The Turnbull government goes into the election knowing it could be marked down by voters in six marginal NSW seats who overwhelmingly want Gonski funding extended for the final two years to 2019 and would consider this factor in the voting booth.
The ReachTEL poll, commissioned by Federation, covered Lindsay, Dobell, Macquarie, Page, Gilmore and the bellwether electorate of Eden-Monaro.
Almost 4000 voters were polled and the results, released on April 20, showed between 8-15 per cent of Coalition voters in the six marginal seats would consider no longer voting for their local Coalition candidate if the Turnbull government refused to fund the Gonski scheme in the May 3 Budget (the previous Abbott administration had refused). The Budget extended funding but at a reduced level, falling short of Gonski requirements.
The most vulnerable seat is Macquarie, to the west of Sydney, where 15 per cent of Coalition voters said they might switch their vote and desert Liberal MP Louise Markus. In Dobell and Lindsay, 14 per cent of Coalition voters would switch sides over Gonski. In Page, it is 13 per cent, in Gilmore, 12 per cent and 8 per cent in Eden-Monaro.
In all of these marginal seats, a clear majority – 59.8 per cent – of voters want the Budget to continue funding the Gonski reforms, with just 14.6 per cent opposing.
The ReachTEL poll results were blazoned across major newspapers with headlines such as “Gonski poll results put Coalition on notice: marginal seat MPs at risk” in The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian stating that Coalition MPs were “worried they could be Gonski”.
The Blue Mountains Gazette said the poll showed the election in Macquarie is “on a knife-edge”, with 36 per cent of voters “less likely” to vote for the Coalition if it did not continue Gonski funding. Macquarie schools could lose $34 million under a Coalition government.
— Dinoo Kelleghan
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