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Poll showing primary vote collapse puts Zed in ‘danger territory’

Ian Bushnell 4 March 2019 180

Senator Zed Seselja: this could be his toughest fight.

New polling on the coming Senate vote in the ACT would have set the alarm bells ringing in Zed Seselja’s office, according to political observer John Warhurst.

Polling conducted for UnionsACT at the end of January and released at the weekend shows the Liberal vote collapsing and Senator Seselja at risk of losing his Senate seat.

The ReachTEL poll shows the Liberal party Senate primary vote is at a record low of 22 per cent (a quota is 33 per cent), with 58 per cent of ACT voters disapproving of the senator, and more than 65 per cent not believing he has done enough to deserve re-election.

UnionsACT is conducting a ‘Dump Zed’ campaign and will launch a massive TV and community campaign in March, to remind voters of Senator Seselja’s key role in promoting Peter Dutton’s failed bid to become Prime Minister, as well his failures on climate change, penalty rates, and marriage equality.

Emeritus Professor of politics at the ANU, John Warhurst said that despite it always being a steep challenge to unseat a Liberal senator, Senator Seselja would not want his primary vote to be languishing down at 22 per cent.

“That’s danger territory for him,” he said.

In 2016, Senator Seslja relied on preferences to be re-elected but his primary vote was closer to 30.5 per cent.

Noting the entry of independent candidate businessman Anthony Pesec, Prof Warhurst said the key would be to what extent dissatisfied Liberal voters, when it came to the crunch, voted for someone else and to whom they gave their preferences.

He said all preferences would likely be distributed and it would be crucial how that panned out.

“Even the Green preferences don’t go any more than 85 per cent to Labor,” he said.

Senator Seselja had a high profile and name recognition but possibly for the wrong things in the eyes of many ACT voters.

“He got a lot of publicity over the Turnbull thing, opposing same-sex marriage, and being accused of not representing the views of the ACT,” he said.

Prof Warhurst said the apparent drop in support would be due partly to the general swing against the Government around the country and a bigger swing against the Liberals in Canberra, following Senator Seselja’s support for Peter Dutton and his high-profile role in the Turnbull coup.

“It may be more personal towards him in the Senate and not more generally with the Liberal candidates in the ACT,” he said.

But the other candidates, especially the Greens’ Penny Kyburz, may need a perfect storm to topple the Senator.

“It’s just an extremely difficult thing for opponents of Zed to pull off because of the fact there’s only the two Senate seats to get the Liberal vote after preferences down below a third [of the vote for a quota],” Prof Warhurst said.

“You have to have a combination of circumstances, and I would say that would be a very strong Labor vote, anti-government vote overall and also an anti-Zed vote on top of that.”

And while Prof Warhurst expected Labor to win come May, he did not think the voters are waiting with the baseball bats ready.

“It’s not all done and dusted. I think Labor will win but whether it’s squeaking over the line or like in the Victorian election a really really decisive victory I’m not too sure and that would make a difference to the ACT,” he said.

So much was going wrong for the Government with resignations and the like but it has put out a positive message with new climate change policies for example, as well as the negative fear message.

“Morrison is very active but whether he’s cutting through I doubt it,” Prof Warhurst said.

For Senator Seselja, the weight of evidence would be that he was likely to get back ”but the alarm bells would be ringing and he would be reading that poll and getting worried and getting ready to really campaign hard”.


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180 Responses to
Poll showing primary vote collapse puts Zed in ‘danger territory’
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Capital Retro 10:36 pm 19 Apr 19

“Zed needs to go. He’s lost touch with the values of the people he’s representing.”

He represents me and I support his work and his values.

Capital Retro 12:50 pm 19 Apr 19

“I asked zed what is his and coalitions view on foreign land ownership over a month ago” said someone.

I don’t know that either. By the way, what is the policy on the subject held by the ALP and the Greens?

Teri Hobbs 9:07 pm 18 Apr 19

I am happy that finally an independent candidate like Anthony Pesec has nominated for the ACT. It is long overdue for Canberra to have a representative in the Senate who believes in Canberra and in climate change and is also in the centre of politics. Canberra has long been the forgotten place as the ALP and the Liberals always assumes they will have a Senator representing us. I wish Anthony well and hope he will get many many votes.

5:27 pm 08 Mar 19

Get rid of Zed. His narrow minded wowserism is not needed in modern society where we need rational discussion on abortion, euthanasia and sexual equality.

10:45 pm 06 Mar 19

This story pops up every election. Margaret Reid was going to lose and the Democrats were going to sneak in. Then Rick Farley was knocking off Gary Humphries.

The Liberal vote would have to drop to low 20s % for this to even be a possibility as the quota is 33.34%. That’s basically the Liberal vote floor.

Additionally, the Labor vote has to collapse to about the same 30-odd and the Greens skyrocket to 30% across the ACT, then score enough preferences to come home over the top. The Greens can’t get up on a high Labor vote as it will push them to a distant third on primaries.

There’s nowhere in the ACT that will see those swings delivered, unless the seat of Canberra is won well by the Greens and Bean and Fenner become super marginal.

In an election cycle where Labor is trending 53% 2PP nationally, the three ACT federal electorates will all end up with around margins of 15%.

The only way that will change is if Labor and Greens runs a cohesive campaign that has thousands of ‘Labor voters’ strategically vote Green.

Given the ALP’s goal of winning majority Government in the ACT and the Greens being the biggest threat to Labor in the seat of Canberra, that just ain’t gonna happen, even if the desire was there.

In fact, there is as much, or more, chance of Labor getting both Senate positions with 67% 2PP as being split between Labor and the Greens.

Everyone can get excited but I’m not going to hold my breath in anticipation of a cliff hanger.

Zed will be re-elected as sure as God made little green apples.

Not cynical, just a realist.

Wing Nut 9:12 pm 05 Mar 19

Won’t be missed.

9:11 pm 05 Mar 19

Ha, ha. "Conducted for/on behalf of UNIONS ACT" yeah that would be credible. Buy product of living in a UNION run town having to put up with their BS

    9:58 pm 07 Mar 19

    Jube Mann yeah right, have to be a crooked ex Union FW to get your stamp of approval, sorry silly me

HiddenDragon 6:11 pm 05 Mar 19

The really interesting statistic in the first table is the markedly low (by Canberra standards) combined Labor-Green vote for the 18-34 age group – at least 10% below the combined figure for other age groups.

Perhaps an encouraging sign for independent candidates – provided they really are independent – and a reminder to the Greens that talking about the “old parties”, as they sometimes like to do, could have unintended consequences in a hitherto key demographic group…..

4:19 pm 05 Mar 19

Any unbiased polls?

4:17 pm 05 Mar 19

You only have to look at the way he got nominated as the lib candidate to tell his substance or lack there of

2:15 pm 05 Mar 19

About time he lost his seat. He is terrible

1:18 pm 05 Mar 19

Zed needs to go. He’s lost touch with the values of the people he’s representing.

Capital Retro 1:08 pm 05 Mar 19

The haters are having a field day on this thread. One thing we conservatives can’t do is hate like the left. Some of you people should take a good look at yourselves.

    Wing Nut 9:09 pm 05 Mar 19

    Absolute rubbish. Recent behaviour by the Conservatives make Labor look positively amateurish.

    Capital Retro 2:20 pm 06 Mar 19

    I don’t hear the conservative side of government refer to opposition senators as “trash” and wish them to “be dead”.

    It’s about the lack of civility you and your fellow travellers have.

    Can you tell me which school you attended, please? I don’t want my grandchildren going there.

waldorf 12:53 pm 05 Mar 19

Not a big fan of this guy, I gotta say. Anyone who supports Dutton cannot be too intelligent.

12:17 pm 05 Mar 19

Hope the fool looses his seat he’s trash

10:49 am 05 Mar 19

A catchy name does not make a good politician.

8:47 am 05 Mar 19

And who says there is no good news about these days!

8:45 am 05 Mar 19

I asked zed what is his and coalitions view on foreign land ownership over a month ago, All I hear are crickets 🦗

    10:45 am 05 Mar 19

    Then ask him why he didn’t vote on the Gay marriage bill.

    2:30 pm 05 Mar 19

    If he is not going to represent the electorate we shouldn’t let him!

    2:47 pm 05 Mar 19

    Zed represents himself, his party and his church. NOT his constituents.

    5:26 pm 05 Mar 19

    Allan Sjaarda he didn’t vote, ran out of the Chamber when the bill was put to a vote , so he didn’t represent anyone.

    7:54 pm 05 Mar 19

    i asked a question on Twitter and was subsequently blocked. He honestly has no time for anyone who doesn’t share his views and does not interact with his constituents at all. Hopefully he’ll be turned out next election.

    9:00 pm 05 Mar 19

    Allan Sjaarda I'm not sure if he represents his party.

8:39 am 05 Mar 19

Put Seselja last.

12:19 am 05 Mar 19

Wonderful news tha Zed may not be in Parliament soon. He is too religious.. is anti abortion and was anti same sex marriage....therefore we dont want him and his out of touch views...

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