Highlights of week three-ish

I have naughtily neglected yesterday’s Roy Morgan poll of 778 voters conducted over the weekend ("for Channel Nine"), showing Labor leading the Coalition 44 per cent to 38 per cent on the primary vote and 55-45 on two-party preferred. Much is being made of a spike in the Greens’ vote from the 7-8 per cent range to 12 per cent, not least because it is borne out by yesterday’s ACNielsen poll in The Age. Morgan has followed this up today with further figures from the same survey regarding upper house voting intention, which I wouldn’t read much into and will discuss tomorrow after further consideration (in other poll news, McNair Ingenuity Group principal Matt Balogh has responded to this site’s skepticism regarding his group’s Sunday Herald-Sun survey in comments). In the meantime, here are some more Campaign Updates for the election guide:

South-West Coast (Liberal 0.8%): On the weekend, Liberal member and former leader Denis Napthine described Labor’s promise to create a new national park in his electorate at Cobboboonee as "an outrageously bare-faced grab for votes among the latte-swilling, chardonnay socialist, crystal-gazing, new-age tree-huggers of inner-suburban Melbourne", whose company the Poll Bludger is presently keeping in Richmond. The comment appeared to go against the party’s support for the proposal as outlined on the Liberal website; however, Baillieu told The Age there was in fact no difference of opinion, and that Napthine was "indicating what I indicated, which is that we want to know there is local support for those proposals" (though there is nothing about this in the party’s policy statement). Duncan Hughes of the Australian Financial Review reports that Napthine has also been at odds with Baillieu over the prospect of a coalition government after the election and the status of the party’s plan for a dam on the Maribyrnong River.

Benalla (Nationals 2.0%): The government’s ban on cattle grazing at the Alpine National Park was publicised during Monday’s protest by farmers and graziers at Parliament House, which was headed by 200 aggrieved mountain cattlemen on horseback. Ted Baillieu by all accounts received a warm reception at the protest, which was not attended by any Labor representatives. The issue also emerged during the 2004 election campaign when it was revealed the federal Department of Environment had made a submission supporting the ban, despite Nationals member for Gippsland Peter McGauran assuring the cattlemen they had the federal government’s support.

Shepparton (Nationals 4.3% versus Liberal): The ABC reports that "the Labor Party is considering changing its preferencing five days out from the state election, to preference the National member over the Liberal candidate". The report quotes the Labor candidate, James Taylor, saying his cards will indeed put Nationals member Jeanette Powell ahead of Liberal challenger Stephen Merrylees, in reaction to the Liberals’ decision to direct preferences to the Greens in key inner-city seats. It also quotes a "senior ALP source" who describes the new-look ticket as "the party’s interim position".

Morwell (Labor 4.9%): The Age has a received a copy of the letter sent to Labor’s state secretary by Derek Amos, the party’s Traralgon branch president and member for Morwell from 1970 to 1981, in which he quit the party in protest against current member Brendan Jenkins and his factional backers in the Left. The letter complains of "our local member and his surrounding Left clique", which has "ignored, criticised or punished" those who "have a different view of the world". Amos’s resignation was part of a joint action with three other local party members including Traralgon branch secretary Lisa Proctor, who is running as an independent and directing preferences against Jenkins.

Frankston (Labor 5.8%): Frankston has been heavily targeted by the Liberals with election promises, starting with a pre-campaign commitment to spend $250 million building a bypass around the Frankston town centre, which is expected to suffer traffic congestion when the EastLink project is completed. The Frankston Standard reports that other promises for the electorate include "a technical college … $1 million towards development of a new park … a beach vehicle for authorities, removal of a Moorooduc Highway crossing, lower fares or free travel on public transport (a reference to the scrapping of zone three fares, of benefit to a large swathe of the eastern suburbs), school maintenance, more hospital beds and medical staff, and $730 a child in funding for pre-schoolers".

Mildura (Independent 18.5% versus Nationals): The Victorian Electoral Commission has dismissed a complaint by independent member Russell Savage about National Party flyers and advertisements which accused him of failing to criticise the Bracks government. Savage has threatened to take the matter to the Court of Disputed Returns if he loses his seat.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

13 comments on “Highlights of week three-ish”

  1. I would say that Costar and Mackerras are closer to the mark then Economu.

    http://graphics.news.com.au/multimedia/2006/061110_electionSpecial/

    Then main difference being Western Victoria. (Were the DLP has a remote but possible chance of coming up the middle between the pack). I have updated and published my distribution analysis based on the Acnielsen and Morgan polls

    http://melbournecitycouncil.blogspot.com/2006/11/upper-house-analysis-based-on-recent.html

    The next poll will be the decider. Hopefully we can decide the outcome of the upper-house on the night as detailed polling figures come in.

    This truly is a milestone in Victoria politics.

    This is the first election on the new reformed upper-house. Reform that was long overdue.

    The reform proposals were first adopted by the ALP as policy back in the late 1980’s with support from John Cain and Evan Walker in the period leading up to and beyond the Nunawading by-election of 1985. Further research and development of the ALP policy (which at the time was for abolition) took place in 1990-1991 by myself and John Lenders.

    Originally the proposal was for five electorates (Three urban two rural) each returning either seven of nine members. Personally I prefer the five electorate model but it proved too difficult as the nine member option meant increasing the upper-house by one and would have required a significant reduction and redistribution of the lower-house and all the problems associated with it. (If it was up to me I would have reduced the lower-house to 75)

    It was not until 2002, when the ALP unexpectedly won control of both houses that the ALP, with John Lenders as Leader of the Government in the upper-house, was in a position to implement the long overdue reforms. It is a credit to John Lenders and Steve Bracks having adopted and implemented this reform. There was no doubt that the old Legislative Council system was undemocratic and failed to full-fill its role as a house of review having acted more as a rubber-stamp or house of obstruction.

    What is clear in doing any analysis of the results and likely outcomes of the upper-house election is that the new system provides a much improved and democratic representation of the Victorian community. If the balance of control of the upper-house falls into the hands of minor parties this is because it is a reflection of the Victorian electorate.

    Analysis of the 2002 State election and the 2004 senate vote shows that it is possible for either the ALP or the Liberal Party with sufficient support to win control of both houses. The system of five member (16.67% quota) is a reasonable threshold that is not unreachable.

    Only time will tell if those elected will make a positive contribution to Victoria’s future. If it fails it is not the system that is at fault.

    There is room for refinement and improvement in the mechanics and formulas currently in use but the principle of multi-member proportional representation is sound and worthy of support. Particularly in the upper-house.

    Victoria moving on. ­čÖé

  2. It would have been better to change to PR in the lower house (I favour 13 9-member electorates) espetialy with the removal of the power to block supply from the Council so that the elections are closer with better representation.

    And have 44or 45 MLCs elected on a rotating basis like Tasmania (local representation is the only justification for single member electorates and is not properly achievable in Lower houses because they are where they decide who they want in charge of the executive) with parties that stand having to stand 2 candidates.

  3. Actually centrebet, for the last day or so has had Labor at $1.06 and the Libs at $7.00. Why on earth would anyone bet on either side? You have to spend a fortune on Labor to make a very moderate amount and you are sure to lose your money if you back the Libs. Beats me.

  4. I know this isn’t a strictly Victorian State Election related question – But how much do these public phone polls cost to make. For example, a typical Newspoll or something like that with 1000 respondents called – How much would that cost? I am just curious…

  5. Tom. If we had a single-house parliament then yes PR is the way to go. But if you have two houses then the mandate must be different and if I had to choose which one I would opt for the upper-house being multi-member constituents. I think Tasmania has it the wrong way around and the Senate and now Victoria the right option. I think the Greens in the long term have done more harm then good in its campaign this election having preferences the Liberal Party ahead of Labor. They have created serious divisions that will rebound. It was telling to see the HTV card for Hawthorn. Sadly this campaign will now boil over into the Federal Campaign which will set back the environment movement another 3 years. I will never forget Fraser Brindley’s attempt to withhold information on Melbourne City Councils expenditure, Free booze, catering and the like by having reports referred to illegal behind closed door meetings. So much for their published policies of open and transparent government. Under David Risstrom the Greens earned some respect. The same can not be said for others. Hopefully the Greens will be under the microscope much more from now. I am informed that the Greens on Saturday will be hiding the “feral” supporters who have been re-rostered to not hand out in Melbourne, Carlton, Richmond or Fitzroy for fear of alienating the Liberal voters.

  6. It is more than 50 years since the DLP has won a seat in the Victorian Parliament (Frank Scully, Richmond, 1955), so it would be extraordinary for it to do so when its level of support is so much less than it was in the 50s, 60s and early 70s (almost 20 per cent in the 1970 Senate election). If it does so, I hope it costs the Liberals a seat rather than the ALP. I say this because of the earlier history of promised electoral reform of the Legislative Council.

    In 1973, the Liberals promised to bring in a democratic Legislative Council in return for DLP preferences. It was even in Dick Hamer’s policy speech. Once the Liberals won the election, negotiations continued on the details, but in the end the Liberals reneged – as perhaps they always intended to.

    The DLP voted itself out of existence in 1978, but those who could not accept the decision continued with the DLP name and are now contesting this election – in far fewer numbers than the original DLP, which contested almost every state and federal seat at every election in Victoria from 1955 to 1975 and again in 1977. It withdrew from a number of seats in 1976 with the aim of punishing the Liberals for their broken promise on electoral reform.

    I doubt if the ALP would have advocated PR for the Legislative Council if the DLP had not lost votes in the 1970s.

    When the first Bracks Government introduced legislation to reform the Legislative Council, the Liberals could have redeemed their broken promise from 1973 and had some influence on the details of the system, but they did not do so. Thus, when Labor had a majority in both houses, the Liberals had already dealt themselves out of any influence. At least Sir Rupert Hamer redeemed himself and supported the reform he had promised 30 years ago.

    For a political party with an ongoing upper house majority for the first time in its existence to adopt a system that will probably deprive it of that majority is a pretty gutsy thing.

  7. how many times do people need to be told that greens did not pref lib b4 labor. this discussion is tiredsome now but 1) no pref (and no proof) 2) the did open tickets so its left to the voter. thats the term open=up to the voter – no sugesstuions from the party, how it should be, otherwise people like steve fielding get elected!

  8. Tasmania has it the correct way round.

    The more Democratic system in the lower house and the less democratic one in the upper house.

    PR is the only system for lower houses because it represents the views of the voters more accuratly so the executive government is more legitimate.

  9. Petrouschka, the problem is that:
    * where split or open tickets (where there is the option of putting the Libs ahead of Labor) may assist the Liberals, the Greens have registered them, and,
    * where putting the Greens ahead of Labor may cause problems for the ALP, the Libs have done so.
    Now, either this is a confluence of highly pragmatic preferencing from both parties – not surprising for the Libs but certainly a change from the ‘principled’ preferencing nomally exercised by the Greens – or there is some sort of a deal being done to the detriment of the ALP – and given that Labor has published a preference schedule that puts the Greens ahead of the Libs, the Nats and Fundy First (basically, with a few exceptions, a principled preferencing exercise), it seems to be nothing but an exercise of total hypocrisy on the part of the Greens.

  10. Alex C
    A lot of the areas that put forward an open ticket are in the East and Rural areas. Greens in those areas don’t like what their ALP member/candidate is saying/doing.
    There is generally oonly an open ticket if the local ALP is bad or local LIB/Nat is good. So don’t blame the Greens if the ALP machine is producing hopeless candidates.

  11. dont blame the greens – “There is generally oonly an open ticket if the local ALP is bad or local LIB/Nat is good” — not true. no need for smearing a party just coz u dont like it.

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