51-49 Newspoll: Messages For Turnbull, Shorten, Coalition

A THIRD POLL in a week sees Coalition fortunes under new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull rocket, albeit off a low base; a second narrow lead over Labor from those — enough to win an election, but no more — is accompanied yet again by the collapse of direct “support” for Labor and the disintegration of Bill Shorten’s personal ratings. There is no cause for Coalition complacency here, although there are messages in these numbers across the board.

First things first: I’m aware that opposition “leader” Bill Shorten enjoyed a solo appearance on the ABC’s ghastly #QandA programme last night, but the sleep-deprived stupor that saw me miss the show would nonetheless have almost certainly been induced by Shorten’s dull wit had I been sprightly enough to watch; it’s a little disturbing that confronted with a new Liberal Prime Minister the ABC opted to not only showcase Shorten but did so 140km from Melbourne amid a clutch of marginally held state and federal ALP seats in Ballarat, but perhaps my cynicism that Labor had been provided with a de facto campaign stump for the night can be held over for another week — and “their ABC” given the benefit of the doubt.

That said, a third major poll since the Liberal leadership change — this time, the long-awaited Newspoll in The Australian, showing a 51-49 lead after preferences for the Coalition — has appeared overnight, and whilst we’re not going to get obsessed with polls to the point of picking every one that appears to pieces, this one is significant in that some trends are appearing that warrant comment.

That 51-49 Newspoll mirrors a Galaxy finding late last week, and comes after an automated ReachTel survey produced a 50-50 finding; on a crude aggregation this puts the Coalition position since the leadership switch at 50.7%: and given the Coalition average over the previous 18 months was a ridiculously settled 47%, the findings suggest a move of 3.7% back to the conservatives, cutting the swing to Labor (on 2013 election numbers) to 2.8%.

A 6.5% swing (which is what polls were showing before last week) would, if replicated uniformly at an election, have seen the Coalition lose 29 seats to the ALP, reducing it to 61-63 of the 150 seats in the House of Representatives (depending on what happened in seats like Fairfax and Indi) and electing Bill Shorten very solidly as Prime Minister.

A 2.8% swing, by contrast, would have limited the loss of seats to just 13 (from a starting tally of 90) and produced a small but workable majority for a re-elected Turnbull government.

There are those who believe the early bounce in polling for the Liberal and National Parties is no more than a “sugar hit” that will quickly wear off — and I agree to some extent that without a sustained emphasis on rebuilding its position with voters, that is a likely outcome — but the indications are already clear that the change in the Liberal leadership has indeed offered the circuit breaker its proponents argued it would, although what happens from here is very much a matter for conjecture.

The mostly excellent fist made of his ministerial reshuffle by Turnbull offers the Coalition some prospect that its early gains can be consolidated by a more politically adept frontbench line-up, although that judgement is heavily contingent on a thorough cleanout of the back of house and the injection of some real nous in the areas of (surprise, surprise) political strategy and tactics, media relations, communications, parliamentary management, and a sales and marketing focus that has largely been absent for the past two years.

To be clear, a 51-49 position (or the 50.7% rolling aggregate it feeds into as of today) is not a lay-down misere result, and the real work begins now for Coalition insiders to start to lock down, consolidate and build upon the early promise the switch to Turnbull appears to have generated.

But the real story, for now at least, is that voters appear to be deserting Bill Shorten in droves: and stripped of the huge positive the ALP believes it had turned Tony Abbott into over a period of many years (through character assassination, defamation, and outright lying) it seems improbable they can attempt to turn Turnbull into a similarly reviled ogre figure (although given the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of the Labor Party these days, they will sure as hell try).

Newspoll finds Turnbull preferred as Prime Minister by 55% of its respondents, compared with 21% for Shorten; and just like the result recorded by Galaxy during the week, I suggest this constitutes a return to more “normal” findings for a first-term government confronted by an insidiously vapid opposition “leader:” the idea of Bill Shorten as Prime Minister is inconceivable, or at least it should be — judged solely on his (dubious) merits.

This contention is borne out by continuing dreadful personal approval numbers for Shorten, which sit at just 29%; 54% of Newspoll respondents disapprove of the job he is doing as opposition “leader,” and whilst that’s a mild improvement on the previous Newspoll survey, the fact remains that Shorten is little less unpopular than Tony Abbott was — and that’s without facing the kind of mindless, baseless, senseless, highly personal onslaught that Labor has filled its days directing toward Abbott.

By contrast, Turnbull’s first outing since his rebirth as liberal leader finds 42% of respondents approving his performance, 24% disapproving, and a predictable 34% yet to form a view.

Readers can access The Australian‘s coverage of Newspoll — and its tables — here.

With the benefit of the first few polls now complete it is possible to segment some key messages from these numbers, although I emphasise the political situation is likely to remain fluid — and that whilst Shorten and his party have the most to lose in raw terms, with a consistent if undeserved election-winning position now gone — it is the Coalition that will largely shape the political climate from this point a year out from a scheduled federal election.

The most obvious is that having decisively rejected Labor at the polls two years ago, underlying voter sentiment remains very much open to the idea of Coalition government; whether through ineptitude on Abbott’s part (and, more importantly, the people he surrounded himself with), bloody-mindedness, or a mixture, it is this position the Coalition had spent two years squandering.

It is a point that should not be lost on Labor and on Shorten in particular, who has spent two years mouthing empty platitudes and being relentlessly obstructionist for the sake of it: convinced they could slither into office whilst delivering precisely nothing of any substance, Shorten and his cohorts have been found out; it is inconceivable Turnbull will permit an equivalent to the Credlin regime to fritter away the position of his government, but unless he does, Shorten — and Labor — are set for another term in the wilderness at least.

Pause should be given to any leadership change at the ALP, and whilst I have heard those around Plibersek are spending the parliamentary recess looking for the numbers to roll Shorten, such an enterprise is pointless if it simply replaces him with more of the same: Plibersek might be pretty and (in the absence of any particular substance) be pleasant to listen to, but she is also an unreconstructed socialist and a carping whinger seemingly more content stirring up trouble than with producing anything pertinent for public consumption.

I tend to think Turnbull would make mincemeat of her, although he would be pilloried by “their ABC,” Fairfax, and the other blinkered media outlets of the Left for doing so.

If nothing else, the replacement of an unpopular leader with a well-regarded one — even if Turnbull does face questions of just how “conservative” he may prove in some quarters, like this column — shows that mind-numbing negativity, banality, and stupid populist bullshit impresses nobody if there’s nothing to back it up: and it is this strategy Shorten is going to have to junk urgently if he even wants to make it as far as an election.

The past week has seen a distinctly panicked inflection colour his public utterances; spooked, wrong-footed and skewered, you have to wonder if the Labor “leader” has any real clue at all now he has been found wanting. Yet that isn’t my problem, and I don’t really care what happens to “Billy Bullshit.”

In the end, Turnbull appears — at the outset — to be readying for one hell of a crack at both running an effective government and at re-election, which makes a refreshing change from the way things had been going under the previous regime.

Unless Shorten fixes his act — a tall ask at the best of times — he and his God-forsaken, union-dominated party will go down like a sack of shit whenever they face the voters, and it won’t matter how many de facto community forums “their ABC” engineers on their behalf: free publicity is one thing, but if all it is used for is to deliver vacuous drivel, intended audiences will look somewhere else for a message of genuine substance.



13 thoughts on “51-49 Newspoll: Messages For Turnbull, Shorten, Coalition

  1. Rookie error from Brough today..just as the opportunity to bring cross benches onboard. I think the PM needs a whip or three to “coach” the newly minted cabinet and focus them on outcomes before they air too many personal views. Brough stated the bleeding obvious, everyone knows the senate voting rules need reform, but hardly smart to toss a live grenade into the hands of media.

    • pressed send by mistake, meant to add. …Prosecute the case for change and let the media carry the arguments that bring the public pressure to bear. Then when the infrastructure is in place, make the change with the voters having already been convinced. Selling 101 – Evince not Evoke!!

    • Oh, I don’t know, Rick — the vested interests give every indication they believe they’ve protected their sinecures by cowering the Abbott government into submission; a case needs to be made publicly for this, and Brough isn’t going to make the requisite omelette without breaking a few eggs.

      The big question (and i will be saying so within the next day or two) is whether legislation can be put before Parliament twice, three months apart, ahead of any mooted double dissolution…one of my criticisms of the Abbott government is that it left nothing behind by way of triggers to pull (or at least, none worth pulling) and critically important measures like fixing the quagmire that has grown from Labor’s 1984 Senate sham are only going to go through in a joint sitting, methinks: Labor is dressing up short-term expediency as “outraged principle” and the Greens using this issue as something to belt the Coalition around with, whilst the crossbenchers mightn’t even survive an election on the current system, some of them.

      Brough needs a plan; he needs a sales pitch; and like any properly-executed attempt at controversial reform, he needs to explain what the problem is. If lobbing a hand grenade at people like Ricky Muir,. Bob Day and the disparate remains of the Palmer Party (two of whom think we should feel privileged to be blessed with more stupid “parties” based on personality cults, with themselves at their epicentre) starts that process, then I’m not going to fault him for it.

    • Promising words, QO, but I saw APAC last night (and have been following this exact story bore generally) too. Last night’s programme was a handy exercise in image rehabilitation but it doesn’t change the fact that those of us who know what was going on in that office also know Credlin wasn’t and isn’t the blindingly brilliant star that attempts being made in the media this week are attempting to suggest to the public.

      One thing I am sick of hearing, where Peta Credlin is concerned, is how she is being victimised on the basis of gender, and whilst I obviously can only speak for myself, as far as I’m concerned it has NOTHING to do with gender at all — the Credlin way JUST DIDN’T WORK. If it did, and if it had, Tony Abbott would still be Prime Minister today.

  2. Isn’t it amazing that the proponents of ‘Indiginous Rights’ decry current arrangements as “RACISM” while at the same time call for solutions based on race?

    Isn’t it amazing that the proponents of ‘Gender Equality’ decry current arrangements as “SEXIST” while at the same time call for solutions based on gender?

  3. From Piers Akerman’s blog. So true.
    “We two will get rid of Tony
    and you’ll be Australia’s PM
    Those 40 refusing to join us –
    Nobody cares about them
    We’ve plotted and planned it together
    and we’ve met in the dead of the night
    We’ve persuaded the young and the foolish –
    Everything’s going just right
    Of course we will have to act quickly
    Canning we know will be won
    They’ll have nothing for which to blame Tony
    and it could be that we’ll come undone
    There may be no chance in the future
    we’d best knobble Tony today
    Scott and Joe say they’re with us
    We should act without further delay
    Now we’d better both go and get ready
    It’s time that we fronted the Press
    It is all so exciting and heady
    I’ll be wearing my very best dress”

    She fussed and she skipped around Malcolm
    Here true colours right there on show
    She resembled a poor lovesick schoolgirl
    There in the very front row
    And Malcolm had that which he’d longed for,
    that which he did not deserve
    Surrounded by those he’d persuaded
    those who did not hold their nerve
    They were charmed by his words, oh so honeyed
    They couldn’t resist him at all
    You see Malcolm has plenty of money
    And some are by money enthralled
    There are millions who voted for Tony
    We knew he was trying his best
    We don’t like the look of the phony
    We don’t think he passes the test

  4. 31% of Americans think ‘climate change is a total hoax.
    “I’m going to read stances some candidates have taken on key issues. For each, please tell me if you
    strongly agree, mostly agree, mostly disagree, or strongly disagree.”

    Agree Disagree Strongly Agree Mostly Agree Mostly Disagree Strongly Disagree Not Sure
    Climate change is a total hoax
    31 65 17 14 20 45 4


    Like Voltaire, I prefer to define the terms before engaging in discussion. It can be pointless if the subject is defined differently by those discussing it. I refer to the definitions used by the IPCC. There are two. Let us first consider the first.

    “Climate change in IPCC usage refers to a change in the state of the climate that can be identified (e.g. using statistical tests) by changes in the mean and/or the variability of its properties, and that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer. It refers to any change in climate over time, whether due to natural variability or as a result of human activity.”

    This clearly refers to “the climate” which is nonsense in the same way that “the science” is nonsense. It suggests that “the climate” is in reference to the entire planet. Climate, by definition, is REGIONAL. The climate of a particular geographical location is described in systems including Koppen-Geiger, Holdridge, or Trewartha. In determination of the appropriate classification, many parameters are involved. It is impossible to determine some average of all of the regions of the planet in order to determine “the climate”. Only a classification system can attempt to measure a region’s climate. In order to determine whether or not there is a change, it is necessary to be able to measure it. Since there is no way to determine what “the climate” is, or in fact to measure it, the term “climate change” is meaningless nonsense.

    Now let us look at the definition used by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), where “climate change refers to a change of climate that is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and that is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods.”

    While human activity may well alter a regional climate through land use, there is nothing to suggest that human activity has any impact on the climate of a region by altering the composition of the “global atmosphere”. Again, this is not measurable, since the “global atmosphere” is not homogeneous, and the term is nonsense for the same reason that the term “global average temperature” in nonsense. Both terms are mathematically and thermodynamically impossible.

    Certainly, the climate of some regions changes classification completely (but that is pretty rare). The size and shape of a particular classification’s region may change over time. Certainly, the greening of the planet over recent decades creates changes when the discussion alludes to the Trewartha classification.

    Conclusion: The term “climate change’, in the current common vernacular, is nothing but jibber jabber.

      • I have a parchment on my office wall that says that says I have completed the prescribed course of study and passed the required examinations and therefore the degree of “Bachelor of Science” has been conferred.
        Is that OK with you? Dispute the content if you will. Otherwise shut the fuck up.

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