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Day to Day Politics: Perhaps I was wrong.

Wednesday 13 September 2017

The latest polling would suggest that I was wrong. Last week in a piece titled “Time to take Shorten Seriously”  I wrote that:

“The Coalition has for sometime been running a concerted character assassination job on the Leader of the Opposition but thus far has been unable to land a telling blow.”

I also said:

“He must now be seen as a serious contender for Prime Minister of Australia. He has put in the hard yards, given the government more than a fright, and demonstrated his political acumen.”

This week’s Essential Survey asked this question of both leaders:

Q. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Malcolm Turnbull is doing as Prime Minister?

  • 41% approved of the job Malcolm Turnbull is doing as Prime Minister (up 3% from last month), and 46% disapproved (no change) – a change in net approval rating from -8 to -5 (his best net rating since October last year).
  • 75% (up 2%) of Liberal/National voters approved of the job Malcolm Turnbull is doing, compared to 21% of ALP voters and 23% of Greens voters.
  • By gender, men were 45% approve/45% disapprove and women 36% approve/46% disapprove.

Q. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Bill Shorten is doing as Opposition Leader?

  • 36% approved of the job Bill Shorten is doing as Opposition Leader (up 1% from last month), and 47% disapproved (down 5%) – a change in net approval rating from -7 to -11.
  • 65% (no change) of ALP voters approved of the job Bill Shorten is doing, compared to 40% of Greens voters and 23% of Liberal/National voters.
  • By gender, men were 39% approve/50% disapprove and women 34% approve/43% disapprove.

The Fairfax IPOS Poll concluded that the approval ratings for both Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten have fallen since the poll last measured them in May. And fallen substantially!

“The Prime Minister was clinging, just, to a positive approval rating in May. That’s now turned negative. Turnbull’s net approval figure is minus 5 per cent.

That’s where Bill Shorten’s popularity level stood in May, and it’s fallen further, from minus 5 to minus 16, in today’s poll. In a survey with a margin of error of 2.6 per cent, these are real movements, not polling anomalies.

So both leaders, officially, are unpopular.”

The latest Newspoll shows Malcolm Turnbull increasing his lead and overall remains Australia’s preferred leader, at 46 per cent to Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s 29 per cent.

No matter which way one looks at it, both leaders are decidedly unpopular.

So when, in my piece I said its time to take Bill Shorten seriously, was I wrong? It would seem that, going by the latest surveys, both men are deeply unpopular. The reasons for it are simple to understand. ”It’s a matter of trust,” as the Billy Joel lyrics goes.

Turnbull turned out to be a hypocrite and Shorten’s history as a trade union leader might account for his unpopularity. But you really have to ask yourself if it really matters. After all, leaders do win elections when they are unpopular with the electorate. Howard and Keating are both examples of being extremely unpopular yet winning.

But you do have to ask in Shorten’s case if the tidal wave propaganda is actually working. There is not a Minister who isn’t describing Shorten as “Blackout Bill.” For me it’s all somewhat childish and lowers the character of the PM.

But as I said, does it really matter? Because its the “who” are you going to vote for that really gives us some insight into who will win the next election. If the figures were all over the place you wouldn’t take much notice. But they aren’t. Consistently they show Labor with a 6 to 8% lead (see below) that would result in a, if uniform, taking 15 or more seats off the government.

  • Sept 12 Essential 54/46
  • Sept 10 IPOS 53/47
  • Sept 9 Bludger Track combined 53.6/46.4
  • Sept 5 Essential 53/47
  • Sept 3 Newspoll 53/47
  • Sept 2 Bludger Track combined 53.6/46.4

And with little variation these figures can be traced back to the first poll post the last election.

But poll figures aside, when on earth are we going to get some bloody honesty? When, for example, will a leader stand up (I’m talking about the energy crisis) and say:

“Well, to be perfectly honest we have stuffed up big time. We have spent more time blaming each other than trying to fix the problem. I plan to do that now.

You might punish us for our inaction at the ballot box, but fix it we will.”

It might take balls, but it would win votes.

My thought for the day

“We never change until it gets to uncomfortable to stay the same.”


  1. Ella miller

    We seem to forget that Malcolm is a lawyer…he has learned to be convincing even when he is lying through his teeth. People seem to look at presentation as opposed to policies… HOW STUPID ARE WE?
    I wonder what would happen if the poll was on policies?

    Why have we not learned to look beyond the spin and listen for the inconsistencies in the message?

    The “kill Bill” policy is cutting through just as it did with Julia…..I feel sickened watching Question Time…latest phrase “Blackout Bill” yet we know the LNP have been in power for the past 4+ years..and the LNP knew the issues with gas…what did they do? NOTHING..

    So why is this question not being asked??? Also, the IPAS 100 item wish list..Latest get rid of the clean energy target, and, commission.

    The smooth talking Malcolm is selling the general public the Opera house and they are swallowing it hook line and sinker. SICKENING>

  2. Terry2

    No wonder Orwell’s 1984 has shot back into the best seller list as the dystopian society that he imagined becomes a reality.

    Poor Winston Smith had the job of rewriting history as the regime changed its messages .

    Memo :

    To Winston Smith
    From Malcolm Turnbull

    With immediate effect erase all historical references to a Clean Energy Target and substitute Affordable Energy Target

  3. Barry

    I don’t know what it is about with this PPM thing. I can’t vote for Shorten or Trumble. The only MHR I can vote for is my local member. If they happened to become LOTO or PM then I’d be voting for him/her in that position. So can we please put this PPM thing to bed for good.

  4. helvityni

    Spot on ,Ella miller; maybe Aussies are too easily dazzled by Mal’s better cut suits and his legal qualifications…

    I’m impressed with people who can see behind the surface, the man behind his suit, or the woman for that matter. Those kind of people vote in leaders like Angela Merkel, Tarja Halonen ( Finland) , Helen Clarke (NZ) and like Julia Gillard; it’s about policies, character, not about the outer… not about how much money they have amassed in your previous life…where you live ,or what size your bottom is…

    To tell the truth, I dislike Mal more than Tones…and Rudd in his nice suits was no match to Julia…

    Beware of narcissists…male or female.

  5. nurses1968

    The only poll of interest to the ALP is how Bill is doing in Maribyrnong
    62.3% 2PP last election and his popularity rising locally seems fine to me

  6. Jagger

    Of course the LNP and media are going to push the PPM figures, what else have they got, no plan, no vision and no bloody common sense.

  7. Jack

    They both come across as shifty as one another. When Abbott was PM, the majority of polls had Turnbull as preferred PM. Many of the left were even convinced that he’d be the better option. Low and behold, he wheels and deals his way in and then accomplishes……..nothing yet.

  8. Möbius Ecko

    Shorten’s PPM figures are roughly the same as Howard’s was when he won the election against Keating.

    PPM is a media thing and rarely influences election results, as much as the media would have you believe otherwise. Their latest spin on hyperbolising the importance of PPM poll numbers is to state that Australian elections have become US presidential like at the direction of the two major parties. This ignores the fact it’s been the media who have focused on the party leaders over everything else the party does and other party members, unless they stuff up, as well as party policy.

  9. Susan

    Good point Ella, polls would better serve us if based on questions of policy. But this is where we’re at in 2017 – party to mindless media surveys that could’ve been drawn up by pre-teens at the tuck shop. As promoted by MSM, there’s a powerful religion sweeping the land and it’s called Cult of Personality Politics, it’s central tenets: Thou shalt pay homage to the smooth talkers amongst thee and Sane policy get thee behind me!
    With a few exceptions, mainstream media equates to social devolution. Yet what chance they’d understand that today? They’ll become mature agents in social evolution when the time is ripe.

  10. Anomander

    It all comes down to the facile belief that image equals leadership.

    Shorten to me is bland, nondescript, rather boring. There is nothing that makes him stand out from the crowd. He may be a fantastic leader, but nobody would know it because he isn’t dazzling or doesn’t say things that get him noticed. In particular his voice – there’s no projection, no tangible feeling of passion or power that resonates from him. There is little that inspires or compels most people to want watch or to listen to Bill.

    Turnbull, on the other hand, with all his millions, in his harbourside mansion, in his nice suits does know how to project an image. Of course he is an appalling leader always kowtowing to the factions and extremists in his party. He is clearly a lying, decietful slug who is only interested in the position of being PM – You wouldn’t trust the slimy snake as far as you could throw him, but but he has the ability to talk big, the present in a compelling fashion, even when you know the bastard is clearly lying.

    And the MSM thrive on this, all they want is the 5 second snippet, the soundbite, the still photograph that conveys the message – and that is what they constantly feed-up to the public, along with the usual right-wing propaganda.

    We live in an age of image – people expect our leaders to be a figurehead, someone who stands-out from the crowd and who can inspire passion.

    On those points Shorten fails, or more likely, is not visible enough to be able to succeed.

  11. Rossleigh

    I think Möbius Ecko’s point is worth emphasising. Opposition leaders, both state and federal, rarely outpoll the incumbent. For example, even when Labor was completely on the nose in Victoria in 1992, Joan Kirner was still prefered leader by a good margin. Similarly, remember Tony Abbott’s ranking when he one the election? You don’t? That’s because it was never emphasised the way Shorten’s is. In real terms, the only figure that matters is the party’s vote in significant electorates. Even the overall figures don’t tell us the full story.
    I’m struggling to remember a occasion when an Opposition leader actually was the preferred leader, apart from Hawke in 1983. And he was only Opposition leader for a few weeks.

  12. wam

    Yesterday our paper printed a letter from a wattle park trained vietnam vet. He talks about desal plants, gonski, NBN and then the killer school halls and DEBT for my children and grandchildren.
    We might know the debt is doubled but labor’s AAA is still here but he doesn’t. Why doesn’t he know it?? Labor doesn’t find it necessary to remind him that the rabbott lied about debt. live interviews should begin with the rabbott et al as a debt doubler
    sorry, Lord bill listens to the kennedy spiel or catches ross river and goes.

    beauty Helvityni the tabbott is amoral with no ability to to go beyond opus dei belief whilst trumball is immoral and understands his disingenuous actions. But Australia is better now than 2014 and shorten cannot compete without taking risks and he has very little time left to move. I remember the man at Beaconsfield and supporting Gillard but he dumped her, fitzgibbon whiteanted her, husic was visibly sacred and albo preferred the lemon.
    There is only Tania to replace him.

  13. stephengb2014

    ‘Good Lord’ Mr Lord !
    Surely you are not succombing to the “kill bill” propaganda?

    Barry is dead right, well said !

    (No offense intended Mr Lord)

    S G B

  14. Möbius Ecko

    Tony Abbott is a good example as from the moment he entered politics he’s never ever been popular, and I dare say unpopular as a human being before he entered politics from what I’ve read.

    From the first time he began entering into poll numbers, as preferred leader of the Liberals for instance, he’s always polled abysmally low. It took a long and concerted effort of character assassination by the right in Australia and propping up Abbott with snow jobs to get him anywhere near Gillard, and even then it was only for a short time.

    Still, he became PM despite of that.

  15. auntyuta

    You ask: ” . . . when on earth are we going to get some bloody honesty?”
    Maybe big business won’t let them be ‘bloody honest’. Are there perhaps some vested interests involved?
    Have for instance some share holders more power than some ill informed voters?

  16. Lachlan

    Unfortunately, in answer to your question on honesty, we may never get a truly honest politician who is prepared to stand up snd admit they got it wrong, because the system in which they (politicians) function, quickly eliminate those that do.

  17. Kaye Lee


    “I dare say unpopular as a human being before he entered politics”

    In the first minute of this interview from 1979 when Tony was 21 the interviewer mentions the obscene graffiti around the uni about Abbott. If you haven’t heard it before, the interview is worth listening to. He hasn’t changed.

  18. stephen jones

    thankfully we are not voting in a presidential election , we will all vote in or out our local members, as a consequence regardless of the popularity vote assigned to bill by Murdoch , he will become our next elected prime minister then in 6 months try to remember the idiots who were on the current lnp front bench?i expect tony Abbott to make a last bold move to unseat his fatal enemy Malcolm turn bull?

  19. James Cook

    I don’t care about leaders’ popularity but I just wish Shorten would be natural. Every utterance is scripted and badly presented. Whoever his media advisors are need to be sacked. I wish he would talk to me, not “address” me,as if I were in close proximity and able to understand what he says without having to repeat the message or resoort to bad theatrics. Let Malcolm do the poor acting thing.

  20. guest

    The most accurate poll was the last election, when the Coalition lost so many seats. The pollsters at present are excited when Malcie puts on his bomber jacket and gets a slight rise in approval.

    So what has been happening lately? A winter break when we did not see the leaders very much. The Coalition waging a “kill Bill” war, calling him “Blackout Bill” as if SA for example has not had the lights on since last September. Malcie trying to resuscitate a coal-fired power station which the owners say is kaput. Malcie dreaming of a Snowy 2.0 scheme which has been investigated before and is unlikely to see light of day. The Coalition making no ground in the polls. The Coalition torn by the shonky postal plebiscite. Car manufacturers bailing out. The Coalition playing command market with its intervention in energy supply and cost, big government in its Welfare Card control, its testing for drugs and a strong interest in what happens in the bedrooms of the nation. And a whole parade of stupidity and indecision.

    There is nothing positive in the actions or the policies of this government. If the death of a butterfly in the Amazon jungle has some influence on the outcome of things, it seems this poll will have even less influence. We must not be conned into falling for alarmist negativity.

  21. Lawrence Winder

    The relentless targeting of Shortstuff will have its effect but reality and the distance between that and what this ruling rabble spin has a way of catching up and I think his demeanour will eventually as calm moderate speaker carry the day.

  22. Alan Luchetti

    As a creature who is 100% political in what policies he adopts, and where he goes missing, Shorten is an enduring disappointment to an electorate craving authenticity. The ALP exhibits the same failings in large degree, but Shorten exemplifies them.

  23. Marilyn Riedy

    Both major parties have an image problem and both are distrusted by the electorate! Turnbull has charisma but no leadership qualities whilst Shoten lacks charisma but has kept his party unified and definitely is a leader. He knows how to compromise and how to listen to concerns and under his leadership Labor have bounced back from the 2013 disaster.

    That said my concern is honesty and I agree that it is totally lacking in politics today. There are only a few in parliament today that seem to be able to stand up for what is right without the spin of the party line. Unless there is real change to the attack and blame tactics and an end to the secrecy and backroom negotiations then I cannot forsee any improvement in government whatever party is in power!

  24. Maidos Laventie

    The Tursbull is a no goer as can someone tell me just WHAT and the lying no policy party, have really done in the last two years besides NOTHING. Shorten is NOT the bareheaded union man you saw on your TV screens back in Beaconsfield all those years ago, that man had INTEGERITY this man does not. The Bill Shorten you see today is a far cry from the man who waited long agonizing hours, until those men walked out of that mine alive, into the waiting arm of their loved ones. This Bill Shorten has lost his soul to the party machine and will always do as the party wants right or wrong, chase the ticket that will bring us good revues chase the policy’s that we can hammer away at to force people to accept whether they like them or not. Neither man should be running for the position of leader of our country as neither of them know or care what the man in the street wants or thinks. We need a man like Donald Trump who loves his country and will do everything to put his country FIRST. Not sell it and everything else overseas.

  25. helvityni

    “Turnbull has charisma”

    Well, I for one, haven’t seen, sensed or experienced it; I see a smug, egocentric man, who seems to get angry if he does not get his way…
    All that childish name-calling is not a sign of a civilised, confident person.

  26. wam

    guest ‘we must not be conned..’ how many years of saying that till a gough, hawke or a rudd turns up? 23 7 12 then in between, we are conned by the lnp media and labor is led by lovely blokes but who would elect evatt, calwell, crean, latham, beazley? Is shorten one of those or can he be different?
    Labor needs to use the live interviews to avoid the disingenuous cuts the media make to diminish his message..
    oops helvityni the winning is the aim the how is dependent on circumstances so to look and sound civilised and confident is enough.

  27. guest

    Alan Luchetti @1:37

    “Shorten is 100% political…” You prefer a leader who is not political? Can a leader be “authentic” and not political? Is Turnbull authentic and political? I do not think so. What are you going to do if there is no one who satisfies your rant?

    Marilyn Riedy @1:41

    You show that Shorten is a leader – and then you stab him in the back on “honesty”. And what is the charge? That he toes the party line. What do you want? Who are the eople who do not follow the party line? What do they achieve? And you write about how Shorten can reach compromises and then you do not want any backroom deals. You are asking too much of Shorten. Perhaps you need to follow Turnbull who will make deals with anyone at the drop of a hat if he thinks he can swing a deal – especially if it pleases the right-wing party line. Is Turnbull “honest” when he drops all he espoused a few years ago and now tries to sell us discredited policies?

    Maidos Laventie @1:50

    You have not demonstrated how Shorten “lost” his integrity. You also follow Marilyn’s line about following part lines and try, you say, to make people follow policies people do not want. Is that not what politics is all about? So Turnbull and Shorten should be more like Trump. He loves his country? Trump loves Trump – even his own party does not completely believe in him and there are riots in the streets almost daily. Is that what you want?

    wam @2:07

    No good going back into the past. Deal with the present. So we are conned, if we allow it. And the MSM is part of that con. We have to show it for what it is. So how are we going to get the MSM to change its ways? We listen to what Shorten says, especially when he speaks at length. He is clear and consistent in what he says. Or do you prefer Turnbull, who bluffs and blusters about and stumbles over what he says because he is so insincere in the right-wing garble he tries to spread? He does not sound confident at all, As for circumstances, Turnbull is way out of touch and is dragging Oz down into irrelevance and disaster. Think on it!

  28. totaram

    Guest at 5.17: You have just said what I wanted to say.

    I recall going through a training program to make us better at interviewing candidates for a position. The training involved pointing out sources of bias and making us sensitive to how our unconscious biases could influence our evaluation of the candidates. The evaluation was supposed to be strictly according to the criteria of the job description, so eliminating unconscious biases was important.

    One of the first things we learnt was that body language is culturally determined. For example, some of our aboriginal cultures consider it rude to make eye contact in certain situations. In a “typical” aussie situation, this is interpreted as being “shifty” – something completely wrong if the person comes from that culture. I could go on, but the point is that James Cook and Alan Luchetti are falling into those unconscious bias traps.

    We need to listen to the substance of what the person is saying. Then we need to estimate the probability that the person will carry through on what he/she is saying. That can only be decided by looking at the history of the person’s statements and actions. In politics, it is necessary to even look at the stance of the entire party. What are the party’s policies? We expect the leader to adhere to the party’s policies, and we look to the past to see if previous leaders have done that. The rest is irrelevant. I don’t find Bill Shorten to be “unauthentic” whatever that means. But then I discount silly body-language type signals. Neither do I find him “unnatural”, whatever that means. These are all meaningless distractions. So is “charisma”. By now people should have learned not to fall for “charisma”. Adolf Hitler achieved it by practicing for hours before a mirror, and carefully stage-managing his appearances once he was in power. Is that what we want?

    The only danger is the influence of “donations and donors” on the party’s policies. This govt. has shown us how bad this influence can get. The most important issue is to sort out this problem. Currently, we can only hope that a new govt. with Bill Shorten at the helm will bite this bullet. If we, the people, make it very clear that we want this change, perhaps he will indeed bring it about. What better can we hope for?

  29. Glenn Barry

    Challenge that Turnbull is in any was shape or form:
    or worthy of being the recipient of any positive adjectives in description of his personality whatsoever…
    You only have to witness his performances in parliament and his inability to make a convincing case based on any facts whatsoever – he truly believes that if his mouth is moving and words are coming out that he is winning.
    Performances that would see a 12 Y.O. fail miserably in a school debate

  30. Peter Lynch

    How can Shorten be himself and become more acceptable when he is complicit in the continuation of our Gulags in Manus and Nauru?
    He must really be ashamed of himself.

  31. Nato

    Yes. Yes you were wrong. You are wrong a lot. It is wrong to take ANY politician seriously.
    I’ll even add in your Thought For The Day.
    Incentives work more than punishment.
    There are more smokers today than this day last year. So many more that the percentage of the population that smokes is higher than this day last year. And it’s a bigger population. This is the first time that has happened in decades
    We change when a better option is offered.
    Giving the big finger to namby pamby douchebags is a Very Good option. Turnbull, Shorten, Di Natale, Hanson, Bernardi, it doesn’t matter. Give ’em all da finger.

  32. Vicki Cox

    Mmmm I really think that Bill Shorten and his wonderful team have got the chutzpah great policies, consistent with their ability to bring the issues of what Australian’s want NDIS SAFE SCHOOLS MARRIAGE EQUALITY MEDICARE etc they are sticking to what they are good at and the Turdball Liberal government seems to run every policy, government dept into complete disarray. It’s the worse government I have ever witnessed the highest debt Australia’s ever had, shit NBN,centrelink fiasco the citizenship shitstorm , the postal crap 122 million down the drain, the poor refugees my god I could sit here all night and list the shit they have been serving up to the taxpayers.
    Thanks to all those idiots that voted for them, do yourself a favor and read more than Rupert drip feeds you.

  33. John Lord

    I don’t think in the article that I

  34. John Lord

    The article simply demonstrates the power of propaganda.

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