Newspoll has Labor narrowing the two-party gap from 54-46 a fortnight ago to 53-47, with Labor on 32 per cent of the primary vote (up three), the Coalition on 44 per cent (down one) and the Greens on 12 per cent (down three from an aberrant result last time). On all measures, this is Labor’s strongest and the Coalition’s weakest result since May 27-29. Tony Abbott is up two on disapproval to a new high of 57 per cent, with his approval steady on 34 per cent. Julia Gillard is on 30 per cent and 60 per cent, down one in each case. Abbott leads as preferred prime minister 40-39, narrowing from 39-36 last time.

Also:

• The latest weekly Essential Research poll has Labor up a point to 35 per cent, the Coalition down one to 46 per cent and the Greens down one to 9 per cent. Two-party preferred has also edged a point in Labor’s favour, from 55-45 to 54-46. This is Labor’s best result on two-party since June 14, and on the primary vote since May 16. It exactly replicates Morgan in finding 35 per cent approving of Qantas’s shutdown, but disapproval is 53 per cent rather than 61 per cent. A question on who is to blame substitutes “workers” for “unions” and includes a “both equally” option: the results are 41 per cent management, 20 per cent workers and 31 per cent both. Respondents were also asked whether they approved or disapproved of various parties’ handling of the matter, with pretty much equally bad results for the government, opposition, management, workers (although here the “strongly disapprove” rating was relatively low), Alan Joyce and “union leaders”. Julia Gillard and the government recorded 30 per cent approval and 59 per cent disapproval, against 27 per cent and 45 per cent for Tony Abbott and the opposition. The one party that emerged favourably was Fair Work Australia, with 55 per cent and 21 per cent. There are also questions on media usage which point to an increasing use of the internet as a news source, but not to the extent that respondents would be willing to pay for the content (9 per cent say likely, 88 per cent unlikely).

Roy Morgan has published preferred Labor and Liberal leader figures from last week’s phone poll. Kevin Rudd leads Julia Gillard 31 per cent to 24 per cent, which sounds better for Gillard than recent Galaxy polls (which unlike Morgan didn’t provide the option of other candidates) which had Rudd leading 53-29 in mid-October and 60-26 in early October. However, it’s almost exactly the same as the result of a similarly framed question from Essential Research in May, which had Rudd leading 32-23. Malcolm Turnbull leads Tony Abbott 38-24, compared with 25-22 from Essential in May and 28-24 from Morgan in March.

• Michael McKenna of The Australian reports LNP treasurer Barry O’Sullivan is “being mooted as a candidate to replace one of two Queensland senators likely to leave the upper house ahead of the next federal election”, namely Barnaby Joyce, who is plotting a move to the lower house, and Ron Boswell, who recently confirmed to The Australian that he is considering retiring. This emerged before yesterday’s reports from Steven Wardill of the Courier-Mail that O’Sullivan “allegedly held a bet at the last federal election where the winner was promised a trip to Bali with two virgins”, and that he “boasted to colleagues about calling one of Queensland’s top cops during an investigation into financial irregularities within the party”. O’Sullivan has also made headlines recently over his robust handling of a recalcitrant state election candidate and involvement in procuring “dirt files” on Labor identities.

Phillip Hudson of the Herald-Sun reports the Greens will run an “open” how-to-vote card in Adam Bandt’s seat of Melbourne, rather than direct preferences to Labor. But given the certainty that the Greens will make it to the final count in this electorate, the destination of their preferences is neither here nor there. Antony Green further dissects the limited impact of Greens preference recommendations.

• Heath Aston of the Sun-Herald reports that the Greens’ Senate preselection in NSW looms as a turf war between Bob Brown and Lee Rhiannon, who are respectively said to support state upper house MPs John Kaye and Jeremy Buckingham.

• An opinion piece by William A. Galston in the New York Times cites the Australian example in advocating compulsory voting to redress America’s “intensely polarized politics”, which he says “impedes governance and exacerbates mistrust”. If the recent tenor of political debate in Australia might cause one to look askance at such an observation, it should be noted that American academic Shanto Iyengar observed after a recent trip to our shores that “Australian political discourse appears relatively elevated, at least by American standards”.

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