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

Ian Bushnell 6 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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199 Responses to Poll showing primary vote collapse puts Zed in ‘danger territory’
Heidi Livermore Heidi Livermore 10:41 pm 04 Mar 19

Woo hoo!

David Chadwick David Chadwick 10:17 pm 04 Mar 19

Z won't loose his seat it will be taken away from him by hard working men and women who are sickened by his hard right and socially conservative politics. He has knowingly joined with the forces of regression against the forces of progress. His world view is authoritarian and controlling and he has sought to impose his obscurantist views on others especially the LGBTI community. Z has made his political bed it is time that bed was remade with rainbow sheets.🌈🌈🌈🌈

Pat D Rose Pat D Rose 10:12 pm 04 Mar 19

Zac Norman Zeds dead baby

    Zac Norman Zac Norman 10:14 pm 04 Mar 19

    Whos this guy?

    Douglas Roth Douglas Roth 8:53 pm 05 Mar 19

    Well, given Pulp Truth is Stranger than Pulp Fiction, are we going too far to excoriate Zed to death in his political life?🤔

Julie Wood Julie Wood 10:06 pm 04 Mar 19

Good news story 👌🏼

    Chris Tazreiter Chris Tazreiter 10:14 am 05 Mar 19

    Julie Wood I so agree. His representation of the people of Canberra has been a disgrace. It’s his way or the highway. Well let’s show him the highway. I don’t support either side, so this is not coming from a Labor voter.

    Milivoj Michael Rajic Milivoj Michael Rajic 6:18 pm 06 Mar 19

    Maybe a one more union member would be great.

John Hargreaves John Hargreaves 10:06 pm 04 Mar 19

and... while we're at it, and without any substantiation cos I'm not Croatian, I was told by one of the Croatian community leaders the other day that Z has been MIA except for big occasions where media are possible. Just sayin'

Jeffery Shelley Jeffery Shelley 9:54 pm 04 Mar 19

Who voted for him anyway?

    Luke Murphy Luke Murphy 10:16 pm 04 Mar 19

    Jeffery Shelley only absolute numpties.

    Douglas Roth Douglas Roth 2:39 am 05 Mar 19

    cardboard cutouts, nodders, I don't know: truth is stranger than fiction.

John Hargreaves John Hargreaves 9:52 pm 04 Mar 19

people should check out a small 'l' liberal - Anthony Pesec. Croatian Aussie with good creds

bj_ACT 9:43 pm 04 Mar 19

Worst Senator in our history. Let’s get someone who listens to Evidence not Shock Jocks.

chewy14 9:38 pm 04 Mar 19

Oh, a union poll?

Perhaps we can have a Greens poll to confirm this swing?

    Garfield 2:41 pm 05 Mar 19

    There was a Greens poll conducted in August last year that had the Liberal first preference vote at a similar level. I would be interested to know what lead up questions were asked, if any, before those about voting intention.

Tristan Rust Tristan Rust 9:30 pm 04 Mar 19


Khaled Dana Na Khaled Dana Na 9:26 pm 04 Mar 19

Vote Senator Zero last...... hes done nothing for Canberra.....

Rob Sanders Rob Sanders 9:19 pm 04 Mar 19

Best thing I've read all week

Bruce Hughes Bruce Hughes 9:10 pm 04 Mar 19

Good riddance to bad rubbish !

Gwyn Rees Gwyn Rees 9:08 pm 04 Mar 19

Politics is a pendulum whose swings between anarchy and tyranny are fueled by perpetually rejuvenated illusions.

Nathan Burraston Nathan Burraston 9:08 pm 04 Mar 19

A unionsACT poll would have been

A) leading questions

B ) surveyed in an area they have a high concentration of members.

Veerrrryyyyy unreliable data.

    Nathan Burraston Nathan Burraston 8:50 am 05 Mar 19

    Ian Goudie all I questioned was the validity of the poll given who it was conducted by.

    Ian Goudie Ian Goudie 8:58 am 05 Mar 19

    Nathan Burraston agree with that ..

Harper Pirsig Harper Pirsig 9:05 pm 04 Mar 19

I am not commenting either way on what I think should happen, but it will be a fascinating commentary on Canberra if both of our two Senate spots go to left of centre candidates. The political scientists will have a field day with that!

Rod Holesgrove Rod Holesgrove 9:05 pm 04 Mar 19

How nice!

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!

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