Highlights of week whatever

Yet another bad day at the office for the hapless Peter Debnam. Perhaps these Campaign Updates will cheer him up.

Balmain (Labor 7.1% versus Greens) and Marrickville (Labor 10.0% versus Greens): As usual, the Greens’ preference deliberations have eaten up a lot of column inches, despite the notorious indirectability of the party’s supporters. Of greater interest is the free kick the Liberals have given Labor by recommending an exhausted vote in Balmain and Marrickville – the two seats the Greens could potentially win. Since major party voters really do follow the how-to-vote card, this will surely end the Greens’ hopes for a lower house seat, giving Labor two fewer things to worry about. This step has presumably been taken to give the Coalition ammunition in a late-campaign offensive over supposed deals between Labor and the Greens, perhaps involving secret protocols on crime and drugs policy.

Pittwater (Independent 5.4% versus Liberal) and Manly (Independent 0.6% versus Liberal): On Saturday, Steven Scott of the Financial Review reported that the Liberal Party’s polling showed it was unlikely to recover John Brogden’s old seat of Pittwater, which it lost to independent Alex McTaggart at a by-election in November 2005. Liberal candidate Rob Stokes, a former staffer to Brogden, reportedly trailed 57-43 on two-candidate preferred. The party was said to have a "better chance" in Manly, which former HSBC executive Mike Baird is seeking to win from independent member David Barr.

Goulburn (Liberal 4.5%): The aforementioned Financial Review article also reported that the Liberals were "worried" their star candidate, Pru Goward, would lose to former mayor and independent candidate Paul Stephenson. The government has given Stephenson a fillip by announcing plans for a 77 kilometre pipeline from the Wingecarribee River to Goulburn’s storages, which are so low the town has been on level five restrictions since 2003. John Breusch of the Financial Review notes that the "Iemma government may be in caretaker mode, but the decision to build the pipeline was taken by state cabinet last month following consultation with Stephenson in his role as mayor". Stephenson was also invited to a "private briefing" on the drought plan with Morris Iemma last week. The Sydney Morning Herald reports he was "a bit surprised" that Labor candidate Robert Parker was not invited.

South Coast (Liberal 1.6%) and Bega (Liberal 4.7%): The Coalition has promised to spend $200 million over four years improving safety on the notorious Princes Highway south of Kiama. There has been talk from the Labor camp that the Liberals might not be safe in South Coast, one of their few gains from 2003, although the Liberals dispute this. Campaign director Graham Jaeschke told the Financial Review he had not seen any Labor activity in South Coast or any other Liberal marginal.

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.

83 comments on “Highlights of week whatever”

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  1. Fear the late swing psephsologists,
    you know despite the experts and a very vicious reaction to debnam from the punditocracy there is a Liberal vote out there largely because of the stuff-ups of the State ALP.

    My tip the polls will tighten to 53-47 to ALP by polling day. Comfortable majority but something that the Libs with money can win on in 2011. Not a bad outcome provided the State Government is actually prepared to tackle problems in the meantime.

  2. How about those Central Coast and Hunter marginals with the “3 Popularly Elected Mayors Independent Push” (Lake Macquarie, Maitland, Newcastle)?

  3. Two things: William, some of those links are missing the trailing .html so they don’t work.

    More importantly! Cop a squiz at those Liberal upper-house HTVs. Yes, the text says “simply place a number 1 in the Liberal/Nationals box as shown” but then, there’s a 2 in Group K – Fred

  4. (oops, accidentally clicked too soon)

    – a 2 in Group K – Fred Nile’s box.

    Yes, there’s text that says “NO NEED TO NUMBER BELOW THE LINE” underneath it, but it is not beyond the realms of possibility that people will think it’s a direction to put a 2 for the Christian Democrats.

    Interesting stuff. Wonder why they happened to pick group K. (You’d think that Nile will have no worries in any case).

  5. Can someone tell me what they think will happen in Manly? We have two Independent’s running. A lot of people I talk to feel Barr has been ineffectual, is out of touch with what the community wants and is too closely allied with the current Mayor. Wynne is the new kid on the block, best known as the “Goat Lady” of Seaforth. She is apparently hot on the Seaforth Tafe and Local Council problems. Are the local issues going to carry the day in Manly? Its not going to take too much here to swing the vote and send a message.

  6. In the Canberra Times this morning, Steve Whan the ALP candidate for Monaro was having a whinge about the Greens in Monaro issuing an open ticket in Monaro.

  7. I can’t see a late swing happening, unless it’s to Labor. Lib supporters are hoping against hope that they will be able to “do a Bracks”, and be the beneficiaries of a late swing. The difference with that election is that the main issue in this campaign has been Debnam and Liberals, a masterstroke of campaigning by the ALP (if not necessarily good for democracy in NSW). If the Libs can’t even win back heartland seats like PIttwater (as is appearing likely), then they are hardly going to win over that many swinging voters. I suspect the Liberal Party needs to start planning for 2015….

  8. Believe it or not, I was actually trying to be reasonably even-handed! While it’s true I am a relatively rusted-on ALP voter, I am prepared to admit that the State government has run out of puff, and that in the normal course of events, we should be preparing for a change of government. Democracy means having to put up with the other side from time to time. It’s just that the State Liberals aren’t up to it.

  9. My Grandmother lives in South Coast, and she tells me there is a lot of campaigning going on in that seat – the perception is that it is very possible the ALP could win it back.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if the Coalition don’t win any seats back off the Independents(maybe Manly will be the exception).
    And, I will predict Pru Goward doesn’t win Goulburn.
    On the other hand, I bet Bryce Gaudry wins Newcastle as an independent(or one that would back Labor in a hung parliament situation).
    According to today’s SMH: Labor is rather pessimistic about holding on to Miranda.

  10. Well it seems Monday’s poll pretty much put the Libs back to the same position as 2003 – it seems likely there will be some swing to them from then until the 24th. Won’t deliver them government but will get them closer than 2003. There also seems to be a 6% lift in primary for the coalition from 2003 so there going to do better.

    Obviously they have been hammered in the campaign, partly as a result of losing the money and the media primary. Debnam has done some good things – they have picked up some better candidates and if they pick up some seats – say 4 – 6 seats they will be in better shape, the ALP is going to have come clean on the state’s finances which is also going to make the Libs look better in retrospect. I think the bigger problem is the Nats – obviously have been thoroughly whiteanted in the country and whoever is the leader will have to hard discussions with them about running in places like Dubbo, Tweed, Monaro etc for 2011.

  11. “Goat Lady of Seaforth” may decide the outcome of Manly
    The Seat of Manly could come down to preferences from the Penelope Wynne, If she preferences David Barr (Ind), he will be back for another 4 years. If Mike Baird (Lib) gets her preferences then he is in with a fighting chance. The Greens and Labor have done the deal with Barr. How many votes will Penelope Wynne get, this will depend on what the Electorate thinks and feels about Manly Council as one of Penelope Wynne’s campaign issues is the Council, She wants an Inquiry into Manly Council

  12. I guess a late swing to the ALP is possible but the Liberal primary vote was very low (24.7) in 2003. If the recent Newspoll is a reliable indicator of voting intentions, there may be a lift in the Liberal primary vote (31). However, I am prepared to entertain an argument that a lift in the primary vote might not result in any gains for the Liberal party in ALP “marginals” because of the buffer the ALP has in many of its seats and the likelihood of an increased Liberal vote in the seats the party currently holds. None of us really know for sure so let’s wait for the numbers to come up on election night.

  13. I’m always surprised (I know I shouldn’t be but I am) that whatever the Greens do, they are accused of deals, betrayals, etc. The Greens go about preferencing a simple way. The party with the best record/policies gets the preferences. That’s usually the ALP. If an ALP candidate is really bad (in Green eyes) or the Lib/Nat is better, then there is an open or split ticket.

    For example, I believe, based only on my views, that Petro may get a split ticket for his refugee stuff. Then again, he might not.

    The major parties generally don’t talk to the Greens and its very hard to agree when one person wont talk.

  14. I guess we can conclude from all this that Iemma is not, after all, Italian for Unsworth. A good joke spoiled. Maybe Debnam is Australian for upper-class twit of the year.

  15. The Greens go about preferencing a simple way. The party with the best record/policies gets the preferences.

    Come on, no one believes that.

    The greens are as strategic as anyone else. It’s these sort of high moral ground declarations that get the Greens in trouble when they don’t follow their own rules.

    For example, the Greens definitely did a deal with the Libs in Victoria to split ticket in a bunch of marginals in exchange for lib preferences in their four target seats. Are you really saying that by random chance all the bad ALP members were in marginal seats ?

  16. The Speaker

    Yes those ALP member are all evil, non pot smoking, non tree-hugging selfish bastard like those other 98% of Australia that does not support the Greens.

    Lets all imaging an Australia that is all doped up, there won’t be any taxes, because no one will actually work.

    The green’s slogan for the election should be “vote the Greens, and smoke the Greens”

  17. I’d consider voting for the Greens if they did promise to hand out free drugs to everyone, but like politicians they will reneg if they ever get to office. Or maybe they’ll just, like, y’know, forget.

    Poor old Greens – I’m actually not unsympathetic to them in a policy sense, and I think they do a useful job being a conscience of the body politic. But they are just such a bunch of dilletantes, it’s hard to take them that seriously. I think The Speaker has it right when he/she notes that it’s the taking of the high moral ground that most undermines the Greens. Politics is a dirty business and the Greens will never be more than a niche player until they learn to work with that.

  18. Gary Bruce may be correct about the IR issue. As I survey the battleground, a cashed up ALP with Field Marshall Arbib calling the shots has made the election about the Opposition’s 20.000 public sector job cuts (the ALP have exploited the perception that this ties in with the Commonwealth’s IR laws but its campaigning to date has also provided a platform to say a Coalition government will cut essential “front line” services in health, education and law and order). The Opposition’s hapless leader has been unable to counter this. A word of caution, however, to the Field Marshall: to pillory Debnam in campaign ads may be quite amusing (particularly to Labor partisans) but don’t overdo it. Be thankful that your man (Morrie) has escaped enemy fire more through good fortune than any ability.

  19. If anyone hasn’t read the lead story in today’s Herald (William’s first link) I think they should.

    In brief the Herald and Terror have spent a year baggibg Iemma over the transport system. If you believe the media, this was a chance for the opposition to excite the public by presenting a comprehensive transport policy. Yet 10 days out it is revealed that the Libs have no comprehensive policy, their leader dosen’t know the costing of the bits and pieces that have been promised and now denies that it is a first rank issue.

    Is this laziness or just incompetence? In any case I will be surprised if even the SMH can give its editorial support to such an alternative government.

    P.S. Has anyone any knowledge of the rumour that Four Corners is going to do a Job on Richo (and by implication Iemma) next Monday?

  20. The government has failed on public transport for 12 years, and the Opposition is criticised for not having an ‘integrated long term policy’. Shadow Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian made a pertinent point in relation to these long term plans, stating that the public had become disillusioned with these plans of grandeur by the ALP as they have failed to deliver every single time.

    The coalition has decided to take an incremental approach committing itself to what can be feasably completed in the first term in office instead of developing a grand plan that will ultimately fail. Focusing on revising timetables, increasing express services, more accurately defining ‘on time’ and ‘running late’ indicators, expanding light rail within the city and reinstating pensioner benefits for countrylink services.

    It’s all well and good to criticise the Opposition policies, but where are the ALP policies? Where are the solutions to these problems after such a long period in office? Where are the results of their ’10 year plan’? I see nothing, and hear nothing but criticism of the Opposition’s proposals.

  21. I don’t necessarily believe that the transport system is in such trouble but the point that I am making is that if the print media is building it up as an issue, it would be wise to run with it. To my mind it is all about perception and the perception I am getting is either of laziness or incompetence.

  22. Stewart Says “The coalition has decided to take an incremental approach committing itself to what can be feasably completed in the first term in office instead of developing a grand plan that will ultimately fail.” Shouldn’t both be done, ie step by step solutions but within a grand plan? Why would another grand plan necessarily fail? Are you suggesting a piece meal set of solutions without any idea of where you’re heading? What about the cost? Fair questions I would have thought.
    As far as Labor’s policy is concerned I suggest you visit this site for a very detailed approach to what is happening. It took me a couple of minutes to find it. Not difficult to find really.

  23. Glossy pamphlets and creative rhetoric are the central features to Labor’s infrastructure development. 12 years since first elected and all we have to show are numerous toll roads, and less services.

    No ‘Urban Transport Statement’ or ‘Action Plan’ will change this.

    As a resident of the Drummoyne electorate, the proposal to widen the Iron Cove Bridge is a perfect example of providing band-aid solutions to a problem that lies within traffic volume; moving the bottleneck up to the Victoria Rd, Darling St intersection is not a solution. Just spin..

  24. I had a look at the website allegedly showing “a detailed approach to what is happening”. As a regular user of Sydney’s transport system (private and public), I have indeed experienced what is not happening. Sorry but on this one, I agree with what Gladys Berejeklian is reported to have said and I concur with Stewart’s previous posts.

  25. As I Melburnian non-driver, my familiarity with Sydney’s transport problems is mercifully small and indirect (apart from once having to tell a taxi driver where Oxford St was and then find it for him in his street directory). Anyway, could I hazard a guess that the political problem is that any real solution to the problem involves having fewer cars in the city, and that no party has the nerve to say so?

  26. Stewart, you asked “but where are the ALP policies?” I was just pointing out they had a transport policy. Whether it has worked or is working or not is something I cannot make judgement on.

  27. Oakshot

    are you serious? There is no transport problem? Do you live in NSW

    I live to the south of Sydney and it now take me 10 more minute a day on the train, 260 working day a year, that is 2,600 minutes. That is 2 days a year I lose to this government. That on top of the once a fortnight where the train are late for 20 minutes or more. Have you ever sat on a train for 2 hours because the signals does not work during lightlings, I have done it twice, you should try it. You should speak to someone who lives in Penrith, it now take them 20 minute a day extra to get into the city, just so iemma can report more trains are on time.

    Have you driven in the city during peak hour during the day. and found that you do not move for 10 minute because the government make a deal so people would use the Xcity tunnell?

    Have you spoken with someone who have to use the M4 to get to work, and ask them what time they have to get up in the morning?

    Have you spoken to someone from Manly who has to “Rely” on ferries to get to work.

    Are you sure you lives in NSW?

  28. Fair enough. However, my point is that ALP has done little throughout the campaign to promote their policies, policies developed with taxpayers money (via the public servants), advertised with tax payers money (via the state plan) and ultimately containing more spin than substance..

  29. Have you heard of the boiling frog theory?

    I lived in Penrith for 15 years before hopping out of the pot and coming to the coast but then again I used the long car park known as the M4. My friends who are still boiling in the west, tell me a different story since the M4 went to 3 lanes. Do you go to Penrith at any time other than for the Head of the River (when traffic is so heavy that people get headaches going through the poor suburbs)?

    What I don’t know is how the opposition is going to improve public transport services. This is something Joe Voter would like to know before the election. I always thought that the opposition were lazy and largely brain dead and I think today’s story is fairly conclusive.

    How would I improve it, if I was premier? I agree with Adam that a rethink of the use of public and private transport is one way but this is not likely to happen in the short term. Another way is a massive injection of funds and I can see only 3 ways of doing this: 1) Divert them from some other department – which? health? education? 2) Increase taxation – that’s a vote winner! 3) Get the kids to pay through borrowings – this is also now political poison. And don’t tell me about the GST because a) NSW is chronically cheated and b) it is already used.

    So if I was premier you would still be stuck on your train. However, I am not a candidate. Debhnam is and I believe he should have put more thought into the problem and presented a policy rather than concentrate all his energy on attacking the 3 wogs.

  30. Stewart (March 14th, 2007 at 10:06 pm) – “policies developed with taxpayers money (via the public servants), advertised with tax payers money (via the state plan) and ultimately containing more spin than substance..” – the same can be said of our government here in Victoria but I think you’ll find that applies to all governments not matter what their hue and whether state or federal. It’s bloody annoying but don’t expect any different with a change of government.
    As for your first comment – “However, my point is that ALP has done little throughout the campaign to promote their policies ..” Given that they were looking at a poor result they have “gone the man” and in this case it looks as though it might work for them. Not sporting or fair and a dangerous move for it can backfire (as the Federal Libs are finding) but negative advertising seems to have greater effect on voters than positive. It worked in our election.

  31. Stewart,

    I agree with your comments about widening Victoria Rd – it just moves the bottleneck.
    Your comment “12 years since first elected and all we have to show are numerous toll roads, and less services” sounds like your memory may be failing.
    The Carr & Iemma Governments have only built 3 tollways (Eastern Distributor, Cross City Tunnel & soon to open Lane Cove tunnel). All the other Roads they have constructed are Freeways, ie, no Toll. These include M5 East, M5 Prestons to Casula, Gore Hill Freeway and numerous sections of the Pacific Hwy that the previous Liberal/National Government wanted to build as Tollways.


    You must be too young too remember the train service (or lack of) during the Fahey government. The current train service is a vast improvement on those days!

  32. It is lamentable that AGAIN the state Liberals have managed to screw up an election that they could have taken close to the wire. The very same happened in Queensland in September. The Coalition should, and could, have been able to take the fight right up to the Beattie government, but piss-weak Liberal leadership squandered all opportunity they had. The same is happening again. Ted Ballieu had better watch and take note, strong leadership, longetivity of leadership and innovation in leadership is necessary to make a decent challenge for government. If voters catch a whiff of incomptency they will stay with the incumbent, no matter how inadequate the incumbent might be!

  33. What effect do people think this whole kerfuffle over the Greens’ drugs policy will be?As far as policy is concerned, I largely agree with it (prohibition has never worked). However, when these things first see the light of day (as far as the media is concerned) during an election campaign, I don’t we’re going to get much sober analysis of the issue. You’d think it will hurt the Greens on polling day, as more mainstream voters switch back to the major parties.

  34. I think the media attention on the Greens’ drug policy will probably depress their vote, maybe by 1-2%. It feels exceedingly familiar. If I were in the Greens, I would really press them to improve their PR.

  35. Ripping up the tram-tracks is, in my opinion, the biggest mistake ever made in the history of Sydney’s planning and infrastructure policy.

  36. I actually don’t think the kerfuffle over our policy is as bad as it could be. Every election since 1995 has seen this hit the headlines in the Telegraph, and my experience from 2003 suggests that it is gradually becoming less effective every time.

    And regarding our “PR”, I ask you all, what would you have done instead? What could you have done, short of dropping the policy (which would have had much more of an impact on credibility), to improve the story? I remind you that the Sydney Morning Herald has almost entirely ignored the story, with one small article tucked away on their NSW election website and nothing in the print version.

    As well as that, I’ve seen hardly any TV coverage. It’s terrible that the Tele prints such lies and so clearly throws any sort of balance out the window, but (a) I’m not surprised and (b) they’ve done it every time, so any potential Greens voters who read the Tele and who are scared off would have been scared off a long time ago.

  37. The Liberals not having a comprehensive transport policy in this election is unforgivable. Transport has probably been the Government’s worst area, and the whole system is suffering from probably 30 years of piecemeal planning and neglect.

    For Debnam underplay its importance and for the polci highlights to be such trivia as redefining on-time running is just hopeless policy and hopeless politics.

    Speaking as a commuter, I don’t care if when the train is 4 minutes late it is defined as late instead of when it is 5 minutes late, I just want it to turn up on time, be clean and not be overcrowded.

    It was a real opportunity to present a workable long term plan and the Liberals have squibbed it. They’ve squibbed the whole election and as a result NSW is going to be stuck with a pretty poor Govt for the next 4 years.

  38. Swinging Voter Said: “Goat Lady of Seaforth” may decide the outcome of Manly….. and others made comments and raised questions too.

    Manly is increasingly seen through a glass darkly. Before the opening of the campaign (i.e. pre GL… pre”Goat Lady”), many people (well me, anyway) thought that Mike Baird would romp home. Now I’m not so sure.

    David Barr’s win in 2003 (an improvment on 1999) was a surprise even to some of his campaign workers (ye of little faith!), but those same people are much more pessimistic this time around. David Barr did some polling in September (we think we received a call at our house), but he keeps the result close to his chest. The leaks variously say the Libs have (1) 34%, (2) “high thirties” and (3) 46%. The Barr vote numbers are largely unknown, except in the case of (1), where they’re said to be 31%

    Greens preferences may or may not be important. The Greens decided to direct preferences to Barr on Tuesday night after a tortuous and vigorous debate which involved hauling both Baird and Barr up before a branch meeting to hear their pitches.

    On figure (1) above, Barr would get up without Greens preferences. On figure (3) Barr could not get up even WITH Greens preferences. On figure (2), Greens preferences would be critical. This is based on a repeat of the Greens primary of 8-9% in 2003. However, given the way their candidate is being so enthusiastically received on the streets and the dream run the Manly Doily is giving her, it could be a lot higher. This could affect the conclusions of (1), (2), (3) above.

    Baird has since said he won’t win if the Greens preference Barr. However, he has also said that he wishes to remain ignorant of any polling, so the basis of his assessment is unclear.

    How preferences of the Goat Lady might affect things is an unknown, as is her likely primary vote. The wise heads say she is running only to create publicity for a shot at Manly Council next year. This would be repeating Mark Norek’s exact same (successful) strategy. They also SAY that she was offered funding support for her candidacy, and to direct preferences, but no evidence of this has surfaced.

    The SMH did a focus group in Manly at the weekend and, while the write-up is rather wishy-washy (today), it would seem that Baird is not well-recognised. This is somewhat at variance with what the “wise heads” say, given recent publicity in the Doily.

    Somebody engaged Millwood Brown to do polling in Manly over the weekend (I know, because they polled me). They asked, among other things, who I thought would win and I answered “Baird has just got his nose in front”. Now, I’m not so sure.

    The Fin Review article referred to by William in the header also hints that the Libs have some polling that is at least slightly hopeful for them.

    Anyway, it’s all only a side-show to what’s happening in the Big Top

  39. Last night’s train stuffup in Sydney might help Debnam?
    Then again, he has no transport policy!
    The government will be rather anxious about Sunday’s 75th anniversary Harbour Bridge celebrations.
    As for the election, I think the Coalition will win back only Camden, Miranda and Tweed.
    The SMH says today the ALP are a chance of winning from the Coalition South Coast and Murray-Darling(which is really an ALP seat).

  40. They have built three tollways after being elected on a platform of making Sydney tollfree. I will be the first to admit that I was too young under the Fahey Government, however, the problems we currently face should be the issue, and providing less services isn’t the solution.

    Admittedly, we have failed to see a comprehensive plan for NSW from either side, and Debnam’s public relations skills leave a lot to be desired. The Coalition had the opportunity to develop a well communicated policy platform over the past 18 months and have failed to do so.

    There are some sound policies in all areas that would be greatly beneficial to NSW, however the way in which it has ben presentented to the electorate through Mr Debnam has been disastrous. I do think the SMH and Telegraph have a hide though, when we’re a little over a week out from the election, to report that the Coalition is already planning a post mortem and plans to remove Debnam. How about they concentrate on the issues and party policy, which is ultimately what the electorate is concerned about.

  41. At the moment it looks as though it will be worse than Victoria. Here the Libs got healthy swings in all their own seats and picked up six seats from Labor. In NSW they can’t even nail down their own natural seats like Manly and Pittwater.

  42. Nah u guys are having yourselves on – it’ll be 53-47 2PP to the ALP
    The Coalition will get 6 out of the following 8 and Murray Darling (which is notionally theres) of which of course only 4 are ALP seats


    Puts em on 37 seats not great but a start on the way back. Also they will reduce a lot of double digit margins to singles like Ryde, Oatley etc.

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