Hanson slip lifts major parties
Pauline Hanson’s support has fallen away, handing Scott Morrison the equal-best primary vote for the Coalition since just after the last election but also strengthening Labor’s lead.
The first Newspoll since the May 18 election was called in the wake of the Coalition’s budget and Bill Shorten’s budget-in-reply speech puts the major parties neck and neck on a primary vote of 39 percent each.
With preferences from the Greens, Labor has maintained a two-party-preferred vote of 48 per cent to 52 per cent, representing a 2.4 per cent swing against the Coalition based on the last election, representing the potential loss of 10 seats for the Prime Minister.
Going into the first full week of the campaign, Mr Morrison enjoys an unchanged 11-point lead over the Opposition Leader as preferred prime minister.
The Prime Minister will today head back to Melbourne to announce further infrastructure projects in a state that, alongside Queensland, the Coalition believes could hold the key to the election outcome, with population being a hot-button issue.
Mr Shorten will remain in Sydney, where he has been campaigning behind enemy lines in the Liberal-held seat of Reid in the inner-western suburbs, and is today expected to keep the pressure up on health funding.
With less than five weeks to go before the poll, the Coalition has built on a two-point jump in its primary vote two weeks ago by adding a further point in the latest Newspoll, which began surveying voters on the day the election was called.
This has come at the expense of One Nation, which has plummeted to just 4 per cent in the wake of the guns-for-funds scandal, with popular support falling nationally to its lowest point since 2016.
The Newspoll showed Mr Morrison had recovered all the ground lost since the removal of Malcolm Turnbull, with the best primary vote for the Coalition since July 30 last year. This has been the Coalition’s high water mark since September 2016, just two months after the last election.
Labor’s two-point jump fortifies the party’s election-winning lead despite still being down on a high of 41 per cent in the wake of the Liberal Party leadership spill in August last year.
The fall in One Nation support has shifted the electoral dial and delivered the major parties a higher combined primary vote than that recorded at the last election.
Having peaked at 11 per cent of the national primary vote less than two years ago, Ms Hanson’s conservative minor party has fallen to a low of 4 per cent in the latest poll, marking a further two-point decline in the past two weeks.
One Nation, which enjoys its highest popularity in Queensland, managed 1.3 per cent of the national primary vote at the last election.
However, it managed to snatch four Senate spots — two in Queensland, one in NSW and one in Western Australia. Changes to the Senate voting system under the Turnbull government cost the minor party a potential fifth spot.
Senior LNP sources said One Nation was still strong in marginal central Queensland seats, which meant the party could still be a deciding factor in the outcome of the election. However, the source said the party’s vote would have “come off” in southeast Queensland and NSW following the guns scandal.
The collapse in support for the right-wing nationalist party follows rolling scandals, including
Pauline Hanson is abandoning One Nation’s 2016 federal election strategy of preferencing against sitting MPs in a move that could boost Coalition stocks in the crucial battleground of Queensland.
Joining the campaign after recovering from surgery to remove her appendix, Senator Hanson said preferences would be allocated on a “seat-by-seat’’ basis in a departure from One Nation’s how-to-vote cards that cost the Liberal National Party at least two key seats at the last election.
In an exclusive interview with The Australian, the One Nation leader blamed the rise of competing right-wing minor parties and “a lot confusion” among voters that had led to a fall in support in recent polls.
Senator Hanson dismissed suggestions the Al-Jazeera investigation — linking her advisers to donation discussions with the National Rifle Association in the US — or support for Coalition legislation had hurt the party.
The latest Newspoll shows support for One Nation has fallen two points to 4 per cent of the national vote, in line with a downward trend over recent months for the party that secured four Senate seats at the 2016 election.
Senator Hanson said the party’s performance at the 2016 election and in subsequent state elections — picking up a seat in Queensland, four upper house seats in Western Australia and possibly two in NSW — showed polling day was the “real gauge’’.
“So what we have achieved has been tremendous compared to the other political parties — they have not gained the traction with the public, and what the public want,” she said. “People are terribly confused but they also fed up with the major political parties.
“There is a lot of competition around for the votes and the minor parties trying to get those votes.’’
Senator Hanson said Scott Morrison had been “a fool’’ to announce that the Liberals would put Labor ahead of One Nation, after the airing of the Al-Jazeera investigation.
On published polling, One Nation, Katter’s Australian Party and Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party are unlikely to win lower house seats, but their preferences could be decisive in tight contests between the major parties, particularly in Queensland.
Senator Hanson said she suspected John Howard had “counselled” the Prime Minister to adopt the strategy in a bid to destroy One Nation, adding that the former prime minister “needs to go … and have a full-time retirement’’.
“John Howard is encouraging Morrison to put One Nation last without really thinking that 67 per cent of our preferences flow into the conservative side,’’ Senator Hanson said. “They can’t afford to do that in an election that is going to be so tight that they need every seat they can get.’’
Senator Hanson conceded that One Nation’s decision in 2016 to preference most sitting MPs next to last to the Greens helped Labor take the Townsville-based seat of Herbert and outer-metropolitan seat of Longman from LNP MPs.
Asked whether she intended to repeat the near-blanket strategy to preference against sitting members in Queensland — where the LNP holds 21 of 30 seats, with eight on margins of 4 per cent or less — Senator Hanson said: “I am looking at it on a seat-by-seat basis.
“There is a whole mixed bag that I’m actually looking at,” she said, adding that an announcement would be made in coming weeks.
“I am not here to shore up the Labor Party, I am not here to shore up the Coalition.
“My decision will be based on what is right for the people and country and ensuring One Nation is not going to get destroyed because they are determined to get rid of us.’’
Senator Hanson confirmed that One Nation would exchange preferences with KAP.
‘There is a whole mixed bag I’m actually looking at. I am not here to shore up the Labor Party (or) the Coalition’ PAULINE HANSON
Pauline Hanson in Adelaide yesterday, joining the campaign after recovering from illness