Antony Green blogs on three developments in electoral and parliamentary reform so I don’t have to. To cut some long stories short:

• An all-party agreement to revert the Tasmanian Legislative Assembly to 35 members, from which it was cut to 25 in 1998, has fallen through after Opposition Leader Will Hodgman withdrew support in a riposte to government budget cuts.

• After flirting with a self-interested reversion to compulsory preferential voting, which was ditched in favour of the superior optional preferential model in 1992, the Queensland government has confirmed no such change will occur before the next election.

• The Australian Electoral Commission’s submission to the parliamentary inquiry into last year’s election has called for the federal parliament to follow the lead of New South Wales and Queensland in allowing enrolment to be updated automatically using data available from schools, utilities and such, thereby relieving voters of the bureaucratic annoyance that is currently required of them in discharge of their legal obligation. Antony Green also reports “rumours the Federal government plans to legislate on the matter”. Given the standard of discourse from some elements of the media in recent times, this could get interesting.

On a related note, British voters go to the polls on May 5 to decide whether to replace their archaic first-part-the-post electoral system with the manifestly superior “alternative vote”, or optional preferential voting as we know it in Australia. Antony Green has been working overtime lately responding to the avalanche of tosh being disseminated by the “no” campaign in its efforts to deceive the voters into making the wrong decision.

With no Morgan poll this week, here are some reports on Coalition internal polling which you can believe or not believe according to taste.

The Australian reports a poll conducted for the Nationals in the wake of the carbon tax announcement had 40 per cent of voters in Lyne taking a favourable view of Rob Oakeshott, against 52 per cent unfavourable. This is said to compare with a poll conducted before the 2008 by-election that brought him to federal parliament which had his approval rating at 71 per cent and disapproval at just 8 per cent.

Simon Benson of the Daily Telegraph reports a Coalition poll conducted for the NSW election shows 62 per cent “firmly against” the government’s carbon tax proposal, with only 18 per cent in favour.

UPDATE (7/3/11): The first Essential Research poll taken almost entirely after the carbon tax announcement has the Coalition opening up a 53-47 lead. Considering Labor went from 51-49 ahead to 52-48 behind on the basis of last week’s polling, half of which constituted the current result, that’s slightly better than they might have feared. The Coalition is up two points on the primary vote to 47 per cent, Labor is down one to 36 per cent and the Greens are steady on 10 per cent. Further questions on the carbon tax aren’t great for Labor, but they’re perhaps at the higher end of market expectations with 35 per cent supporting the government’s announcement and 48 per cent opposed. Fifty-nine per cent agreed the Prime Minister had broken an election promise and should have waited until after the election, while 27 per cent chose the alternative response praising her for showing strong leadership on the issue. Nonetheless, 47 per cent support action on climate change as soon as possible, against only 24 per cent who believe it can wait a few years and 19 per cent who believe action is unnecessary (a figure you should keep in mind the next time someone tries to sell you talk radio as a barometer of public opinion). There is a question on who should and shouldn’t receive compensation, but I’d doubt most respondents were able to make much of it.

Tellingly, a question on Tony Abbott’s performance shows the electorate very evenly divided: 41 per cent are ready to praise him for keeping the government accountable but 43 per cent believe he is merely obstructionist, with Labor-voting and Coalition-voting respondents representing a mirror image of each other. Twenty-seven per cent believe independents and Greens holding the balance of power has been good for Australia against 41 per cent bad, but I have my doubts about the utility of this: partisans of both side would prefer that their own party be in majority government, so it would have been good to have seen how respondents felt about minority government in comparison with majority government by the party they oppose.

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