Essential Research 2PP+: Labor 55, Coalition 40, undecided 5 (open thread)

The latest Essential Research poll finds no indication of weakening support for the government or an Indigenous voice.

Federal voting intention numbers from the latest fortnightly Essential Research poll have both parties down a point on the primary vote from a fortnight ago, with Labor at 33% and the Coalition at 30%, with the Greens enjoying a curiously timed three point surge to 17%, One Nation down two to 6% and undecided unchanged at 5%. Presumably reflecting the elevated result for the Greens, Labor is up two on the 2PP+ measure at 55% and the Coalition are down two to 40%, with undecided steady at 5%.

The poll also featured the pollster’s monthly “favourability ratings” for the two leaders, whom respondents rate on a scale of one to ten rather than provide straight approval and disapproval responses. Anthony Albanese’s results were little changed from late November, with 47% rating him seven or higher (up one), 27% from four to six (up one) and 22% from zero to three (down one), while Peter Dutton is respectively at 26% (down two), 31% (down one) and 35% (up two).

Support for an Indigenous voice increased two points to 65% with opposition down two to 35%, while 30% said they felt well informed about the proposal compared with 37% for poorly informed. Forty-three per cent rated that the country was headed in the right direction (down one), compared with 37% for the wrong direction (up one). The 300 respondents from New South Wales were again asked about approval of the state leaders, with Dominic Perrottet up four on approval to 51% and down three on disapproval to 33%, while Chris Minns at is steady at 38% and down two to 25%.

The poll was conducted Wednesday to Monday from a sample of 1000.

Newspoll: 55-45 to Labor (open thread)

A steady lead for Labor, a softening of approval for Anthony Albanese, and solid support for an Indigenous voice to parliament.

The Australian reports the first Newspoll for the year has Labor’s two-party lead unchanged at 55-45, from primary votes of Labor 38% (down one), Coalition 34% (down one), Greens 11% (steady) and One Nation 6% (steady). Anthony Albanese is down five on approval to 57% and up four on disapproval to 33%, while Peter Dutton is steady at 36% and up one to 46%. Albanese’s lead as preferred prime minister narrows from 59-24 to 56-26.

There were further questions on the Indigenous voice to parliament, which found 56% in support (28% strongly and 28% partly) and 37% opposed (23% strongly and 14% partly). Extensive further detail on why respondents felt the way the did. The most favoured among listed of reasons for those opposed was that “it won’t help the issues facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians”. The poll was conducted Wednesday to Saturday from a sample of 1512.

New South Wales election minus seven weeks

Fresh news on independent candidates for the March 25 New South Wales state election, plus a rather less fresh poll result.

Roy Morgan had a rather dated New South Wales state poll this week that was conducted way back in December, showing Labor leading 55-45 on two-party preferred. However, both Labor and the Coalition were at a low ebb of 33.5% on the primary vote, with the Greens on 12% and One Nation 4.5%, leaving a further 16.5% scattered among independents and other minor parties. The poll was conducted by phone and online from a sample of 1446.

In other news, two notable independents have confirmed themselves as starters, though one seemingly has more promising prospects than the other:

• Northern Beaches mayor Michael Regan made his long-anticipated announcement that he will run in Wakehurst, which is being vacated by Health Minister Brad Hazzard. Regan has served locally as mayor since 2008, first for the old Warringah Council and then in Northern Beaches when it was created from a merger of Warringah, Pittwater and Manly in 2016. James O’Doherty of the Daily Telegraph wrote in November that Regan would be “favourite at unbackable odds” if he ran. The Liberal candidate is Toby Williams, RSL club director and electorate officer to Hazzard.

• Former Liberal Gareth Ward has announced he will seek re-election as an independent in his southern Illawarra seat of Kiama. Ward resigned from the ministry and the Liberal Party in May 2021 after identifying himself as the MP subject to an inquiry by the child abuse and sex crimes squad, and was suspended from parliament when charges were laid in March last year.

Roy Morgan and Ipsos Indigenous voice poll (open thread)

A bit more detail than usual from Roy Morgan this week, plus a small-sample Ipsos poll suggesting Indigeous Australians are overwhelmingly on board with the voice to parliament.

I note that the front page of the Roy Morgan website has some detail on the federal voting intention numbers in which its weekly update video typically provides on the two-party preferred, though I’m not sure if this is new or unusual. The latest result has Labor leading 57-43, in from 59-41 last week; the primary votes are Labor 37.5%, Coalition 33.5%, Greens 11.5% and others 17.5%; and the field work dates were January 23 to 29. However, no detail on sample size or survey method is provided.

Other than that, an Ipsos poll of 300 Indigenous Australians released by pro-Indigenous voice group Uluru Dialogue last week found 80% support for the proposal, including 57% who were very sure and 21% who were fairly sure, with only 10% opposed.

Donation drive

Time for the Poll Bludger’s donation drive, conducted at the end of every second month to squeeze some extra generosity out of the site’s valued and loyal supporters. Donations can be made through the “become a supporter” buttons at the top of the page and at the bottom of each post.

This also works as an occasion to update what I’m up to, which at present is all about the New South Wales state election on March 25. The usual comprehensive election guide is at a well advanced and state and should be published in a couple of weeks, and my live results architecture is now running smoothly enough (recent example: Saturday’s supplementary election for Narracan in Victoria) that I can guarantee it will be in service on the big night.

For those of you seeking directions to the routine general discussion thread, it can be found here, just under the post immediately below on the changes in leadership for Western Australia’s Liberals and Nationals.

The spoils of defeat

A changing of the guard among what remains of the conservative forces in Western Australia.

After a weekend of convulsions among what remains of the parliamentary ranks of the Liberals and Nationals in Western Australia, both parties settled on new leaders yesterday, with Moore MP Shane Love taking the mantle of Opposition Leader as head of the Nationals, who have four seats in the lower house, and Vasse MP Libby Mettam emerging leader of the Liberals, who have two. To deal with the developments in turn:

• The ball began to roll when Mia Davies, who has led the Nationals and hence the opposition since the 2021 election, unexpectedly announced her resignation on Friday, though she will serve out her term as member for Central Wheatbelt. With North West Central MP only having served in parliament since a by-election in September, this left the the party’s other two lower house members, Moore MP Shane Love and Roe MP Peter Rundle, as the only plausible successors (the party has a further three seats in the Legislative Council). Rundle declared himself a “potential contender” on Sunday, but in the event Love was chosen unopposed, with Rundle replacing him as deputy.

• Hours after Mia Davies’ announcement on Friday, Vasse MP Libby Mettam launched her long-anticipated challenge against her only Liberal lower house colleague, Cottesloe MP David Honey. This left the matter effectively to be determined by the party’s seven Legislative Council members, with weekend reports suggesting five were lining up behind Mettam (Tjorn Sibma from North Metropolitan region, who uniquely went on the record, together with Peter Collier from North Metropolitan, Steve Thomas from South West, Steve Martin from Agricultural and Donna Faragher from East Metropolitan), with Honey claiming the support only of Nick Goiran from South Metropolitan and Neil Thomson from Mining and Pastoral. Honey duly conceded defeat and left Mettam to take the position unopposed. Steve Thomas was also elected unopposed to succeed Mettam as deputy.

Liberal internal affairs have been dominated over the past 18 months by controversy over the machinations of “the Clan”, a loose factional grouping including Nick Goiran and Peter Collier, together with Mathias Cormann before he quit federal politics in October 2020. Mettam sought to seize the initiative yesterday by announcing that Goiran, a religious conservative with an extensive network of support in the party’s southern Perth branches, would be excluded from the shadow ministry, which since the 2021 election has found places for all Liberal and Nationals members.

On the other side of the aisle, Labor is negotiating a less consequential but electorally noteworthy difficulty arising from the retirement of high-profile former minister Alannah MacTiernan and the resulting vacancy for her South West region upper house seat. Such vacancies are filled through a countback of ballot papers from the previous election and not with the favoured nominee of the party, as in the Senate. The top three of Labor’s six candidates on the South West ticket were elected in 2021, and in the normal course of events the countback would elect the next candidate along. However, The West Australian reports the candidate in question, John Mondy, is “understood to be reluctant” to tear himself away from a successful Bunbury signwriting business to spend two years as a parliamentarian.

That puts the focus on the fifth candidate, Narrogin lawyer Ben Dawkins, who faces dozens of charges of breaching a family violence restraining order, which he says relates solely to “emotive” language in emails he sent to his estranged wife. Dawkins is said to be interested in taking up the vacancy, but would do so as an independent given his legal troubles have caused him to be suspended from the ALP. The situation does not threaten Labor’s upper house majority, which inclusive of MacTiernan consisted of 22 seats in a chamber of 36.

Supplementary elections, by-elections and no polls (open thread)

Minor electoral events from Victoria and Northern Territory in lieu of new polling news to report.

We continue to await the return of Newspoll for the year, which I imagine might be forthcoming ahead of the return of parliament next week. With Essential Research having an off week in the fortnightly cycle, this leaves me with nothing to report on the poll front. Two bits of electoral news worth noting are that the Liberals won the supplementary election for the Victorian state seat of Narracan as expected on Saturday, confirming lower house numbers of 56 for Labor, 19 for the Liberals, nine for the Nationals and four for the Greens; and that Northern Territory Chief Minister Natasha Fyles has announced that the by-election for the seat of Arafura, following the death of Labor member Lawrence Costa on December 17, will be held on March 18. With that, over to you.

Narracan supplementary election

Commentary and live coverage for the Narracan supplementary election, which will put in place the final piece of Victorian state election result.

Click here for full results updated live.

Live commentary

End of Saturday night. My system is probably showing its limitations by projecting the Greens to finish second, as independent Tony Wolfe has a bare lead over them on the primary vote and I imagine will do better on preferences. So the 12.7% Liberal margin on the Liberal-versus-Wolfe two-candidate preferred count, which will likely increase a little on postals, is probably more meaningful than my projection of 17.9% over the Greens. Certainly it’s an easy win for Liberal candidate Wayne Farnham, although the 11% drop in their primary vote in the absence of competition from Labor, who polled 35.5% in 2018, is an uninspiring result.

7.36pm. The preference split is now looking more like what I would expect, or at least less unlike, favouring the independent 58-42. But it’s an academic point with the Liberals leading the TCP count 65-35. I notice my booth results map isn’t firing – I’ll look into that after all the results are in for the evening.

7.21pm. I think my results feature is behaving as it should now, with Wayne Farnham and Tony Wolfe set as the TCP candidates, although my projection says the Greens are more likely to finish second. It turns out preferences are splitting about evenly between Farnham and Wolfe, where I had earlier assumed they would flow massively to Wolfe. So this looks like the anticipated walkover for Farnham, though with a rather soft primary vote.

7.05pm. Nine booths in and I’ve got the projected Liberal primary vote up to 42.9%, which is more like it for them. The TCP count clearly isn’t Liberal versus Greens – the lower end of my results display won’t work until I rejig it to accommodate this.

6.56pm. This is a pretty steep drop for the Liberals in the three booths concerned compared with where they were in 2018, such that I’m presently predicting them to end with a primary vote of 37.8%, which would be dangerously low for them.

6.50pm. Three booths in on the primary vote, Liberal primary at 44.8%, Tony Wolfe looking clearly the strongest independent and slightly outpolling the Greens. Still don’t know what’s happening with the TCP count.

6.30pm. The VEC feed is updating every 15 minutes. The 6:30pm update is through but there are still no results in it. My results page says the latest update is 6pm – I believe this will remain unchanged until there is actually a result in (UPDATE: I’ve fixed this). I’m assuming for the time being that the two-candidate preferred count will be Liberal versus Greens, but won’t actually know until there are results to report.


The Victorian state election reaches its denouement today with the election for the seat of Narracan, which was unable to proceed on November 26 due to the death of Nationals candidate Shaun Gilchrist six days earlier. Narracan was never a target for Labor, but with the retirement of incumbent Gary Blackwood, who had held it for the Liberals since 2006, the seat appeared to be a possibility for the Nationals, who ended up with a notably better story to tell about their election result than the Liberals. However, the Nationals have decided not to put forward a candidate for the fresh election, which together with Labor’s more predictable forfeit make the contest look like a walkover for the new Liberal candidate, Wayne Farnham.

There is nonetheless a field of eleven candidates, and the possibility one of the independents may have enough critical mass to become competitive with the help of strong flows of preferences. The most outwardly promising of the three would appear to be Annemarie McCabe, the mayor of Baw Baw Shire. Also in the field are Tony Wolfe, a former Baw Baw deputy mayor who describes himself as a “coal worker advocating for renewable energy”, and Ian Honey, a project facilitator and former Bairnsdale councillor.

If only for the sake of completeness, I have put together a profile page for the seat. Live results will be published on this site following the usual format from 6pm.