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

Ian Bushnell 6 March 2019 169

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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169 Responses to Poll showing primary vote collapse puts Zed in ‘danger territory’
John Dale John Dale 8:51 pm 04 Mar 19

I’d be more confident if the polling hadn’t been ‘conducted for UnionsACT’.

    Mal Briggs Mal Briggs 9:15 pm 04 Mar 19

    John Dale these polling companies don't work for free, and only vested interests front up the money. Who would you prefer to pay the fee to help you accept the result?

    John Dale John Dale 10:10 pm 04 Mar 19

    Thanks for explaining my concern. Nicely done. You know, like 100% of climate change denying scientists are engaged by fossil fuel producers? But cheers.

    Stuart Herring Stuart Herring 6:06 am 05 Mar 19

    Polls like this are commissioned so that the organisation commissioning them know the situation so they can plan accordingly.

    They're not commissioned to to tell them what they want to hear, what use would that be?

    John Dale John Dale 8:50 am 05 Mar 19

    Stuart Herring you’re kidding right? Polls are as much a product of their questions as they are a result of actual ‘opinions’ or ‘voting intentions’. I hope this one’s right, I just don’t trust it.

    Stuart Herring Stuart Herring 10:34 am 05 Mar 19

    John Dale I'll ask again. What purpose is there in spending actual money to commission a company to do actual work calling actual people just to tell you what you want to hear?

    That sounds like an excellent expensive way to end up being completely mystified when thing don't turn out the way you hoped.

    John Dale John Dale 10:57 am 05 Mar 19

    Hey Stuart I understand your point, but sometimes producing a desired outcome can be for the purpose of creating a false perception leading to either confidence, panic or disruption. All I'm saying is that I'd have more confidence in its finding if it were completely independent of the Unions who want him gone.

    Douglas Roth Douglas Roth 8:59 pm 05 Mar 19

    John Dale yes, but it's not just unions or union members who want him gone.

    John Dale John Dale 9:19 pm 05 Mar 19

    Not my point. The funder of the poll getting the result they want, and therefore its validity, is my point.

Stephen Esdaile Stephen Esdaile 8:49 pm 04 Mar 19

alarm bells in Zed's office is music to my ears....

    Douglas Roth Douglas Roth 2:12 am 05 Mar 19

    I hate repetitive sounds but I'll give that a try.

Paal Burnett Paal Burnett 8:47 pm 04 Mar 19

This muppet has screwed over the territory at ever turn. Don’t let the door hit on the way out Zed!

Natalie Grey Natalie Grey 8:45 pm 04 Mar 19

Ask Hillary how accurate polls are!

Margarita Bianchi Margarita Bianchi 8:25 pm 04 Mar 19

What’s he actually done for Canberra? Zero.

Jessicah Mullins Jessicah Mullins 8:25 pm 04 Mar 19

Please let it be so!

Carla Noonan Carla Noonan 8:23 pm 04 Mar 19

I would suggest he spends a bit more time listening to his constituents instead of furthering his own agenda

Anthony Wazza Anthony Wazza 8:19 pm 04 Mar 19

Jesus wept!

Noelle Waugh Noelle Waugh 8:18 pm 04 Mar 19

Bye bye Zed.

Brian Foo Brian Foo 8:12 pm 04 Mar 19

Anyone but Zed

Trevor Watson Trevor Watson 8:07 pm 04 Mar 19

Zed is for Zed, puts his own religious beliefs above the people who elected him. His stance during the same sex marriage debate demonstrated that he did not care what his constituents wanted.

    Carla Noonan Carla Noonan 8:28 pm 04 Mar 19

    Tramcar Trevor and his personal stance on euthanasia which is informed by his religious views. He is entitled to an opinion but is elected to represent his community

    Natalie Grey Natalie Grey 8:45 pm 04 Mar 19

    People knew what he stood for before he was elected and they voted for him.

    Trevor Watson Trevor Watson 9:09 pm 04 Mar 19

    Natalie Grey he kept his views on sexuality and Euthanasia very quite.

Dan Myles Dan Myles 8:06 pm 04 Mar 19

He has our thoughts and prayers

Marcia Denman Marcia Denman 8:06 pm 04 Mar 19

Couldn’t happen to a nicer bloke.

Put Zed last.

Justin Watson Justin Watson 7:59 pm 04 Mar 19

Even if you refuse to vote anything other than Liberals, put the other Liberal candidate first. Zed has done nothing for Canberra, would rather toe the party line to further his own career as shown by his ousting of Gary Humphries for a safe-ish senate when he lost the ACT election. If he truly believed in this city he'd have stayed on in opposition to try and win the next election, which they ended up losing.

    Douglas Roth Douglas Roth 2:05 am 05 Mar 19

    exactly, Justin, I deliberately vote like this, as my parents, *I think* taught me: put any candidate you happen to like at the top, make sure you fill out the bottom with any party or person you detest and then fill out the middle.

    Justin Watson Justin Watson 11:43 am 05 Mar 19

    Yep too many people think it is the voting system thats the issue, but its not. People won't change who they vote for any more than they are willing to change banks or insurance. Even the left vs right debate that ensues on social media is more about supporting your "team" than actually voting due to policies.

    Peter Bickerton Peter Bickerton 2:25 pm 05 Mar 19

    agree 100% I had a lot of time for Gary - he assisted me with a couple of queries and followed them up in Senate estimates (doing his job as an elected Senator should). mind you he has as great job now as deputy chair of the AAT so they gave him a great highly paid job in return for Zed taking over

    Justin Watson Justin Watson 6:03 pm 05 Mar 19

    Yep Gary Humphries was the ideal Liberal candidate for the ACT. Zed is just a symptom of the far right getting their claws into the Liberal pre-selections and now the Liberals are trying to lie their way into power, rather than come up with positive policies to make the country better. That has been why Labor keeps winning in the ACT and why Labor won in Victoria.

    Douglas Roth Douglas Roth 9:06 pm 05 Mar 19

    Gary Humphries impressed me at about 19 (30 years ago): there was a proposal to merge both ANU and UC. He didn't show bias, he explained the situation clearly, and talked more to the logistics of doing so. i.e. he had and still has a good brain, unlike the subject of this thread, who should look for one but there is irony that you couldn't check if you didn't.... . I generally vote. Even though I tend towards the other major party, their candidate would generally have to be very good for me to not preference Gary first.

    Justin Watson Justin Watson 10:26 am 06 Mar 19

    I actually like Andrew Leigh although he is Labor. Labor pollies are of course generally also good at three word slogans and a bit of fear mongering as well. However, he is another politician that actually explains things, uses facts and doesn't resort to three word slogans and fear mongering. Ask a politician a real question these days and they dance around it, use slogans and resort to fear mongering the other party. Its why the Liberal party get slaughtered over climate change or same sex marriage arguments as they can't present a rational argument or reason. Or ask a politician why is continual economic growth good, if wages are not growing at the same rate, which in turn means the majority of people are worse off. they can never give an answer to that one, because there isn't one they want to talk about as the majority would then vote against them.

Mark Dawson Mark Dawson 7:56 pm 04 Mar 19

Shhh! Don't warn him.

James Alan Nguyen James Alan Nguyen 7:55 pm 04 Mar 19

His fate is his namesake.

Chris Bennett Chris Bennett 7:51 pm 04 Mar 19

Preference him out. He's been the least representative senator for the majority of the ACT population. Vote below the line and send a message that ignoring your constituents will result in a proverbial booting

    Chris Bennett Chris Bennett 7:58 pm 04 Mar 19

    It's a shame that there are too many crackpots on the ticket, otherwise I wouldn't have needed to give him any number last time

    Douglas Roth Douglas Roth 2:41 am 05 Mar 19

    I won't or subtract points and just see what the AEC makes of that. Everyone above that one that one "vote" will be legit. The fun police in the AEC went on strike years ago.

    Douglas Roth Douglas Roth 2:46 am 05 Mar 19

    fake news from the AEC itself: https://www.aec.gov.au/Voting/How_to_vote/Voting_Senate.htm . You only have to go to 12 anyway: that's as far as you need to go to with formality. Hopefully there's enough candidates to withhold preferences. I wouldn't know though: I've never read a how to vote card: are they helpful, does anyone know?

    Chris Bennett Chris Bennett 6:26 am 05 Mar 19

    Don't follow any how to vote card. Do your research before the election, there's plenty of sites that tell you which candidates are preference whom. I don't vote the way any party tells me. I base it 100% on the policy of each party and within the party I order based on the most trustworthy candidate to the least. Zed is always at the bottom of that pile for the LNP

JP Preston JP Preston 7:51 pm 04 Mar 19

We can only hope...

Terry Butters Terry Butters 7:50 pm 04 Mar 19

Couldn’t happen to a nicer bloke! 😂

Enn Geecee Enn Geecee 7:47 pm 04 Mar 19

Zed’s dead baby...Zed’s dead

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