The Australian reports the first Newspoll of the year has Labor’s two-party lead down from 56-44 to 54-46. Kevin Rudd’s approval rating is down three points to 57 per cent, his second lowest rating since the election. Labor are down three points on the primary vote to 40 per cent, which has gone to the Greens (up one to 12 per cent) and other (up two to 10 per cent) – the Coalition is steady on 38 per cent. Kevin Rudd’s approval rating is down six points to 52 per cent, disapproval is up two to 34 per cent and uncommitted is up four to 14 per cent. Also featured are Tony Abbott’s first personal ratings from Newspoll: at 40 per cent his approval rating is similar to Turnbull’s pre-Utegate, while his 35 per cent disapproval is slightly lower. Rudd’s lead as preferred prime minister is 57-25, down from 60-23 on Abbott’s debut in the final Newspoll last year and exactly where it was in the last poll before Utegate.

This chart shows the number of times Labor has recorded particular two-party results in the 48 Newspolls conducted since the 2007 election, which places the latest poll among Labor’s five weakest results:


Today has also seen the first Essential Research survey of the new season which has Labor’s lead at 56-44, down from 57-43 on December 21 and at the lower end of Essential’s usual range. Kevin Rudd’s approval rating of 55 per cent is the lowest yet recorded by Essential, although his 33 per cent disapproval is two points lower than the November 30 survey. Tony Abbott’s ratings have improved slightly on his December 14 debut, his approval up three to 37 per cent and disapproval up one to 36 per cent. Further questions find respondents optimistic about economic prospects, though less so than late last year (note the stunning turnaround on this measure from early to late last year).

Note of caution: Possum has observed that “when you look over the history of polls that happen in the Christmas/New Year period going back forever, you find them being more ‘all over the place’ than you tend to find at any other period (with the possible exception of Easter)”. Not sure how late into January this applies.


• Karen Brown, chief-of-staff to WA Opposition Leader Eric Ripper and unsuccessful state election candidate for Mount Lawley, has scotched suggestions she will run for the marginal Liberal federal seat of Cowan. The West Australian has reported party state executive member Alex Banzic, who is “understood to work for Melbourne-based EG property group as an investment manager”, is the only nominee so far, although it last week reported staffer Sam Roe as a possible entrant.

• The Northern Star reports Tweed councillor Joan van Lieshout has won the local ballot for Liberal preselection in the north coast New South Wales federal seat of Richmond, although there remains the formality of endorsement by the state executive. The Liberals have never held the seat, and have not contested it since 1996, although its increasingly urban character is such that they would be as likely to win it as the Nationals if it returned to the conservative fold. Labor’s Justine Elliot has held the seat since defeating Nationals member Larry Anthony in 2004. The Nationals candidate will be Pottsville pharmacist Tania Murdock.

• The Esperance Express names Ian Bishop, former adviser to state government ministers Kim Chance and John Bowler (the latter now an independent aligned with the Nationals), as Labor’s candidate to run against Wilson Tuckey in O’Connor.

• The ABC reports Queanbeyan councillor John Barilaro and New South Wales Farmers Association executive councillor Mark Horan have nominated for Nationals preselection in the state seat of Monaro, which Labor’s Steve Whan retained in 2007 by a margin of 6.3 per cent.