Two new polls tell different stories, one favouring the Coalition but the other not. First, Newspoll shows the Coalition’s TPP as up by two percentage points with Labor’s down the same two points compared with the March 7-10 poll. Hence the Coalition is up from 46 to 48 while Labor’s is down from 54 to 52 now. Also, while the primary votes ( before taking account of preferences from other parties) for the Coalition have improved (from 36 to 38), Labor’s have fallen (from 39 to 37). These send out a hopeful signal to the Coalition.
The latest Newspoll shows that, after three successive results on 47/53 TPPs, the Coalition has now fallen to 46/54. Even though Morrison’s personal approval ratings improved a single point to 43 per cent so too did Shorten’s and, while Morrison’s disapproval numbers fell from 48 per cent to 45 per cent, Shorten’s also fell two points. These ratings gaps have not altered to any significant extent over the last fortnight and, although they still favour Morrison, there is no real sign that the Coalition can close the overall gap on TPPs by the May election
Last Friday’s Commentary suggested that the latest Coalition’s Newspoll of 47/53 for the third successive time indicated that the Morrison government was still in serious trouble. I suggested that the additional policy decisions announced by Morrison on climate policy would be unlikely to help close the gap. These measures included acceptance of the Paris agreement and an expanded use of renewable through the establishment of the very uneconomic Snowy2.0 and the usage of “big batteries”. Energy Minister Taylor also claimed the new measures would cut energy bills while lowering emissions but this failed to take account of the additional costs from using the Snowy or from back-ups needed when other renewable are not available. I noted that it seemed unlikely that the Energy Minister would be able to reduce electricity prices except through the adoption of a regulatory system which legally limited the maximum price able to be charged by retailers.
In today’s Herald Sun, Andrew Bolt points out that on Tuesday Malcolm Turnbull “gave a ludicrously generous endorsement to Liberal turncoat Julia Banks, the MP now running as an independent against Liberal Health Minister Greg Hunt” and rightly describes this and other actions by Turnbull as “treachery” which however many journalists have failed to so characterize
Today’s first Newspoll for 2019 shows a helpful improvement for the Coalition in its TPP gap from 45/55 in early December to 47/53 but Morrison’s “Satisfactory” rate as PM went down from 42 to 40 and his “Dissatisfaction” rate went up from 45 to 47. By contrast, the “Satisfactory” and “Dissatisfaction” rates for Shorten each improved by a point and left him only 3 rates behind Morrison. In the “Better PM” rate Morrison also dropped a point while Shorten’s rate was unchanged, albeit at 7 points behind Morrison. This Newspoll was taken during the period when three ministers announced they would not stand at the next election
In yesterday’s Commentary I said that, while an early election as suggested by Terry McCrann would risk the Morrison government being portrayed as a “cut and run” attempt at winning and avoiding outstanding issues, it would have the potential to bring the Liberal party closer together and take advantage of various issues on which Morrison seems actually or potentially head of Shorten, including the now near absence of Turnbull as a policy maker. In particular, an election in March would “lock in” the likely favourable budgetary and economic forecasts in the MYEFO publication (next Monday) and prevent any significant change in the Pre-Election Economic and Fiscal Outlook (PEFO) which is made by Treasury before an election.
In Thursday’s Commentary I referred to the view of The Australian’s political editor (Dennis Shanahan) that Morrison still has a “last chance” of winning the election. In Weekend Australian Shanahan acknowledges that “the Liberal Party is in a mess” but also points out that “Labor finished the last week of parliament for the year on the back foot over national security and border protection, giving Morrison a reprieve from the dismal Liberal outlook. The Prime Minister was able to declare there would be a budget surplus next year, he changed Liberal leadership rules, intervened to stop a preselection brawl, asserted his authority over Turnbull and avoided an embarrassing defeat on the floor of parliament”
Although there has been a “final statement” by leaders attending the meeting of the G20 in Argentina, the text does not seem available on the web and nor does the communique. However, some media are reporting on what was agreed. The outcome on trade was expected to reveal something on the what has been described as a dispute between the US and China (but which has implications for all trading nations). It appears that the US did succeed at G20 in obtaining agreement that the present arrangements need to be changed.
In my Commentary published on 18 November I suggested the handling of the Bourke St incident indicated serious deficiencies. This has been confirmed by developments since then. Most important has been the statement by Victorian Attorney General Pakula that Victorian police had not received information from federal sources which would warrant them acting to at least monitor the now dead Muslim terrorist, Shire Ali. But Victorian police chief Ashton subsequently announced that they had in fact received the necessary federal information. This prompted me to send a letter to the press arguing that Pakula should resign but, as he has stuck to his guns and has been supported by Victorian Premier Andrews, that won’t happen a couple of days before the election (see OZ on Bourke St Terrorist Revelations and Pakula Claims Not Informed of Terrorists Passport Withdrawal).
Today’s Newspoll show that the Coalition and its leader Scott Morrison are going backwards and the strategy of trying to recover through announcements of purported benefits to selected groups is missing the main game. That requires policy statements on climate change, immigration, refugees, budget etc which differ from those under Turnbull and a statement saying that mistakes were made under Turnbull. This would be timely given that Turnbull in Bali is reported as having welcomed (!) this Newspoll (see Turnbull likes Newspoll). Even the highly publicised announcements for drought stricken farmers would not produce funding before the election and the “boosts” for small businesses are still being developed by three (!) ministers.