GhostWhoVotes tweets that a Galaxy poll on federal voting intention in Queensland gives the Coalition a two-party lead of 57-43 – a seven-point turn-around in Labor’s favour since the last such poll three months ago, suggesting a swing to the Coalition/LNP of only 2% since the 2010 election. Leaving aside the Labor-skewed Morgan face-to-face series, the last time a published poll of federal voting intention showed a swing that low was the Newspoll of May 27-29, 2011, which had the Coalition leading 52-48 nationally. The only Queensland seat Labor would lose on a uniform swing of that size would be Moreton, held by Graham Perrett on a margin of 1.1% (the present numbers in Queensland are 21 seats for the LNP, eight for Labor and one for Bob Katter). The primary votes are 30% for Labor (up seven on the previous poll) and 49% for the Coalition (down seven). The poll also finds 52% detecting little or no impact of the carbon tax on their household budget, against 15% for “major impact” and 27% for “minor impact”. New asylum seeker laws are rated “strong” by 26% of respondents, “inhumane” by 18% and “too little too late” by 51%. The poll was conducted on Wednesday and Thursday from a sample of 800, and has a margin of error of about 3.5%.
UPDATE: The Sunday Mail today has further results from the poll which show two out of three people believe the Premier is going too far with his proposal to cut 20,000 public sector jobs, together with figures showing widespared feelings of job insecurity, particularly among government employees.
Further evidence of the Queensland elastic snapping back was provided earlier this week by ReachTEL, which conducted automated phone polls of three seats out of the many which the LNP won from Labor at the state election. These showed Labor leading in two of the seats and lineball in the third. My own calculation of two-party preferred results based on preferences from the previous election had Labor leading 60-40 in Sandgate, a swing to the of 13%, and 51-49 in Brisbane Central, a swing to them of 6%. I had the LNP 51-49 ahead in Towsville, but Possum has it at 51-49 in Labor’s favour – no doubt having used a formula that took better account of the decline of the Katter’s Australian Party vote. The poll also found Campbell Newman’s personal ratings in Sandgate and Townsville in Tony Abbott if not Julia Gillard territory, though he scored better in Brisbane Central. There was similarly a strong view he had not kept his promises in Sandgate and Townville, but an even divide of opinion in Brisbane Central. The samples on each poll were around 400, for margins of error approaching 5%.
And not forgetting …
Seat of the week: Lingiari
I’ve previously been limited my Seat of the Week choices to seats where both parties have preselected candidates, but am making an exception today in a spirit of keeping things topical. The federal seat of Lingiari covers the entirety of the Northern Territory outside of Darwin, which for the most part will play second fiddle during tomorrow night’s election count: whereas Darwin’s suburbs teem with marginal seats, the remainder is largely divided between Country Liberal Party strongholds in Alice Springs and Labor strongholds elsewhere. However, the tea-leaves of the regional and remote results will be read carefully for federal implications given Labor member Warren Snowdon’s narrow margin in Lingiari, and recent rumours of Labor internal polling showing him headed for defeat.
The Northern Territory was first granted its own seat in the federal parliament in 1922, but its member did not attain full voting rights until 1968. Perhaps not coincidentally, the seat had recently fallen to Sam Calder of the Country Party after a long period of Labor control. The Country Liberal Party was established in 1978 as a local alliance between coalition parties to contest elections in the the newly established Northern Territory parliament, and Grant Tambling succeeded Calder as its members upon the latter’s retirement at the 1980 election. Tambling was unseated by Labor’s John Reeves in 1983, and returned as a Senator four years later. The seat thereafter changed hands with some regularity: future Chief Minister Paul Everingham recovered it for the CLP in 1984, Warren Snowdon won it back for Labor in 1987, Nick Dondas held it for the CLP for one term from 1996, and Snowdon recovered it in 1998.
The population of the Northern Territory is such that it consistently hovers between an entitlement of one or two seats according to the formula used to allocate seats to the states and territories. It first rose above the line prior to the 2001 election, resulting in the territory’s division between Solomon, covering Darwin, and Lingiari, which in accommodating the entire remainder of the territory is the second largest electorate in geographical terms after Durack in Western Australia. However, when the Australian Electoral Commission next conducted its mid-term determination of seat entitlements the Northern Territory had fallen 295 residents short of the number required to its second seat. With Labor and the Coalition both convinced they could win both seats at the 2004 election, the parliament proved amenable to arguments that the determination left the territory under-represented, and passed legislation to reinstate the second seat. Solomon and Lingiari accordingly have the lowest enrolments of any seats in Australia at around 62,000, compared with a national average of about 95,000 (which together with the extensive use of mobile booths explains the scarcity of numbers on the 2010 results map at the bottom of the post).
Lingiari is notable for having by far the highest proportion of indigenous persons of any seat in the country, at 41.8% against 15.7% for second-placed Durack. Relatedly, and depressingly, it also has the lowest median age of any electorate. The support of Aboriginal voters has given Labor enough of a base to have kept the seat in their hands, despite CLP strength in pastoral areas and the urban centres of Alice Springs, Katherine and Tennant Creek. Labor’s margins have progressed over four elections from 5.3% to 7.7% to 11.2% to 3.7%. The diversity of the electorate’s components can make for enormously complicated election results, as demonstrated by local swings over the last three elections. In the wake of the Howard government’s intervention into Aboriginal communities before the 2007 election, mobile polling booths swung 8.4% to Warren Snowdon off an already very high base of 78.7%. However, it was a very different story in 2010, when these booths swung to the CLP by no less than 28.1% – a result variously put down to the troubled Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Program, the actions of newly merged regional councils, and the ongoing suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act by the new Labor government. Remarkably, the swings in Alice Springs were in the opposite direction, with Snowdon down 2.6% in 2007 and up 8.4% in 2010. In Tennant Creek the Labor vote fell from 58.7% to 34.2% while the Greens rocketed from 4.6% to 33.7%, a result credited to the Muckaty Station nuclear waste dump proposal.
Snowdon is a figure in Labor’s Left faction, and has held junior ministry positions since the Rudd government came to power in 2007. He had earlier been a parliamentary secretary during his first stint as a member from 1990 to 1996, again reaching the position in opposition after the 2001 election. After the 2007 election win he received a substantial promotion to the junior defence science and personnel ministry, which Glenn Milne in The Australian credited to his close association with Julia Gillard. Snowdon was demoted to indigenous health, rural and regional services after Joel Fitzgibbon resigned as Defence Minister in June 2009, which Philip Dorling of the Canberra Times put down to incoming Defence Minister John Faulkner’s “longstanding lack of enthusiasm” for him, “and perhaps more specific concerns about the contribution Mr Snowdon’s office may have made in the past week to Fitzgibbon’s downfall”. He recovered defence science after the 2010 election and further gained veterans affairs, while dropping rural and regional services.
William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, is one of the most heavily trafficked forums for online discussion of Australian politics, and joined the Crikey stable in 2008.