The Northern Territory’s Gunner Government has failed to make any significant gains in public support over the last year, internal Labor polling shows.
- Internal polling shows Labor leads two-party preferred contest over CLP, but edging closer to a dead heat
- Chief Minister Michael Gunner has failed to make any gains in personal popularity
- Stagnant polling figures expected to put some pressure on Mr Gunner’s leadership
Senior party figures have confirmed Labor leads the two-party preferred contest 53 per cent to the Country Liberal Party’s 47 per cent, according to their polling.
But after factoring in a typical three per cent margin of error, those numbers could be a dead heat and reflect similar Territory polling numbers from August 2017.
Labor led the CLP on a 59-41 two-party preferred vote at the 2016 election.
The internal figures also show Chief Minister Michael Gunner has been unable to make any gains in personal popularity over the last year.
Sources with knowledge of the poll have told the ABC that Mr Gunner currently holds a 12-point lead over CLP Opposition Leader Gary Higgins as preferred chief minister — similar to his position in August 2017, when he held a 13-point lead, according to an independent MediaReach poll commissioned by the NT News.
Mr Gunner was the preferred choice of 34 per cent as chief minister compared to Mr Higgins at 21 per cent, and anybody else at 29 per cent a year ago.
It is unclear what percentage of support both party leaders have in the internal Labor polling.
The stagnant polling figures are expected to put some pressure on Mr Gunner’s leadership in the lead-up to the 2020 Territory election.
‘People are not confident with him going forward’
Different colleagues told the ABC Mr Gunner has failed to connect with Territorians two years into the job due to a perceived lack of action on critical issues facing the Territory.
“His support across the Territory has deteriorated,” one caucus member said.
“People are not confident with him going forward with the economy, and there doesn’t appear to be a clear plan. We’ve also seen that the tourism efforts have clearly not been working either.
“You would have expected a new government to have been more proactive, but that hasn’t been the case,” another caucus member said.
“The plan was to guide a steady ship, but that ship is slowly being run into the rocks.”
Other senior Labor figures expressed satisfaction with the latest poll numbers.
“They’re good and we’re about where we thought we would be at this point,” a party insider said.
The ABC understands roughly 500 people were polled in Darwin and Palmerston, with the results presented to caucus within the last two weeks.
Mr Parish said Labor’s majority would be “drastically eroded” unless it started taking action. (ABC News: Bridget Judd)
Labor made surprise gains in Palmerston, Alice Springs and Katherine at the 2016 election that political observers do not expect to be repeated in 2020.
Their landslide victory saw them take 18 of 25 seats as a result of a chaotic and scandal-plagued incumbent CLP government.
Charles Darwin University law lecturer and former Labor MLA Ken Parish said the recent two-party preferred figure was a bit concerning.
“It suggests that despite the CLP only having two members and a fairly low profile, they’ve [benefitted],” he said.
“What you see from those figures is that people aren’t that impressed with Labor. The economy is still in the doldrums, not much has happened outside of reviews.
“With two years until the next election, unless Labor starts kicking goals instead of talking, their majority will be drastically eroded.”