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Canberra watch « Previous | |Next »
July 13, 2007

It is beginning to look as if the Coalition is in trouble, doesn't it? Deep trouble. The atmosphere is changing. Small mistakes that mean nothing in themselves (forgetting names, smug lines on housing affordability and food prices delivered with a sneer) become symbolic, and an indication of the formation a new more critical way of judging. The Liberal talking points no longer resonate:


A political shift is beginning to take place--the anti-Keating political constellation or political bloc that was put in place in 1996 is now unravelling. The ALP is now setting the agenda and the Liberals are responding, whilst the Liberal attacks on Rudd are water off a ducks back.

Laura Tingle in the Australian Financial Review says:

There has inevitably been a lot of discussion in Canberra about the government seems to be making so many unenforced errors of late, from last weeks' oil debacle, to whether a travel warning to Indonesia was upgraded or reissued to forgetting the name of the candidate for Franklin. Many believe it is just a reflection of how rattled the government is: that ministers just never believed that Rudd would be able to get and maintain the traction he has, and that they had got out of the habit of anticipating an effective opposition.

Maybe. Tingle also canvasses the effects of staff changes in the Prime Ministers' office. Maybe again. She mentions the attack on the Labor state's economic credibility has been ineffective in attacking federal Labor's economic credibility.

But it is not just a question of political tactics and strategy is it? These are not biting in the electorate like they used to because of the melting of the 1996 political alignment or bloc. The fault lines are shifting, as can be seen from the graphs interpreting Newspoll at Possum's Pollytics. There are large movements in the primary vote toward the ALP with women deserting the Coalition.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 1:00 PM | | Comments (10)


The quarterly Newspoll, (ie., one in which a meaningful sample can be gathered for each state from the normal fortnightly samplings) is not good for Government MP's.

It shows a two party preferred swing against the Coalition of 12.2 percentage points in NSW, 11.1 points in Queensland, nine points in Victoria and 10.4 points in South Australia. In the economically booming Western Australia the swing is put at “only” 5.5 points. Nationally the swing as measured from April to July is 9.8 points – 9.5 in the five capitals cities and 12.2 outside of them.

An actual result in these state along the lines of this Newspoll would be absolutely disastrous for the Coalition.

You can see the back-room boys in a dither right now. Dump Howard? Will that make things worse or better? Surely we can win? When Johny calls the election everything will change? What if the polls stay the same? Too late then to change. Any change has to come now. Who to go with into the election? Chooose Costello to go into damage control or in hope of changing the wind might actually double the loss! Thats an even bigger risk. I think they have to stay with Howard, he might win but probably not, however he represents the best damage control person as well.

you've caught the tensions within Coalition ranks well as the Coalition's powerbase starts to crumble. I agree with you when you say:

I think they have to stay with Howard, he might win but probably not, however he represents the best damage control person as well.

It is the continuing consistency of Labor's high national popular support - its primary vote - that is undermining and the Coalition. As Alan Ramsay points out in the Sydney Morning Herald:
The primary vote is the key. Labor's poor primary vote has been terminal for years. It did Simon Crean in and Mark Latham, too. It surged into life with Rudd's leadership ascendancy seven months ago. It has remained solid all year. Nothing Howard has done has eroded either it or Rudd's political dominance.

The Coalition has been stuck at 39 per cent since January. Time is beginning to run out, and the ALP is looking increasingly confident and assured as the alternative government.

The Age's AC Nielsen poll says that the Labor Opposition is ahead 58 per cent (up one point) to the Coalition's 42 per cent (down one) on a two-party basis.

Labor has a 10-point lead in primary votes, rising one point to 49 per cent, while the Coalition remains steady on 39 per cent in the national poll of 1412, taken from Thursday to Saturday.

This is the 15th successive month that the ALP has led.The senior ministers must be scratching their heads whilst the backbench must be starting to panic.

Isn't June /July the time when the polls have started to shift back to the Howard government in the past? Isn't this the time the Coalition had been hoping for some clawback of Labor's lead, especially as people feel the benefits of the budget payouts and tax relief.

I can recall commenting on this site, probably 18 months or more ago, that the winds of political change were blowing.

I certainly didn't foresee the looming tidal wave that appears to be building in the electorate.

I can't see any way for the Coalition to recover. They have lost the ear of the voter.

This isn't a baseball bat election, as 96 is portrayed. This is the Big Brother election, where the Australian people have just become bored by the current lot and feel like a change.

I reckon you are right re your comment that "the Australian people have just become bored by the current lot and feel like a change."

The other side of the coin is that a technocratic Rudd is very non-threatening. He often sounds like a younger version of Howard on non-IR issues. It is a most conservative ALP that is presenting itself as an alternative government.

Tony Abbott had the talking points down when he told the ABC Radio National this morning that

"it would be fair to say that governments normally do well in the polls if all of the economic indicators are good and if it is a strong united team. This has been a good Government by all standard measures, not perfect because no-one's perfect, but it's been a good Government. Sometimes we scratch our heads when we see these polls, all you can really do is get on with being a good government.”

They need to do more than that. Oh, Abbott added:

"I remain reasonably optimistic ... the public have a right to vote for whomsoever they wish and they have a right, if they wish, to replace a good government with an inept Opposition.They have that right, but, nevertheless, I have always been confident in the basic good sense of the Australian people. So we will just keep going forward up to the election and hopefully beyond."

They will be doing more than going forward to the election as if nothign is happening.

what Abbott is saying is that the message from the polls is that they don't mean anything. The "the only real poll is on polling day" etc etc. I'm not persauded that this is what the polls are saying.

Abbott's arrogance is astounding.

He is still pushing the "the electorate hasn't woken up to the evil ALP/union thugs yet".

It's an incredible line he has been pushing for a while now - and I don't know who is sanctioning it, because I don't think that average voters like to be basically called stupid by the likes of Abbott.

They must be worried if yesterday's Cabinet meeting spent most of the day addressing campaign issues instead of strongly governing. So much for the claim that continuing to govern strongly is the best chance of recovery.

Most of the tv grabs I saw yesterday were from Government Ministers concentrating on their talking points that they had good policies then trying to portray Labor as insubstantial.