Today we have been “flooded” by opinion polls which, while not showing any overall deterioration in the Turnbull Coalition’s polling, confirm its continued inability to effect any significant improvement in that polling. The state by state Newspoll for the February-March quarter also suggests there is a continued problem in Queensland, where the One Nation vote is much higher than in other states and has increased significantly since the 2016 election result (from 5.5 to 13 percent in the February- March quarter).
With a Newspoll due tomorrow, one of the leaders now faces possible “long days and winter’s song”. On the surface it appears that Shorten will be the principal singer as he has experienced a setback from his repeated advice that none of the Labor parliamentarians are subject to the dual citizenship test only to find that four are now subject to the five in by-elections to be held on 28 July. He also has to accept responsibility for the extensive alterations made to a transcript of an interview on Labor policy on how long asylum-seekers could be retained in detention. The altered transcript, which was “cleared” by Shorten’s office, showed that left-wing Labor’s human services spokeswoman Burney opposed indefinite detention but refused to say for how long detention could be under Labor policy on immigration.
Today’s Newspoll shows the Coalition still behind Labor on third party preference votes by 49/51 and indicates that only 41per cent think the tax-cutting budget was “good”. But the improvement in Turnbull’s Better PM rate to 46/35, compared with the 38/35 at the previous Newspoll, has led The Australian to present the poll as a major victory to Turnbull, to argue that the budget was “one of the most well-received …in a decade”, and to claim “the result maintains an electoral position for the Coalition that it has not enjoyed since September 2016”. It also says the result “builds momentum” for the five by-elections expected in early July (see attached Newspoll Shows No TPP Change on Budget).
Although the Newspoll published on 5 March showed no change between the Coalition and Labor on a TPP basis (47/53), Turnbull’s Dissatisfaction rate fell from 54 to 57 and is now worse than Shorten’s (56). As to who is a Better Prime Minister, Turnbull’s rate fell from 40 t0 37 while Shorten’s rose from 33 to 35.
Parliament’s first week back after the summer break witnessed quite a bit of excitement, with Deputy PM Joyce leading the way or should I say presenting a new partner and, at the same time, making sure that 7.30 (and those watching) know that it’ a “private matter”. The following extract from today’s Cut and Paste certainly shows Joyce at full throttle
As we enter the New Year many ask what happened last year and what is likely to happen this year. Not surprisingly, the climate is a point of focus as is whether Australian governments’ policies to reduce carbon emissions are working. Also not surprising is that there are fundamental differences in opinion about the merits of those policies, not the least being Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris agreement and his recent failure to mention in a major security statement.
Following my Commentary of 10 December my computer became unusable for over a week and I missed the opportunity of commenting on the final Newspoll for 2017 on 18 December. Despite inclinations in some media that the Coalition might improve, its TPP remained at 47/53 and, although the “Better PM” indicator lifted Turnbull’s to a poor 41 (from 39), Shorten’s also rose to 34 (from 33). Both leaders’ performances were left at a miserable 32 “Satisfied”. Various events/decisions by the Leaders seem to have cancelled each other out and the swing of 5% against the Liberals in the 16 December Bennelong election can be regarded as “normal” for a by-election . But the deficiencies in Coalition policy stances remained extant and the Coalition needed a much better than normal outcome.
Although as this is written more than 30% of votes still need to be counted, it now looks almost certain that Labor will be returned and may even have a majority of seats. As the ABC election expert Green says,even if Premier Palaszczuk “falls a seat short, she doesn't have to do any deals. She can leave it to the Parliament to vote her out, because it would be unlikely that all the crossbench would vote against them at once. "It is a fixed-term Parliament — the Government can't just resign and walk out of office and leave someone else to form government — they can't do that, so somebody will form government. "So it is very hard to see how anyone other than Annastacia Palaszczuk can form government in the new Parliament. "They have a certain 46, and they only need one more vote and at the moment we are giving them another two seats on a prediction." (see Labor to Win in Qld Election). Note the failure of One Nation while the Kapper party may get two seats.
Turnbull’s decision to postpone by a week the resumption of Parliament, and his “guidance” to MPs that it should then focus for a couple of weeks on debating the same sex marriage legislation, has not been favourably received. It is widely seen as being an attempt to be “dodge the music” and extend the time at which Parliament would not be considering policy issues. His subsequent speech to the Business Council, where the main message was that his government wants to” ease the burden on middle-income Australians and at the same time return the budget to surplus”, hasn’t been well received either. Turnbull’s explanation (sic) that he is only “actively working” on preventing the otherwise higher tax burden through bracket creep is unlikely to persuade voters that he should stay as leader.
The week-end’s Media assessment of Turnbull’s New Energy Guarantee (NEG) is generally favourable, but withTerry McCrann predicting an extremely unfavourable outcome for the Coalition viz “Malcolm Turnbull and Josh Frydenberg have made a deliberate decision to lose the next election and to lose it badly. The rest of the joint party room voted to endorse the decision, an indeterminate number of Liberal and National members voting for an early retirement. This is the irresistible and even more the irredeemable political consequence of the Turnbull-Frydenberg decision to opt for a policy of (only trying) “to keep the lights on” over a policy of significantly and quickly cutting both electricity and gas prices. Far less, the third, but first-best, option — the option, begging to be embraced by a half-rational government that had the most minimalist understanding of political dynamics — of aggressively aiming to deliver both more and more reliable power and cheaper and sustainably cheaper power”.