Rumney, and limited though this information may be, it looks encouraging for Labor incumbent Sarah Lovell. She has scored 42.6% compared with the 28.4% she scored from the Agfest booth in 2017, albeit that the seat had different boundaries then encompassing more rural territory.

7.05pm. Armitage now close to 70% with six booths in out of twelve. Still nothing from Rumney.

6.53pm. Three booths now in from Launceston, showing Rosemary Armitage headed for an easy win on 67.3%. Ruth Forrest is on 66.9% in Murchison with 17 booths in out of 30. Still nothing from Rumney.

6.43pm. Greens candidate Cecily Rosol scores a respectable 41.2% in the first booth in Launceston, Launceston Central, where she is the only challenger to independent incumbent Rosemary Armitage. Ruth Forrest now at 65.1% in Murchison, with 11 booths reporting out of 30.

6.34pm. Forrest down to 62.1% in Murchison, where results continue to come through at a rapid clip, with six booths now in.

6.30pm. The first two booths in Murchison have Ruth Forrest on 68.9% in her field of four, suggesting I’m unlikely to be devoting much attention to that count over the coming hours.

6.05pm. Polls closed five minutes ago, and the Tasmanian Electoral Commission now has its results pages up for Rumney, Murchison and Launceston. Small booths from Murchison should be reporting in fairly short order, but the others two may be a while longer.


Tasmania holds its annual periodical Legislative Council elections today, whereby either two or three of the chamber’s fifteen single-member constituencies go up for election on (usually) the first Saturday in May over the course of a six-year cycle. Among the many distinctive things about this system is its tendency to elect independents, particularly in country seats, the current composition of the chamber being four seats apiece for Liberal and Labor with independents accounting for the other seven.

This year’s trio of elections has long-serving independents Ruth Forrest and Rosemary Armitage seeking re-election in Murchison, which covers most of Burnie and the state’s sparsely populated west coast, and Launceston, which generally accounts for the centre and south-east of the city bearing its name. Local authority Kevin Bonham relates that the Liberals tried to land a candidate to run against Forrest but found not takers, leaving her to face three “obscure challengers”, two independent and one from Shooters Fishers and Farmers. Armitage faces only a Greens challenger and will presumably win easily, as independent incumbents generally do.

The most interesting of the three contests is for Rumney, covering Hobart’s outskirts on the eastern side of the Derwent, where Labor incumbent Sarah Lovell faces two substantial challengers: Tony Mulder, who held the seat as an independent from 2011 until his defeat at Lovell’s hands in 2017, and Liberal candidate Gregory Brown, who has sought to make waves by advocating mandatory minimum jail terms for child sex abusers and a tough approach to criminal justice matters in general. Shooters Fishers and Farmers are also in the field.

Live coverage of the count will be appended to this post after polls close at 6pm.

UK local elections live

Live coverage from Friday morning; national polls have Labour lifting in the last week. Also covered: upcoming Turkish and Greek elections.

Live Commentary

12:12pm After 229 of 230 councils, Labour has 2,674 councillors (up 536), the Tories 2,299 (down 1,061), the Lib Dems 1,626 (up 405) and the Greens 481 (up 241). The final council won’t be completed until Tuesday owing to a recount in one ward. Both late councils went to No Overall Control, no change.

11:58am At the 1996 UK local elections, held a year before Labour last gained power at a UK general election, Labour routed the Tories on the PNS by 43-29 with 26% for the Lib Dems.

10:31am Given that Labour’s performance in the two national vote measures was well below their current national polling lead, I think these elections are a much bigger disappointment for Labour than is currently being portrayed.

10:20am Sky’s National Estimated Vote share is worse for Labour than the BBC, with Labour only seven points ahead of the Tories, 36-29 with 18% for the Lib Dems. If this were the result at a general election, Labour would probably fall short of a majority in the House of Commons.

There are still two councils outstanding. The BBC’s report said Labour is now the largest party in local government, surpassing the Tories for the first time since 2002. The council the Greens won control of is mid Suffolk.

7:34am In my Intro post, I talked about the importance of the BBC’s Projected National Share. The PNS for these council elections was 35% Labour, 26% Tories and 20% Lib Dems. This nine-point Labour lead is the largest since Labour lost national power in 2010, but a big underperformance for them on the current national polls that give Labour about a 17-point lead.

From the last time these council elections were held in 2019, Labour is up seven on PNS, the Tories down two and Lib Dems up one. From the 2022 council elections, Labour is steady, the Tories down four and the Lib Dems up one.

7:19am Saturday After 227 of 230 councils declared, Labour have 2,657 councillors (up 527), the Tories 2,282 (down 1,061), the Lib Dems 1,608 (up 416) and the Greens 478 (up 240). Councils controlled are Labour 71 (up 22), the Tories 33 (down 48), the Lib Dems 29 (up 12), independents two (up one), Residents’ Association two (steady), the Greens one (up one) and no overall control 89 (up 12). I believe this is the first time the Greens have won control of a council.

11:42pm After 101 of 230 councils, Labour has 1,092 councillors (up 208), the Tories 739 (down 338) and the Lib Dems 521 (up 88). Currently Labour is gaining at a 24% rate, the Lib Dems at a 20% rate and the Tories are losing at a 31% rate. Extrapolations give Labour a gain of 501 when everything is counted, the Tories a loss of 1,056 and the Lib Dems a gain of 249. But the Tories’ projected losses are down now on what was earlier projected.

Time for bed now, and I’ll restart this early tomorrow morning AEST.

11:32pm Labour has GAINED Blackpool and the Lib Dems have GAINED Stratford-on-Avon.

10:50pm Labour has GAINED control of Swindon and East Staffordshire councils.

9:36pm In council control, Labour has a majority on 25 councils (up three), the Tories on 13 (down 12), Lib Dems nine (up one), independents two (up one) and no overall control 25 (up seven).

9:32pm After 74 of 230 councils, Labour has 787 councillors (up 148), the Tories 509 (down 262), the Lib Dems 385 (up 65) and the Greens 73 (up 38). The extrapolations have Labour finishing up 494, the Tories down 1,143 and the Lib Dems up 248.

5pm Looks like a lull in the counting until this evening AEST, when the remaining 170 councils start reporting.

4:41pm The Lib Dems have GAINED Windsor and Maidenhead council from the Tories, with a 22 year old Lib Dem ousting the Tory leader in his ward.

4:33pm After 60 of 230 councils, Labour has 633 councillors (up 110), the Tories 419 (down 209), the Lib Dems 308 (up 57) and the Greens 51 (up 29). The extrapolations now suggest a total loss of over 1,100 for the Tories, with Labour up almost 450 and the Lib Dems 278.

3:44pm Labour GAINS Medway council from the Tories, winning 31 of 53 seats declared so far with six still to come. That’s a nine seat gain for Labour at the direct expense of the Tories.

3:21pm After results from 52 of 230 councils, Labour has 564 councillors (up 103), the Tories 388 (down 171) and the Lib Dems 294 (up 49). Current projections are for Labour to end up with 2,607 (up 476), the Tories 2,336 (down 1,029) and the Lib Dems 1,468 (up 245).

2:18pm Putting the latest figures in has the Tories losing 33% of their current seats, and would extrapolate to an overall loss of nearly 1,100 councillors.

1:52pm Labour has GAINED control of Stoke-on-Trent after it was previously hung and the Tories have lost NW Leistershire to no overall control.

1:41pm I’ve done some extrapolations on the current results. Labour has 415 councillors (up 74), the Tories 222 (down 92) and the Lib Dems 160 (up 20). The percentage gains/losses are Labour up 22%, Tories down 29% and Lib Dems up 14%. Projecting these to the seats held before these elections (see the intro post below) gives Labour nearly 2,600 councillors (up 462), the Tories 2,380 (down 986) and the Lib Dems 1,400 (up 175).

12:32pm Labour has gained control of Plymouth council, which was previously hung.

12:22pm Counting has slowed down, and we’ve only got 35 of 230 councils declared so far. Labour has 322 councillors (up 48), the Tories 128 (down 70), the Lib Dems 107 (up 18) and the Greens 18 (up ten).

11:43am With results in from 249 of the 792 key wards that the BBC is using for its Projected National Share (PNS), Labour is up 7.4% on 2019, the Tories down 1.2% and the Lib Dems up 1.1%.

11:11am Labour made gains in seven of the ten Tamworth councillors up for election this year, to reduce the Tories to 14 of the 30 total seats, depriving them of a majority.

11:05am Now 181 Labour councillors (up 29), 71 Tories (down 44), 72 Lib Dems (up 14) and ten Greens (up four). The Tories have lost another council to No Overall Control.

10:47am Labour has 126 councillors (up 13), the Tories 61 (down 26), the Lib Dems 59 (up 13) and the Greens eight (up two). The Tories have lost control of Brentwood council, the first council so far with a change in party control.

9:49am So far the Tories have lost ten councillors, with the Lib Dems up seven, Labour up two and the Greens up one.

8:47am The BBC’s live blog says that only 64 of the 230 councils will be counting overnight (it’s nearly midnight UK time). These councils tend to be where only 1/3 of seats are up for election.

8:32am Friday You can follow the live council scoreboard at the BBC. So far Labour has won three councillors, making two gains, both from UKIP.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is a paid election analyst for The Conversation. His work for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

Local government elections will be held in England today, with polls closing at 7am Friday AEST; they will be held in Northern Ireland on May 18. Most of the English seats up were last contested in 2019. The BBC’s Projected National Share (PNS), which converts council elections into national vote shares, showed Labour and the Conservatives tied on 28% each with 19% for the Lib Dems in 2019.

A total of 230 councils in England hold elections today, although in many of them only one-third of seats are up for election, as other seats are elected in alternative council election years. The Conservatives are defending 3,365 councillors, Labour 2,131 and the Liberal Democrats 1,223. Results will come in until at least Saturday AEST.

UK national polling in the last week has shown a small lift for Labour when compared with the previous week’s polls, and they are now about 17 point ahead of the Conservatives

The best statistic for the local elections is not the total councillors or councils won or lost, but the BBC’s PNS. In 2022, Labour won the PNS by 35-30 over the Conservatives after losing by 36-29 in 2021. A huge win for Labour could put Sunak under pressure, but if Labour flops, the pressure would be on their leader Keir Starmer, as he approved the Sunak attack ads.  The next UK general election is not due until late 2024.

Turkish elections: May 14

Turkey will hold presidential and parliamentary elections+ on May 14, with a presidential runoff on May 28 if nobody wins a first round majority. In the parliamentary elections, a total of 600 seats are allocated by proportional representation with a 7% threshold. Parties can join alliances and avoid this threshold provided the alliance gets over 7%.

Polling continues to be mixed, with the social democratic Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu leading the right-wing incumbent Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for president by 20 points in one poll in the first round, but he trails by nine points in another poll.

Greek election: May 21

All 300 seats will be allocated by proportional representation with a 3% threshold at the May 21 Greek election. In previous elections, there was a large seat bonus for the party that won the most votes, but that was scrapped by the left-wing Syriza government before the 2019 election. Unless electoral law changes are approved by a 2/3 parliamentary majority, they apply not at the next election, but the one following that election.

The conservative New Democrats won the 2019 election with the help of the seat bonus, and are the leading party in the polls with mid-30s support. But left-wing parties (Syriza, the centre-left PASOK, the Communists and the left-wing MeRa25) have more votes combined than the right.

US default possible on June 1: Last week I covered Republicans’ passage of a bill through the House of Representatives that would raise the debt limit but at the cost of spending cuts that Democrats strongly oppose. The US Treasury said on Monday that the US could default on June 1 without congressional action to raise the debt limit, though the actual day of default is probably further away.

Essential Research 2PP+: Labor 53, Coalition 41 (open thread)

Little change from Essential, a narrowing from Morgan, budget polling from Resolve Strategic, and strong support for the Indigenous Voice from YouGov.

The voting intention numbers from the latest fortnightly Essential Research survey, which include a 5% undecided component (up one), have Labor down one to 33%, the Coalition steady on 31%, the Greens steady on 14% and One Nation down one to 5%. The pollster’s 2PP+ measure has Labor up a point to 53%, the Coalition down two to 41% and undecided up one to 5% (the missing point being down to rounding).

The Essential Research report also features the pollster’s monthly “leaders favourability ratings”, which invite respondents to rate Anthony Albanese and Peter Dutton on scales from one to ten, as distinct from its separate and more conventional measure of approval and disapproval. After a seven point drop for Albanese in the previous survey for “positive” ratings (seven to ten), this survey has him up a point to 41%, while negative ratings (zero to three) are down four to 24% after a six point increase last time, and neutral (four to six) are up two to 30%. Peter Dutton is down three on positive to 23% and up two on negative to 35%, with neutral up a point to 34%.

A monthly question on national direction finds “right direction” sneaking back into the lead over “wrong track” after falling behind last time, being respectively up three to 41% and down four to 39%. Other findings from the poll include 48% support for raising the rate of JobSeeker with 29% opposed, and 52% support for allowing New Zealanders who meet character tests to become Australian citizens after four years of residency with 22% opposed.

Ahead of the budget, the poll finds 41% approving of Jim Chalmers’ performance as Treasurer with disapproval at 27%, although a forced response question on whether respondents were able to name him as Treasurer came down 67-33 against. Respondents were asked if they felt current spending in seven policy areas was too high or too low, which found health and Medicare leading the field by some distance on 56% for too low. Despite recent awareness-raising exercises on various fronts, only 18% felt national security and defence spending was too low while 26% felt it was too high, the latter being the biggest out of the seven.

Respondents were also asked if various categories of tax rate were too low or too high: only “taxes for international corporations” scored a plurality for too low, with super, property and income taxes all scoring a shade below 50% for too high. The poll was conducted Wednesday to Sunday from a sample of 1130.

Further recent polling:

• The most recent Resolve Strategic poll had 43% support for raising JobSeeker with 31% opposed; 34% support for cancelling or scaling back stage three tax cuts with 23 opposed; 60% support for increasing the corporate tax rate, with 13% opposed; 58% support for increasing the tax on resource company profits, with 12% opposed; and pluralities in favour of reducing concessions on negative gearing, capital gains, superannuation and franking credits. The poll was conducted Wednesday to Sunday before last from a sample of 1609.

• This week’s Roy Morgan voting intention results have Labor’s two-party lead narrowing to 53.5-46.5, which is apparently in from 56.5-43.5 (though it was 56-44 when I checked a week ago), from primary votes of Labor 36%, Coalition 35.5% and Greens 13% (my record of last week’s results shows Labor at 37%, Coalition 33% and Greens 12%). The poll was conducted last Monday to Sunday – as usual, nothing is offered on sample size, survey method of preference method (Kevin Bonham calculates that Labor is a point higher on two-party based on 2022 election flows).

• The Age/Herald reported on Monday that a YouGov poll for the pro-Voice Uluru Dialogue group, which encompassed a vast national sample of 15,060, had 51% in favour of an Indigenous Voice and 34% opposed, with yes leading 52-32 in New South Wales, 53-31 in Victoria, 47-40 in Queensland, 48-37 in Western Australia, 51-34 in South Australia, 50-35 in Tasmania, 64-24 in the Australian Capital Territory and 52-32 in the Northern Territory. Respondents were specifically asked how they would vote if the referendum to be held “on a proposal to establish a Voice to Parliament for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the Constitution” were held today. This turns out to be the poll cited by Rebecca Huntley of The Guardian last week which found support among Indigenous people at 83%, from a substantial sub-sample of 732. However, the poll was conducted well over a month ago, from March 1 to 21.

Victory lap

A run-through of the findings of the ALP’s post-match review of its May 2022 federal election campaign.

The looming election drought means there will be a lot more long form analysis on this site going forward, including the return of the Call of the Board series, which only got so far in its region-by-region analysis of seat results at the federal election before Victoria and New South Wales intervened. First though, some unfinished business to follow on from a post in January that combed over the public version of the Liberal Party’s election post-mortem. Now comes the turn of Labor’s post-election review, conducted for the party by Greg Combet, Lenda Oshalem, Linda White and Craig Emerson. This naturally had a happier tale to tell than the Liberal report, but still had to reckon with the party’s lowest primary vote since the Great Depression.

The report says Labor’s tracking and seat polling proved broadly accurate this time, after being scarcely less off the mark than published polling in 2019. It showed Labor’s biggest problem going into the election to be the perception of the Coalition as better economic managers, and its greatest opportunity a feeling that Labor would do better on cost-of-living pressures by lifting wages. Labor responded to these insights with a “sound” campaign of broadcast advertising in which “attacks on Scott Morrison were most effective in his own voice”, and a research-backed online campaign that contrasted with an under-resourced and unplanned Liberal effort that “posted strange content”.

The fall in Labor’s primary vote was attributed to declining trust in government, tactical voting in some seats, a small-target strategy that necessitated a campaign focused on Coalition negatives, and a proliferation of minor party and independent candidates. A purposefully vague campaign theme of a “better future” succeeded in giving the Coalition little to attack, but at a cost of failing to energise soft Labor voters. The report says Labor’s strategies have not traditionally emphasised the primary vote, resulting in a failure to “call out the reckless policies and hollow rhetoric of third parties and communicate the risk of voting for a third party”.

The danger posed by a weak primary vote even in the context of a winning result was illustrated by Dai Le’s win in Fowler, which the report attributes in large part to the support Le received from Fairfield mayor Frank Carbone, who rose to prominence locally in the pandemic and scored 70% in his council re-election bid. Research was needed into why Labor’s vote had also softened in traditionally strong areas of Sydney and Melbourne, and care taken lest they go the way of Fowler.

However, Labor’s biggest weak spot was Queensland, which the report attributes to a failure to get a handle on the state’s regional complexities. The breakthrough in inner Brisbane of the Greens, who gained one seat from Labor and two it was hoping to win, was aided by their deft response to local concerns over aircraft noise and urban infill, although climate change was the main driver of the party’s support. Labor also lost ground in Tasmania, which presented a reverse image of Western Australia in having a Liberal Premier riding high on pandemic management, whom the federal government had not sought to antagonise.

The report tellingly begins with a bullet point summation of where Scott Morrison went wrong during his government’s last term, in recognition that this goes a long way towards explaining the result. The wheels began to fall off in mid-2020 with Morrison’s “major strategic error” of abandoning the bipartisanship of the early pandemic by attacking Labor Premiers more popular than he, which left him badly exposed by the subsequent failures of the vaccine rollout. Labor’s stand-alone campaign in Western Australia exploited the government’s disastrous backing of a legal challenge to the state’s closed borders with election day banners linking Anthony Albanese with Mark McGowan and Scott Morrison with Clive Palmer.

The Liberals’ widely noted problem with women went beyond sexual harassment scandals, the restoration of Barnaby Joyce and Scott Morrison’s impolitic assertion that protesters such as those of the Women’s March for Justice were “being met with bullets” in other countries. Women also bore much of the impact of government decisions including the early termination of free childcare during the pandemic and the exclusion of early childhood educators from JobKeeper. Another own goal by the government was to alienate the Chinese community, who “felt that the actions and rhetoric of Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton meant they were not welcome in Australia and that their businesses would be affected”. By contrast, Vietnamese voters swung against Labor, and not just those in Fowler.

Going forward, the report says the government must prepare for Coalition efforts to defeat it in outer suburban and regional seats, which must be done by providing economic opportunities through Australia’s transition to a “global renewable energy superpower”.

Indigenous Voice polling and other matters (open thread)

More signs of a narrowing on the Indigenous Voice, but in this case with yes still streets ahead.

Starting off with news relevant to the Indigenous Voice referendum, which according to recent reportage in the Age/Herald could be upon us on October 14:

• The latest monthly SEC Newgate Mood of the Nation survey finds support for the Indigenous Voice* at 52%, down a point from February, with opposition up four to 26%. There has also been a three point drop in strong support to 30% and a four point increase in strong opposition to 17%. Support was over 50% in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, and solidly ahead of opposition in Western Australia and Queensland. The poll was conducted April 13 to 18 from a sample of 1200.

• Social researcher Rebecca Huntley writes in The Guardian that recent YouGov research has found only 40% of non-Indigenous respondents believed the Indigenous Voice had majority support among Indigenous people, whereas their polling of 738 Indigenous respondents had support at 83%.

Other news:

• The aforementioned SEC Newgate survey finds the most highly regarded mainland state governments are those of Western Australia and South Australia, followed by the Victorian and newly elected New South Wales governments, with only the Queensland government below water. The federal government has been doing unspectacularly on this measure, which asks respondents to rate them on a six-point scale, but it has steady since the February result while each of the state governments has lost ground.

• Katherine Deves has withdrawn from contention to fill Jim Molan’s New South Wales Liberal Senate vacancy, without Warren Mundine having entered the race, for whom she had previously said she would step aside. In Mundine’s absence, the favoured conservative candidate to fill a conservative vacancy would appear to be Jess Collins, who is variously said to be backed by the centre right and conservative state MP Anthony Roberts. Moderates are likely to back state party president Maria Kovacic, but hostility to her among conservatives raises the possibility that another moderate, former state Bega MP and Transport Minister Andrew Constance, will emerge as a compromise candidate.

• Warren Entsch, who has held Leichhardt in Far North Queensland as a Liberal for all but one term since 1996, has confirmed he will retire at the next election. He earlier retired at the 2007 election, at which the seat was won by Labor, but returned in 2010, and did not follow through on his announcement on the night of the 2019 election that the following term would be his last. James Massola of the Age/Herald reports that Pharmacy Guild president Trent Twomey has “long been discussed as a possible successor”, but that he denies any such plans. Entsch says Twomey would be “great in politics, but he would be better in the Senate”, preselection for the Liberal National Party Senate ticket being set for finalisation at the end of June.

Anthony Galloway of the Age/Herald reports the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters’ inquiry into the 2022 federal election is looking at recommending increasing to the size of federal parliament as part of its brief to consider the “one-vote one-value” principle, which is presently strained by the Constitution’s guarantee of five seats to Tasmania. Enrolments in these seats would be brought broadly into line with the rest of the country if two further seats were added for each state in the Senate and twice as many seats again added to the House of Representatives, which represents the only permissible increase to the size of parliament given the Constitution’s “nexus” provision, whereby the House must not be more than twice the size of the Senate.

Broede Carmody of the Age/Herald reports division within the party formerly known as the Liberal Democrats, which can no longer use that name owing to legislation passed before last year’s election, as to whether its new name should be the Libertarians Party, as favoured by New South Wales and Victorian state upper house members John Ruddick and David Limbrick, and the Liberty and Democracy Party, which the party used at the 2007 federal election and which is favoured by former Senator David Leyonhjelm.

* The wording of the question: “The federal government is planning to hold a referendum to update the Australian Constitution and create an Indigenous Voice representing the views of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People. This would be a permanent advisory body to the Federal Parliament on issues relevant to Indigenous people but would not have the power to create or approve laws. To what extent do you support or oppose the creation of an Indigenous Voice to Parliament?