Monday, 14 May 2012

ALP in NSW still in tatters

Mob rule fails to dent Barry O'Farrell popularity

Barry O'Farrell
NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell has increased his command over Labor, according to the latest Newspoll. Source: The Daily Telegraph
A SPATE of shootings on the streets of Sydney and a messy scandal involving a senior staffer have done nothing to dent the popularity of NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell, according to the latest Newspoll. 

Nor has Mr O'Farrell been damaged by suggestions he is averse to making tough decisions, such as selecting a site for a second airport for Sydney.

The poll, which was conducted exclusively for The Australian during March and last month, shows Mr O'Farrell increasing his lead as preferred premier over Opposition Leader John Robertson.

In a worrying sign for state Labor, as well as for Julia Gillard and her federal colleagues, the poll shows Labor mired on less than a quarter of popular support in NSW.

It shows state Labor with a disastrously low 24 per cent of primary support, compared with 25 per cent in the previous poll and 25.6 per cent at the state poll in March last year. The latest federal Newspoll registered Labor's primary support at 27 per cent.

Federally, Labor holds 25 seats in NSW, including five of its 10 most marginal.

The NSW Newspoll shows the Coalition with primary support of 47 per cent, compared with 49 per cent in the poll reported in February and 51 per cent at the state poll.

The two-party-preferred split is 63 per cent for the Coalition and 37 per cent for Labor.

If repeated at an election, such an outcome would probably result in Mr O'Farrell retaining his 49-seat advantage over Labor in the 93-seat lower house. Satisfaction among voters with Mr O'Farrell's performance is up marginally, from 46 to 48 per cent.

Satisfaction with Mr Robertson is also up marginally, to 28 per cent, but the former union boss remains in negative net approval territory, with 37 per cent of voters dissatisfied with his performance.

This is the highest level of dissatisfaction with Mr Robertson during his year in the job.The strongest number in the poll for Mr O'Farrell is preferred premier, where his lead of 52 to 15 per cent, in the previous Newspoll, has widened to a lead of 56 per cent to 14 per cent.

The result comes despite apparent problems for Mr O'Farrell on a number of fronts. In March, the NSW Premier declared he was opposed to a second Sydney airport, after a federal government report suggested another airport would be needed by 2030.

Mr O'Farrell's position was attacked as timid by business groups and in newspaper editorials. Last month, Mr O'Farrell lost his communications director, Peter Grimshaw, after an internal inquiry found Mr Grimshaw had shown a lack of judgment by forwarding to his girlfriend an email from Mr O'Farrell.

Mr Grimshaw has also been caught up in a public inquiry by the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority into The Star casino, where Mr Grimshaw previously worked. But the most serious problem faced by Mr O'Farrell during the period of the poll has been gang-related lawlessness in Sydney.

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