Voters in Batman were more worried about health and education than the Adani coalmine or asylum seekers before they rejected the Greens in Saturday’s byelection, private research reveals.
The polling, taken two days before votes were cast, further undermines the Greens’ strategy in the byelection, where they campaigned heavily on the proposed Queensland mine and then later on Labor’s record on refugees.
Greens leader Richard Di Natale has come under heavy fire in the wake of the defeat, facing calls for his resignation and criticism of the party’s campaign tactics.
The polling by ReachTel for the timber industry lobby group Australian Forest Products Association was within 1 per cent of predicting Labor’s winning margin and showed 20 per cent of Batman voters nominating Adani as their biggest concern in the byelection.
But 21.7 per cent of voters nominated health and 21.6 per cent nominated another traditional Labor strength, education, as their big issue as the voting came close.
Among Labor voters, the results were more stark with more than 60 per cent nominating health and education as their top order priorities.
But more than 66 per cent of Greens voters said Adani and refugees were their top priorities, underlining why Greens strategists were so attracted to those issues.
The association commissioned the polling in anticipation of a strong Greens push in the campaign on a Great Forest National Park and other native forestry issues.
In the event, logging did not feature heavily but the lobby group says its survey results showed Labor could win against the Greens in the inner-city by campaigning on traditional strengths.
The association’s chief executive, Ross Hampton, said the polling should encourage Labor not to tack to the left chasing Greens votes in the inner city.
‘‘The poll results show that the voters of Batman, particularly Labor voters value strong health and education policies above all else, with more than 60 per cent of Labor voters rating health or education as the most important issue in determining their vote,’’ Mr Hampton said.
But amid the criticism of their tactics, some Greens voices were raised in defence of decisions made in Batman.
Tim Read, who will contest the nearby state seat of Brunswick for the party in November’s state election, said there were sound reasons for the decision to target Adani and asylum seekers.
‘‘We do bang on about climate and refugees, partly because it energises us and partly because it’s where we differ most from the ALP and partly because these are so urgent,’’ Mr Read wrote on Facebook.
Mr Read told The Age that the Greens should now be in listening mode.
‘‘Right now, The Greens are all ears, it’s our job to listen and learn,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s certainly not our job to jump to conclusions, but rather to listen to all opinions, acknowledge them all and continue to improve what we do.’’