The Australian reports the latest Newspoll (the first in three weeks, following a break for the long weekend) has Labor recovering three points from their record low primary vote last time, but continuing to languish on 29 per cent. The Coalition also picked up a point on the primary vote, to 49 per cent, and maintains a two-party preferred lead of 57-43, down from 58-42 last time. The Greens have dropped a point to 12 per cent, with “others” taking most of the damage from the higher major party vote. The Prime Minister’s personal ratings remain dismally low, with approval up a point to 28 per cent and disapproval down one to 60 per cent. Tony Abbott is up slightly, by two points on approval to 36 per cent with disapproval down a point to 53 per cent. The preferred prime minister is unchanged with Abbott leading 40 per cent to 35 per cent. Newspoll has also has responses for best party to handle various issues: these have Labor going back on all measures since the question was last asked before the election, which is entirely predictable given the normal pattern of these responses following in the direction of voting intention.

This follows today’s Essential Research poll which had the Coalition lead steady at 55-45, from primary votes of 33 per cent for Labor and 48 per cent for the Coalition (both steady), and 10 per cent for the Greens (down one). Further questions suggest the public has trouble distinguishing between the four independents: those who back the government, Rob Oakeshott, Tony Windsor and Andrew Wilkie, all have approval ratings of 23 per cent or 24 per cent and disapproval ratings of between 32 per cent to 34 per cent. Bob Katter performs slightly better, with 27 per cent approval and 36 per cent disapproval. The broad hostility to the independents individually is reflected by the unpopularity of the balance of power arrangement overall. Only 22 per cent consider it to have been good for Australia – a substantial worsening since polls in the early part of the year, the more recent of which (on June 6) had it at 28 per cent. The bad rating is up from 39 per cent to 50 per cent.

Questions on poker machine reform suggest that while Clubs Australia’s grand finals advertising blitz may have had some impact, the public remains strongly in favour of mandatory pre-commitment on poker machines. The level of support is down to 61 per cent from 67 per cent four weeks ago, which opposition up five points to 30 per cent. Respondents were also asked to nominate a figure which “reflects the social cost of problem gamblers in Australia”, and opponents seemed reluctant to do so: 42 per cent opted for don’t know compared with 25 per cent among supporters. Those that did name a figure tended to come in at well below the $4.7 billion indicated by the Productivity Commission, with options of $1 billion or lower chosen by 44 per cent ($100 million being the most favoured), compared with 9 per cent for $5 billion and 5 per cent for $10 billion. Once appraised of the Productivity Commission result, support for pokies reform returned roughly to the level it was at four weeks ago. Respondents were also advised that 2.7 per cent of poker machine revenue was invested into the community, and it seems that for some this was enough: support for reform then came down to 57 per cent, with opposition at 31 per cent.

Misha Schubert of the Sydney Morning Herald has also brought tidings of a Galaxy poll of the electorate of Melbourne which shows Greens incumbent Adam Bandt headed for an easy victory regardless of what the Liberals do with their preference recommendation. Bandt’s primary vote is at 44 per cent against 29 per cent for Labor and 23 per cent for the Liberals, which compares with respective results at last year’s election of 36.2 per cent, 38.1 per cent and 21.0 per cent. This would translate into a 65-35 win for Bandt if Liberal and other preferences were allocated as per the 2010 election result: an anti-Labor swing of 9 per cent in Labor-versus-Greens. We are told that if the Liberals put Labor ahead of the Greens on their preference recommendation, as they did to such devastating effect at the Victorian state election, Bandt would still emerge 56-44 in front – exactly the result he achieved at the election. This result appears to have been arrived at by splitting Liberal preferences 60-40 in Labor’s favour rather than the usual 80-20, which seems soundly based on results from the state election. The poll was conducted two weeks ago from an unspecified sample size, and I’m guessing was conducted for a corporate or peak body client (UPDATE: It’s been pointed out to me that the article notes it was conducted for the Greens).

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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